Introduction

 

    The
word ” alienation”

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An American novelist William Faulkner has written As I Lay Dying in
modernism, a significant movement appeared in the nineteenth century. Modernism
was a change in the form and style of literature and especially novel.

    
Faulkner has used a specific technique “stream of consciousness” to
discover the inner feelings of the characters. He used multiple narrators that
each individual character expressed his view and feeling differently about the
events that occurred to the family, to present the notion of alienation in the
novel. Although psychological problem and financial problem were a major reason
behind appearing alienation in the novel.  

    
Section one in this study presents Faulkner’s biography and style
regarding to the “Faulkner’s Alienated Family in As I Lay Dying “. Section two
introduces the background of the novel with its historical background as well
as the title of the novel with the plot. While Section three is about the
movement which had a significant influence on the novel. And the last section
discusses alienated family in the novel As I Lay Dying.    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

William
Faulkner’s Biography and style

  
 

    
An American Author who was born in New Albany, Mississippi in 1897. He
had received the Nobel Prize 1950, a national book Award, and a Pulitzer Prize.
Faulkner wrote short stories and many important novels such as As I Lay
Dying, The Hamlet, Light in August, Absalom, and Go Down, Moses. Many
critics regarded Faulkner as a great and influential American writer of the
twentieth century.

    
He once said “It opened up a gold mine of people, as I created a cosmos
of my own” because the fictional cosmos that Faulkner created was a
Yoknapatawpha Country which it has its own reality. He indicted what happened
there with a significant that only literature can impart. With the appearance
of each novel that he wrote, he filled in the history of the country. So this was
the history of the society, the decisions it faced, the directions in which it
was drown, and with its effort to maintain its traditions and principle of
integrity. However, his focus was not only on the south but, involving all
humanity. The violent and insane consequences of race and money in Faulkner’s
south become in his fiction a history of the whole United States, which in turn
was a history of the fallen human race.

    
Faulkner’s writing seemed Shakespearean in its great expressiveness and
in its remarkable range of characters, situation, and tones. Faulkner’s
greatness is obvious through his novels and situations that he used, extending
from earthy comedy to deep tragedy and in huge power of expression. He died in
1962. (Hodgins,1996).

 

 

 

 

 

2. The Background
of As I Lay Dying

    

     Faulkner
was one of the American’s special modernist authors. The novel “As I Lay
Dying” has been written in modernism so Faulkner as a modernist interested
in those new forms and styles that produced by modernism, a movement which is
broadly used to identify new and distinctive features in the topics, forms,
concepts ,and styles of literature in the nineteenth century(Abrams,2005). It was
also a reaction against Victorian and Romanticism. Modernism in literature was
like a breaking rules of tradition and conventions (Cuddon,2013). The most
noticeable modernist principles that were used by Faulkner were stream of
consciousness, multiple narrator, realistic southern characters, and focusing
on the lower-social class families.

   
 It can take to a consideration
that this novel has been written after World War I that is why the effects of
the War were evident in the novel. The subjects were about the destructions that
appeared in a result of the War and the setting was in the south. Faulkner’s
novel “As I Lay dying” contains all of these principles that appeared in
a result of the War. In addition, Faulkner’s characters had a strong impact not
only on the region but on the world generally because of their surviving with
the difficult problems that they faced. Faulkner himself called As I Lay Dying
“A deliberate book ” and a planned ” tour de force” proposing the kind of
highly self-conscious creative process so often attributed to modernists (Meriwether,2004;297).

     The
title of this novel comes from Agamemnon’s speech to Odysseus in the Odyssey:”
As I lay dying the woman with the dog’s eyes would not close my eyes for me as
I descended in to Hades.”  Fredrick Karl,
one of Faulkner’s biographers, contends that “I” related to one character in
the novel who is “Darl” but, Most of others thought that Addie is “I”.  This novel has a simple subject matter. It
took nearly not more than a nine-day long burial process that participated by a
poor family. It begins with Addie lying in her bed, and ends with her final ceremony.
No extraordinary happening has been seen. This Novel can be regarded as a journey
book, like The Canterbury Tales, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The
Odyssey, On the Road. Although the story of the journey was important, Faulkner
did not emphasis on details that were not as important as the people on the
journey and the meaning of the journey (Goss,2015).  

 

 

3. Alienated
Family in As I Lay Dying

 

 
   Alienation is one of the major features of the
modern novel, which ranks at the top especially in As I Lay Dying. There are
some significant reasons behind appearing alienation in Burden family; psychological
problem, financial problem and selfishness of the family members, loss of the
love and responsibility.

