Sacred Word

“‘I give her my word,’ Anse says. ‘It is sacred on me. I know you begrudge it, but she will bless you in heaven.'”

Faulkner, “As I Lay Dying,” 140.

Though he skimps on many expenses throughout the journey to bury his wife in Jefferson (such as refusing to purchase a new spade to dig the grave with), Anse believes his honor rests on fulfilling Addie’s wish. It is this belief that propels the family on the strenuous forty mile journey to Jefferson with her body. Faulkner conjures the absurd and darkly comical when he writes what Anse Bundren deems as respectable, honorable, and dignified.

Dewey’s Dignity

“He could do so much for me if he just would. He could do everything for me. It’s like everything in the world for me is inside a tub full of guts, so that you wonder how there can be any room in it for anything else very important. He is a big tub of guts and I am a little tub of guts and if there is not any room for anything else important in a big tub of guts, how can it be room in a little tub of guts.”

– Faulker, As I Lay Dying, pg 58

It seems as though Dewey doesn’t feel very respected or has enough room  in her life to do important things such as taking care of the family once her mother passes. She just wants help, and feels as though there’s an imbalance as ‘he’ is a big tub, and she is the small tub.

a lump

“Maybe it will reveal her blindness to her, laying there are the mercy and the ministration of four men and a tom-boy girl. ‘There’s not a woman in this section could ever bake with Addie Bundren,’ I say. ‘First thing we know she’ll be up and baking again, and then we won’t have any sale for ours at all.’ Under the quilt she makes no more of a hump than a rail would, and the only way you can tell she is breathing is by the sound of the mattress shucks. Even the hair at her cheek does not move, even with that fanning her with the fan… ‘She’s just watching Cash yonder,’ the girl says. we can hear the saw in the board. It sounds like snoring.”

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. Vintage Books, 1900. p. 12

Cora’s observation of present Addie juxtaposed with her musings about past Addie contribute to the dehumanization and objectification of Addie as a whole. This, combined with Addie being constantly subjected to watching her own son create her coffin as if it were a chore, emphasizes Addie’s loss of humanity in the eyes of those around her, and with this the dignity of being seen as a human being.