Unnamed Government Agents

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Unnamed Government Agents
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Unnamed Government Agents
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"Them" - this is one of the more ambiguous elements in As I Lay Dying. "Them," "they" - these are the only terms that that Anse uses to describe the people who come to his house and use "the law" to "talk me out of" Darl (37, 36). The most likely explanation of this event is the Selective Service Act of 1917, which required men between the ages of 21 and 31 to register for the draft (in 1918, it was expanded to include men between 18 and 21). That would mean Darl has been drafted and "they" are agents of the federal government. Anse seems to assume that "their" reason for taking Darl has something to do with his strangeness, and if that is true then "they" may instead be agents of state's the mental health system (like the two men who take Darl away at the end of the novel). But the novel nowhere suggests Darl has been institutionalized before his mother's death, and it does say he served in France "at the war" (254). Almost 3,000,000 men were drafted between 1917 and 1918.