What are the most prominent social issues in As I Lay Dying?
Faulkner's As I Lay Dying does not rank high on the social issues pecking order, but here are a few:
Lack of education: Sex education is non-existent; Dewey Dell doesn't know how she got pregnant. Anse puts Cash's leg in a cement cast. Addie beats her students. Peabody is an obese doctor who has to be pulled up the hill. The family carts around a decaying body for eight days. Needless to say, the Deep South needs education reform.
Mental illness: Vardaman does not understand death and thinks his mother is a fish. Darl is committed to a mental hospital mainly because of his actions (barn burning), not based on a thorough psychiatric exam. So, no one knows who's crazy or sane. It's all based on social expectation, which--in an illegitimate society--is a recipe for disaster. They're all probably nuts. Or, in that society, they're all sane. As Cash says:
Sometimes I think it aint none of us pure crazy and aint none of us pure sane until the balance of us talks him that-a-way. It’s like it aint so much what a fellow does, but it’s the way the majority of folks is looking at him when he does it.
Social Class: the Bundrens are dirt poor and lazy. Even their backwoods neighbors thumb their noses at them. The Bundrens' idea of high society is Jefferson, where they get false teeth, a train, and a back-alley abortion. They make the Beverly Hillbillies look sophisticated.