As I Lay Dying Essay

2116 words - 8 pages

As I Lay Dying

In reading the novel As I Lay Dying, many questions arose in my mind. However, the one that plagued me was the question that I could not pin down. All of the characters in the book have a personality and play a certain role in the tale. However, the one character who fascinated me, yet I could not explain was Cash. Is Cash a bigger player in the novel than it appears on the surface? I believe he is. Cash is the cog in the family that keeps the others from spinning away. Cash becomes, throughout the course of the novel, the patriarchal figure in the novel. He is thrust in to this position through his words, actions, and Anse's total lack of leadership. Cash becomes that patriarch. Diligence. Definition: " Close application, perseverance." "We can hear the sawing on the board. It sounds like snoring," (9). This quotation is a summation of Cash working on the coffin. Quotations such as these are thick in the beginning of the story. In fact, his work provides a backdrop the turmoil of the action which precedes the Burdens' departure. His work is constant through Jewel and Darl going for wood, Addie's actual death, and the search for a wagon to name a few problems. We are constantly reminded of the droning saw in the back ground. Additionally, we are also told of Cash's attention to the details. He is totally focused on his work. The work on the coffin is a metaphor for Cash's diligence throughout the novel. It becomes a template for many of Cash's actions throughout the story. Cash is the one member of the family who has something to do and does it well. In his words, "It is better to build a tight chicken coop, than a shoddy courthouse," (234). By this he means that it is better to do a good job on all projects than to neglect those that seem insignificant. He has a focus that seems to radiate into the family and earns him a level of respect which seems to me normally reserved for the head of a family. Diligence is valuable to any family. It is necessary for progress; and just like the universe, if we are not moving forward we are collapsing. I think this hold true in a family as well. Diligence props up a family and allows for growth. Cash keeps the Bundren's moving forward. Pragmatism. Definition: "Steady and thoughtful accomplishment of a task, involving truth." The perfect example of Cash's pragmatism is the chapter in which Cash lays out his list. He describes out the forces and considerations it takes to build a coffin. He explains all the angles that are necessary in making the thing tight and remain together. "I made it on a bevel. 1,2,3, etc. . ."(82). His entire chapter is dedicated to explaining how to properly put a coffin together. I believe it is a metaphor for his holding the family together. Another example of his pragmatic ways is the talk of balance, and its importance: "It wasn't on balance. I told them that if they wanted it to tote and ride on a balance, they would have to. . ." (165). He orders things, this...

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