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Pirbay 1 Karim Pirbay AP English Literature and Composition Ms.

McCord March 23, 2012 Roses for the Bundrens

Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature, William Faulkner writes As I Lay Dying and “A Rose for Emily” in ways that advance similarly the grotesque overtones of the Southern Gothic literary genre, encompassing too, the psychological degradation of his characters and the prevalent theme of an absence of communication. These works nevertheless juxtapose two different, but very unique styles of narration while the plots diverge with regards to the dynamic and development of characters, displaying the contrasting roles of parents in both stories. Faulkner presents in both narratives aspects of the Southern Gothic literature he helped pioneer. One of the most prevalent and recurrent components of this genre is undoubtedly the “grotesque.” This element “portrays deeply flawed characters, decayed, claustrophobic settings” (Reed, 17), all of which are found in As I Lay Dying and “A Rose for Emily.” In Faulkner’s short story, the grotesque initially takes the shape of a dilapidated Southern mansion “that had once been white… lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps” (Faulkner, “A Rose for Emily” 1.2), where an unknown foul smell keeps visitors at a distance and Miss Emily Grierson, proprietress of the house, all the more secretive. The grotesque only culminates shortly before the conclusion of the story when Faulkner reveals with

the seemingly waterproof and fire-resistant corpse of Addie Bundren in As I Lay Dying serves as main object of grotesque in the novel. In addition to Addie’s blatant contribution to the grotesque and bizarre of the novel. He describes a lantern sitting on a stump in one of the nineteen chapters he narrates: “Rusted. Carried on a rustic and unceremonious wagon. it sheds a . Reminiscent of Baron Frankenstein’s creation of a manlike creature in Mary Shelley’s signature work. dead. and buried exceedingly late.Pirbay 2 shock Emily’s murder of a past lover and her gruesome possession of the cadaver in her sleeping bed. from the afterworld. Darl initially appears to the reader as the most lucid and eloquent characters of the novel. the second eldest of Addie's children. is also instrumental in characterizing the Southern Gothic present in As I Lay Dying. Addie’s decaying corpse sometimes serves as a sardonic element of the narrative. grease-fouled.” Faulkner gives life to the body inside the coffin by introducing an unquestionably distinctive chapter entirely narrated by Addie who. character. the reader grows accustomed to viewing Addie as a plain. attitude. expresses her thoughts from within her own coffin. brutally exposing Emily’s mental decadence into necrophilia. and serves as the pedestal for the reader’s understanding of the story with his clear and extraordinary consciousness. Throughout the course of the Bundrens’ journey to the city of Jefferson where Addie wishes to be buried. trivial object until he is met with a peculiar surprise that imitates the startling ending of “A Rose for Emily. Faulkner intensifies the Southern Gothic aspects of his novel with Addie expounding on her previous life. saved from a barn in flames. Similarly. nearly lost to the quick currents of the Mississippi River. its cracked chimney smeared on one side with a soaring smudge of soot. Darl Bundren.

This contemptible incident. She is the unapproachable monument Faulkner describes in the introduction of the narrative and remains so throughout the entire story.Pirbay 3 feeble and sultry glare upon the trestles and the boards and the adjacent earth” (Faulkner. he gradually slips into what seems to be schizophrenia. with a big voice and eyes lighter than his face” (Faulkner. and Emily Grierson’s reclusion reflects this lack of communication as well. As I Lay Dying 75). Without help from her townspeople. splitting his personality and delving into irrationality and grotesque while he starts a fire in order to incinerate his mother’s coffin. “We aint so sho” (Faulkner. “a Yankee—a big. His expressiveness is easily distinguished from the other characters’ more obvious stream of consciousness known to have puzzled a multitude of readers. Darl consequently becomes the victim of his family members’ rejection of words or reason for quick action: he is thrown into an asylum by his relatives even when they are uncertain of his madness. “A Rose for Emily” 3. dark. however. As I Lay Dying 238). . however.2) later occupies that gap. Emily confines herself within the walls of her house and away from the town of Jefferson. however. he physical reclusion aggravates her mental condition. Homer Barron. The ghastly breakdown of Darl’s character and his pitiful treatment from his family further elevate the Southern Gothicism of the novel. In Faulkner’s short story. unveils another similarity relevant to both Faulkner’s works: a lack of communication between characters. An inability to express oneself with words is almost ubiquitous with all member of the Bundren family. Throughout the course of the narrative. ready man. Her father’s strict upbringing as a growing child isolates her from the residents of the town and further secludes her from society after her father’s death. creating within her a gap that once was filled by her father’s fundamental presence.

