Allegory In William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying

1959 Words8 Pages

Jewel Bundren is almost as queer as his brother Darl. While Darl laughs and carries on Jewel, save for his infrequent expletive-laced outbursts is virtually mute throughout As I Lay Dying. Jewel and his mother Addie are the only characters in As I Lay Dying that don’t have much to say. They speak with their actions. And although Jewel does not speak frequently, he is an allegory for one of the most well-known orators and thinkers, Jesus Christ. Jewel Bundren is presented as a martyr and a Christ allegory in William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. However, unlike Christian martyrs Jewel is never rewarded for his sacrifice. Instead insufferable characters like Anse and Cora receive rewards. This discrepancy reveals that Faulkner believes that religion …show more content…

Addie treats Jewel differently from her other children because she sees Jewel as being “of [her] alone, of the wild and boiling along the earth, of me and of all that lived” (175). Addie sees her other children as Anse’s. Jewel is hers because he was not fathered by Anse. He is the only child that preserves her wildness and her tendency towards action rather than words. His tendency towards action is exhibited when he is described as moving “with the limberness of a snake” (12) Later Anse proclaims that “if He’d aimed for man to be always a-moving and going somewheres else, wouldn't He a put him longways… like a snake” (36). Addie believes “that words are no good” (171). Like his mother, Jewel does not believe that words have power. He takes action because he believes there is true power in action. His lack of narration exhibits this tendency. Unlike the other Bundrens, particularly his brother Darl, Jewel does not take time to put things into words. In his willingness to act he has become a continuation of Addie. As a man, he is able to act when she was unable to. She longed to act, but the shackles of marriage, motherhood, and womanhood prevented her from realizing her dream. She only gets to act after death. Her action sets her family off on the path towards Jefferson: “I asked Anse to promise to take me back to Jefferson when I died” (173). In death, Addie is finally able to act. She …show more content…

It extends to Jewel’s allegorical significance. Addie is also an allegory for Christ. One of the most memorable and disheartening aspects of As I Lay Dying is Vardaman’s struggle to understand Addie’s death. In his attempt to make a connection between things he understands and death Vardaman compares his mother to a fish (84). A fish is a common symbol for Jesus Christ. This in addition to Addie’s admission to Cora that Jewel “is my cross” (168), creates a strong argument for Addie being an allegory to Christ. Her admission that Jewel is her cross would also explain why Jewel is constantly described as being wooden by Darl: “Jewel’s eyes look like pale wood” (7). Addie carries Jewel as her burden of sin, however, she also tells Cora that Jewel is not only her cross but will also “be [her] salvation” (168). Jewel will be Addie’s salvation. Christ is the salvation of man. Cora believes that Addie: “had closed her heart to god and set that selfish mortal boy in His place”(168). Jewel is the center of Addie’s world and of her religion. He is Jesus Christ. He has suffered for the sin of his mother because he was born out of that sin: “[Whitefield] was the instrument ordained by God who created the sin, to

Show More
Open Document