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 ignores all boundaries that sane people have placed upon the English language to keep it readable. Faulkner forges his own set of rules for syntax that allow for a very choppy yet elegant stream of consciousness in the character’s narration. Lastly, Faulkner makes incredible leaps away from established textual formatting to again make his own way of doing things. He makes chapters of only one sentence, he makes lists of thoughts that were numbered; in other words he flexed the usual methods to fit his ideas of stream of consciousness and character development. Faulkner is quite revolutionary in all of his methods, especially for the time period in which he wrote it.
Narration in As I Lay Dying is bewildering at best. And at worst it is a ragged collection of thoughts and paraphrased verbatim by sporadically chosen characters in the wrong order. But no one is trying to claim that this book is normal. The most notable attribute of Faulkner’s narration is the changing narrator idea. Faulkner starts out telling the story from Darl’s point of view, but after a short chapter changed to Cora, who we have not yet been introduced to. The narrator keeps on changing whilst the reader attempts to both sort the characters according to the relationships that bind them and to try to understand the peculiarisms of each character. Faulkner does a great job of varying the attitudes and styles of the characters as they narrate in turn, but this creates a confusing atmosphere, especially in the first few chapters. For instance, the first section is narrated by Darl who talks about Jewel, Tull, and Cash like we are supposed to know who they are. The next section is by Cora who mentions Addie, Kate, and Mrs. Lawington, and talking about issues with each one of them, and we still don’t know who Darl is. As you could imagine, this creates quite a bit of confusion in the first part of the book, until the reader can sort through the characters, but by that time, a quarter of the book is gone and needs to be reread. An upside of this method, however, is that it allows the author the full use of the minds of his characters, and he can create a more clear picture of their thoughts.
Another peculiarity of the narration of this book was the idea of stream of consciousness. Faulkner...