As I Lay Dying

Jewel's Development in As I Lay Dying

William Faulkner uses multiple narrators in As I Lay Dying, a technique that enables him to illustrate different mindsets on events and ethical questions. Some narrators’ motivations are clear: Dewey Dell is determined to get an abortion, for example, and Vardaman longs for a toy train and bananas. Jewel is more difficult to understand, and is the only member of the Bundren family who gives no personal narration following Addie’s death. Because the reader can only understand Jewel through the accounts of others, she may be particularly confused as to why Jewel would help Anse, a man to whom he has neither biological nor affable ties, by giving up the horse that has long been his only outlet for expressions of love. The explanation is that Jewel realizes he must compromise his principles to achieve anything, and that he becomes increasingly willing to question his immediate reaction to situations.

In order to understand Jewel’s final decision to help Anse, one must examine the relationship between Jewel and both his mother and horse. The filial relationship between Jewel and Addie is unique both emotionally and genetically. While Cash, Darl, Vardaman, and Dewey Dell are all the children of Anse and Addie, Jewel is the child...

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