and capable of expressing himself only through intense action. She does so by taking his life. an impact that remains nonetheless internalized by every relative. Jewel. An absence of verbal communication is also apparent in the Bundrens’ neighborhood. This uneasiness has. He remains taciturn toward his relatives too. “She ought to taken those cakes. the Bundrens’ neighbor. a deeper presence in the Bundren family after the death the mother. Cash Bundren. Addie’s death has a very peculiar impact on her family. are unable to soundly engage in conversation and resolve to constantly repeating themselves as Addie silently lies nearby. is fierce and dauntless. While discussing the cakes Cora Tull fails to sell. and shows the uneasiness caused by her presence.Pirbay 4 Emily. on the other hand. mirroring his efforts to control his emotions and demonstrating his introspective . He speaks with violence and externalizes his torment by attempting to control a tempestuous horse. and his initial monologues only consist of numbered lists detailing the construction of the coffin. His monologues are flat and emotionless. however. Even Cora and her daughter. resolves to action instead and decides to appropriate Homer. unable to express her fear of losing another man in her life after years of social seclusion. As I Lay Dying 9) Kate repeats several times.” (Faulkner. the carpenter of the family. He becomes enthralled by his work. The beginning of the novel presents the reader with the bleak atmosphere surrounding Addie Bundren’s precarious health. Faulkner employs repetition of phrases in the dialogue to underline the disturbing effect of Addie’s presence in the room. and silently ignores them while he works. reduces his emotions and mourning in the form of intense manual labor while building a wooden coffin as a tribute for Addie.

she must use language. however. For Addie.Pirbay 5 incapacity to share with his relatives his grief. “Viewing Addie Bundren Through a Feminist Len”). She knows that language speaks for her and that even in the act of trying to move beyond language. The child Vardaman simply denies Addie's death. As I Lay Dying. This lack of communication is. As I Lay Dying. 85). symbolic of Addie’s rejection of words as being meaningless. words are “just a shape to fill a lack” (Faulkner. In the section devoted to her narration. She explains there was no way to describe these sentiments other than with another person’s words. As I Lay Dying 172). In order to convey the meaninglessness of words. she must use words” (Wannamaker. She thus rejects them in favor of action. and criticizes those who talk and do not act. As a result of his lack of language and overflow of emotional panic at the sight of his mother’s funeral procession dismantling itself in the Mississippi River. and finally declares she is a large fish he caught as she lay dying: "My mother is a fish” (Faulkner. Addie denounces words as being a man’s invention. “And Addie is aware of this. 150). he bores holes in her coffin so that she can breathe. being unable to describe her sentiments after giving birth to her children. He describes: “Cash tried but she fell off and Darl jumped going under he went under and Cash hollering to catch her and I hollering running and hollering and Dewey Dell hollering at me Vardaman you vardaman you vardaman and Vernon passed me because he was seeing her come up and she jumped into the water again and Darl hadn't caught her yet” (Faulkner. This philosophy therefore impacts the rest of the family and has a direct effect in curtailing communication among the . Vardaman’s words fail to make sense and thus cannot communicate his true feelings of apprehension.

allow the reader to step back and gain a broader perspective on the course of events of the novel. several chapters narrated by various characters in the narrative pertain to the Addie’s coffin being carried away in the Mississippi as the Bundrens attempt to cross the river. the fifteen first-person narrators produce separate and distinct insights on various aspects of the novel that. By splitting the narration. adding to the narration every belief.” The reader is then able to discern the opinions that surround these events and can follow the development of each character more closely despite the lack of communication existing between the characters of the novel. . Each chapter delineates reactions and thoughts through a stream of consciousness technique that is unique to each character. For instance. “A Rose for Emily” offers a form of narration that holistically combines the entirety of the townspeople of Jefferson. Whereas one is unified. Faulkner nevertheless juxtaposes this lack of dialogue in As I Lay Dying and “A Rose for Emily” with two different forms of narration that are remarkably vocal in both works. attitude. Darl Bundren.Pirbay 6 Bundrens. the other is complementary. Faulkner throws the reader right into the minds of its characters and achieves an affinity between the reader and his characters that is much more “intimate” than the one existing in “A Rose for Emily. This division of narration ultimately assigns different levels of importance to the characters of As I Lay Dying and specifically elevates the role of one character. and gossip present in the city over several generations. The forms of narration in these two pieces of literature could not be more different than one another. while juxtaposing his mental disorder with that of Emily Grierson. In As I Lay Dying. when combined.

