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As I Lay Dying1

In "As I Lay Dying" William Faulkner uses multiple points of view to explore the theme of existence as a motionless and meaningless cycle. The cycle is motionless because it is inescapable and unchangeable. One can never leave the cycle of life and death. People perpetuate the cycle by creating life, but in creating life they are creating death, for life irrevocably leads to death. Faulkner depicts existence as meaningless. Nothing really changes in the story. On the surface the characters appear to change, such as Addie dying, Darl going crazy and Anse getting a new wife, but none of these changes are really as relevant as they seem.By using multiple points of view Faulkner lets us into each characters mind. We see how each person thinks about the cycle of existence. This insight could be accomplished with an omniscient narrator, but Faulkners way is much more effective. Faulkner allows us to see a ten-year-olds perspective on life and death from the perspective of a ten-year-old, instead of from the perspective of some all-knowing narrator that doesnt really know what its like to be a ten-year-old. Also, the actual sequence of narrators is in a cycle. We dont just hear all of Darls point of view, and then Anses, and then Peabodys. Faulkner cycles through his characters, returning again and again to people like Darl and Dewey Dell and Vardaman, while having characters such as Jewel and Addie speak only once.Addie Bundren is in many ways the central character of the story. The plot revolves around her as her family tries to get her body to Jefferson for burial. Her single monologue comes in the exact middle of the book, making her geographically the central character. Most importantly however, she is the character who best expresses the motionless and meaningless cycle of existence. "My father said that the reason for living is getting ready to stay dead" (506). With life comes the unmistakable knowledge that death will eventually fol...

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