Humanity In William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying

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William Faulkner had a faith in humanity that few possess. In his 1950 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, he proclaimed that, “man will not merely endure: he will prevail”. He felt humans contained a certain compassion in our spirits, which is very valuable. Faulkner views America as a place where people often have more compassion or intelligence than they let on, especially in the rural areas. Everyone is capable of having these traits, but not everyone uses them. Humanity will still prevail in America because there are enough people with that compassionate spirit of endurance and sacrifice. In As I Lay Dying, Jewel and Darl are two characters who exemplify this, but in different ways. Something that’s worth noting is the difference of outsiders’…show more content…
Jewel seems to be the only character who’s main goal of the journey is granting his mother’s last wish and burying her in Jefferson. Everyone else seems to have a different motives: Anse wants his new teeth, Cash wants tools, Dewey Dell wants to deal with her pregnancy problem, and Darl is just along for the ride; he doesn’t seem to care about his mother all that much. Jewel is shown to have a very close relationship with his mother, mentioning in his only chapter that he wishes it could just be him and his mother alone. He’s also upset that Cash is building her coffin right outside her window. We learn later that one reason their connection is so strong is because Jewel is actually Whitfield’s son. Because of this Addie sees Jewel as her son, rather than Anse’s. Jewel shows his endurance during the journey when he’s dead set on getting Addie to Jefferson. He shows no fear while crossing the river and constantly wants to be moving. He shows the sacrifice he’s willing to make when Anse announces that he’s sold Jewel’s horse. At first Jewel is despondent, but he eventually remembers his mother’s wish and he trades in the horse. Jewel at times appears cold and uncaring, but he shows in his actions that he cares for his mother and is willing to do anything for her. He has that compassionate…show more content…
He doesn’t have the same sacrifice or persistence that Jewel has, but he has intelligence that isn’t expected of a poorly educated, rural, southern man. Cora describes the way people feel about him: “the one folks say is queer, lazy, pottering about the place no better than Anse” (24). Tull feels uneasy with Darl, as well: “He is looking at me. He dont say nothing; just looks at me with them queer eyes of hisn that makes folks talk. I always say it aint never been what he done so much or said or anything so much as how he looks at you. It's like he had got into the inside of you, someway. Like somehow you was looking at yourself and your doings outen his eyes” (125). Tull can tell Darl is intelligent, and he feels that Darl is looking inside of him. People are confused about Darl, because he’s so unlike everyone else. They can t In fact, he’s so intelligent that when he’s on his trip with Jewel, he knows exactly what’s happening back at home. He also just knows that Dewey Dell is pregnant. We later find out that he even knows Jewel has a different father than the rest of the Bundrens. His stream of consciousness is very complex: “In a strange room you must empty yourself for sleep. And before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are emptied for sleep, you are not. And when you are filled with sleep, you never were. I don't know what I am. I don't know if I am or not. Jewel knows he is, because he does
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