As I Lay Dying Symbolism
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While the novel As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner, is a book about a family's journey to fulfill Addie's dying wish, the story is expressed through symbolism. Each chapter illustrates different characters perspectives, though Addie Bundren is the main character of the story. Through motifs and themes, the story presents the Bundren family as the characters struggling with the following themes:
- The existence of man
- Man's identity
The characters thoughts represent a variety of symbols throughout the poetic story. The Bundren's may be viewed as poor folk with dignity and grace, albeit the lack of formal manners and grammar. A poor southern family struggles with Addie's death and the transformation of life. Symbolism is weaved throughout in the following ways:
- As Addie's death convolutes existence and identity
- Logic versus language
- Tangible versus the intangible
Each character struggles with Addie's death differently.The children turn to animals to describe their mother; Jewel's grief creates the inability to speak for himself, while Darl speaks for him. Vardaman speaks senselessly and eventually Darl is deemed insane.Cash and Anse's tools and farm equipment symbolize stable living.In the end, Addie's coffin symbolizes the families point of unity and dysfunction.The conclusion is the reality that any person's stable identity may also be equally unstable.