Ironies of the Bundren Journey .
As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner, is a novel set in the rural Mississippi county of Yoknapatawpha in the early 1900's. The story centers around the journey of a poverty-stricken family trying to bury their mother. In addition to its outward appearance concerning the Bundren's journey, the novel also portrays the irony of understanding one's true reality, the feeling of loyalty toward one's family, and finally the misconception of heroism. .
Indisputably, Darl is the only member of the Bundren family who sees life for what it really is. Jan Bakker states, " Darl's tragedy is that he is intensely aware of his predicament, as is shown in his obsession with nothingness and dissolution" (227).
In the third person while going to the Jackson asylum, Darl clearly answers a crescendo of yeses when he asks himself, " Is this why you"re laughing Darl?" (Faulkner 254) because laughter has become the tears which he cannot shed (Bakker 228). It is ironic that although Darl is in touch with reality, he is the only character to go mad. He knows he can never attain the partiality that Jewel and Cash receive from their mother. Finally, after the death of his mother, Addie, the only link he has to the world [ ] he goes mad, laughing with the laughter of the mad but with peculiar lucidity (Bakker 228). It seems laughter has become the only outlet for Darl to express his emotions. .
Although the Bundrens are poor, there is a sense of dignity and a sense of values that seem incommensurate with their poverty, illiteracy, and cruel behavior (Bakker 222). A revealing example of this would be when the wagon and its stench approach Jefferson and a passerby remarks, "Great God, what they got in that wagon?" (Faulkner 229) When Jewel hears this remark, he curses and jumps another nearby man. Ironically, it is Darl who succeeds in holding Jewel back from starting a fight.