Emily’s development of necrophilia is more progressive and spans the course of several years.Pirbay 7 Among the various characters of As I Lay Daying. Darl also mentions early in the novel the aversion his mother has toward him before Addie divulges it in the section she narrates. These disorders. None of the characters in “A Rose for Emily” possess such a grasp on the circumstances. His collapse into schizophrenia is therefore a drastic change in the course of the novel as well as a lengthy development that turns Darl into a distinct dynamic character. As opposed to Darl’s sudden mental breakdown. being aware of Dewey Dell’s pregnancy and of Jewel’s illegitimate birth even when either is yet disclosed to the reader. He possesses a well-defined eloquence and the most extensive knowledge of the characters around him. and “replace the child [she] had robbed . The Bundren parents played a significantly distant game while raising their children. lead to another diverging point in these two works: parenthood. and only conceives Dewey Dell and Vardaman to “negative Jewel. Darl is the heart and the greatness of the novel and clearly Faulkner's surrogate narrator. Darl opens the book and speaks eighteen more sections of the story. The narration of “A Rose for Emily” also elucidates her dementia in a non-chronological pattern whereas Darl develops his condition in a linear fashion. however. She appears to be less dynamic.” her illegitimate child. As I Lay Dying and “A Rose for Emily” present two jarring perspectives on parenthood. given the distance between the reader and her character and due to the limited lengthiness of the narrative. making him by far the most vocal of the narrators. making him a contrast to the characters of Faulkner’s short story. Addie herself explains in the section she narrates her antipathy and indifference for many of them. She believes the birth of her children had violated her.

the reader also grows acquainted the different levels of importance of the parents in both stories. and “told them that her father was not dead. Addie has therefore been aloof and cold toward her progeny. and symbolizes the legacy of the Griersons. As opposed to her Bundren counterparts.” “Now.Pirbay 8 [Anse] of. and appears sentimentally detached from his children. especially Darl. “A Rose for Emily” 2. “A Rose for Emily” 2. Emily’s father is described as strict. . Anse is also of minute importance in the development of the story. The townspeople of Jefferson clearly underestimate the “old thrill” (Faulkner. The Bundrens. authoritative. As I Lay Dying 176).” Faulkner brings forward the themes of death and mental decadence analogous to both stories. She cannot seem to accept her father’s demise.” By reading both works. and to accordingly become a Jeffersonian thanks to the collective narration of “A Rose for Emily. prepare for Addie’s funerals and begin constructing her coffin even before her death! By interlinking the grotesque of the Southern Gothic literary genre in As I Lay Dying and “A Rose for Emily.14). In the novel. He nevertheless deals with the lack of communication between his characters by applying two very different forms of narration to his works. Emily is initially dependent on her father and emotionally devastated by his death. and heedful of his daughter. who multiple times throughout the novel denies having a mother. this allows the reader to dive into the characters’ streams of consciousness. on the contrary. “he has three children that are his and not mine” (Faulkner. She did that for three days” without letting go of the body (Faulkner.13) they believe would result in Emily following her parent’s death.” she explains. During her existence. Dissimilarly.

htm>.edu/cfs/tfn_online/dying_wannamaker. PDF. Ohio: Merrill. Wannamaker. 31 Jan.Pirbay 9 Works Cited Faulkner. 19 July 2010. Print. Print. 1970. Inge. Columbus. William. A Rose for Emily. 1990. 2012. New York: Vintage. and Thomas M. As I Lay Dying. <http://www6. Web. "Viewing Addie Bundren Through a Feminist Lens. 19 Mar. William. Southeast Missouri State University. Reed. The National Endowment of the Arts. .semo."Semo. Faulkner. 2001. The Southern Gothic Literary Tradition.

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