Addie Bundren



Addie Bundren conjures up the central darkness derived from her death and directly or indirectly

causes actions in which each Bundren character takes advantage of Addie. With the character's actions

revolving around her death, William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying reveals the truth about the people who

surround a person may take advantage of him or her. The death of Addie Bundren shapes all of the

character's actions in life including Addie's final request before her death. Addie takes advantage of her

death by using it for revenge and inflicting final pains upon some characters, while the other characters use

her to get what they want for their personal needs.

Addie causes all the painful actions around her family either directly or indirectly. Addie is

foremost the prominent abuser of her upcoming death in As I Lay Dying. She predetermines her time to

die, and she makes sure that the people in her family whom she dislikes must experience her wrath before

she moves on to the next life. "Addie is the one who is dying, but she makes revenges run throughout the

family and extend beyond" (Wadlington 35). Inflicting pain mostly on Anse, Addie enjoys herself. Anse, a

lazy man, is forced by his wife to take her to Jefferson to be buried as her final request. Addie's revenge

on Anse was payback for all the times when he just sat around while Addie, her children, and sometimes

neighbors do all the hard work for him. Also "Addie reacts to Anse's arid conventionality by having a

clandestine affair with minister Whitfield" (Wadlington 31). Addie also indirectly hurts one of her favorite

sons, Cash. Cash is hurt indirectly when he helps !

his kinfolk carry his mother's coffin to Jefferson, where along the path, he breaks his leg while crossing a

flooded river. Although Cash is one of Addie's favorites besides Jewel, Addie's cruel revenge carries over

to Cash's broken leg, which later becomes infected. Besides her indirect action on Cash's leg, Cash is the

most favorite of Addie. As Wadlington states, "He is very much his mother's son in expressing his feelings

through physical action rather than through words by building a coffin for the mother he loves"

(Wadlington 41).

Jewel, Addie's second favorite next to Cash, seems to be cursed by his callous mother. Jewel can only

express himself through physical actions by being cruel. Yelling and screaming is the only way Jewel

shows his love for his mother, but Jewel's ferocity begins to wear him down physically. Saving his

mother's coffin from going downstream and rescuing the coffin from the burning barn were some ways

Jewel showed his love, although those actions are quite extreme because Jewel could have been killed.

Addie's revenge could have killed Jewel, but luckily it did not happen.

Addie's revenge also affects her little son Vardaman. Teaching of the world is usually the mother's job in

the family especially on Addie's case since Anse is a lazy bum. As "for Vardaman, his "unknowingness"

comes from his mother's death compounded by his family's failure to communicate reassurance and

explanation to him" (Wadlington 56). Addie did not teach him what was in the world and manners; so as a

result, when his mother dies, Vardaman confused his mother's death with a dead fish he caught that day.

Vardaman's manners are reckless against Dr. Peabody when he came to nurse Addie. Vardaman action was

quite extreme when he tried to chase the doctor away because Vardaman is quite irrational in not

understanding that Dr. Peabody did not kill his mother.

Dewey Dell, Addie's daughter, is deprived of a central motherly figure. Addie's action in not caring enough

for her daughter leads her to become irresponsible with Lafe where Lafe impregnates Dewey Dell.

Darl, one of Addie's least favorites, is rejected by his mother which "injured him psychologically" and led

him to burn the barn where Addie's coffin lay resting in peace (Wadlington 30). Darl is sent to an asylum

for that demented deed, but could have been prevented if Addie showed more affection toward Darl. Darl

is gradually revealed as a rejected son who feels that his mother is not even alive because he calls her

"Addie Bundren" instead of calling her "Mother" (Wadlington 41). If Addie had cared more for her

children and spent more time with her children