What are the allusions in "As I Lay Dying"?

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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As is typical, Faulkner makes both biblical and classical allusions in his work. Biblical allusions are used in the description of the the family, the travels and even the emotions of the characters. For example, Peabody makes reference to "love that passeth understanding", which is from the Book of Ephesians in the Bible (a phrase used to describe the love of Christ). The Biblical allusions are often easy to spot by the use of Biblical language, a divergence from the more regional dialect employed by Faulkner throughout the novel. Don't be fooled, however - the simplest things can also be allusions. Vardaman refers to his mother as a fish, which is again a reference to Christ.

The classical allusions are done to give the family a mythological air, to go along with their mythological "Odyssey" to bury Addie. For example, Darl describes Gillespie, who is naked, and Jewel, who is in his underwear, as "like two figures in a Greek frieze, isolated out of all reality by the red glare." This quote and the title are just two of the many ways that Faulkner references Homer's Odyssey.

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