   
 The members of the Bundren family
were living with each other and they were together in the journey but essentially
alienated from each other. No effective conversations happened between the
members of Burden family so Faulkner showed this Alienation through using
multiple narrators (fifteen different narrators) in telling the story. Each character
had their own interpretation to what occurred. The family members did not
reveal their wishes to each other while the Bundrens contain of only seven
characters. Not only the individuals alienated from others, but they were also
alienated from God, or from the sense of religion. (Gale ,2016)  

 
   The major reason behind appearing alienation
was a psychological problems. There was no kind or warm relations between the
members of the family. No one was precious to anyone else, no one felt
happiness either. Meaninglessness and uncertainty make the whole view of the
novel totally gloomy. Most important alienated character in As I Lay Dying was
Darl, Addie’s second child .The particular alienated character in the novel was
Darl because of his psychological problem. Part of Darl’s alienation came from
his sensitive personality and the other part is referred to painful situation (the
death of his mother and the burial journey) which strongly affected his psychology
(Peek, Hamblin,2004). Faulkner in this novel used stream of consciousness, is a
technique which seeks to depict the multitudinous thoughts and feelings which
pass through the mind. This term first used by William Jamce in Principle of
Psychology (1890) to indicate the flow of inner emotions (Cuddon,2013). Stream
of consciousness used by the narrators of the story, who each one interpreted
the events through his or her view and emotions. Certainly, the stream of
consciousness has been clearly seen by Darl, who was one of the main narrators
of the story. He expressed his inner thoughts and feelings through his strange
actions and quotations as nervously said:

“Yes yes yes yes yes yes
yes.” (Faulkner,1957 :244)

“In a strange room you must empty
yourself for sleep. And before you are emptied for sleep, what are you….I don’t
know what I am. I don’t know if I am or am not. Jewel knows he is, because he
does not know that he does not know whether he is or not.” (Faulkner,1957) 

    
Darl was a character that lived in the world but he was somehow not of
the world. He had some significant ability that was rare for other peoples such
as, Darl’s realization of his sister’s pregnancy. It was abnormal sense or
ability when he talked with his sister telepathically about her secret. In this
quotation Darl indirectly told her sister “Dewy Dell” about recognizing her
wish for going to the town to do the abortion:

“I said to Dewey Dell: ‘You want her
to die so you can get to town: is that it?” (Faulkner,1957)

    
Above all, Darl’s intellectual sensibility made him alienated from the
community. Beside acknowledging his sister’s pregnancy, He was also aware of
things that will happen in the future. Asssss suddenly he felt his mother’s
death by uttering these words when he was in the town with his brother Jewel:

“Jewel’s hat droops limp about his
neck…Jewel, I say, she is dead, Jewel. Addie Bundren is dead.” (Faulkner,1957) 

    
Even though Darl alienated himself from neighbors and also from his
family (Atkinson). For example, “Tull” The Bundren’s neighbor declared Darl’s
alienation through his speech when he said:

“I have said and I say again, that’s
ever living thing the matter with Darl: he just thinks by himself too much”
(Faulkner,1957;71)  

    
Darl’s alienation reached ttttttthe peak when he burned Gillespie’s barn
during an overnight repose. That is why Darl’s expression involved destruction
rather that construction in a result of his psychological problem. Although
this burning was a response to the pain that he enabled to express it over loss
of his mother and also the burial journey In the end of the novel, Darl has
been taken to an insane asylum in Jackson after trying to incinerate his
mother’s coffin by burning down Gillespie’s barn. (Atkinson).

    
Another major reason behind appearing alienation in this novel As I
Lay Dying was a financial problem (Materialism or Marxism). The theory of
Marxism is always linked with materialism. Marxism is a materialist philosophy:
attempt to explain things without supposing the existence of a world, or of
forces, beyond the natural world and the society (Barry,2009). Carl Marx, a
German philosopher who founded the notion of Marxism. Carl Marx was the main
theorist of modern socialism, believed that life is materialistic, starting
with the need for food and shelter; the physical facts of life maybe said to
shape human consciousness rather than the other way around. The material
economic world he called the base; a superstructure is built upon that base,
and it is economics is the driving material force of society and of the class
differences between the bourgeoisie, the capitalist upper class, and the
proletariat, the working class that supplies the capitalists, or owner of the
wealth, with their labor. Marx saw life as having a materialist base, spiritual
expressions he saw as a culture’s ideology, and that ideology would support the
needs of the dominant class (Guerin .etal,2011). Marxism observes development
as coming about through the struggle for power between different social classes
(Barry,2009).

    
According to the theory of Marxism money and materials are so important
and it can rrrrrrule the life. This novel As I Lay Dying also affected
by the theory of Marxism because of the proletarian social class family which
is Bundren family. The author Faulkner used this working social class to show
the life and the situation of southern people. The idea of Marxism alienated
Ans from his family. Ans was the father of the Bundren family and he was
Addie’s husband. He was not a good father for his children and also he was not a
rrrresponsible man. Ans was in a working social class, who was thinking to
steal money from his children in order to get a new set of teeth. One part of
Ans’s alienation came from his eager to steal money from his children and the
other part came from his selfishness. He was clearly careless about his family,
children and especially his wife “Addie”. Even he did not really love his wife
and he did not felt sorry for her death, in a reason that he was too busy with
his wish to go to the town, collect the money and got the teeth, as it is
evident in his speech when he said:           

“God’s will be done,” he
says. “Now I can get them teeth.” (Faulkner,
1957)

“But now I can get them teeth.
That will be a comfort. It will.” (Faulkner, 1957;111)

    
The Bundren’s neighbors and most members of the family thought that Anse
wanted to took Addie’s body for burial to Jefferson because Ans promised his
wife Addie in her death-bed, but it was not true. The right reason behind going
to Jefferson was the selfishness of Anse, to get a new set of teeth as he
declared himself.

