Professor Donna Baumler
Essay #1 (Compare/Contrast-Character Analysis) Final Draft
28 February 2012
How Faulkner uses Darl and Jewel’s Differing Narrations and Words to Convey Central Themes in As I Lay Dying
In the novel As I Lay Dying, author William Faulkner formulates major differences in the narrations of brothers Jewel and Darl to convey and enhance several of the novel’s central themes. Jewel and Darl arguably represent different viewpoints regarding the ephemerality and importance of one’s existence and identity—a main theme in the novel that also highlights the essence of the fundamental differences between these two characters. Another important theme in the novel is the dissidence between thoughts and words and the way in which each concept is represented by Jewel and Darl, as well as the way these concepts affect the relationship of the two brothers. A third theme explores the isolation between the members of the Bundren family and how Darl and Jewel’s isolation from one another and from the rest of the Bundrens contributes largely to the extreme dysfunction seen within the family. Faulkner uses tools such as the words and language that Darl and Jewel use and the frequency with which each brother is visited as a narrator to help compare and contrast Jewel and Darl as characters. The contrasts between the brothers are of particular importance in Faulkner’s attempt to relate to the reader what he is trying to prove regarding the tragic and ironic human existence. The misfortunes suffered by Jewel and Darl physically, mentally, through their sibling rivalry, and through their isolation from their family and one another are all results of living their lives in a way that Faulkner wants his audience to avoid. Faulkner presents Jewel and Darl as foils in the novel, allowing the different ways in which they handle Addie’s death to provide the reader with an insight into their opposing views on one’s existence and place in...