As I Lay Dying

“Violent Love” and Other Notions of Dysfunctional Relationships in Faulkner's As I Lay Dying

In typical modernist fashion, William Faulkner experiments in his work with a number of nontraditional stylistic and thematic characteristics, including brokenness, fragmentation, despair, pessimism, perception distortion, and the rejection of societal norms. In his novel As I Lay Dying, he focuses on a sense of alienation and separation, particularly within the Bundren family. Members of the Bundren family exhibit various dysfunctional relationships with one another, with their lovers, and even with God. Examples of these relationships include husband and wife, parent to child and sibling to sibling; in many of these cases, the Bundrens display seemingly violent affection toward each other.

Addie and Anse, the heads of the Bundren household, do not provide an example of the ideal marriage. In fact, this duo is the epitome of a broken communion. Each treats the other as more of a burden than someone to rely on; both may even prefer independence to the company of their spouse. Their indifference toward one another begins as soon as they are engaged, and for good reason. Addie’s decision to marry Anse occurs without much consideration. Upon realizing that he owns a small piece of property, falsely believing that he is a hard...

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