Humor In William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying

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As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner follows the Bundren family on their arduous journey to fulfill their dying mother's wish: to be buried with her family. Faulkner utilizes fifteen narrators, including Vardaman, the confused child, Addie, the dying mother, and objective characters such as the Tull family, to recount the details of the family's quest. Although death is a meaningful and somber topic, Faulkner reveals his opinion that death is an escape from the difficulties of life. Despite this grim subject matter, Faulkner uses irony and humor to effectively turn the novel into a dark comedy. Faulkner illustrates this dark humor through Addie's anticipation of her death, Anse's blatant ignorance toward his dying wife, and Vardaman's amusing confusion about death. Addie, the deathly ill mother, takes part in many ironic situations which accentuate the novel's dark humor. For example, she looks forward to dying instead of reflecting on good memories or thinking about her family. This is seen when she…show more content…
The family's treacherous journey to Jefferson is filled with danger and excitement, yet Faulkner gives many doses of humor throughout the novel. The characters employ themselves in outrageous acts of irony, from Addie's rejection of her most devoted son, to Anse's concern with his false teeth instead of Addie's death, to Vardaman's calling his mother a fish. This irony would not have been evident if it were not for Faulkner's use of multiple narrators. Faulkner was enchanted by Freudian theories of psychology when he wrote this novel, and recounting the story through various perspectives allows the reader to understand each character's reaction. This enhanced the dark humor throughout the novel because the reader can see into each family member's thoughts on her death. These comical details allow Faulkner to lighten the mood of an otherwise disheartening
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