Whenever I sit on the couch, get snuggled in my blanket, and open As I Lay Dying, I immediately regret not first grabbing a pencil. There is so much verbal gold in this book, and it makes me go a little highlight-happy.
One such passage is a brief comment from the character, Vernon Tull. He says,
Because a fellow can see ever now and then that children have more sense than him (125). –Tull
This will support my thesis as a statement of insight from a minor character. This shows Faulkner’s focus on children and their value. This shows that adults should not manipulate children in the way that Anse has manipulated his, because his children are significantly wiser than he.
They are two passages that stand out to me from Addie Bundren’s chapter, Anse Bundren’s wife and mother to five children. She has already died in this part of the novel, but her commentary gives us insight into what kind of mother she was and how damaging that has been to her family.
I could just remember how my father used to say that the reason for living was to get ready to stay dead a long time. And when I would have to look at them day after day, each with his and her secret and selfish thought, and blood strange to each other blood and strange to mine, and think that this seemed to be the only way I could get ready to stay dead, I would hate my father for having ever planted me. I would look forward to the times when they faulted, so I could whip them. When the switch fell I could feel it upon my flesh; when it welted and ridged it was my blood that ran, and I would think with each blow of the switch: Now you are aware of me! Now I am something in your secret and selfish life, who have marked your blood with my own for ever and ever. (155) –Addie
I will talk about how people parent the way they have been parented. Addie’s father was emotionally abusive, so she becomes abusive as well.
When he was born I knew that motherhood was invented by someone who had to have a word for it because the ones that had the children didn’t care whether there was a word for it or not. I knew that fear was invented by someone that had never had the fear; pride, who never had the pride. I knew that it had been, not that they had dirty noses, but that we had had to use one another by words like spiders dangling by their mouths from a beam, swinging and twisting and never touching, and that only through the blows of the switch could my blood and their blood flow as one stream. I knew that it had been, not that my aloneness had to be violated over and over each day, but that it had never been violated until Cash came. Not even by Anse in the nights. (158) –Addie
This is Addie’s attitude toward motherhood. I am still analyzing, however, whether this is completely negative, or partly positive. Addie wants her aloneness to be violated. That’s what she was seeking when she tried to make her students “aware” of her by whipping them. So, does that mean that she loves being a mother?