As I Lay Dying: Character's Words and Insight to Underlying Meanings

Topics: Linguistics, Narrative, Sentence Pages: 4 (1205 words) Published: October 8, 1999
As I Lay Dying: Character's Words And Insight To Underlying Meanings

Fulfilling a promise they had made to their mother, Addie, Cash, Darl, Jewel, Dewey Dell, and Vardaman, in William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, journey across the Mississippi countryside to bring her body to be buried in Jefferson, alongside her immediate family. Each one, in turn, narrates the events of this excursion as they are perceived. Though all of the family members are going through the same experiences, each one expresses what they see and how they feel by exercising their individual powers and limitations of language. What each character says as well as how he/she says it gives insight into that character's underlying meanings.

Darl, for example, uses his linguistic skills to gain power as narrator. He possesses the ability to pick up on things unsaid and to read other people's actions. Dewey Dell describes his intuitiveness when she says that " he said he knew without the words, and I knew he knew because if he had said he knew with words I would not have believed…and that's why I can talk to him with knowing with hating with because he knows" (27). He uses his gift of realizing things without them having to actually be told to him to gain credibility with the reader. Who would doubt a narrator who possesses that type of adroitness? Also, his language is clear and reflective. He uses similes and metaphors and appears to have an acute awareness of spatial relationships. Darl's sophisticated perception and poetic linguistics give him the means of reaching for and maintaining his role as a competent observer and reporter. However, his position does create certain problems for his siblings.

Tull describes Darl's "look" as being uncanny.

"He is looking at me. He dont say
nothing; just looks at me with them
queer eyes of hisn that makes folks
talk. I always say it aint never
been what he done so much or said...
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