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As I Lay Dying

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Ainsley Escobar

on 18 March 2014

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Transcript of As I Lay Dying

As I Lay Dying
William Faulkner

Author Biography
As I Lay Dying
Original Literary Criticism
-William Faulkner was born September 25, 1897, in New Albany, Mississippi, but mostly lived in Oxford, Mississippi, where his inspiration for his novels were found.

-Faulkner found brilliant themes due to the Southern setting that would reverberate amid his works throughout the rest of his career: family curses, burden of remorse that slavery had left on whites, and the passion of the Southern aristocracy and its effect on modern social codes.

-After writing
The Sound and the Fury
, Faulkner continued to assess through narrative techniques and ventured universal themes through the nature of the South.

-In the 1950s, Faulkner dedicated his career in filling in the history of the town of Jefferson and Yoknapatawpha County where his emotion dwindled and his exaggerated persuasive writing commenced. These problems correlated with his life-long battle to alcoholism.
What is the difference between assimilating and acculturating? What are the benefits to each?
-Assimilation is when one adapts completely into a host culture, whereas acculturation is when one keeps his or her own customs and learns to accept the other customs around them.
-The benefits of both would be an increased amount of acceptance into a host culture. Assimilation is on a more intimate level than acculturation, but both have to deal with gaining knowledge and acceptance of other cultures.
Is social cohesion ever achieved?
-No, the Bundrens never were fully accepted into the society because they are too stuck in their previous cultural ways. As society continuously progresses, the Bundrens have found themselves rooted in their old ways not wanting to progress along with society. As a result of this, social cohesion can not be achieved because of the stark differences between the Bundrens and the society around them.
1st Literary Criticism
As I lay Dying
by William Faulkner, the Bundren family perpetually struggles with the idea of assimilating and acculturating into the 1920's Southern lifestyle. Evidence of this struggle can be seen through their lack of communication with other people that belong to society. "Words are no good; words don't ever fit even what they are trying to say" (Faulkner 171) was said by Addie when she was reflecting on the previous life she had lives. Addie believed herself and her family to be distinctly different from the rest of society; thus making the process of assimilating merely impossible for this family. "Acculturative change may be the consequence of direct transmission from non-cultural causes such as demographic modifications induced by an impinging culture" (Rodriguez 37) because there is no demographic culture, there is no culture being influenced by a different culture, thus making it impossible for the Bundrens to assimilate or acculturate.
As I Lay Dying is an account of the Bundren family’s journey to bury Addie Bundren, their wife and mother. Cash, the oldest son of the family, is a carpenter who makes a coffin for her outside the window of the room where she lies dying. Addie’s dying wish was to be buried among her family in Jefferson, so when she finally passes away, the family journeys off to bury her. Along the journey, horrendous storms occur, resulting in the bridges they are relying on to wash away. In an attempt to cross a different yet risky path, a series of unfortunate events occurs as they are making their way through, and the Bundrens finally seek shelter at the Gillespie farm. Unable to cope with what is happening to his mother about to be buried under the ground, Darl deliberately sets fire to the barn in which the coffin is laying. He is immediately sent off to an insane asylum just so the family would not get sued. As soon as Anse is buried and the Bundrens are on their way to return home, he introduces them to the new “Mrs. Bundren.
-Issues of assimilation are not portrayed in As I lay Dying. Because the Bundren Family is stuck in pre-antebellum time it prevents them from moving towards the demographic modifications of the Mississippi countryside community. The Bundren’s try to acculturate rather then try to assimilate, as Padilla said, “ A persons involvement in intergroup contact can decide what elements of their culture they wish to surrender.” With the Bundren family, they did not interact with an intergroup. The more they struggled in acculturating as they continued to travel throughout the countryside to bury their mother they were extruded by many. Even when one family member tried acculturating it became too much for him moving ahead of the post-antebellum. It rigorously drove him insane.
2nd Literary Criticism
Dewey Dell in Faulkner’s AS I LAY DYING
-Joe Kovesdy
"Dewey Dell insinuates signs—divergent from those offered by Addie—of resistance to patriarchy and traditional female gender roles. These indications of protest are associated with her vital youth, sexual freedom, and determined nature." -Joe Kovesdy
-This literary criticism encompasses the belief that one of the main characters of the novel, Dewey Dell, recoils against maternity and the stereotypical female roles. Furthermore, it regards Dewey Dell and her aimless sexual behavior.

" I never had no time to cook it...I ain't minding it," (Faulkner).
-Dewey Dell fails to take on her mother's role in cooking for the family thus signifying her resistance to stereotypical notions of women obeying men and supplying care and nourishment for the family.
2nd Literary Criticism (continued)
"He could do so much for me if he just would. He could do everything for me," (Faulkner).
-Dewey Dell is referring to a doctor whom she wishes to terminate her pregnancy due to her affair with Lafe, a worker for their farm. Dewey Dell is persistent in attempting to get an abortion because she does not want to have a child which again indicates her rebellion against maternity. Dewey Dell constitutes sexuality and is not obstructed by patriarchy.
Issues of Assimilation and Acculturation
Socio Historical Context
This book takes place in the 1920's which is a portion of time that Daniel Faulkner lived in
The 1920's is considered to be the post Antebellum period or the "post civil war" period
This leads into a struggle with the assimilation as the Bundren's do not take on the qualities of an ordinary Post Antebellum family, but rather the qualities of a Pre-Antebellum family
The Pre-Antebellum time period was full of death and sorrow because of all the hardship that was brought with the civil war.
Families were used to the concept of death, which might have drawn them to be a little physiologically unstable, which is a perfect example of how the Bundren's acted throughout the story.
Tamara Slankard, The Faulkner Center:
"The literary corpse marks a key entry into the shifting definitions of modernism. Certainly the piling-up of real bodies during the 20th century impacted the form and content of fiction and in many ways modern funeral embalming practices both contain and reflect modernity as Americans begin to move toward 'an increased concern for appearances in consumer culture' after the civil war. "
"My father used to say that the reason for living was to get ready to stay dead for a long time" -Addie

Slankard's criticism was very accurate at explaining what was going on during the time that the book took place in, and why the Bundren's act the way that they do. The civil war had a massive physiological impact on the people that were involved in it during that time period. This can only explain why the family had a twisted fascination with the concept of death.
"She's goin', is she?" -Anse

Anse's quote only reaffirms what Slankard said in her literary criticism. Death was such a widely accepted thing during the pre-antebellum times that Anse had lost his wife, and did not even dispute the fact that she was gone. Anse just accepted the fact that she was gone and easily moved on later in the story.
Socio Historical Context cont...
Southern Gothic elements were very popular during this time, and Faulkner is sure to include a lot of those elements in his writing
Generally in Southern Gothic elements, there exists a lot of corruption amongst the characters
most of the character's are considered to be crazy
Generally one character stands out to be the craziest one of them all, that character in this story would be Darl
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