The character Addie Bundren is portrayed in many ways throughout the novel As I Lay Dying. The whole story revolves around the fact that Addie is dead and her wish to be buried near her blood relatives rather than her own family. The impression the reader gets of Addie is developed through many different characters’ views and descriptions of Addie. One character that helps us understand Addie’s personality a little more is Cora Tull.
Cora Tull, Vernon Tull’s wife, expresses Addie’s voice and personality through her memories of Addie. Cora stood with Addie during her final hours. Cora disapproves of Addie’s behavior and lack of religion. Cora dislikes the fact that Addie’s love for Jewel is greater than her love of God. Another character that helps us understand Addie is Minister Whitfield. Addie had an affair with the minister and had a baby. This affair shows how Addie sees marital love and motherhood as empty concepts and are just there to fill empty voids.
Addie doesn’t have an affair with the minister solely on lust, but she does it for self-gratification and self-expression also. Vardaman, the youngest of the Bundren children, compares his mother’s death to a fish he recently caught and cleaned. Vardaman compares his mother to a fish because the fish and his mother have both died. The fish and his mother have changed because of death. Both Addie and the fish no longer have essence, which could be interpreted as an existentialist view.
In a chapter where Addie seemingly speaks from the dead, Addie’s personality is truly shown. We learn that Addie is a pessimistic and unfulfilled woman, who marries her ignorant husband Anse. She admits to only caring for two of her children and the rest she calls or labels as “Anse’s children”, who were born out of an obligation. Addie’s personality is put together by the views, comparisons, and descriptions of her youngest son Vardaman, her neighbor Cora Tull, The affair she had with Minister Whitfield, and her own personal voice.
Through these views, we could conclude/interpret that Addie was a strong-willed and intelligent woman who dislikes the obligations put on women during that time period. Cora Tull shows her as some who lacks religion. The affair with the minister shows that she is a woman who needed gratification. Her youngest son shows how she is a mother who was completely lost in death and no longer has essence. Her own voice shows that she is a person who feels like women are obligated to fit into the roles of being a mother and a wife.