What potrait does Faulkner create of the Bundren family in the final chapter of "As I Lay Dying"?
Well, they really exhibit the myriad and complicated potential of the human heart. As Faulkner says in his Nobel Prize speech, "man will not merely endure, he will prevail." While the Bundrens may appear to be merely uneducated country folk, they reveal themselves to be so much more. Dewey Dell, although she can not forgive Darl, learns to love and accept her family (perhaps she could even grieve for Addie in the process)-- she takes care of Cash and watches out for Jewel and Vardaman. Cash becomes our voice of reason. He sees the family for what they are and learns to love them any way. (Isn't that prevailing?) And Jewel, for all his pride, becomes a hero simply because he does not know he is. Vardaman, the youngest and most pure, some how manages to preserve his ability to love, feel, and see the world for what it is...("Crazy is further than Jackson...") and this ability allows him to provide the glimmer of hope that this novel promises: we will prevail because of our ability to love.
The final thoughts of Cash reveal two sides to the Bundren family. In the first aspect, Pa returns with a new wife and a brand new set of teeth to follow suit. The children in their minds have gone through such a perilous, emotional, and tragic journey that they seem relatively sane in the end. Cash’s lines about Darl towards the end of the piece almost represent a childlike mentality. However, on the other hand, this may also suggest that the family is very endearing to each other and that they struggle on no matter what. Dewey Dell has seemed to carry on from her rape ordeal and is shown with Vardaman in a very innocent gesture of eating bananas on the back of the wagon.
The second side of this family may be presented in material aspects and what each person can give to another. Anse returns with a new set of teeth and a wife that comes with a special gift. The gramophone is treated as such a marvelous present that Cash spends more time discussing it that the attributes of the new Mrs. Burden. Furthermore, the way Anse introduces the children shows a sign of pride and dignity in the simple fact that out of this journey they come with a new mother and a new gramophone. The supposed shock of the children can be expressed through the thrifty attribute of Anse. In thr process of this short time in town he has secured material means for the family to carry.