As I Lay Dying

Addie Bundren: Force of Nature College

Not only in reality, but also in the fictional world of literature, women have been silenced from time immemorial. This is the case in William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, a novel that details the journey of a family as they travel to bury the deceased matriarch of the family, Addie Bundren. Some critics, like Linda Wagner, disagree contending that the book is “the story of Addie Bundren and her best-loved son Jewel” (74). Marc Hewson agrees with the more positive spin on Addie’s position, arguing that:

through the process of Addie’s monologue and the combined actions and thoughts of her children, the dynamic feminine and maternal principle which she maintains negates the stolid and unmoving male principle, and Addie herself becomes a possible source of female power in the book. (552)

But I argue that the first red flag, indicative of her silenced position, should be the fact that she is the character that has died and that this is a sign of a much deeper problem. As Patricia Yaeger remarks, “Faulkner puts Addie Bundren’s dead body at the axis of As I Lay Dying and gives it a smell” because she is just another woman on the assembly line of a family that is mass produced by Anse Bundren, who simply goes and gets another wife when...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 1055 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 8290 literature essays, 2287 sample college application essays, 359 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in