As I Lay Dying

Literary techniques

Throughout the novel, Faulkner presents 15 different points of view, each chapter narrated by one character, including Addie, who, after dying, expresses her thoughts from the coffin. In 59 chapters titled only by their narrators' names, the characters are developed gradually through each other's perceptions and opinions, with Darl's predominating.

As I Lay Dying helped to solidify Faulkner's reputation as a pioneer, like James Joyce and Virginia Woolf, of stream of consciousness. He first used the technique in The Sound and the Fury, and it gives As I Lay Dying its distinctly intimate tone, through the monologues of the tragically flawed Bundrens and the passers-by whom they encounter. Faulkner plays with the narrative technique by manipulating conventional differences between stream of consciousness and interior monologue. For example, Faulkner has a character such as Darl speak in his interior monologue with far more intellectual diction than he realistically possesses. This is directly playing with conventions of interior monologues because, as Dorrit Cohn states in Transparent Minds: Narrative Modes for Presenting Consciousness in Fiction, the language in the interior monologue is "like the language a character speaks to others ... it accords with his time, his place, his social station, level of intelligence ..." The novel helped found the Southern Renaissance and directs a great deal of effort as it progresses to reflections on being and existence, the existential metaphysics of everyday life.

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