“I give my promise, She is
counting on it.” (Faulkner, 1957)

    
In addition, Ans sent his two eldest sons, Darl and Jewel, to take the
wagon to the town for trading, for three dollars although he was aware of his
wife’s situation. At that time when the novel has been written, three dollars
was more a lot than nowadays.  That is
why when Addie died her two sons were not at home because of Ans’s wish for
collecting money. So it is clear that even the smallest amount of money is a
matter of life and death for the Bundren’s. Ans was responsible to what was
hhhhhhappened to Addie’s coffin (nearly to be burned and destroyed by the
storm) because he sent Darl and Jewel to the town that is why they must wait
for the wagon to return back. When the wagon returned back ,the storm started.
This is evident that Ans was alienated himself from his family and he was not
aware of his children’s wish. His selfishness derived him toooooo alienation.
At the end of the novel Ans took Dewy Dells abortion money and eventually used
it to buy a new set of teeth. The selfishness of Ans is strongly obvious when
he get married to another woman in his dead wife’s siteeeee

The noticeable point is that the
Bundrens’ need for/// of money was so restrictive and affected all their
decisions (Peek,Hamblin,2004).

    
Another alienated character in As I Lay Dying was Dewy Dell, The
only girl in the Bundren family. Her alienation came from her problem which was
her pregnancy. With the death of her mother “Addie” she didn’t feel any pain because
of her busy minddddd with her enormous problem which actually alienated her
from her family and especially her mother. This was Dewy Dell’s expression
about her mother’s death:

“I heard that my mother is dead. I
wish I had time to let her die. I wish I had time to wish I had.” (Faulkner, 1957)

Dewy Dell in this quote explained
that her secret has been discovered by her brother “Darl”. However, no
discussions and conversations occurred between the members of the family
especially between Dewy Dell and her brother “Darl” but, Darl’s intuition
awaked him to acknowledge his sister’s pregnancy(Peek,Hamblin,2004):

“And so it was because I could not
help it. It was then, and then I saw Darl and he knew. He said he knew without
the words like he told me that ma is going to die without words…And that’s why
I can talk to him with knowing with hating because he knows.” (Faulkner,1957)

    
Eventually, any individual lived in her or his world. Especially Dewy
Dell was the only girl of the Burden family although physically she was living
with her family but, spiritually she was alienated from her family. The Bundren
family in As I Lay Dying faced most significant problems such as,
psychological problem and financial problem which made them alienated.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

    

     Alienation is one of the main and effective themes in As I Lay
Dying which is written by William Faulkner in the nineteenth century. Faulkner
used particular factors to illustrate the alienated family in As I lay Dying.
By multiple narrators, he explains different views from each
character about the event that occurred to the family.

   
Psychological problem and financial problem heavily affects the members
of Bundren family to be alienated in As I lay Dying. Darl’s
psychological problem made him alienated from society and also from his family.
In other hand the financial problem made Ans to be alienated from his family
because of his interest in/////greedy to material world.    

     In my view, it is only love that can control or save the family
from alienation. When love is existed or felt by the members, all troubles can
be solved. I think if there was love between the members of the family they
will never alienated if there were a million reasons to be alienated.    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

·       
Abrams,
M.H (2005) A Glossary of Literary Terms. 8th ed. Australia. Thomson
Wadsworth. p175

·       
Barry,
P (2009) Beginning Theory : An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory.3th
ed. UK. Manchester University Press. P.134-5 

·       
Cuddon,
J.A (2013) A Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. 5th  ed. UK. Wiley- Blackwell. p 441

·       
Faulkner,
W (1957) As I lay Dying: the corrected Text. New York. Vintage.

·       
Gale
(2016) A Study Guide for William Faulkner’s “Light in August”: novels for
students. United State of America. Gale, cengage learning.

·       
Goss,
P (2015) As I Lay Dying: Reviewed for the book club.

·       
Guerin,
W.L . et al.(2011) A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature.6th
ed. New York. Oxford University Press. P.125-6 

·       
Hodgins,
F. et al. (1996) Adventures in American Literature. Athena ed. New York.
Holt, Rinehart and Winston. P 624-877

·       
Meriwether,
J.B .ed (2004) Essays, Speeches, and Public Letters. New York.

Random House

·       
Peek,
Ch.A . Hamblin, R.W (2004) A Companion to Faulkner Studies. London.
Greenwood Press.

 

 

 

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