As I Lay Dying

The Semblance of Selflessness: The Ingenuity of Kindness in As I Lay Dying 12th Grade

On the surface, the county of Yoknapatawpha seems to be a close-knit community that provides a support system for the Bundrens in the aftermath of Addie Bundren’s death. While this is technically true, it is not as rosy a picture as Blackman makes it seem. Blackman’s comment that the goodwill displayed in the novel is “reflective of some faith in humanity” implies that their goodwill is genuine. This is simply not the case. Almost every character in William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying gains some physical or emotional reward by assisting others. This incentive, in combination with a strong sense of duty, propels them to lend a helping hand, not a sense of community.

The Bundrens are in desperate state throughout the novel. They hardly have any money, and are travelling down a long and unfamiliar road in order to bring matriarch Addie Bundren to Jefferson for burial. Due to the pure foolishness of the quest, Anse’s poor leadership as a father, and division amongst the various family members, they are in constant need. Because of this, the people they meet along the way tend to feel pressured to what they can to make the journey smoother for them. However, it is not purely out of the good of their hearts, but because they feel a...

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