As I Lay Dying By William Faulkner: Existential Nihilism

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Loneliness, Love, and Lack Thereof The American South has always been famous for being home to the Bible Belt and for being built from the ground up on a tremendous sense of community, yet notorious for harboring brutal racism and an unforgiving social code. This contradictory attitude forms the perfect setting in which many writers are able to recount stories of tragic prejudice and irresponsible self-servitude. William Faulkner develops varied forms of isolation among characters in As I Lay Dying and Light in August in order to display its cyclical nature as a virtually inescapable interplay between destructive relationships and irreconcilable alienation, brought upon by the insurmountable disposition of the communal dynamic. The personal…show more content…
As I Lay Dying’s Darl Bundren appears foremost as an observant and descriptive mind that is tragically unequipped to convey his thoughts to others. This handicap alienates him from his family and friends on two levels. First, he has the ability to comprehend ideas and facts that others cannot. This notion can be found illustrated in both his unexplained clairvoyance and his inclination towards primitive existential nihilism. Darl’s unacknowledged psychic abilities license him to perceive distant events as they are taking place. In turn, he becomes aware of his brother’s illegitimate childhood and his sister’s illegitimate pregnancy. As a result, the awkward intellectual taunts Jewel and Dewey Dell with the knowledge of their secrets, creating an intimidating alienation from the two. The connection between Darl and Dewey Dell has been described as “an abnormal bond between a sister and brother” (Blotner 116). Although the relationship can certainly be defined as abnormal, it can by no means be labeled a bond. Such a connotation would imply that the relationship encourages closeness. This assumption would be starkly incorrect. The connection formed is a situational one, not an intimate one. To makes matters worse, Darl already struggles to connect with his siblings intimately – due to the incompatibility of his mind with theirs – which defies the…show more content…
Addie Bundren valued her aloneness. It was something she knew belonged to her and that she had control over. When she married Anse, she was not emotionally equipped to receive, or to return, the emotions involved with marital intimacy. Therefore, the birth of a son, Cash, was not something she perceived as a gift. The prenatal Cash was a part of her, someone inside of her from whom she could never isolate herself. In the reluctant mother’s mind, Anse Bundren was to blame for corrupting her sense of privacy and would be forever dead to her. In this way, she severed what was supposed to be the most sovereign relationship in a woman’s life and created a rift through what was to come of the Bundren family. As the family grows, Addie develops misconceptions about her relationship to her children. Cash had violated her aloneness, while Darl was deprived of the love that Addie poured so strongly into the void that was her third son. With Jewel’s introduction, the “wild blood” between the mother and her first- and second-born “boiled away” (AILD 176). Lastly, by Addie’s logic, Dewey Dell was only meant to “negative” the illegitimate son, and Vardaman only to “replace the child [she] had robbed him of” (AILD 176). Ultimately, three of the children were not hers, one was not his, and one was only good for filling the void left by Jewel. These devastating divides

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