As I Lay Dying Essay Research Paper

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As I Lay Dying Essay, Research Paper AS I LAY DYING In “As I Lay Dying” William Faulkner uses multiple points of view to explore the theme of existence as a motionless and meaningless cycle. The cycle is motionless because it is inescapable and unchangeable. One can never leave the cycle of life and death. People perpetuate the cycle by creating life, but in creating life they are creating death, for life irrevocably leads to death. Faulkner depicts existence as meaningless. Nothing really changes in the story. On the surface the characters appear to change, such as Addie dying, Darl going crazy and Anse getting a new wife, but none of these changes are really as relevant as they seem. By using multiple points of view Faulkner lets us into each character?s mind. We see

how each person thinks about the cycle of existence. This insight could be accomplished with an omniscient narrator, but Faulkner?s way is much more effective. Faulkner allows us to see a ten-year-old?s perspective on life and death from the perspective of a ten-year-old, instead of from the perspective of some all-knowing narrator that doesn?t really know what it?s like to be a ten-year-old. Also, the actual sequence of narrators is in a cycle. We don?t just hear all of Darl?s point of view, and then Anse?s, and then Peabody?s. Faulkner cycles through his characters, returning again and again to people like Darl and Dewey Dell and Vardaman, while having characters such as Jewel and Addie speak only once. Addie Bundren is in many ways the central character of the story. The plot

revolves around her as her family tries to get her body to Jefferson for burial. Her single monologue comes in the exact middle of the book, making her geographically the central character. Most importantly however, she is the character who best expresses the motionless and meaningless cycle of existence. “My father said that the reason for living is getting ready to stay dead” (506). With life comes the unmistakable knowledge that death will eventually follow. People live their entire lives knowing that ultimately all they have to look forward to is death. This makes life meaningless, since it will all be forgotten with one?s death. Granted, this view could be challenged by people who believe in an 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 are meaningless, then how can life have meaning, since words are humanity?s livelihood? Words are what allow communication, and communication is what gives life meaning. Without communication life is devoid of all social aspects, and humans are social creatures. Addie realizes the meaninglessness of life, and she knows that she is caught up in the cycle of life and death, and that there is no escape form it.

She knows that she brought her children into the same cycle that she herself is in, and that they too will live empty lives only to die. Dewey Dell?s situation is an example of how the cycle of existence is perpetuated, even against her will. She tries to not continue the cycle into the next generation, but the cycle is so powerful that she cannot avoid having the child. Faulkner gives us Dewey Dell?s point of view, because without it we might not even know that she is pregnant. If the story were told from, say, Cash?s point of view, we would have no idea that Dewey Dell wants to go to Jefferson to have an abortion. An omniscient narrator could give us this information about Dewey Dell, but it would not affect us the same way as when it comes directly from her. By using the first