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As I Lay Dying Essay

1530 words - 7 pages

William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying breaks the facticity of literary convention by constructing a storyline that asserts a conflict in the reader rather than predominately within the characters. The basic conflict that sets forth thematic conflict of the distinction of facts and truth within the nature of the mind is of a Southern decaying family’s attempt to bring their mother home for burial. Faulkner narrates each character’s singular point of view to show the result of the multitude of subjective interpretations as each character deals with their emotions engendered by the events. The reader is unsure as to which imitated perspective is objective towards the truth. Faulkner’s narration of ...view middle of the document...

This simple notion signifies an exaggerated instance of when the narratives seemingly overlap to provide more evidence that truth is abstract. A conversation between Darl and Vardaman presents this conflict of truth as elusive:
“Then what is your ma, Darl?” I said. “I havn’t ere got one,” Darl said. “Because if I had one, it was. And if it was, it can’t be is. Can it?’…’Then I am not,’ Darl said. ‘Am I?’ (Faulkner, 95).
Each character isolates themselves in their perspectives and even they, like Darl doubt their own standing. Darl’s doubt in his existence goes so far as to him being considered insane simply because he is unable to establish anything absolutes, becoming consumed by doubt. Darl states this elusiveness, “I don’t know what I am. I don’t know if I am or not” (Faulkner, 76). The reader begins to see the instability of their isolation when the Faulkner establishes no character to establish a complete trust. This doubt in reader displays the conflict of the establishing absolute facts. Each person has their own episode, character, chapter that has its own function in relation to the conflict Faulkner conveys to the reader’s consciousness.
Their isolation from each other comes at an inconvenient time when their connection is needed most, displaying the personality conflicts of this decaying family. Though the family is still a unit, the relatives are marked by their own distinctiveness. Tull and Cora, although a couple, show doubts in their beliefs that are formatted to be conveyed as absolute. Tull recognizes this element in Cora, whom is supposed to be straight in her faith, “ ‘One breath you say they was daring the hand of God to try, and the next breath you jump on Anse because he wasn’t with them’” (Faulkner, 146). Cora displays another important aspect of humanity – the reliance on faith to avoid the troubling questions of reality. Yet, even she cannot help but provide her own perspective to her reality, rather than trust her god. Her devout faith limits the accountability of her perception. She lets faith get in the way of allowing her to accept reality by masking human doubt with beliefs.
Each person has their own episode, character, and chapter that has its own function in relation to the conflict Faulkner conveys to the reader’s consciousness. Even Faulkner recognizes his intention in writing such a plain story to shape a larger idea in an example that displays the errors in human judgment: “…the reader has read all these thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird, then reader has his own fourteenth way of looking at the blackbird….”. The character’s point of views is to be taken as aspects of the larger design that Faulkner creates. Faulkner allows the reader to watch in several points of views while making one of their own. The variation in narratives makes the visible line of truth obscured. An obvious example of this variation in perceived truth is when Dewey Dell and Vardaman confront each other in the barn:

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