Symbols in “As I Lay Dying” by William Faulkner

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Can something as simple as symbols and imagery create an outstanding novel? William Faulkner’s novel As I Lay Dying is a story of a family on their forty mile journey to bury Addie, a mother and wife. Their journey is a tragic and long. In William Faulkner’s novel As I Lay Dying, Faulkner uses symbols and imagery to fully define the characters and themes.

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Throughout the novel, Cash, mentions his tools repeatedly and shows readers how important they are to him. He has returned to the trestles, stooped again in the lantern’s feeble glare as he gathers up his tools and wipes them on a cloth carefully and puts them into the box with its leather sling to go over the shoulder. Then he takes up box, lantern and raincoat and returns to the house (Faulkner 80).

Cash’s tools serve as a symbol of his personality. Cash tends to want to fix things, or make things right. He uses his tools to make his mother’s coffin in her honor because he believes in love and family. Using his tools to build something, or taking his time to do something for someone is a big commitment to Cash. He sees his tools as something very special to him. Cash is a man of action; when they cross the river, Cash is set on saving his tools; Even his family members try to save the tools because they know how important they are to Cash. In this novel, Vardaman catches a fish for dinner and it serves him a major symbol to understand the meaning of death. It was not here. I was there, looking. I saw. I thought it was her, but it was not. It was not my mother..It was not here because it was laying right yonder in the dirt. And now it’s all chopped up. I chopped it up. It’s laying in the kitchen in the bleeding pan, waiting to be cooked and et (Faulkner 66). A wave of obsessive thoughts arise to Vardaman’s mind when he catches the fish.

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