As I Lay Dying

by: William Faulkner

Role of Women

Quotes Role of Women
My aloneness had been violated . . . Then I found that I had Darl. At first I would not believe it. Then I believed that I would kill Anse. It was as though he had tricked me . . . But then I realized that I had been tricked by words older than Anse or love, and that the same word had tricked Anse too, and that my revenge would be that he would never know I was taking my revenge.

In Addie Bundren’s chapter, she clearly defines the theme of the role of women in this novel as she describes the limited choices in her life. Addie Bundren directly connects her role as a wife and mother with her own mortality and death. She even describes being “tricked” by society’s words or expectations of marriage, love, and motherhood. She completes this exploration of the role of women in a final note about getting revenge on her husband and children with her request to be buried back in Jefferson. Only from the grave does Addie finally have some control.

“Well, I haven’t got anything in my store you want to buy,” I said, “unless it’s a nipple. And I’d advise you to buy that and go back home and tell your pa, if you have one, and let him make somebody buy you a wedding license. Was that all you wanted?”

When the Bundrens arrive in the town of Mottson, Dewey Dell tries to get an abortion treatment from a local shopkeeper, Moseley. In these lines, Moseley speaks to Dewey Dell, refusing the abortion treatment but also stating that her only options are to go to her father and get married. Moseley’s statement connects to the theme of the role of women in this novel as his views represent the typical view of society at this time. Like her mother, Dewey Dell has very few choices, the worst of which is relying on Anse for salvation.

She looks at me. She dont even blink. “What you want, then?” . . . She dont even blink her eyes. “I got to do something,” she says. She looks behind her and around, then she looks toward the front. “Gimme the medicine first,” she says. “You mean, you’re ready to right now?” I says. “Here?” “Gimme the medicine first,” she says.

In the final section as the Bundrens arrive in Jefferson, Dewey Dell goes to another pharmacy seeking the abortion treatment. Her interaction with the clerk at this store only further demonstrates the difficult role of women in this society. Just as Dewey Dell is tricked into sex with Lafe, she is pressured by MacGowan into virtually being raped. In this dialogue between MacGowan and Dewey Dell, her desperation is clear. She is willing to do anything to escape her pregnancy, to have choices, and to have any kind of control in her life.