Essay on William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying

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“Through the use of many characters monologues the narrative point of view presents an objective view of what really happened.”

This statement is not adequate in connection with William Faulkner’s novel, As I Lay Dying. Though many points of view are expressed through the use of interior monologue, even when compiled, they cannot serve as an “objective” view of what really happened.

There are many monologues by many different people, often with opposing ideas and beliefs. Together the novel is a collection of half-truths, with each set of events shaped by what the current narrator believes is truth. To each individual what they say and think, they consider reality, however it is merely their perception of reality and consequently it is
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“But then I realised I had been tricked by words, older than Anse or love, and that the same word had tricked Anse too.” This quote taken from Addie’s monologue reveals the untrustworthiness of language and words. Originally she believed that the word love meant something but when she became pregnant with Darl she learned that love didn’t mean what the word meant and could in fact be very deceiving. “I knew that that word [love] was like the others: just a shape to fill a lack.” To Addie words lacks the power say what they mean and to give any other human being the experience. Words like love, pride, fear and motherhood, she believes were all made by people who had not experienced those things before. The space and emotions and ideas which language cannot fill leaves room for different interpretations, thus through languages lack, an objective view is unachievable.

Throughout the novel, each character has not only brought their own viewpoints, they have also brought their own past experiences, accounts of the present and dreams of the future. In their interior monologues, more so when they slip into stream-of-consciousness, they meld the past, present and future and consequently view the occurrences through the “coloured glass” of their mind. Everything they say, think and do is “corrupted” by their underlying belief system and previous experiences, making it unfathomable that an objective account of events could be drawn from this compilation of
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