On p.193, Armstid says, “Well, that’ll be the last they’ll ever see of now, sho enough. Come Christmas time they’ll maybe get a postal card from him in Texas, I reckon. And if it hadn’t a been Jewel, I reckon it’d a been me; I owe him that much, myself. I be durn if Anse don’t conjure a man, some way, I be durn if he ain’t a sight.”
Anse Bundren is surely one of the most feckless characters in literature, yet he manages to command the obedience and cooperation of his children. How does he do it? Why are other people so generous with him? He gets his new teeth at the end of the novel and he also gets a new wife. What is the secret of Anse’s charm? How did he manage to make Addie marry him, when she is clearly more intelligent than he is?
I need to gather as many ideas as possible. Cite examples from the novel to support your points.
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Stubbornness and an apparent unflappability combine in Anse. He is seemingly helpless against his own laziness or finds a way to communicate a sense of helplessness anyway.
To say that Anse is charming seems a bit odd, but it's hard to deny that he must have some kind of charm to find a fiance in the end. Rather than charm, I'd say Anse possesses an allure which stems from his complex passivity. He insinuates himself into other people's sense of duty. He has a talent for burdening his community.
Due to the fact that so much of Anse's behavior is essentially passive, finding passages in the text which demonstrate his power over others is more difficult than, say, finding passages that identify Jewel's internal conflicts or Darl's compassion.
However, if we posit our analysis in a certain way and say that this is a book about love... As a novel about different types of love, Anse demonstrates a self-love and a narcissim which might be cited in the passages commenting on his refusal to break a sweat and in the passage on his new teeth.
I think it is not Anse per se that the children show respect to, but the institution of family. Although Anse is lazy and dishonest, he does intend to keep his family together, even to the point of bringing in a 'new' wife at the end. We may not approve of his logic and methods, and we may see his replacement of Addie as cruel and insensitive, but he keeps the family united as they have always been - even through his wife's infidelity.
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