Addie Bundren’s Everlasting Impact Often times in novels, there will be a character that has the ability to appear as little as possible and still be able to have one of the biggest impacts on the rest of the characters and on the novel as a whole. In As I Lay Dying, Addie Bundren is one of those types of characters. She has only one chapter in the entire book, yet is somehow able to have the biggest influence on the rest of the characters. She is the basis of the story, and everything relates back to her. Addie Bundren seems to have such a heavy impact on the characters as they were constantly trying to please her.
Darl always longed for her approval and was constantly jealous of her relationship with Jewel. He was always trying to provoke Jewel: “’You could borrow the loan of Vernon’s team and we could catch up with you,’ I say. ‘If she didn’t wait for us. ’ ‘Ah, shut your goddamn mouth,’ Jewel says. ” (pg. 18) Addie seems to have enjoyed all the attention she was getting. She was constantly trying to fulfil her feeling of dissatisfaction, trying to find multiple ways to rid herself of the sickening feeling, but nothing she did helped.
Her dissatisfaction was the centre of her life. Her character greatly affected all the characters in the novel. She was the spokes holding their family wheel together. Darl longed for her approval, while Jewel had her sitting on a pedestal. Anse, even through all his selfish, narcissistic ways, looked up to her and felt attached to her, even beyond her death. He felt like he owed her something. Her character is similar to Vardaman’s character in the sense that they are both unable to fully express themselves.
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Vardaman resorts to comparisons such as ‘my mother is a fish’ (pg. 84) while Addie resorts to having an affair with Whitefield. Addie is the basis of the book. Without her, there would not be a story. Her character has a powerful hold over the rest of the Bundrens, even after death. With her death, the characters could have just buried her wherever they felt convenient; however, they still follow through with her request. Though one could argue that they did so only for their own selfish benefits, their conversations never fail to relate back to her in one way or another.
They feel compelled to grant her wishes, making references to her while on their journey, helping the reader piece Addie’s character together without her actually speaking. As I Lay Dying amplifies the feminist role with Addie Bundren. It ties her influence in with her motherly figure, making her a vital character in the novel. She has the rare ability to hold such a powerful control over the characters in the novel, making her a significant character with only one chapter.
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