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What are some allusions to Greek literary tradition in "As I Lay Dying"?

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dizzyx1 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 10, 2008 at 11:10 AM via web

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What are some allusions to Greek literary tradition in "As I Lay Dying"?

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted March 10, 2008 at 12:45 PM (Answer #1)

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One of the main allusions to the Greek literary tradition comes when Darl burns down the barn to honor his mother's death.  The Greeks believed in a quick and dignified burial.  For example, in Sophocles' Antigone, the heroine defies the rule of the king and sacrifices her life in order to bury her brother with proper respect.  What's more, the typical Greek send-off in death was to erect a funeral pyre, so the burning of his mother's corpse is in line with the Greek tradition.

As the barn burns, Faulkner has Darl make a direct reference to the Greeks as well.  Darl watches Jewel and Gillespie struggle.  Darl says, "They are like two figures in a Greek frieze, isolated out of all reality by the red glare."  A greek frieze is a sculpture that typically depicts some sort of pivotal moment in the lives of both gods and mortals, captured in stone forever. 

Darl watches his own epic historical battle and to him time seems to stand still; the figures appear larger than life. 


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lizbethlongoria | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 9, 2008 at 4:11 AM (Answer #2)

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Thank you very much

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