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Week 7: As I Lay Dying

1) "As I Lay Dying" is written from the perspectives of 15 different characters. From this, we sometimes see conflicting opinions or interpretations of a single event or character. How does this add more depth to the novel?

2)From Question 1, try and find a moment where characters describe the same event or character in a different way. Briefly explain the situation, then tell us what you think the "real truth" is. Why do you think so?

3) Take one character from the novel and write an in-depth description: what do you think of them? What are they trying to accomplish in the novel? What is their opinion of the other characters? etc?

4) Anything else?

Comments

Judgments are made by many characters after Anse Bundren’s decision to let Darl and Jewel make a trip that will bring them three dollars as well as make them miss being with their mother before she dies. On page 19, after Jewel says that the rest of the family is rushing Addie Bundren’s death with the coffin and travel preparations, Anse Bundren retorts by calling Jewel an unaffectionate person. Later, on page 21, Cora describes the whole Bundren family (excluding Darl and Addie Bundren) as unaffectionate people. She excludes Darl from this statement because he is the only one who gives his mother a loving goodbye. I think the “real truth” is that Anse Bundren is the only unaffectionate person in the family. He says that all he wants is to give Addie the death and burial that she wants, but at the same time he sends two of her sons away so that they can make three dollars for the family. Also, it seems that he cares more about giving Addie the burial that she wants than giving her a lifetime of care.

I think that having the book written from the perspective of 15 different characters gives it a lot of depth but with that comes much confusion for my self. Some of the reasons I like having the book written from the perspective of many different characters is because then you can see many different sides to the same event which can be helpful in determining what is really going on. Some of the characters tell events that occur in very overly exaggerated ways, an example is with Vardaman Bundren who has a very wild imagination in the beginning of the novel. Another character that tells it from a very selfish point of view is Anse Bundren who I've seen been selfish and does things for his own good in many cases not taking into account others.
This book is also confusing because there are so many different view points. Right now its been very difficult with some events to understand the straight facts and know exactly what happen. For me, I have found it easiest to believe and follow Darl Bundern because he has tells the most stories from his view point and doesn't appear to exaggerate them.

The way that the stories is presented adds depth and different persepctives to the book. I like how the book is layed out and so far it has been an enjoyable read. The moment I can think of is the different opinions of Cash building his mother's coffin. Some of the characters feel that he is disturbing her with the noise and by always coming up to the window and having her examine each piece of wood. In the eyes of Anse, Cash is a great carpenter and he wished he would do such fine work on their barn. In some character's eyes what Cash is doing is wrong and it is not the right time to be building her casket. In Anse's eyes Cash is a good carpenter and Anse doesn't see any further into the situation.
This may be the wrong opinion of this character but I will analyze Cash. After reading the first sections Cash has only been hard at work in building the casket. I see this act as carrying out a wish of his mother and I think that Cash is trying to stay busy to keep is mind of her sickness. This is probably not the right vision which Cash is ment to be seen in but if I were Cash I would be trying to keep busy to not think about my mom dying. My first opinion of Cash is that he is saddened by his mothers illness and is trying to keep busy by building the casket.

Depth is added to “As I Lay Dying” because it is written from the perspective of 15 different characters. Seeing events from more than one perspective gives the reader the ability to interpret the situation for what it really is. Every character has an opinion or view of something and seeing it through only one set of eyes may give a bias or skewed representation of the event. Seeing a single event through the eyes of more than one character you can evaluate what each of them says/thinks and get a better picture of what really happened. As well as getting a better picture of each individual character’s character. Instead of basing your opinions on a character only off of the description of them by another character, you get inside their head and see them for who they really are. The different levels involved with so many characters and the reader interpretation create the depth of the novel.

Jewel is the child of Addie and the minister, and he is one of the hardest characters to fully understand at this point of time in the book. He is very into himself. He also is very independent in the novel, most of the people around him think that he could be selfish. He has a lot of passion for his mother, he would of done anything for her. In my opinion I think that he is a good person. He might come off as selfish but really does care about a lot of people including his mother and his other neighbors around him. So far in this novel, I think that he is trying to get people to accept him a lot more. Others think he is a selfish and rude, but I really do think he will come around.

