Books and Movies Reviews

As I Lay Dying: The Burning Barn

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner explores the dynamics within a
family who prepares to fulfill the dying request of the matriarch, Addie.
Her request is to be buried in Jefferson, and her surviving family prepares
to make the arduous journey from the rural town Yoknawpatapha.The
hardships experienced on this journey serves to reveal the decay begun by
Addie’s act of adultery with a minister. The result of this act is inner
familial decay through a lack of love on Addie’s part.At her death the
decay worsens, and is symbolized by the burning barn.
The most prominent relationships explored in the novel are those of
Addie with her son, Jewel, and the rest of her family.Jewel, as the name
implies, is Addie’s most treasured son.He is the product of an
illegitimate union between Addie and a priest.Jewel is for her the symbol
of having lived intensely in preparation for death.She carries on this
paradigm in pouring her entire capacity for love into her relationship with
Jewel to the exclusion of the rest of her family.
The love that Addie withholds from her family is particularly
personified in Darl.It is also Darl who also has the most prominent
narrating role in the novel.Darl is the opposite of Jewel in almost every
respect.He is refused his mother’s love, while Jewel is the recipient of
all she can give.The feelings towards Jewel within the family are also
somewhat ambivalent.Jewel is treated as part of the family, but because
of Addie’s attitude, there is a keen awareness that he is an outsider and
the focus of the love that would have otherwise belonged to the rest of the
family.This is the source of Darl’s jealousy.But in addition to
jealousy Darl also experiences an attraction to Jewel’s physical
magnificence.In the harsh surroundings of family life, there is little of
aesthetic appeal.Jewel with his excellent physique and later his


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