William Faulkner's novel, As I Lay Dying portrays confused characters who attempt to assuage their instabilities by deferring to a higher force. Typically, people look to religion to reconcile haunting ambiguities and fill the voids in their lives. Establishing a secure belief system provides comfort and reveals the desperately sought answers. Often, ideology dictates actions and determines the moral responsibility of the individual. Perhaps more significant than the actual principles that govern people's actions are the ways in which people structure their notions of God in order to alleviate inner-turmoil and justify seemingly uncontrollable events. Religious precepts become the outlet for relieving unresolved curiosities and defining ethical lifestyles. Resolution results from rationalization derived by concrete spiritual guidelines. In the novel, the characters manipulate their relationships with God to define their respective identities.
[...] He needs to believe that God intends to reward him in order to continue arrogantly preaching the ideologies that give him the strength to complete his mission. To ensure a place in heaven, Anse must justify every action in the eyes of God, as when he borrows a bucket from strangers to carry water and repeats knows .I wouldn't be beholden.” (p. 206- 207). Here, he reminds God and himself that he would not want to succeed through the generosity of other people. [...]
[...] Darl decides that because God does not govern the course of life in the manner in which the others believe, their ideology- based actions contain no credibility or value. Darl further expounds his theory, voicing shame for his family to Vardaman. Of his dead mother, Addie, he notes, “She's talking to God calling upon Him to help her She wants Him to hide her away from the sight of man.” (p. 214- 2150. Here, Darl intimates that because Addie ceases to live, God becomes accessible to her. [...]
[...] He feels that since God claimed Addie, he must overpower God to reconnect with his mother. If Jewel allows the river to wash away the casket, he surrenders control and loses his mother completely, although Cash thinks the casket's disappearance would be “God's blessing.” (p. 233) Defiantly, he disengages himself from the rest of the family, refusing to share the same mode of transportation or travel alongside of his family. When Darl commands, in, Jewel,” (p. 231), Jewel “sets his foot on the turning hub of the rear wheel .with the hub turning smoothly under his sole he lifts the other foot and squats there, staring straight ahead, motionless, lean, wooden-backed as though carved squatting out of the lean wood.” (p. [...]
[...] Vardaman sees the instability of his designated God and must disengage himself from Darl to avoid the same tragic fate. As a result, Vardaman's final chapter becomes interwoven with Darl's inner-monologue, had to get on the train to go to Jackson. I have not been on the train, but Darl has been on the train. Darl. Darl is my brother. Darl. Darl.” (p. 252). The reoccurring presence of Darl's voice implies that Vardaman fails to separate himself from God, subjecting himself to a future of torment based upon his delusional, spiritual relationships. [...]
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