Faulkner’s approach of using multiple characters perspectives is similar to putting together a puzzle from various pieces. Each character has their own attributes and traits, some of them good, and some of them bad. However, this uniqueness also changes their views on the journey to the countryside. Since each character is such a different part of the book, its good to explore the inner thoughts of each individual player in the story, and although it takes some effort to sort through the thoughts and get to the actual narration of what is going on throughout the journey, its particularly refreshing to get a new outlook every time the character changes. Since most of the characters have had a different relationship with Addie (some are children, others are simply neighbors), you definitely see a wide variety of opinions and perspectives coming from all the people who are affected by Addie’s death and her body’s journey to the burial place. Also, I’d like to say that for such a morbid setting for a book, there is an abnormal amount of humor in this book that I’m surprised to say I enjoyed while reading.

I took David’s advice of using spark notes to help supplement the story. To anyone who has not used, I would definitely recommend doing so. With 15 characters perspectives in the book, along with fragmented information, I found this book quite difficult to follow. I read the first 56 pages that are due today and was slightly unsure about what was going on during different parts. The characters often explain their actions and their internal thoughts as well as dialog, but not the context of the situation. During one of Tull’s sections, him and his wife Cora are having a conversation about the treatment of Addie on her deathbed. Near to the end of the talk, two characters Kate and Eula enter and add their opinion of the situation. I was very confused about who these characters were and where they came from. However upon reading spark notes, I learned that they are Cora and Vernon’s daughters, which was never explicitly stated in the book.

After reading the previous two novels that were collections of stories, I am amazingly refreshed by this book. Though the rapidly changing perspectives and rural dialogue make the book confusing, the simplistic narrative make this book much more enjoyable than the other two. I don’t find the fact that a small plot twist is told from several different perspectives because that actually makes the book seem more real. It also makes the book more fun to read because its like putting together a puzzle of what really happened from sometimes contradicting pieces. But what really makes this book fun is that we’re pretty much reading family members gossip and ridicule each other. Each person has an axe to grind against at least one other family member, and it makes the book really interesting. I also like that each chapter is only a few pages long because being a child of the e-generation, I probably have some undiagnosed A.D.D.

Anytime a book is written in first person with the narrator being an actual character instead of a third-party omniscient being, it adds a certain level of depth. The reader knows what the character is thinking based on his/her thoughts instead of just based on actions or words. Furthermore, whenever there are multiple narrators (characters) and the reader can identify with more than one character, it adds even more depth to the novel. Not only can we find faults or admiration in the characters, but we can also see exactly how the different characters feel about other ones.
In terms of when two characters (narrators) disagree among the details regarding a story, it shows that each character has a certain level of bias based on the way they’re thinking; it shows the characters are human. Sure it may add a little confusion for the reader, but the narrative seems more life-like as opposed to just a “good story.”

I was really not looking forward to reading Faulkner, but after reading the beginning of this book I was very surprised. I already am enjoying it more than the previous to books because of the different perspectives you get from the 15 different characters. I am glad that it has a relatively simple plot because I feel that it could become very confusing to me if it was more complex. It is interesting to determine the personalities and opinions of each character. I feel as though I am kind of playing detective when I read because I am trying to figure out who is telling the truth and who is exaggerating the truth. I feel that this 15 character narrative gives a lot of depth to the book and really sinks you into the story.

I realize that each section or chapter of the book is supposed to be written from the perspective of each character. However when I see Vardaman, the youngest of the Bundrens (although we really don’t know exactly how old he is), using words like “integrity” and “components” I get a little confused. It seems that each character can articulate their thoughts and surroundings extremely well, even if sometimes they are a little out of touch with reality. I don’t know many young children that are so eloquent in their descriptions of events or scenes. I noticed that it is usually the character’s pure thoughts that tend to come out less regulated, and that their descriptions are more structured. I realize that the audience needs to be informed, but their ways of speech just seem a little unrealistic for a normal everyday family.
Speech and vocabulary style being set aside, I think the idea of using different perspectives to portray different events is extremely effective. We get to see events happen in a subjective manner according to each character. This is something that I’ve certainly never experienced before in literature.

Because “As I Lay Dying” is written in so many perspectives by all the different characters, it gives more depth to the novel. I think that it gives the novel dimension by opening the reader to different views of what one character thinks of another, rather than just hearing a dispute or agreement in third person. We get to see more than just the characters realistically, but also situations or ideas. Each character has their own take on a situation, take for example Cash’s making his mother’s coffin right where she can see him. Rather than hearing disagreement from the author, we get to hear it from the other characters themselves. We also get to hear approval from characters themselves. This type of writing makes the novel more like real life because we are able get inside the heads of the characters. When you read the novel in third person, it seems like all you are reading is gossip.

