English, Block A
Addie: Second Draft In the book A Lesson Before Dying, Addie Bundren's attitude at the time of birth of each of her children is reflected in the personality and actions of the child. Addie was born an isolated and lonely child, unloved by her family and strongly affected by her father, who taught her that the reason for living was no more than a preparation for death. Addie felt that during her whole life she had been neglected, and when she married Anse, she hoped that things would eventually change. She is very afraid of aloneness. When she knew that she was pregnant, she felt that at last her aloneness had been penetrated, especially through child birth. Addie hated Anse; that’s why she wants to be buried in Jefferson, with her own family, rather than with Anse’s. Addie wasn’t exactly an ideal person for motherhood to begin with. She worked as a schoolteacher and enjoyed whipping her students, who she secretly hated. And weirdly, what caught Addie’s attention the most about this punishment was the fact that it made her a part of the students’ lives. "Now you are aware of me!" she used to think. But when she finally had her own children, what she resented most was that her "aloneness had been violated." Remember that this is the 1920s and Addie is a woman. She doesn’t really have much purpose to her life other than having babies. Her anger at her students probably has a lot to do with the loneliless she feels as a single woman. She wants to be noticed; she wants to be a real person. Having kids doesn’t solve the problem; it just presents a new one. And Addie feels she will never be anything but a vessel for these babies. She hasn’t become her own person – she’s become part of a family. Now she regrets that attachment, which is why she feels her "aloneness has been violated." And because of how she feels, Addie started an affair with Whitfield, which is to rebel against her role in the family. Addie never felt a connection with her kids except with Jewell. She explains it by saying Darl and Cash belonged to Anse. She never really wanted them, and having them in the first place was really just about her duty as a wife. But since Anse isn’t Jewel’s father, he has no ownership over him. Jewel is Addie’s and Addie’s alone. He’s also living proof, at least to her, that she was able to break out of her position as Anse’s wife and act as a real, independent person. As you’ve probably noticed by now, Jewel does save Addie – the dead Addie in her coffin – from the water and from the fire. But Jewel saves her rotting corpse from the water and the fire. The novel has unfolded in such a way so as to make a farce out of Addie’s prediction. Jewel didn’t save her or her soul; he just hauled a heavy, awkward, backwards coffin out of a river and out of a burning barn. What a mockery. Still, when you realize that Addie essentially predicted events after her own death, you might wonder for a moment if she isn’t the narrator of all the novel, because she’s got weird prophetic abilities, the title refers to an "I" which very well could be her, and this would explain why Darl knew what was happening at her death: because she’s getting into everyone’s head from all her mind games. But this is unlikely. The point isn’t that Addie might be the narrator; the point is to question what it means to be a narrator, to have a point of view, to be limited by one’s perceptions. This segues right into one of Addie’s important realizations: words are absolutely useless. On a scale of 1 to 10, the communication skills of this cast rate about a 2. The very concept of the narration itself – different narrators providing different perspectives – suggests that words are never accurate descriptions of reality anyway, because they are subjective and interpretive. Addie is a very interesting character, and still seems to be a mystery.