It all began when Addie Bundren, wife of Anse Bundren, became ill and passed away. She left one request for when she died, which was to be buried in Jefferson next to her father. Since her family is poor, everything that has to be done is done all by hand by the family. Cash, Addie’s oldest son, has to build the coffin that they will bury Addie in. To try and give her a “last gift,” Cash decides to build the coffin right outside of Addie’s window as she lays in her bed, dying. “As the family moves toward the unfamiliar landscape and community of Jefferson and toward new social identities, they are compelled to respond to pressures and limits that emerge in the context of new settings and social relations” (Lester). While the family takes on the adventure of traveling to their destination, they encounter several problems – from drilling holes into Addie’s face to dropping her coffin in the river. In the end, nothing works out in anyone’s favor, except for Anse Bundren. Anse meets a new woman and decides to make her the new “Mrs. Bundren.” In As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner uses a “stream-of-consciousness,” multiple narrators, and symbolism to better enhance the book and to show the fragmentation of the south after the war.
William Faulkner was born on September 25, 1897 and died on July 6, 1962. By being alive during this time period, Faulkner was able to witness first-hand the fragmentation of the south that followed the Civil War. Having witnessed this, William Faulkner gained insight, which allowed him to successfully write about his experiences. “After World War I…millions of rural Southerners were faced with the struggle of maintaining a way of life that was rapidly becoming extinct or of making the effort to adapt…” (Lester). Faulkner also used his family history and parts of his life.
A “stream-of-consciousness” technique, also called an interior monologue, consists of a character’s inner thoughts, feelings, and experiences. William Faulkner uses a “stream-of-consciousness” technique throughout As I Lay Dying. The use of this technique allows the reader to get inside the character’s mind and fully understand why he does what he does and allows you to feel what the character is feeling. Other times, a “stream-of-consciousness” technique can be used to challenge the reader. It causes you to have to dig deeper into the text in order for figure out what is going on. For example, Faulkner’s character, Darl, thinks to himself: “I am I and you are you and I know it and you don’t know it and you could do so much for me if you just would and if you just would then I could tell you and then nobody would have to know it except you and me and Darl” (50). After reading that quote, you probably have no idea as to what he is talking about. By putting such complex quotes into his writing, Faulkner is forcing you to break down his work in order to grasp a hold of what is happening.
There are several symbols used in As I Lay Dying, but five caught...