Webster's dictionary defines community as "a group of people who live in the same area" or "who have the same interests, religion, race, etc." Throughout the ages, our species's survival has depended upon the concept of togetherness. Some families, however, are dysfunctional and go against the grain, which and can negatively impact a community's functionality. So the responsibility is put on the community to help the struggling family. Faulkner's As I Lay Dying and Morrison's Beloved are similarly in the fact that both portray how community plays a key role in a families functionality in society.
Looking at the novel Beloved from a chronological standpoint, the story truly begins with Sethe's time on the Sweet Home Plantation. The characters' time at Sweet Home was anything but sweet, but they made the best of a dysfunctional situation. In order to survive the hostile environment the slaves leaned on each other, and in turn formed a sort of makeshift community "relatively insulated from the white community" (Lawrence 1). While far from the normal community the slaves did their best to mimic one. An example of this was the marriage of Sethe and Halle. While the legitimacy of the marriage was invalid for slaves, and an uncommon practice "When he asked her to be his wife, Sethe happily agreed and then was stuck not knowing the next step" (Morrison 31), the two had helped each other during their time at sweet home, and wanted to unify their relationship as a normal community would. Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, while dealing with a situation almost polar opposite to Beloved, follows the same pattern of community playing a role in a family's functionality. Time and time again the community help's the Bundren's in their conquest to bury Addie's body in Jefferson. The South is known for their southern hospitality, and the Bundren's often takes advantage of "the support of an extraordinarily strong and neighborly rural community"(Gillum 1).