As I Lay Dying

Examinations of Philosophy and Identity in Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying

The story of a dysfunctional family and its epic journey across the South, William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying is famous for its use of multiple narrators who interpret and recount the journey of the Bundren clan from their own unique perspectives. All of the characters, whether members of the family or outsiders who encounter them on the way to Jefferson, have their own agendas and specific views of the world around them, with each of these perspectives in some small way contributing to the larger themes and ideas of Faulkner’s novel. This paper will examine the philosophies of three of these characters in particular -- Anse, Cash, and Darl Bundren -- in order to analyze how their differing voices, opinions, and styles of narration allow Faulkner to explore multiple themes and create a more complex novel than would be possible with a single unified narrator.

As the father and ostensible leader of the Bundren clan, Anse is the character who seemingly appears to be the most intent on getting his wife to Jefferson and burying her with her family. He seems committed to honoring Addie’s final wishes, saying multiple times that “I give her my promise” because her “mind was set on it,” as well as being the one who insists that the...

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