As I Lay Dying

"As I Lay Dying," So Does My Family: Profanity and Kinship in Faulkner's Novel 10th Grade

William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying presents an aggressive view of an unusual family. The Bundren family’s mother figure, Addie, dies. While transporting her body to Jackson for burial, the remaining six family members struggle to make it alive, uninjured, and in time so that the corpse stops rotting and smelling. Jewel, one of the elder brothers, remains the most determined and attached to their mother throughout their odyssey. However, he vocally and violently confronts those involved in transporting his mother in any way, including his family. During the journey, Jewel’s usage of the aggressive phrase “son of a bitch” illustrates the reverse ideas of familial relationships in the Bundren family as well as an inability to differentiate between animals and humans.

Jewel’s primary use for swearing is to refer to members of his family. When lifting the coffin, he refers to Cash as a “goddamn…think-nosed soul”, calling him “son of a bitch” while they try to keep it balanced (96). At the same time, Darl taunts Jewel when they go to get supplies to bring Addie to Jefferson. He retaliates through swearing as well (40). Jewel never uses this term for any other family members, leaving it for Cash and Darl. "Bitch," by technical...

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