As I Lay Dying

From Fish to Horses, What is Love?: The Bundrens' Definitive and Unusual Answer

"He had a word, too. Love, he called it." Although Addie Bundren dismisses the word love when used by her husband, Anse, as "just a shape to fill a lack," her other relationships are not as empty (172). In As I Lay Dying, Faulkner reveals the nontraditional love of Addie's children after her death as the family ventures to bury her body in a nearby town. Often irrational, her four children struggle to cope with the death of their mother, especially when coupled with the disgraces heaped on her dead body by her selfish husband. The compassion of Vardaman, Cash, Jewel, and Darl toward their mother, however uncommonly shown, proves the authenticity of their sentiment in a way words could not.

Vardaman's immaturity and lack of guidance leads him to express his legitimate grief in unhealthy and often incomprehensible ways. Initially, Vardaman seeks to find the cause of the expected death of this mother. His ignorance and emotional turmoil lead him to blame Doctor Peabody due to his recent visit. By blaming Peabody for having "kilt" his "maw," Vardaman reveals the anguish caused by the death of the mother he loves (54). In his emotional state, Vardaman, drawing on a past dramatic...

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