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.

On Inequality in ‘As I Lay Dying’

“Then I looked at her. But it’s a hard life they have; sometimes a man…….if there can ever be any excuse for sin, which it cant be. And then, life wasn’t made to be easy on folks” (Faulkner 202).

William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying. Vintage International, 1990, pg. 202.

Dewey Dell enters Moseley’s pharmacy in hopes of buying a medication that will terminate her pregnancy. Moseley vehemently denies this request, going on about how it would not be a respectable thing for anyone to allow this to happen. Although he acknowledges the unfortunate possibility that the father of this child is “halfway to Texas by now” (Faulkner 202), this does not justify–in his mind–the desire to have an abortion. This is inexplicably unfair to the mother of the child, as she should be able to have the total say in matters relating to her body. Inequality in this time is definitively summed up in the idea that a father can shun his responsibilities while the mother is expected to carry the full weight of parenthood.

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.