As I Lay Dying Literary Analysis

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Stereotypical roles in novels prohibit readers from extending their values and understanding beyond the assumed definition of characters presented in plots. In As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner places Addie Bundren in the center of these restrictions, in the barren Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, where stereotypes like hillbillies, racist white trash, uneducated farm people, and the other well-known stereotypical Southerners, reside and prevail. However, Addie’s monologue, placed in the center of the text, forces the reader to broaden Addie’s restrictions, and re-think her roles not as a terrible, Southern mother and wife, but as a thinker and linguist; a woman who does not abide by generic women’s roles. Lambasting language as a false…show more content…
As a thinker and a linguist, Addie understands that each word carries a previously characterized and classified meaning that she does not intend to relay, in that language speaks for her in a way that she does not mean, and even when attempting to surpass the boundaries of language, she must use language: “[W]ords dont ever fit even what they are trying to say at… [M]otherhood was invented by someone who had to have a word for it because the ones that had the children didn’t care whether there was a word for it or not.” (Faulkner 171). Addie’s theory of language need not be informed only by her experience of “motherhood” as she rejects many more of her labels for their superficiality, and that specific rejection should not be the primary basis for an interpretation of her theory of language. Addie conveys her disapproval of language not only through her facade of “motherhood”, but also through her roles as a wife: "[Anse] had a word, too. Love, he called it. But I had been used to words for a long time, I knew that that word was like the others: just a shape to fill a lack; that when the right time came, you wouldn't need a word" (Faulkner 172). By renouncing her total faith in words as “just a shape to fill a lack”, Addie transforms words as they indicate “a lack”: her experiences with her children and with nature transcend representation,…show more content…
"I would think: The shape of my body where I used to be a virgin is in the shape of a and I couldn't think Anse, couldn't remember Anse" (Faulkner 173). The “ ” implies the nature of communication and the dysfunction of language. This space solidifies Addie’s argument as the most crucial component of Addie’s claim as well as Saussure's theory of language. The blank space on the page provides a tangible, physical absence of words on the page, literally. The void Addie denounces words by proving its inability to represent reality. Thinking about her “virgin” “body”, Addie leaves this “ ” to signify her inability to correctly articulate her meaning. By leaving the blank, however, she declares the “virgin” or virginity as just a convention, not special or strange, more of a

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