The Theme Of Death In William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying

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By analyzing the quote by critic Roland Barthes stating “Literature is the question, minus the answer,” we can apply this ideal to the novel As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. We can observe the characters in the novel and analyze the ways they cope with their dead mother. Faulkner introduces the question of how one should grieve with death? Literature proposes many questions, but the reader must decipher the answer.

Many of the characters in the book portray different ways of dealing with the death of their mother. She was the “glue” of the family, holding everyone together. With her death, it seems that many of the characters grieved in odd manners. When someone dies, we expect the family to cry, mourn, become depressed, and much more.
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Faulkner shows many different ways to grieve with death, but which method of grief is the best? This is where the quote by Barthes is applied. The question of how should we deal with death is pondered, yet the reader must determine the answer. Faulkner does not clearly show his point of view on how we should deal with death, we do not even know if Faulkner knows the answer himself. Furthermore, we can see that Faulkner has shown what potentially happens when we grieve in different ways, the simple causes and …show more content…
Usually, this system is followed by many individuals following the death of a loved one. By analyzing the novel, I noticed that many of the characters experience different stages of grief, some advancing through the system quicker than others. Vardaman embodies the first stage of denial. With his innocent and undeveloped mind, we see that Vardaman does not accept the fact that his mother is dead. He reflects his ideal mom onto living objects, such as the fish. While his mother lies dead in her coffin, Vardaman bores holes into it so that she can “breathe.” Jewel is similar to the second stage of grief, anger. Jewel lashes out on people and animals throughout the novel. He clearly relieves his grief by portraying anger onto living individuals in his life. Cash is in this stage of bargaining. Cash risks everything to save his mother’s coffin when it starts floating down the river, even his own safety. He completely disregards his own safety to save his mother, even though it is only her dead corpse. He will never be able to walk normally again, but that is the risk he was willing to take. Darl is in the stage of depression. He understands that his mother is dead, yet he cannot fully accept the fact that he will never see her again. Darl is a very neutral character in the novel, so it is hard to determine his character’s feelings at times

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