The one character that I found to really like besides Darl is Vardamen. He is the youngest child of all the children and I think this really shows after he goes to the barn after he witnesses his mother’s death. He really takes the death hard and acts very childish taking his anger out with the stick, but the things he expresses while doing this are very thoughtful and on a level much higher than I would expect from the youngest of this family. He really plays the part of the innocent little brother as well when Dewey Dell finds him in the barn later and orders him out and he obeys. I feel that he is different from the other in the family but could most likely relate to Darl because he does seem very thoughtful and caring. It is almost as if his youth keeps him caring and loving because he has not yet been extremely affected by the harshness of his father’s upbringing. I’d like to see if this perception of him continues to be true throughout the book.

One of the characters that thought was interesting was Cora. She is one of the Bundren’s neighbors and does not seem to be overly concerned about Addie Bundren because in the first time that we get her narrative she seems more concerned about making cakes for an event that was canceled and not being compensated for them. In Cora’s second narrative she says that the only reason she is there is because she thinks that Addie would to be with a familiar face and that she would expect the same expects the same for herself. Cora is a bit critical of Addie as she does not approve of Addie’s choice to be buried with her family as opposed to being buried with her husband and kids. As she is not a member of the Bundren family her part seems to be that of an that of someone who is familiar with the Bundren’s but really has no concern over there situation.

The way that the story is told from the different points of view of multiple characters adds a lot of depth to the novel. It may be a more accurate way to tell a story, since every person has his or her own story of how an event occurred. The different points of view also allow Faulkner to really develop his characters. Not only do we get to see the thoughts of the characters, but the way that the characters express themselves and what they recall of the events shows us what their personalities are like.

I’m of the understanding that none of the characters have received any formal education. This makes me wonder how Darl is much more articulate than the rest of his family. I realize that a lot of Darl is William Faulkner writing through his character, but the lack of explanation for how he is more intelligent distracts me a little from his character and the story.

So far this novel has been easier for me to read than the last two books. Despite the changes in point of view, there is a constant flow to the story that is being told. The hardest thing to read so far has been the accents of the characters, but that’s simple to get used to if you speak the words in question out loud.

The thought of having many different perspectives at first made me think that this book was going to be extremely confusing, but after getting into the book I actually liked having the different characters narrate. I think it gives a way better understanding of each of their thought processes and inner feelings. Instead of seeing kind of a main central feeling towards an event, you get everyone’s views and feelings towards it, in particular, Addie Bundren’s death.

Thus far, my favorite character has been Vardaman Bundren. He seems to be very imaginative and exaggerates his stories. He also takes his mother’s death really hard. He runs out of the house crying and mad at Peabody, blaming him for the death of his mother. He runs and takes out his anger with a stick on Peabody’s horses. When Dewey Dell goes to get him to come inside he is very resistant to do so. His reaction seems to me like a common reaction of a child to an event like this.

In “As I Lay Dying,” I feel that Darl acts as somewhat of the stronghold of the family. The kids certainly can’t depend on their father for much, if anything, and Darl seems to play the level-headed, yet critical role that usually a father would play. Darl’s critical nature is apparent in the way that he speaks to his family members. When Darl tells Jewel that Addie has died, his tone almost seems harsh, like he is yelling at Jewel because he knows that Jewel most likely doesn’t care. Again, we see Darl’s stability in his observation. The way that Darl knows what is going on with Dewey Dell (without her mentioning any element of her situation to him) is an indicator that not much can get past him, which is yet another feature that usually comes with a father. Because Darl possesses the characteristics that would ususally come with a father, it seems that Darl does act as the stronghold of the family – at least thus far into the book.

I think that the style in which “As I lay Dying” is written is quite interesting. I like that there are several character perspectives that carry it along in a sequential manner. However, it is a little confusing to me that Darl is somewhat omniscient. I don’t find this difficult to follow, but think it makes the narrative less believable. Yet, I do think that the different perspectives give an entertaining and relatable twist to “As I Lay Dying”. Often, people find that they identify with one specific character in a novel and this writing style allows for one to better understand the person they feel a connection with. Additionally, having several perspectives forces one to sort out the accurate details from those that are spun to benefit the narrator. For example, when Anse says “durn those boys,” he is suggesting that he feels remorseful for the boys missing their mother’s last moment, but in actuality is the man who suggested the boys leave in the first place. I was also intrigued by the fact that this was experimental writing for the time period. I find that so many novels switch perspective these days that it is fun to read one of the first novels that did this.

