Commonplace-Book Entry: “As I Lay Dying” by William Faulkner, The Language of Dewey Dell’s Nightmare

 

When I used to sleep with Vardaman I had a nightmare once I thought I was awake but I couldn’t see and couldn’t feel I couldn’t feel the bed under me and I couldn’t think what I was I couldn’t think of my name I couldn’t even think I am a girl I couldn’t even think I nor even think I want to wake up nor remember what was opposite to awake so I could do that I knew that something was passing but I couldn’t even think of time then all of a sudden I knew that something was it was wind blowing over me it was like the wind came and blew me back from where it was I was not blowing the room and Vardaman asleep and all of them back under me again and going on like a piece of cool silk dragging across my naked legs

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. Vintage International, 1990, page 121-122.

I thought that this passage in the text was interesting, due to both its language and structure in which it is written. Here Dewey Dell starts to suddenly think of a nightmare she had while sleeping beside Vardaman after thinking of when Vardaman took a knife and chopped up a fish and then thinking of taking the knife and killing Darl with it. It feels as though this is a random thought or memory at first, but I feel that perhaps she is reminded of this because she is experiencing similar existential thoughts and feelings after the death of her mother. Another thing about this passage is that it is written in italics, as though it is a different kind of thought or a different part of her is interrupting her previous thoughts with this memory, or perhaps, this thought strikes her more deeply or is more important than her other thoughts. It is also written as one long sentence with no punctuation or periods, so while I read it, it felt like an intense rush of thoughts or a memory, which I thought was more like a stream of consciousness than is written for other characters in this text, such as Darl, but it still is written as though Dewey Dell is talking to somebody else. 

As I Lay Dying; Interesting Language

“Before us the thick dark current runs. It talks up to us in a murmur become ceaseless and myriad, the yellow surface dimpled monstrously into fading swirls travelling along the surface for an instant, silent, impermanent and profoundly significant, as though just beneath the surface something huge and alive waked for a moment of lazy alertness out of and into light slumber again.”

141 Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying, New York Vintage, 1990, page 141.

As I Lay Dying, Faulkner: Bryant Magdaleno, Limits of Vision

“ It means three dollars,” I say. “Do you want us to go, or not?” Pa rubs his knees. “Well be back by tomorrow sundown.”
“Well …” pa says. He looks out over the land, awry-haired, mouthing the snuff slowly against, his gums.
“Come on,” Jewel says. He goes down the steps. Vernon spits neatly into the dust.
“By sundown, now,” pa says. “I would not keep her waiting.” “ (Faulkner 6)

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying, New York Vintage, 1990.

This text I think demonstrates a clear example of lack of vision given to the idea of death and how these characters are dealing with Addie’s soon to be death. The boys wanting to make ends meet by getting the three dollars from Tull for the delivery can’t truly know if they will make it back or not to be with Addie before their death, that is why Anse is hesitant to let them go. He knows in reality they can not know the time they have left so he gives the boys a time limit on their job, hoping it’s enough. But both are uncertain if they will make it in time for while they made a promise to Addie they simply seem to don’t know what to do in this situation, they lack the foresight to make the right choices in times of uncertainty so they do the best they can and simply try to create a sense of order with there time limit. Will Addie’s death abide by this time limit and the boys get back in time, it’s uncertain, so they simply hope.