Compare one theme and one character in Faulkner's As I Lay Dying

Essay by nida90High School, 12th grade February 2008

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A prevalent theme of escapism occurs throughout William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. This difficulty of escaping however is ironically tied to the cyclical nature embedded is the actions of the characters. Faulkner projects this correlation predominantly through Darl's actions and character development. The overall relationship between this particular theme and the novel presents a contradiction to meliorism, rather portrays that a society is not free from its past misdeeds and progresses to repeat similar mistakes. Darl's dissension into insanity models his need to escape from the misfortunate Bundren cycle, which Faulkner demonstrates through symbolism from his various actions and using his mental state as a metaphor for his escape.

Darl is depicted as an intellectual character and the perhaps the most objective voice in the entire novel. His apparent distant attitude serves the key purpose of presenting a viewpoint that satisfyingly demonstrates the flaws of the Bundren family. From his point of views, it becomes established that Dewey Dell is pregnant as she declares that " he did know" (Faulkner 27). Dewey Dell is thus condemned to the same fate as her mother, who too had a child out of wedlock. Darl is one of the only characters who has the insight to see the inherent flaws of the family and its cyclical nature driving towards its demise and thus seeks to escape. The shift in his character towards seeming insanity is established when it is declared that, "Darl went crazy" ( Faulkner 250) This demonstrates the symbolic nature of his escape at a mental level. The conditions while growing up in a dysfunctional family and surrounded by an environment of corruption and backwards thinking leads to the mental escape of his senses and thus the evasion of the reality impacted by his environment.

The escape from...