Inequality in As I Lay Dying

“‘Send her to the courthouse,’ I says. ‘Tell her all the doctors have gone to Memphis to a Barbers’ Convention.'”

William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying. Vintage International. New York. (1990) 242.

Nearing the end of the novel, Dewey Dell is looking for an abortion treatment, yet the men such as MacGowan tries to prevent her from getting a doctor as she is a ‘country woman.’


Inequality in, ‘As I Lay Dying’

“‘A thousand dollars wouldn’t be enough in my store and ten cents wouldn’t be enough’, I said. ‘You take my advice and go home and tell your pa or your brothers if you have any or the first man you come to in the road.'” (Faulkner, 202).

It’s clear that Dewey is facing inequality as she is not allowed to go to a pharmacy and get a drug that will terminate her pregnancy. This inequality that Dewey is facing could change the future of her life, and it should be up to her whether or not she wants to keep this baby, not Moseley.

Inequality in treatment

“How bad do you want to do something,” I says. She looks at me. “Of course. A doctor learns all sorts of things folks don’t think he knows, ” (Faulkner 246).

As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner.

MacGowan, who is pretending to be a doctor, is taking advantage of Dewey Dell’s dire need for the medication. Because she is a pretty woman he is preying on her, which he most likely would not do if she was a man.

Bad Luck

“Putting it where every bad luck prowling can find it and come straight to my door, charging me taxes on top of it. making me pay for Cash having to get them carpenter notions when if it hadn’t been no road come there, he wouldn’t a got them; falling off of churches and lifting no hand in six months and me and Addie slaving and a-slaving, when there’s plenty of sawing on this place he could do if he’s got to saw.”

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text Vintage Books, 1990, pg. 36.

This quote comes from the perspective of Anse. The it he’s referring to is his home, and he laments living so near the road, reflecting on it as the force that brings all the bad luck to his family, and takes his family away from him. What’s so interesting is that Anse internalizes this perspective of things happening for a reason and the idea that he must accept them as they come, but then he also becomes very frustrated with these happenstances and looks for something to blame them all on. In his own limited individual vision, he is unable to see his hypocrisy.

Darl’s Limited Vision

“Vernon has been to town. I have never seen him go to town in overalls. His wife, they say. She taught school too, once.”

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text Vintage Books, 1990, pg. 11.

Here Darl rather explicitly comments on the limits of his vision. Darl, in saying that Vernon has been to town but that he hasn’t seen him go to town in overalls establishes immediately for the reader that we are bound to the thoughts and vision of Darl here, privy only to what he knows. There are experiences around him that he has no knowledge of, and we as readers must be aware of that throughout.

Limited Perception: Cora

“Sometimes I lose faith in human nature for a time; I am assailed by doubt. But always the lord restores my faith and reveals to me his bounteous love for His creatures” (Faulkner 11). The passage, vocalized by Cora, reveals the limits of her individual vision by depicting her doubts about human nature but then contrarily mentioning a higher power, the Lord, who she believes can see past her doubts and reassure her by directing her to “his bounteous love for His creatures.” She expresses that her perception is limited and that she is unable to see past her mistrust and uncertainty.