Thematic Correlations between As I Lay Dying and the Old Testament
Uploaded by somethingsotrue on Feb 06, 2006
Since its original publication in 1930, the novel As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner has drawn much exploration and critique. Though this analysis is very far reaching and broad in topic, one interesting route of investigation is the novel’s connection to the Old Testament. One does not have to be a Christian to study the similarities in theme; there are very many occurrences of biblical subject matter and correlation, these having been studied by student and scholar alike. The Old Testament is known commonly as the more historical part of the Bible; it sets up the background knowledge to the New Testament and gives readers an idea of the nature of the times. Many general themes of the Old Testament are reflected in the Bible as a whole, as well as each book having its own plot and theme. Such Old Testament themes such as original sin and ideas corresponding to that of the Book of Job can be found inherently in As I Lay Dying.
The idea of original sin comes from the Book of Genesis, when the first humans, Adam and Eve, ate the fruit of the tree that they were told by God not to eat. Since these first two humans erred in their ways, God then made all humans to be in their image, an image of sin and fallibility. As taken from the Boom of Genesis: “Then the Lord God said, ‘Now these human beings have become like one of us and have knowledge of what is good and what is bad’”(Bible 5). The theme of sin relies on this fact; humans make conscious decisions to do wrong. Other themes of moral nature can follow within the main ideas brought forth in Genesis, such as guilt, sexuality, and tension between the sexes (Rule). In As I Lay Dying, the original sin of Anse and Addie seems to give way to the sin of their children, much like that of Adam’s ancestors. Although according to biblical tradition, each child is born into sin, Jewel Bundren was especially born into a sinful life. He was a product of Addie’s infidelity to Anse, an act that was on Addie’s mind until the day she died. The guilt she felt, even to the husband she had no love for, was so overwhelming that she produced both Dewey Dell and Vardaman to “negative” the sin that was Jewel’s birth. Her...