As I Lay Dying Literary Analysis

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In As I Lay Dying, Faulkner presents a story saturated in pessimistic notions of family and sacrifice, introducing characters widely self-inspired and wrought with ulterior motives. The Bundren family represents key aspects of modernist literature, allowing Faulkner to sharpen this dysfunctional family purposefully jagged while commenting on larger themes, both creatively and realistically. Told through multiple narratives, readers acquire fragments of the truth as Faulkner introduces, propels, and negates facets of these characters all within pages from one another. The decision to split these perspectives permits the freedom to depict individualistic stories that serve as separate insights to the larger plot. Among the various narrators,…show more content…
Faulkner introduces readers to Dewey Dell early on in the novel through access to her internal monologue where she discusses the events that transpired between her and the farm hand, Lafe. The act of sex liberates Dewey Dell by allowing her to feel feminine and confidently distinct. She uses the phrase “secret shade” (27) in reference to her womanly characteristics, characteristics that her family ignores and takes for granted. This sexual experience, while consensual, still has negative connotations for Dewey Dell because Lafe does physically invade her body and in turn, and ironically, condemns her to a life of familial obligation, i.e. motherhood. Lafe knows that Dewey Dell wants to lay with him, which becomes clear to readers as Dewey Dell contradicts her account and admits “…I didn’t say anything. I said: ‘What are you doing?’ and he said ‘I am picking into your sack.’ ” (27). Her confusion hints at her desire, so Lafe narrows the gap of uncertainty by filling her sack and making Dewey Dell’s wager work in his favor. The possibility of pregnancy is always an option, however, once Lafe finds out about the pregnancy he decides for the both of them that she is to get an abortion. He commandeers her decision—a decision she eventually adopts as her own—and then abandons her, leaving Dewey Dell alone yet again with a family who misuses her feminine

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