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Self Realisation in As I Lay Dying Essay


Self Realization

In the novel As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner uses each character to depict a particular tone to represent what that character experiences. The Bundren family unintentionally realizes things about themselves and their family while on their journey to bury their mother after her death. William Faulkner uses diction and imagery, in the monolog of the character Jewel Bundren, to express a tone of anger, yet compassion, contributing to the overall theme of questioning existence and identity.

Faulkner uses strong elements of diction throughout the novel to express Jewels thoughts and emotions towards his family. For example, Jewel feels anger when he sees Cash, sawing on that goddamn box, with his mother lying by the window watching (Faulkner 14.) Using these words causes Jewel to appear to be dramatic and frustrated. He doesnt understand why Cash must build the casket for everyone to see, including Addie. In addition, Jewel views his family sitting there like buzzards, while Cash is sawing and hammering away (Faulkner 15.) The fact that his family is doing this arouses the frustration in him even more. The other Bundrens do nothing to keep their mother from watching her casket being built. Also, Jewel wishes that Cashs adze would go One lick less, so his mother can get some peace and quiet (Faulkner 15.) The repetition of this phrase is used to emphasize how resentful Jewel feels about his brothers unconcern to where he builds his mothers casket. All he wants is consideration, so his mother can rest in peace, not having to constantly be reminded that her death is soon approaching. Although Jewel is angered by Cashs actions, and his familys unconcern about the matter, he also has compassion, for not wanting his mom to view the project her son is constructing for her.

Faulkner also expresses Jewels irritation with his family through the use of imagery. For example, Cash is clearly seen by Addie, he stays out there, right under the window working on the box for his mothers body (Faulkner 14.) This shows that Jewel constantly observes his family and their actions. He particularly notices that his brother is constantly working on the casket, worrying about nothing else. In addition, Jewel sees his other family members waiting, fanning themselves (Faulkner 15.) His family appears to not be showing how they truly feel about the coming death of their mother. It seems as though they have nothing left to do as they watch Cash build, but to wait for Addie to die. Furthermore, Jewel speaks of him and Addie standing on a hill with rocks, picking them up and throwing them down the hill as to hit the faces of his father and siblings (Faulkner 15.) The hostility shown by Jewel lets the reader understand that he is deeply hurt and upset by the way his family is acting. Yet, it shows sympathy as well, because he truly cares about his mother and wants her to be able to be calm and still, for the rest of the time she has left. The images provided give a sense of feeling as to the way Jewel felt as his mother lay dying.

Although everyone else sees Jewel Bundren as selfish and inconsiderate, they fail to notice that he truly cares about his mothers happiness. He is willing to do anything to fulfill her wishes for her to be buried where she truly desires. He shows resentment and bitterness towards his family, only because he wants the best for his dying mother.

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