As I Lay Dying Language Analysis

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In As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner, the conflicting attitudes Cora Tull and Addie Bundren hold towards language and action determine their views on motherhood, marriage, and religion and how they choose to live their lives accordingly. Cora welcomes her role as mother, believes her duty is to her husband, and relies on the intensity of her faith. On the other hand, Addie despises being a mother, thinks love is meaningless, and concludes religion is solely a matter of words. But Faulkner uses his characters to show that neither language nor action is stronger than the other or mutually exclusive.
Cora: A Woman’s Duty is to Her Family
Cora Tull fits the typical mold and expectations of a woman. She embraces her role in the family, yet views
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By placing their trust in language or action, their choices determine their outlook. Cora takes language at face value and trusts in the meaning behind words. Addie distrusts language on its own and requires action to believe in what words mean to express. In “’As I Lay Dying’: Family Conflict and Verbal Fictions,” John Earl Bassett states, “Human experience and interaction require language” (126). Addie gives strong evidence to support her need for deeds and belief that words cannot encompass the importance of experience. Yet, some of the words she rejects, such as “motherhood” and “marriage,” demonstrate her own failure. In the end, her distrust of language leads her into a self-destructive lifestyle. On the other hand, Cora survives by her limitations. Language and action reinforce different aspects of the same concept. Cora and Addie individually hold flawed perspectives, but together prove that action supports language, and language helps action be understood. Moreover, they demonstrate that an action alone cannot uphold a word. Ultimately, the meaning of language arises from the motivations and intentions behind an
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