Words And Images In Faulkner's As I Lay Dying

3646 words - 15 pages

Words and Images in Faulkner's As I Lay Dying

Maybe I will end up in some kind of self-communion -- a silence -- faced with the certainty that I can no longer be understood. The artist must create his own language. This is not only his right but his duty. ----------- William Faulkner
Virginia Woolf observes that "painting and writing have much to tell each other; they have much in common. The novelist after all wants to make us to see" (22). Indeed, many movements in the visual arts during the first half of the twentieth century had a close relationship with literature. High Modernist writers, such as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Gertrude Stein, and William Faulkner, have been preoccupied with the visual arts. As John Tytell claims, in his "Epiphany in Chaos: Fragmentation in Modernism," one of the most prominent characteristics of modernism has been "the unusual reciprocity of artistic influence -- Apollinaire wrote the first intelligent book on cubism, Gertrude Stein wrote about cubist painters and collected their works" (8).

During the past three decades, several critics have recognized correspondences between Faulkner's writing and the visual arts. Ilse Dusoir Lind has examined the influence of painting on Faulkner's work. Such critics as Watson Branch and Panthea Reid Broughton have explored the influence of cubism on Faulkner. And more recently, Mary Rohrberger has noted the surrealistic qualities in Faulkner's text. But, what has not been considered is the intricate relationship between Faulkner's reliance on the visual and his skeptical view of language. Although some critics tend to emphasize Faulkner's early creativity in cartoons and illustrations, it does not seem to provide a satisfying explanation for the pervasive presence of the visual in his text. After discussing the cubist and surrealist images and techniques in As I Lay Dying, I intend to examine Faulkner's use of the visual within the broader context of the modernist perception of language.

I
Faulkner's acquaintance with cubism is well documented by his biographers. According to Joseph Blotner, Faulkner went to Paris in 1925 and stayed near the Luxembourg museum. During the stay Faulkner saw many contemporary paintings of Manet, Picasso, Matisse, and Cezanne. Faulkner's admiration of Cezanne is well expressed in his letter to his mother: "And Cezanne! That man dipped his brush in light like Tobe Caruthers [an Oxford Negro of many talents] would dip his in red lead to paint a lamp- post" (Blotner 160). As several critics have noted, Faulkner's As I Lay Dying shows a number of similarities to cubist art. In her essay "Faulkner's Cubist Novels," Broughton claims that As I Lay Dying is the "quintessential cubist novel" (93). Broughton observes: "Repeating geometric designs -- lines and circles, verticals and horizontals -- Faulkner actually facets, like a cubist painting, the design of this book. That is why it is so difficult to speak of theme in As I Lay Dying....

Find Another Essay On Words and Images in Faulkner's As I Lay Dying

Compare one theme and one character in Faulkner's As I Lay Dying

539 words - 2 pages A prevalent theme of escapism occurs throughout William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. This difficulty of escaping however is ironically tied to the cyclical nature embedded is the actions of the characters. Faulkner projects this correlation predominantly through Darl's actions and character development. The overall relationship between this particular theme and the novel presents a contradiction to meliorism, rather portrays that a society is not

The Themes of William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying

1067 words - 4 pages William Faulkner in his book "As I Lay Dying" portrays a Mississippi family which goes through many hardships and struggles.  Faulkner uses imagery to illustrate an array of central themes such as the conscious being or existence and poverty among many others. From the first monologue, you will find and indulgence of sensual appeal, they are a strong aspect through out the novel.  Each character develops stronger and stronger by

This is a character analysis on Addie Bundren in William Faulkner's "As I lay Dying."

