Character Analysis of Jewel Bundren in As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner

Topics: William Faulkner, Love, Family Pages: 4 (1560 words) Published: April 4, 2013
In As I Lay Dying, author William Faulkner introduces the audience to Jewel Bundren, a violent and harsh bastard who is no less than a “jewel” to his mother. He is an outcast, a third son, and the product of an affair. However, his mother Addie, who has been stifled by her lackluster marriage and the conformity of the church, sees Jewel as a gift. She finds joy in the sin and rebellion that created her son, and the more Jewel sins and rebels, the more she feels linked to him. However, Jewel is much deeper, emotionally, than his “wooden-face”. Though Faulkner leads the audience to misperceive Jewel as immoral and evil, the author later shows that the character is actually very emotional and caring; Jewel just reveals his affections in strange ways.

To understand Jewel Bundren better, one must first examine his mother, Addie. Before she fell in lust with Jewel’s father, Brother Whitfield, she was married to Anse Bundren. She had two children by Anse. Then she had Jewel by Brother Whitfield. While she is proud of this silent rebellion against her husband, she nonetheless feels that she owes her husband a true third son that he has always wanted. So, Addie delivers two more children, a daughter and a final son, Vardaman. Addie says, “I gave him Vardaman to replace the child I robbed him of. And now he has three children that are his and not mine” (Faulkner 176). Of course, Addie does not count her daughter Dewey Dell in this quote because Anse did not want a daughter. Therefore, Jewel and Dewey became her children and the other three, she feels belong to her husband. Addie says of Cash, Darl and Vardaman ,”I did not ask for them” (Faulkner 174). When Jewel was conceived, Addie gained something from her rebellion; she gained a son that was not of Anse’s blood. Jewel was the product of Addie needing to live a little. She wanted to experience the forbidden fruits of Eden, and what better way to taste them, than to consummate with a holy man?

In Addie’s internal...

Cited: Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. New York; Vintage International, 1980. Print.
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