Since the start of the semester, the phrase “stream of consciousness” has been omnipresent, given Faulkner’s style of writing in As I Lay Dying.
Stream of consciousness can be defined as a mode of narration that captures a character’s mental process – sense perceptions, conscious and unconscious thoughts, memories, expectations, feelings and random associations.
In our most recent class we focused on this style by sharing our creative writing homework assignments, which asked us to “write one paragraph (~150-200 words) in the voice of one of As I Lay Dying’s main characters. Try to capture both how your character thinks and sounds.”
The following passage, written by Julia (class of 2013), is in the voice of Dewey Dell. The class agreed that Julia successfully captured Dewey Dell’s general lack of reasoning and fragmented thoughts, as demonstrated by random and repetitive phrases and simple vocab. The passage also highlights Dewey Dell’s affinity for animals and her concerns regarding her pregnancy.
The calico lives in the barn with the cow. She’s great hazy spots on dirty white like the cow. They’re the same as each other and together they whisper the secrets of hazy spots and dragging tails and four legs joined with solid earth.
The kitchen is dark like choking or deliverance. I tread tight circles heel-to-toe and my arms are clenched tight around my body and my mind is tight and so I cannot sleep and so I tread tight circles in the dark kitchen. The calico was swelled and mewling when she gave birth she was swollen and moaning and the kittens were calico too.
Thirteen calico kittens born with claws and teeth. My feet are naked and they mark tight circles in the dust, heel-to-toe. Three-hundred and thirty-eight little calico teeth mark the calico’s womb. I hear the strain of the dark as it whistles through Jewel’s teeth. The dark passes freely over Pa’s dip-stained gums. The dark settles between Ma’s lips.
The dark parts for Darl’s candle. He knows I am walking and he knew I was walking for the entire time I was walking because if I wasn’t walking he would know it too. And if he was walking and I were still he would know that too.
Heel-to-toe, heel-to-toe. Heel-to-toe in circles of five or six. Darl tells me to sleep without the words. If the next is a circle of five I will go and if it is six I will stay a while longer.
The next is five, because Darl says it is so and so it is. I sleep with thirteen calicos purring in my ear.
Homework assignment (due Wednesday) – Read and annotate: Pages 128-197. Vocab: suffuse (pg 128, verb); abet (pg 134, verb); plaintive (pg 142, adjective); circumscribed (pg 142, adjective); unabashed (pg 142, adjective); resonant (pg 158, adjective); tribulation (pg 176, noun); absolve (pg 168, verb); circumspection (pg 174, noun); sanctified (pg 175, adjective); irrevocable (pg 179, adjective)