An exploration of Anse Bundren's role as a patriarch in "As I Lay Dying" and his impact on the family dynamics

Categories: Anse Bundren

Anse Bundren's role as the patriarch of the Bundren family has a profound impact on the family dynamics and the events that unfold throughout the story. Anse's character is complex and multifaceted, and his decisions and behaviors influence the family's journey, their relationships, and the overarching themes of the novel.

Anse Bundren serves as the head of the family, holding a position of authority and responsibility. As the patriarch, he is expected to guide and protect his family members, ensuring their well-being and making decisions that are in their best interests.

However, Anse's portrayal is marked by his shortcomings as a father and leader.

Anse's character traits of passivity, self-interest, and a lack of responsibility contribute to the dysfunctional family dynamics. His passivity is evident in his inability to take control of the situation after Addie's death, as he allows his children to dictate the course of their journey to bury her in Jefferson. Anse's self-interest is revealed through his motivation to acquire a new set of teeth, which he sees as a priority even in the midst of his family's crisis.

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His lack of responsibility is evident in his failure to provide for his family's basic needs, such as shelter and sustenance.

Anse's impact on the family dynamics is significant. His lack of leadership and inability to provide emotional support creates a void within the family structure. The absence of a strong parental figure allows for conflicts to escalate and misunderstandings to fester among the siblings. Anse's passivity and self-centeredness contribute to the family's disintegration and inability to effectively cope with their shared grief.

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Anse's role as a patriarch is also characterized by his manipulation and exploitation of his children. He exploits their loyalty and willingness to serve him, using their labor and resources to fulfill his own desires. Anse's decision to sell Addie's beloved horse to purchase a new set of teeth is particularly emblematic of his self-centeredness and disregard for the emotional significance of the horse to the family.

Moreover, Anse's lack of accountability and his tendency to blame others for his own shortcomings further exacerbate the family's challenges. He projects his failures onto others, using circumstances and other individuals as excuses for his own inadequacies. This behavior further erodes the family's cohesion and contributes to the dysfunctional dynamics that are central to the novel's narrative.

In conclusion, Anse Bundren's role as the patriarch in "As I Lay Dying" is characterized by his shortcomings as a father and leader. His passivity, self-interest, lack of responsibility, and manipulation contribute to the dysfunctional family dynamics and the disintegration of the family unit. Anse's character serves as a reflection of the complexities of familial relationships and the impact that individual flaws can have on the collective experience. Through Anse's interactions and decisions, Faulkner explores themes of family, responsibility, and the consequences of self-centeredness.

Updated: Aug 25, 2023
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An exploration of Anse Bundren's role as a patriarch in "As I Lay Dying" and his impact on the family dynamics. (2023, Aug 25). Retrieved from

An exploration of Anse Bundren's role as a patriarch in "As I Lay Dying" and his impact on the family dynamics essay
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