In the novel As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner uses each character to depict a particular tone to represent what that character experiences. The Bundren family unintentionally realizes things about themselves and their family while on their journey to bury their mother after her death. William Faulkner uses diction and imagery, in the monolog of the character Jewel Bundren, to express a tone of anger, yet compassion, contributing to the overall theme of questioning existence and identity.
Faulkner uses strong elements of diction throughout the novel to express Jewel’s thoughts and emotions towards his family. For example, Jewel feels anger when he sees Cash, “sawing on that goddamn box,” with his mother lying by the window watching (Faulkner 14.) Using these words causes Jewel to appear to be dramatic and frustrated. He doesn’t understand why Cash must build the casket for everyone to see, including Addie. In addition, Jewel views his family “sitting there like buzzards,” while Cash is sawing and hammering away (Faulkner 15.) The fact that his family is doing this arouses the frustration in him even more. The other Bundrens do nothing to keep their mother from watching her casket being built. Also, Jewel wishes that Cash’s adze would go “One lick less,” so his mother can get some peace and quiet (Faulkner 15.) The repetition of this phrase is used to emphasize how resentful Jewel feels about his brother’s unconcern to where he builds his mothers casket. All he wants is consideration, so his mother can rest in peace, not having to constantly be reminded that her death is soon approaching. Although Jewel is angered by Cash’s actions, and his family’s unconcern about the matter, he also has compassion, for not wanting his mom to view the project her son is constructing for her.
Faulkner also expresses Jewels irritation with his family through the use of imagery. For example, Cash is clearly seen by Addie, “he stays out...