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Cora and Addie in As I Lay Dying Essay


Many mothers, regardless of age or situation, share similar views. They all share the common goal of raising their children well and creating an environment of love, nurture, and support. They channel their unceasing effort and try to instill good values in hope that their children would become successful. However, this is not the case for all women, as portrayed in the novel As I Lay Dying. Using the technique of first person narrative with alternating perspectives, William Faulkner adds verisimilitude to the characters of Cora Tull and Addie Bundren. Their first person narratives give the reader insight into the contrasting views of Cora and Addie. Cora and Addie are both mothers, they serve as a foil to each other because of their different views on religion, motherhood, and life.

One main factor of disagreement between Cora and Addie is religion. Cora is a very pious woman because she refers to God in all of her narratives. Her adamant belief that only God has the power to judge sin is shown when she says, It is the Lords part to judge; ours to praise His mercy and His holy name in the hearing of our fellow mortals because He alone can see into the heart (pg. 167). Cora also believes that as vile sinners, humans must repent and give praise to the Lord. Addie, on the other hand, has the diametric view to Coras view on religion. She trusts in her own judgment of sin in her life. She even substitutes Jewel, her favorite child, as her Savior when she says, He is my cross and he will by my salvation (pg. 168). Cora loathes Addies impiety and religious views.

Another factor that emphasizes the difference between Cora and Addie is motherhood. Cora expresses her view on motherhood when she says, A womans place is with her husband and children, alive or dead (pg. ). She believes that God gave women the duty of being good wives and mothers and fostering their children. Cora cares for her daughters Kate and Eula and instills in them Christian values. Unlike Cora, Addie sees motherhood as a concept devoid of meaning and a word that exists solely to fill voids in peoples lives. She showed no affection towards any of her children except Jewel. Jewel was her saving grace because he represented the only part of Whitfield. Addie is only a mother out of duty and views her children as a trap. She viewed the birth of Cash as a violation of her aloneness, Darl as an unwanted mistake, and the rest of her children as an atonement to Anse.

A factor that greatly differentiates Cora and Addie are their views on life. Coras philosophy on life can be summed up in the phrase, I have tried to live right in the sight of God and man, for the honor and comfort of my Christian husband and the love and respect of my Christian children (pg 23). Her purpose in life is to bring honor to God and be a good wife and mother. This contrasts greatly from Addies philosophy on life, that the reason for living was to get ready to stay dead a long time (pg 169). Her perspective of life was very morbid because she found no joy or purpose in life. Addies loveless marriage, unwanted children, and loathsome job shaped her negative view on life. She was unable to find happiness or fulfillment in her empty marriage with Anse, whom she only married for security. She only found value in Jewel, the son she conceived with Reverend Whitfield. Furthermore, Addie hated her job and children with a passion.

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