William Faulner’s ‘As I Lay Dying’ is a literature piece depicting the social interaction in a family setting. The literature piece involves the use of many symbolic applications in the unreal world and other factors from human characters. Faulkner expands his imagination beyond the human character. However, Faulkner uses each and every symbolism in the novel in relation to human character. Furthermore, characterization in the novel is based on human character that can be compared or symbolized through another non-human character. This ability ensures the continuity of the plot as the characters are developed under different archetypes.
Faulkner creates the plot of the novel in regards to the general human character and their relation to social factors. The general mood in the novel is sad. The characters in the novel are created in a sad occasion where they had to let go of one of their own. Additionally, the dead was a mother to one of the characters in the novel. The creation of the dead character is the basis of the entire novel. The burial ceremony initiates the interaction and the activities that define the plot of the novel. The death acted as a uniting factor in the novel. However, the display of difficulty in blending in human characters was evident as disagreements were rampantly highlighted in the novel.
The article by Christopher White, ‘The Modern Magnetic Animal- As I Lay Dying and the Uncanny Zoology of Modernism’ is a critique aimed at highlighting the relationship between human beings and animals. To elaborate, the article first reviews the plot of the novel pointing out main points and plot devices that were used in the creation of the novel. The setting of the article is based on the provisions and revelations in the novel. White recognizes the main aim of the characterization in the novel and their role in enhancing the plot of the novel (White ##). The article then creates a perception on its main idea and purpose as a critique. While creating the introduction to the critique, the article introduces the basis of the critique based on the plot of the novel. The critique is then related to the real society and how the society has been shaped by the assumption and perception provided by the novel. In this particular, themes in the novel are related to modernism and the society. Generally, White focuses on creating symbolism created in the novel and relating them to the real world.
The reasoning behind the creation of the article is based on the fact that modernism in the society and zoology are significantly related. The article considers the great similarity between animal and human behavior. However, the article reason on the line that human character borrows greatly from animal behavior. This can be proven by the fact that every human action or behavior can be connected to an animal behavior. Apart from behavior, the article also creates the assumption that human linguistic can also be related to a particular animal sound and relevance and appropriateness created from the comparison.
The critique bases its main aim on comparison of the characters in the novel to animal characters and behavior. In many literature pieces, the use of animal characters is an important inclusion since it portrays the level at which an author understand their motive while creating a plot. White points out that an animal character is more versatile and creates significant symbolism characters when compared to human characters (82). A horse is described as “moaning and groaning like a natural man” (White 83). This symbolizes the similarity between human being and animals as created by Faulkner. The symbolism was used effectively and appropriately in the novel and it may justifiable to base an article critique on this particular feature.
The article has one general argument. The main argument the novel is based on creation of human characters generated from animal behavior and features. Apart from characterization, White points out that animal metaphor are rampantly used in the novel to put across meanings and affects (81). Additionally, White points out that the novel proves the argument that human language contains elements of animalistic qualities (81). This argument is generated by the assumption that the body, both animal and humans are interconnected thus creating a significant similarity in features such as communication and interaction between the two species. White realizes the assumption that the author recognized the similarity between animality and human behavior and character (White ##). The article tries to connect this assumption to the way in which the novel creates the human characters. The key argument in the article recognizes the significance of animals in the social aspect of human life. White argues that the best way to describe a human character in bring relevance from it is by comparing it to a related animal character (81). The article acknowledges the novel’s characterization of justifying this argument as it effectively relates main plot incidences and human characters to animal characters.
The article provides evidence from the novel. While introducing his arguments, White introduces the use animal metaphors by citing the characterization of the main characters in the novel (81). For instance, the phrase “my mother is fish” was used to refer to a main character in their novel: Vardaman’s famous declaration (83). In this particular situation Bunderen being referred to as a fish shared the same characteristics. In the real world a fish is perceived as a placid animal that calm and peaceful, much like a lifeless body. This was also a depiction of the character’s innocence a feature the fish is perceived by. Comparing this particular character to a fish was the only way the author could create an appropriate perception in which they created the character. Additionally, the interrelation and connection between this animal character and the plot device can be proven by arguing that the author realized this connection. Furthermore, Peabody likens Anse to a “dipped rooster”, Darl declares Jewel’s mother a horse (81). Tull describes Vardaman variously as an owl, a steer, and twice, a “drowned puppy” (83).
The article has also evidenced its argument by pointing out that sound in the novel could be connected to the sound by animals. The sound descriptions of horses, mules, cows and geese in the novel have been compared to the moans by humans in regards to appropriateness. White points out that the motive behind the creation of the animals sounds in the novel can be related to the fact that they wanted to signal their presence which is the same as the motive behind the human production of sound (82). Evidence relating to the human characterization to that of animal features can be obtained from the novel’s symbolic use of animal features. For instance, as the characters in the novel travels they used a horse as their means of transport. Considering the strong and athletic abilities of the horse, the author was particular on his selection of this animal. The article also recognizes the fact that Faulkner related animal characters and features to the surrounding in the novel: the river becomes a horse, and the log, a goat (White 86). These symbolisms communicate the feeling of dynamism and vitality.
Another inclusion in the novel is the fact that Faulkner communicates using the animal body language. Animal language displays a lot on their feeling and their relation to the novel. Animals communicate through their body language: “Jewel sits the horse at the off rear wheel. The horse is trembling, its eye rolling wild and baby-blue in its long pink face, its breathing Sertorius like groaning” (White 87). White explains the significance, importance and uniqueness of the communication between animals by citing the argument by William Barret (95). The author further points out that “habits of ants and bees seem to indicate the possession of a mode of communication unknown to us (White 95).
The comparison in the analysis provided in the critique article and the plot of the novel does not display much difference in depicting the significant similarity between human beings and animals. The article was effective in highlighting Faulkner’s aim of creating a physical, behavioral and character comparison in human and animals. White recognizes other studies made by other scholars in highlighting the significance of the zoological features in ‘As I Lay Dying’.
White, Christopher. The Modern Magnetic Animal: As I Lay Dying and the Uncanny Zoology of Modernism. Journal of Modern Literature (JML), 31, 2008, (3): 81-101.