What are some allusions in As I Lay Dying?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

An allusion is a term used by literary critics to describe an author referring to elements from literature, the arts, history, or popular culture within a text. Another term sometimes used to describe this phenomenon is "intertextuality". Such references have two purposes. The first is specificity. The word "Penelope" conjures up a more specific and vivid image than "loyal wife". The second is compactness. A reference to Sisyphus conveys a painful, dull, endlessly repeated task in a single word.

There are two main classes of allusions used by Faulkner in his novel As I Lay Dying, those to the Bible and to classical literature and mythology, both of which would have been very familiar to his original readers. 

A typical example is Peabody describing Addie's "love that passeth understanding" for Jewel, a phrase the echoes the Biblical description of Jesus' love for humanity and is commonly...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 457 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team