I Lay Dying Narrative Structure

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The narrative structure of As I Lay Dying is fundamental in understanding the complex tensions, motives and emotions of the characters; especially that of Darl Bundren and his relationships with both the reader and those surrounding him in the novel. Although each character faces his or her own personal challenge in the novel, Darl is the sole character that has the most evident effect on his family, community members and the reader. The narrative structure forces the reader to consider that Darl – although initially is the character the reader trusts – may be the most unreliable character of all. The personal betrayal I experienced at the end of As I Lay Dying stems from Darl’s increasing insanity, which is evident in the way he slips in and …show more content…
The narrative structure provides readers with the opportunity to see each character under several varying voices in relation to these themes, in an attempt to better understand Darl and the Bundren family.

In the beginning, it is Darl that I trusted the most with an accurate portrayal of events and depiction of other characters. Darl appears – in his own voice – to be an observant, rational and highly thoughtful man, who I first considered to be the novel’s main protagonist and reliable narrator. Through the voices of others, Darl seemed omnipresent, as if he already knew everything that had happened and would happen. One example of this is in section seven, where Dewey Dell explains Darl’s obscure way of informing
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An example of this is evident in Anse’s reflection of Darl in section twenty-six when he says: “Darl began to laugh. Setting back there on the plank seat with Cash, with his dead ma lying in her coffin at his feet, laughing. How many times I told him it’s doing such things as that that makes folks talk about him, I don’t know” (Faulkner 94). The obscure, inappropriate laughing that Anse observes in this chapter is later seen again at the end of the novel when Darl is first being restrained and then again when he is on the train being taken to Jackson (Faulkner 219-226; 241-242). Cora Tull further corroborates that the community at large were wary of Darl earlier in the novel when she states in section six “It was Darl, the one that folks say is queer, lazy, pottering about the place…” (Faulkner 20). It is at this point where the narrative structure of As I Lay Dying becomes such an important, defining factor to the novel as the readers potentially would never have learned that the other characters were cautious and uneasy around Darl and as such found reasons not to trust him themselves, had Darl been the solo narrator. Anse and the other characters cannot understand Darl in the way he understands himself and those around him. It is through the depiction of Darl in the voices of the other characters, I begin to understand that the character I adore and

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