The Emotional Paralysis

             In the first reading of As I Lay Dying, the characters seem to be temporarily lonely and separated from their loved ones. However, upon reading the novel a second time, I realized that their isolation from each other is permanent and their loneliness is more like a disease. I do not believe that Faulkner meant for the reader to sympathize with any of the characters and, when distracted by the sometimes unclear plot, I did not question why the characters were so alone; I could understand how they were unappealing to potential companions. Yet the most pathetic part of this novel is not the ignorance nor laziness of the characters, but the fact that they are each so separated from each other. I still do not sympathize with any of the characters, although upon further analysis, they resemble people I know and even myself. However, I am shocked to realize that each character is suffering from his own emotional paralysis. .

             The theme of death is very physical in the first reading, in the second, it is entirely emotional. I would expect a reaction of pain or anger from the family members after Addie's death, which some characters seem to display. Yet what appeared to be a period of mourning is rather a state of inner comatose in which the characters lack any real emotions that they allow themselves to feel. They consider each other to be dead, causing themselves to be dead also. Each character has already or does let go of his feelings toward the remaining family members, severing all ties he has with the world. It becomes obvious in reading for the second time that Addie and Anse pushed away any realtionship they had to begin with long before Addie's death. From their marriage comes children that are unaware of the actual feeling of love. Addie illustrates how meaningless her family is to her, saying "I gave Anse the children. I did not ask for them. I did not even ask [Anse] for what he could have given me.

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