"As I Lay Dying" By William Faulkner

1055 words - 4 pages

Fulfilling a promise they had made to their mother,Addie, Cash, Darl, Jewel, Dewey Dell, and Vardaman, inWilliam Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, journey across theMississippi countryside to bring her body to be buried inJefferson, alongside her immediate family. Each one, inturn, narrates the events of this excursion as they areperceived. Though all of the family members are goingthrough the same experiences, each one expresses what theysee and how they feel by exercising their individual powersand limitations of language. What each character says aswell as how he/she says it gives insight into thatcharacter's underlying meanings.Darl, for example, uses his linguistic skills to gainpower as narrator. He possesses the ability to pick up onthings unsaid and to read other people's actions. DeweyDell describes his intuitiveness when she says that "he saidhe knew without the words, and I knew he knew because if hehad said he knew with words I would not have believed...andthat's why I can talk to him with knowing with hating withbecause he knows" (27). He uses his gift of realizingthings without them having to actually be told to him togain credibility with the reader. Who would doubt anarrator who possesses that type of adroitness? Also, hislanguage is clear and reflective. He uses similes andmetaphors and appears to have an acute awareness of spatialrelationships. Darl's sophisticated perception and poeticlinguistics give him the means of reaching for andmaintaining his role as a competent observer and reporter.However, his position does create certain problems for hissiblings.Tull describes Darl's "look" as being uncanny."He is looking at me. He dont saynothing; just looks at me with themqueer eyes of hisn that makes folkstalk. I always say it aint neverbeen what he done so much or said oranything so much as how he looks atyou. It's like he had got into theinside of you, someway. Like somehowyou was looking at yourself and yourdoing outen his eyes." (125)It is the same penetrating gaze that gives Darl so muchpower that makes the others around him so uncomfortable,especially Dewey Dell. She feels that his strange knowledgeof what has not been said is an invasion of her privacy."The land runs out of Darl's eyes; they swim to pin points.They begin at my feet and rise along my body to my face, andthen my dress is gone: I sit naked on the seat above theunhurrying mules, above the travail" (121). If Dewey Dellinterprets his "knowing" as crossing some personal boundarythat she created then that would explain her fantasizingabout killing Darl and why she reported his setting fire tothe barn. In fact, everything about Dewey Dell is extremelypersonal. Whereas her brothers report what happened, shetells how she feels about it. She uses language not as ameans of describing but rather as expressing."He could do so much for me if he justwould. He could do everything for me.It's like everything in the world forme is inside a tub full of guts, sothat you wonder how...

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