Addie Bundren was a strong but mysterious woman. She had many children that loved her dearly that would do bizarre things for her. She was a minor character in William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying but she played a major role in that she affected the actions of the characters of the Bundren family.
Jewel is Addie’s third child but not Anse’s child. Jewel is the product of an affair that Addie had with Whitfield, the town minister. Addie spoiled Jewel because he was a symbol of her happiness with Whitfield. Jewel constantly pushes his luck with Addie, getting into all the trouble he can possibly think of, but he loves his mother. Jewel just wants Addie to be able to die in peace and quiet without Cash sawing away at her coffin where she can see and Dewey constantly fanning the air away from Addie’s face (Faulkner 15). Jewel’s love for his mother is more openly expressed when he runs into the barn to save her coffin from the burning barn (Faulkner 222).
Anse is so determined to carry out Addie’s final wish and bury her with her relatives in Jefferson. It takes the Bundren family nine days to deliver Addie’s dead body to her final resting place. During the journey Darl tries to destroy the coffin in a barn fire (Faulkner 219). Darl loves Addie just like Jewel and can not bear to see her memory desecrated by this long journey so he tries to burn the body. By this time Darl seems to have started to go insane. Really Darl is the only sane person on that whole trip. He tried to get rid of the putrid corpse and let his mother be remembered with her name still intact.
Cash labors day and night over his mother’s coffin, cutting each board carefully and showing them to Addie basically saying ‘Look at the wonderful job I’m doing for you’. Cash even continues on the journey after he broke his leg while saving Addie’s coffin. Even after his leg begins to fester and swell, he never complains about it paining him. Cash’s selflessness is unwavering as he makes this journey for Addie and his family to lay Addie to rest. Cash even refused medical attention until there journey was complete because of his devotion to Addie and her wishes.
All in all Addie Bundren is a very important in William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying even though she is rarely heard throughout the novel. She is a major influence on her family. She had the most influence on Darl, Jewel, and Cash, her older sons. Her influence causes her family to do bizarre and dangerous things for her to honor her memory.
Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. New York: Random House Inc., 1990. Print.