Character Analysis of Jewel Bundren
“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 “ (Faulkner 233). This is a phrase derived from the book and is verbalized by Cash Bundren in the last chapters of the book. This depicts one of the realities of other people’s perception of you can judge you as your identity. Similar to what occurred to one of the most definitive characters in the story, Jewel Bundren.
Jewel Bundren is the son of Addie with her illicit sexual affair with Whitfield, a town priest. Addie showed utmost care and love to Jewel compared to her other children, but amidst that, she received apathy and blunt affect from her son when she was still alive. However, this does not mean that Jewel do not care about his mother because reading through his thoughts revealed how important his mother is to him and how immense is his desire to stay beside her until her last breath. His thoughts of being irritated of his brother “Cash”, who was making a coffin for their mother while she is still alive, discloses his significant love for her mother.
Jewel has been a man of few words all throughout the novel, and so he is just defined by every movement and action that he commits in each significant scene of the story. Being withdrawn even to his family created a brick wall between him and his family members, which lead his siblings to doubt the actions he does. His brother, Darl, had described him as a person whose heart was made of wood due to the reserved attitude he has against his family members, most especially to his mother who treated him very special. People around Jewel thought that he is a very insensitive and heartless person. Just like what Cora had described him in her point of view, that Jewel is a selfish and spoiled person demonstrating no fears in leaving his mother behind without even saying goodbye.
However, what these people did not know were the thoughts running through his mind which he was unable to convey into words. Jewel’s actions were the great determiners of his real affection for his mother and for his identity. Jewel is a hardworking character evidenced by the plowing of the land that he secretly did in order to buy a horse. Witnessing and experiencing the story, you will soon realize after Addie’s death, that Jewel care deeply about her. Sacrifices were done by Jewel to guarantee the safe delivery of his mother’s corpse to the final resting place that she wished for, which is in Jefferson. On their way to Jefferson, they met a lot of troubles, and Jewel made a lot of sacrifices such as bringing back Addie’s body from the waters, saving it from the fire that Darl started, and even to the point of selling his horse which he worked for several nights.
Jewel’s cold and reserved behavior greatly opposes the heroic measures he demonstrated in his deeds, that occurred in most of the story such as when he looked for the tools of his brother, not minding the whirls of water rushing, and when he nearly comes into a fight with the stranger whom he thinks had disgraced his family from the foul smell of the corpse. He was actually mad too when people were coming to their house when their mother was sick because he sees it as a private affair. Therefore, Jewel is solid man of action, and a real man exercising independence.
Faulkner greatly used Jewel as an example to show the impermanence of identity in the world. Jewel from being an apathetic and unresponsive child, showing ungratefulness to his mother when she was still alive was changed into a heroic fighter of his great love and affection for his mother through the sacrifices he went through. This is one message that the story want to convey to each of its readers. Making the readers aware of how quickly can a person’s identity change depending on the circumstance each person is facing and is experiencing.
Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. New York: Vintage International, 1990. Print.
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