Faulkner’s Strange Idioms

“They would risk the fire and the earth and the water and all just to eat a sack of bananas” (Faulkner 140).

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. Vintage International, 1990.

This quote, from Tull’s chapter privately criticizing the stubborn determination of Anse and Dewey Dell to see Addie across the flooded river and buried as per her wishes, is interesting. The book keeps commenting on the value of death: the respect that should be owed the dead, what hold they should have on the lives of the living. Anse feels indebted to the mother and seems “bent” on making his shortcomings up to her retroactively, Dewey Dell simply having an emotional attachment, Jewel feeling it somewhat distantly, even as a thing of obligation, needing some coercion, and Darl, who seemed to love Addie, feels that she has passed out of existence, that she is no longer his mother anymore, no longer “is.” Though they all experience it differently, nevertheless the family unites to bury the mother, but in Tull’s eyes, the whole pursuit, not only foolhardy because of the mortal danger of the storm, seems an extravagance anyway, neither practical nor especially worthy (like a “sack of bananas”).

“As I Lay Dying” by William Faulkner Commonplace-Book Entry: How Vernon Tull Describes Addie Bundren’s Funeral

“They had laid her in it reversed. Cash made it clock-shape, like this ⚰ with every joint and seam bevelled and scrubbed with the plane, tight as a drum and neat as a sewing basket, and they had laid her in it head to foot so it wouldn’t crush her dress. It was her wedding dress and it had a flare-out bottom, and they had laid her head to foot in it so the dress could spread out, and they had made her a veil out of a mosquito bar so the auger holes in her face wouldn’t show.”

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. Vintage International, 1990, page 88.

I found that this passage has interesting language, because instead of describing the coffin with words, Vernon Tull uses a picture of the shape in the middle of his sentence, which is the only time this has happened in the book so far. I wonder if this is because he can’t find the words in his mind at this time, and so pictures how it looks in his mind, or is imagining himself drawing the shape that he means to describe with his hands. His similies also are unique to me, too, since I never heard someone comparing something tight to a drum, or something neat to a sewing basket, even in this book. Finally, Vernon Tull refers to different specific parts of what Addie Bundren is wearing, and what their purposes were for as she laid in her coffin, which I think could imply that he is very knowledgeable about and familiar with why people decide to dress their dead relatives a certain way for their funerals, which could mean that he is experienced in being involved with setting up funerals. Perhaps this is why the Bundrens trust Vernon Tull with helping out during Addie Bundren’s funeral so much.

As I Lay Dying: Language– Interesting & (Somewhat) Inarticulate

“I heard that my mother is dead. I wish I had time to let her die. I wish I had time to wish I had. It is because in the wild and outraged earth too soon too soon too soon. It’s not that I wouldn’t and will not it’s that it is too soon too soon too soon” (120).

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

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.