Explore the ideas of selfishness vs. selflessness.

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A salient theme in Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying is selfishness versus selflessness. Various characters in the novel are motivated by either. Anse Bundren is a character who is very motivated by selfish reasons. He wants to go to Jefferson to get new false teeth, and that is more of a motivation than burying his wife. Dewey Dell is also driven by her desire to get an abortive substance in Jefferson. On the other hand, Cash is a very selfless character. He works to make his mother’s coffin at her request and even when he breaks his leg, he refuses to talk about it and simply works through the pain. He does heavy manual work with a broken leg without saying anything. This contrasts with Anse, who selfishly refuses to work.

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