Fulfilling a promise they had made to their mother,
Addie, Cash, Darl, Jewel, Dewey Dell, and Vardaman, in
William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, journey across the
Mississippi countryside to bring her body to be buried in
Jefferson, alongside her immediate family. Each one, in
turn, narrates the events of this excursion as they are
perceived. Though all of the family members are going
through the same experiences, each one expresses what they
see and how they feel by exercising their individual powers
and limitations of language. What each character says as
well as how he/she says it gives insight into that
character's underlying meanings.
Darl, for example, uses his linguistic skills to gain
power as narrator. He possesses the ability to pick up on
things unsaid and to read other people's actions. Dewey
Dell describes his intuitiveness when she says that "he said
he knew without the words, and I knew he knew because if he
had said he knew with words I would not have believed...and
that's why I can talk to him with knowing with hating with
because he knows" (27). He uses his gift of realizing
things without them having to actually be told to him to
gain credibility with the reader. Who would doubt a
narrator who possesses that type of adroitness? Also, his
language is clear and reflective. He uses similes and
metaphors and appears to have an acute awareness of spatial
relationships. Darl's sophisticated perception and poetic
linguistics give him the means of reaching for and
maintaining his role as a competent observer and reporter.
However, his position does create certain problems for his
Tull describes Darl's "look" as being uncanny.
"He is looking at me. He dont say
nothing; just looks at me with them
queer eyes of hisn...