In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, William Faulkner reinforces his messages about the subjectivity or inexistence of reality, human suffering, and the damaged psychological state of men that are evident in As I Lay Dying. He believes that World War I is the culprit of this questioning and suffering, and people must and will “prevail” by relearning the ability to feel, or as he puts it, “the truths of the heart”. These ideas are reflected in the novel through its structure, as well as the suffering of the characters, and their psychological states.
Firstly, Faulkner opens by saying: “I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work”. This is reminiscent of how he does not focus on the characters in his novel, but rather what their actions and thoughts reveal about the overall reality of the story. He does not like to focus on people, but rather what they do, think, or create in this case, what it says about the world around them, and ultimately how it can help someone understand ‘reality’ better.
The theme of human suffering in As I Lay Dying is also reflected in Faulkner’s acceptance speech. Each of the characters face countless problems, mainly because of the death of Addie. For example, Moseley describes the family when he says, “And then, life wasn’t made to be easy on folks: they wouldn’t ever have any reason to be good and die.” (Faulkner, 202). This suggests that Addie was lucky to die, because the rest of the family must carry out such an unbearable existence. The Bundren children must suffer Anse’s neglect, and make sacrifices for their family. In particular, Cash meticulously constructs his mother’s coffin, and this obsessive nature is mirrored in the way he cares for the family in general. Faulkner includes these messages about suffering in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech when he says, “our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it.... There is only the question:...
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