Faulkner's Style in As I Lay Dying

Faulkner's style in As I Lay Dying is somewhat poetic. His style is this prescribed novel is closer to poetry than to prose. He tries to capture the emotion of an experience as well as the experience itself. In As I Lay Dying Faulkner successfully captured the tragic intensity of the experience of Addie's death.

William Faulkner (1897-1962)

A phenomenon is not important in itself for Faulkner. Rather, its emotional intensity is a matter of importance for Faulkner. Speaking on the basis of As I Lay Dying it can be said that Addie's death does not constitute the narrative core. On the contrary the different impacts of her death on different characters, establishes the narrative core. To capture the emotionality of any experience the language should be drenched with poetics. Hence the stylistic aspect of Faulkner in As I Lay Dying is clearly poetical.

The second important feature of Faulkner's style in this novel is that he deliberately keeps meaning back from getting revealed immediately. In the opening section he describes an odd competition between Darl and Jewel. But he never tells you whether it really is a competition or not. The hidden rivalry of a small sort between Darl and Jewel is hinted at the first section of the novel. But Faulkner does not mention what is the root cause behind this rivalry. Nor does he say clearly that it was a competition between Darl and Jewel. Faulkner simply hints at the nature of odd competition. Similarly, in Addie's section Faulkner jumps from experience to ideas. Readers have to exert their minds to find out distinctly if the novelist Faulkner is talking about experience, ideas or impression.

The third superb element is Faulkner's style in his remarkable skill to handle a number of voices. He has captured: Dewey Dell's breathy rush of unfinished thoughts, Vernon Tull's folk dialect, Whitfield's monologue, Dart's frantic voice, Verdaman's childish voice, Jewel's heroic and sacrificial voice, and so forth. To handle all those different voices Faulkner must have been stylistic.

The fourth thematically related part of Faulkner's style in As I Lay Dying is the use of imagery. Much of Faulkner's imagery is visual. But he has not discarded other use of the remaining different categories of imagery. Olfactory, tactile, auditory and gustatory imageries are used. A series of all available imageries are used to give total poetic impact. In his use of imageries Faulkner is sometimes more complicated. In a single sentence he has mixed gustatory, tactile and olfactory imagery. For instance, "Warmish-coot, with a faint taste like the hot July wind in cedar trees smells." In this line Warmish-cool is tactile imagery. Faint taste is gustatory imagery. Wind in cedar trees smells in olfactory imagery. This illustrates that Faulkner can blend different sorts of imageries in a single sentence. Not only this, Faulkner has made use of that kind of imagery which can't be exactly categorized. So, that kind of imagery, which can't be defined and described exactly is called an abstract imagery. Faulkner has used an abstract imagery also. Faulkner's use of abstract imagery can be illustrated below.

'I can't love my mother because I have no mother.' 'Jewel's mother is a horse' these two textual lines cited above are illustrative of Faulkner's use of abstract imagery.

The fifth stylistic device is the use of interior monologue. He used this stylistic device- interior monologue to move the narrative action forward, to reveal the characters' private thoughts, to comment on what the other characters do. The seventh stylistic charm is brightened by the folk dialect in which Tull, Anse and Cash seem to have talked. Faulkner makes his language spicy by a lot of the force or slapstick humor.