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As I Lay Dying

William Faulkner
Quotes Important Quotations Explained
Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Quote 4

Sometimes I think it aint none of us pure crazy and aint none of us pure sane until the balance of us talks him that-a-way. It’s like it aint so much what a fellow does, but it’s the way the majority of folks is looking at him when he does it.

Cash relates these thoughts in Section 53, as he discusses his family’s decision to commit his brother Darl to a mental institution after Darl burns down Gillespie’s barn in an attempt to destroy Addie’s corpse. Cash’s conclusion—that sanity is a relative term and that Darl’s apparent insanity is nothing more than his failure to conform to social norms—reflects an understanding of the radical subjectivity that the novel’s various narrative perspectives create. In light of the injury, property loss, and stench that the Bundrens’ attempt to bury Addie has created, Cash does appear to have a point with his suggestion that Darl is not insane. The reason that Darl, and not the rest of his family, is declared insane may be simply that the perspectives of the rest of the Bundren family outnumber his.