25 October 2011
Addie Bundren in Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying
Addie Bundren is the mother of the Bundren family, the main subjects of William Faulkner’s novel As I Lay Dying. The novel is centered on her death and burial as her family travels to bury her with her family in Jefferson. Throughout the novel, the reader gets an understanding of who Addie Bundren is, but only through other characters’ memories and perceptions of her; excluding the chapter where Addie speaks for herself where she gives the reader a true account of her thoughts and feelings about the world and her family. Reading Addie’s section of the novel, the reader discovers several innermost thoughts and secrets the mother is harboring. Addie does not look forward to her life. Stating things such as: “I could just remember how my father used to say that the reason for living was to get ready to stay dead a long time” and “And when I would have to look at them day after day…I would hate my father for having ever planted me” (Faulkner 19-170) tells the reader that Addie is not satisfied with her life. She has no family as all her relatives are dead; Addie finds comfort in death. As a schoolteacher, she only looks forward to when the children misbehave, so she can discipline them. “Now you are aware of me! Now I am something in your secret and selfish life…” (Faulkner 170) shows Addie longing to be noticed and important. She wants to leave a lasting memory. This dissatisfaction is not only with her job, but with her husband and children. She never speaks of Anse, her husband, lovingly. She speaks more of obligation. She never says that she loves him, the word holds no meaning in her life: “That is when I learned that words are no good; that words dont ever fit even what they are trying to say at…Love, he called it. But I had been used to words for a long time. I knew that that word was like the others: just a shape to fill a lack…Let Anse use it, if he wants...