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Maternal Neglect and Alienation, in Faulkner’s the Sound and the Fury and as I Lay Dying

Autor:   •  May 31, 2018  •  1,302 Words (6 Pages)  •  218 Views

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southern mindset. Furthermore the reader learns in Quentin’s section that her chief reasoning for insisting that he go to Harvard was because she liked how it reflected upon the family: “Harvard is such a fine sound forty acres is no high price for a fine sound”. (p 174) She did not appear to care that Quentin did not want to go to Harvard, and expresses no outwards grief that she feels in the slightest accountable for his death. In Mrs. Compson’s mind, one of the most important aspects in life is reputation and how other members of society perceive you.

As a result of the difference in upbringing, Addie does not share in Mrs. Compson’s preoccupation with maintaining the family name. On the other hand both women share bitterness and distaste for their husband’s side of the family tree. The reader can observe this as Mrs. Compson is constantly chastising Mr. Compson about looking down on her people, even though there is no evidence that would indicate he actually holds his side of the family any higher than hers: “ ‘It’s not joke.” Mother said. “My people are every bit as well born as yours. Just because Maury’s health is bad.’ ” (p44) Addie, similarly, decides shortly after the birth of Darl that she will get revenge on Anse refusing to be buried in the family plot with the other Bundrens, but rather with her own people in Jefferson: “and that my revenge would be that he would never know I was talking revenge. And when Darl was born I asked Anse to promise to take me back to Jefferson when I died, because I knew that father had been right.”(p173)

Due to her distain for her household and her discontent with her current world, Addie retains a morbid attraction to death. She seems to view death as the only way to escape her current life, often stating “And then I could get ready to stay dead.” (p176)

Addie is completely unhappy with the life she has been given and shows symptoms of deep depression. Her concentration on death undoubtedly stems from her father’s outlook on death and how his thoughts on the subject have passed down to her: “I could just remember how my father used to say that the reason for living was to get ready to stay dead a long time.” (p169)

Throughout both, The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying, Faulkner paints a picture of mothers who both alienate and deny the natural maternal love to their children, and possess distaste for their spouses. Furthermore, Mrs. Compson lets her out of date mindset about southern tradition and reputation push her children even farther away from her. Addie does not share in her captivation with reputation but rather is fixated on getting ready to die, in order to escape her current world. Both of these women play vital roles is shaping other fundamental characters in the novels, and ultimately hold the key for unlocking primary themes throughout the narratives.


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