I think it’s really interesting how Faulkner tells the story of As I Lay Dying. At first, it was a little confusing because I wasn’t sure what was going on, it was sort of like putting a puzzle together. But once I started to read more I understood that he was writing about people with different perspectives of what was going on. I think it makes the book more rounded in a way. Not everybody is going to have the same opinion of the same activity or event. I really enjoy that you get to see what the “onlookers” are thinking. The family members see the death of their mother and wife in a completely different view from the friends, which makes sense. I think it makes the book much more interesting than if it was just written based on one person. You get to take in all the emotions surrounding Addie’s death. It feels fuller, almost like you’re there with them watching it all happen.

I believe that since this book is told from so many perspectives it provides more information and different views. With these many views to choose from you are able to understand underlaying issues throughout the book. YOu now have more than one perspective on topics and you can better understand what is going on in the book. Usually you are only aware of one person's thoughts in a book, which in some cases could be biased. But the fact that you are given more than one person to hear the story from is an advantage. You can now tie together all of the ideas from each character and hopefully get a better understanding about the book. I like the wide range of narrators because reading from one person's perspective can get a little annoying.

Faulkner’s macabre humor is an ironic element of As I Lay Dying. While the novel is substantively tragic, its tragedy is juxtaposed with an awkward and subliminal humor. Due to the dramatic and tragic themes of the novel as a whole this juxtaposition serves to lighten the overall mood of As I Lay Dying, if only slightly. Some instances are isolated, such as the botched coffin. Others contribute to the somewhat farcical nature of the journey. For me, Faulkner’s humor lends itself to a greater comfort with the story’s plot and themes.

The 15 perspectives elucidates what really happens in the story. Because of the true story, the clear-cut “right” thing to do often becomes not so clear-cut and grey. For example, there seems to be controversy about Cash sawing and making the coffin while the mother, Addie, lies next to the window hearing her own death approaching. When I think about this, sure it is sad that Addie has to listen to her grave being made and know that she has no chance of living but at the same time, Cash is thinking more realistically where he knows, and everyone else knows, that a coffin needs to be made and it is just a matter of time. Cash just happens to be the unfortunate one who has to make the coffin because it would be considered his duty as the eldest. Also that he is good with the wood. But after Addie dies and there is no coffin, that would not be good too. Although people in the story don’t really like that he is making the coffin, he understands it is necessary eventually. Where he makes it wouldn’t make a difference since wood making noises carry a lot. This is an example of how having the many perspectives makes you better understand each character. Not necessarily having Cash’s point of view makes you understand but other characters’ opinions make that happen. Now, the initial belief that making the coffin while Addie is still alive is rude and such disappears given that everyone knows it will happen and Cash is just doing what he has to do not because he necessarily wants to.

The fifteen perspectives elucidates what really happens in the story. Because of the true story, the clear-cut “right” thing to do often becomes not so clear-cut and grey. For example, there seems to be controversy about Cash sawing and making the coffin while the mother, Addie, lies next to the window hearing her own death approaching. When I think about this, sure it is sad that Addie has to listen to her grave being made and know that she has no chance of living but at the same time, Cash is thinking more realistically where he knows, and everyone else knows, that a coffin needs to be made and it is just a matter of time. Cash just happens to be the unfortunate one who has to make the coffin because it would be considered his duty as the eldest. Also that he is good with the wood. But after Addie dies and there is no coffin, that would not be good too. Although people in the story don’t really like that he is making the coffin, he understands it is necessary eventually. Where he makes it wouldn’t make a difference since wood making noises carry a lot. This is an example of how having the many perspectives makes you better understand each character. Not necessarily having Cash’s point of view makes you understand but other characters’ opinions make that happen. Now, the initial belief that making the coffin while Addie is still alive is rude and such disappears given that everyone knows it will happen and Cash is just doing what he has to do not because he necessarily wants to.

When I first started to read this novel I did not enjoy how the same event was told by different people. I didn’t like how sometimes their opinions or stories about what happened would conflict. After reading farther into the novel I realized that it was actually quite helpful. By having two view points of the same situation I was able to get more information and understand the story more. Some of the characters like Cash and Vardaman would not clearly describe what was happening so it was nice to have the perspective of the other characters to clear things up. I found Darl’s point of view to be the most clear and easy to understand, but I was confused as to why he knew what was going on even when he wasn’t there. For example, he knew exactly how Addie died and he wasn’t even at the house. I wonder if this has something to do with him being crazy. I also wondered at the end of the book if Darl was actually crazy or if they just didn’t want to deal with his consequences.

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