Family, the most important social unit, influences the thoughts and behavior of its members. When the members of a family are able to bond with each other and share their inner most feelings, it has a positive impact on the character and attitudes of the family members. But if the family members are alienated and isolated from each other, then it results in loneliness and sorrow for the family. The novel “As I Lay Dying” by William Faulkner and the play “Long Day’s Journey into Night” by Eugene O’Neill depicts families that are dealing with alienation and loneliness.
In the novel “As I Lay Dying”, the members in the Bundren family react in different ways to the death of Addie Bundren, the mother. The thoughts and the views of the Bundren family members point towards their isolation from each other. The play “Long Day’s Journey into Night” focuses on the Tyrone family and the isolation of the family members from each other. As I Lay Dying In the novel “As I Lay Dying”, the author brings forth the views of the Bundren family members regarding each other. The mother in the family, Addie Bundren is on the verge of her death.
Although Addie Bundren is the mother of Cash, Darl, Jewel, Dewey Dell, and Vardaman, it is Jewel that she loves the most. Addie Bundren is leading her matrimonial life with Anse Bundren but she never truly loved him. Unsatisfied by her marriage, she gets involved into an extramarital affair with her preacher, Reverend Whitfield. Jewel was the child, born out of this illicit relation, and so Addie showered more love and affection on Jewel than the other children. As Cash was Addie’s first child, she loves him too whereas she shows no affection towards her other children.
Addie’s unhappy marriage influences her behavior towards her children. Addie herself is aware of her isolation from her children and her husband. She struggles to cope with her isolation, and at times attempts to make others feel of her presence. Being a school teacher, Addie beats her students to make them realize about her influence in their lives. “I would think with each blow of the switch: Now you are aware of me! Now I am something in your secret and selfish life, who have marked your blood with my own for ever and ever. ” (Faulkner 170).
After Addie’s death, the alienation and loneliness of the Bundren family is more evident, as each member reacts to the death in a different way. The family members are more concerned about their individual problems and conflicts than the death of Addie. “In As I Lay Dying, the various members of the Bundren family, are driven by conflicting interests and oppressive secrets that inevitably set them apart from one another. ” (Cavallaro 35). Instead of thinking about themselves as a part of the family, the Bundren members are in pursuit of their personal aims.
Long Day’s Journey into Night The play “Long Day’s Journey into Night” depicts the Tyrone family and the conflicts occurring among its family members. The mother in the family, Mary is addicted to morphine and the father and the two sons in the family are alcoholics. When the play opens, Mary has returned from a sanatorium where she was treated for her addiction. The youngest son in the family, Edmund is suffering from tuberculosis. As the play progresses, the family comes to know about Edmund’s disease and the fact that Mary has not yet succeeded in giving up her addiction.
This leads to conflicts between the family members and brings about alienation among the Tyrone family members. The behavior of Tyrone is also one of the reasons which alienate the family members from one another. Tyrone is a frugal person who is careful about the way he spends his money. In the play there are many instances which point towards his frugality. He always insists on switching off the lights in the night, “There is no reason to have the house ablaze with electricity at this time of night, burning up money!
” (O’Neil 126). The other family members blame his frugality as the reason for Mary’s condition. Mary is unable to connect with her family members, owing to her guilt. Tyrone is having strained relations with his son. As all the family members are struggling with their addictions and problems, they are incapable to bond with each other. “In O’Neil, characters are locked into their histories, unwilling or unable to push their freedom and responsibility, with horrible consequences. ” (Cotkin 23).
The Tyrone family members fail to identify themselves with their family. Their individual conflicts and problems cause the isolation among the family members. Conclusion Both the families in the stories “As I Lay Dying” by William Faulkner and “Long Day’s Journey into Night” by Eugene O’Neill depict families which are struggling with alienation and isolation. The members of the Bundren family in the novel “As I Lay Dying” are so engaged in their personal problems that they fail to connect with each other.
Similarly, the Tyrone family members in the play “Long Day’s Journey into Night” are in conflict with each other, owing to various reasons, leading to alienation and loneliness. Works Cited Cavallaro, Dani. The Gothic Vision: Three Centuries of Horror, Terror and Fear. Continuum International Publishing Group, 2002. Cotkin, George. Existential America. JHU Press, 2005. Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text. Vintage Books, 1990. O’Neill, Eugene. Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Yale University Press, 1956.
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