How would you characterize the preacher in As I Lay Dying?

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Whitfield in As I Lay Dying is a failed minister and the epitome of religious hypocrisy. Faulkner utilizes the character as a veiled criticism of organized religion and those who are leaders within it.

The minister and Addie's affair had resulted in Addie's pregnancy with Jewel, and the two are complicit in hiding this information from Anse. These acts demonstrate Whitfield's lack of morality and lack of fitness to lead a Christian congregation.

Upon hearing of Addie's terminal illness, Whitfield, in his chapter, vows to go to Addie's home and tell Anse the truth about the affair and identify himself as Jewel's father. He congratulates himself for "wrestling with Satan" about making his confession to God and the Bundren family and emerging "victorious." When Addie dies before he reaches the Bundren's home, Whitfield sees no reason to make his confession to Anse, knowing that he will now never be found out. Instead of focusing on the tragedy of Addie's death and feeling remorseful about his transgression, he reflects that Addie is now facing "awful and irrevocable judgment" and offers a cursory blessing of "God's grace upon this house." As to himself, Whitfield concludes that God has shown him mercy by not requiring him to confess and forgiveness because he showed an intention to face the man he had betrayed. Whitfield makes no recognition of responsibility toward his biological daughter Jewel.

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