Darl Bundren

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Darl Bundren
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Bundren, Darl
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Darl is Anse and Addie Bundren's second child in As I Lay Dying. Chronologically this places him between Cash and Jewel. But psychologically he has no place: unlike his older and his younger brother, he was born completely outside the circle of his mother's love. The most prolific narrator in the novel (he narrates 19 chapters), he also seems to be omniscient, as he often narrates events at which he is not present (nor does he narrate them as though he is recounting a story he was told). His strange narrative status is reinforced by an apparent ability to communicate with his siblings without words and by a vocabulary that often seems at odds with his socio-economic status (though his service "at the war" - that is, World War I - is sometimes cited as an experience that may have opened him up to a larger knowledge base and given him access to very contemporary terms like "cubistic," 254, 219). Cora tells us that he is "the one that folks say is queer" (24). Her husband diagnoses Darl's problem in vernacular terms: "he just thinks by himself too much" (71). A more sophisticated analyst would say that, like Quentin Compson at the other end of the social hierarchy, his problem is consciousness itself. His actions or inaction often drive the dramatic tension in the novel. Except for a mention in "Spotted Horses" of a "Mrs. Bundren" who may be Addie, Darl in the only member of his family who appears in any other text. The juvenile narrator of "Uncle Willy" refers twice to the end of Darl's story, when he is taken away to "the asylum at Jackson" (228). Neither Darl nor Uncle Willy can find a way to live in the conventional world - as Darl says, very movingly, in the novel, "How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home" (80).