February 27, 2009
As I Lay Dying
In Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, he used animals to symbolize characters. The Bundren children are obsessed with animals throughout the novel. Vardaman is convinced that his mother is a fish, Darl declares that Jewel’s mother is a horse, and Dewey Dell relates to the farm cow as another woman. After each character learns of their mother’s death they each relate an animal to situations apparent to their own lives.
Varadaman sees Addie as a fish because of the way that she has been transformed from alive to dead. Vardaman catches a fish on the day his mother dies and cuts it up and brings it inside to be cooked. The blood of the fish is all over his clothes and on the same day Addie dies. Vardaman connects a fish with his mother and believes her to be a fish. “Vardaman comes back and picks up the fish. It slides out of his hands, smearing wet dirt onto him, and flops down, dirtying itself again, gapmouthed, goggle-eyed, hiding into the dust like it was ashamed of being dead, like it was in a hurry to get back hid again,” (Faulkner, 31). In this section Vardaman relates his mom to being a fish. Vardaman uses the death of the fish to symbolize the death of his mother. “Vardaman comes around the house, bloody as a hog to his knees, and that ere fish chopped up with the axe like it or not,” (Faulkner, 38). Vardaman later grasps the concept of death and how it relates back to his own being. Although he seems to be young ,Vardaman begins to attribute his now dead mother to a now dead fish. “I can feel where the fish was in the dust. It is cut up into pieces of not-fish now, not-blood on my hands and overalls,” (Faulkner, 53.) The fish symbol is illustrated throughout the novel as being Vardaman’s mother. “My mother is a fish,” (Faulkner, 84).
Next, Faulkner uses the Bundren cow to symbolize Addie’s death, the bond between Dewel Dell and Vardaman. Dewey Dell is the character that relates most...