1493 words - 6 pages As I Lay Dying and DecomposingWilliam Faulkner is one of the most published major American authors in the twentieth century. He uses many literary techniques that often times disorient the reader, but that is what makes his writing so unique. As I Lay Dying is a literary work with many voices and Faulkner's style seems to vary according to whichever character is narrating the section in his fifty-nine-section novel. The major technique that

The Importance of Animals in William Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying"

778 words - 3 pages In William Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying", there are numerous references to animals. When the Bundren family loses their mother, each child has a different animal that they relate to so they can deal with their situation. The characters compare themselves to animals, in the case of Dewey Dell, or they compare their dead mother to animals, which can be seen in the case of Jewel and Vardaman. Animals are a key part of the novel because they serve as

Character Analysis of Dewey Dell Bundren in Faulkner's As I Lay Dying

1525 words - 6 pages William Faulkner, a Nobel Prize winning author, wrote the novel "As I Lay Dying" in six weeks without changing a word. Considering the story's intricate plot, not changing a single word seems like it would take a literary genius to complete. Many people agree that Faulkner could very well be a genius due to the organization of this story. Faulkner uses fifteen different characters to narrate and allow the reader to analyze each of their point

As I Lay Dying

1416 words - 6 pages As I Lay Dying By William Faulkner Literature is a great form of entertainment, unfortunately it is only entertaining when the author is skilled in using the proper literary devices and writing styles that capture our emotions, and make it enjoyable to read their books. This story was thoroughly disappointing. It had a lot of hidden plot, symbolism, and a confusing writing style. The overall story was not compelling enough to maintain

As I Lay Dying

1221 words - 5 pages afterlife, but the only two really religious people in "As I Lay Dying," Cora and Whitfield, are portrayed as somewhat stupid and insincere. So Faulkner apparently wants us to think that life is meaningless. For the characters in his story, life is certainly meaningless. Addie describes the meaninglessness of life when she talks about words. "...words are no good; that words don’t ever fit even what they are trying to say at" (504). If words

As I Lay Dying

1266 words - 5 pages William Faulkner’s portrayal of women, Addie Bundren specifically, in As I Lay Dying presents an interesting look into the gender politics of the south in the 1930s. Addie lies at the heart of the novel; yet despite being the heart, her presence for most of the story is as a corpse. Faulkner only gives her one chapter to explain herself; and it is her desire to be buried in Jefferson that sets in motion everything that happens in the novel

As I Lay Dying

1045 words - 5 pages The novel As I Lay Dying written by William Faulkner poses many different reactions, emotions, and struggles in relation to Addie Bundren's death. This first person narration with fifteen different narrators takes the audience on the Bundren's journey across Mississippi in the smouldering summer heat. The emotional damages throughout this journey far outweigh the physical hardships of transporting a corpse forty miles to Jefferson by wagon

As I Lay Dying

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

As I Lay Dying - 602 words

602 words - 2 pages and Vardaman and Dewey Dell," Anse says. "Meet Mrs. Bundren." Jewel looked up at Anse with contempt as Cash and the others just sat there not really saying much. Vardaman with banana pieces shoved in his mouth looked at me with a confused look on his face."My mother is a fish." I had to laugh watching Vardaman trying to shove those bananas down his throat. It was as if he had never had a banana before. By the looks of this family, I could see Addie

Similar Essays

Secrets In Faulkner's As I Lay Dying

792 words - 4 pages Yoknapatawpha County is a fictional county made up by William Faulkner in which As I Lay Dying takes place in; this is now the third novel to take place here. As I Lay Dying was one of the last novels written in the 1920’s by William Faulkner and within fifty-nine chapters, this novel features a unique narration of fifteen different first person narrators. Each chapter is written from that particular character’s perspective telling their version

Southern Influence In William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying

1706 words - 7 pages characters stay clear of Darl for fear he will get too close to them and find out their secrets. This is probably the reason his family had him committed to an insane asylum at the end of the novel. The last major character we encounter in As I Lay Dying is Jewel. Jewel is the illegitimate child of Addie’s affair with Whitfield. Jewel is the novels greatest mystery, and speaks very little words of his own in many sections throughout the novel. He is

William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying

644 words - 3 pages William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying In William Faulkner's novel, As I Lay Dying many points of view are expressed through the use of interior monologue, but even when they are all put together, they can't serve as an objective view of what really happened. In the book, there are many monologues by many different people, often with opposing ideas and beliefs. Together the novel is a book of half-truths, with each set of events formed by what

William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying

983 words - 4 pages William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying      In his book, As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner pioneers new and interesting literary forms. His most obvious deviation from traditional novel writing was the new style of narration in which he used all the main characters as the narrator at one point or another. This allowed the reader to gain insight into the character’s thoughts, and also to prove very interesting and entertaining. Faulkner also