"Swamped and Submerged in the Bright Unreal Flood": Reflections on Water and Metaphor in William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, and Absalom, Absalom! Open Access

Whitehead, Samuel Claud (2011)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/fb494905q?locale=en
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Abstract

Abstract


"Swamped and Submerged in the Bright Unreal Flood": Reflections on Water and Metaphor in
William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, and Absalom, Absalom!
By Samuel Claud Whitehead


This thesis explores how an understanding of the role water as both a literal and metaphorical element of William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, and Absalom, Absalom! provides characters with a richer existence, offers readers a means of understanding the notoriously difficult novels, and revisions the ability of narrative to impart truth. Recent scholarship highlighting the importance of metaphors in human cognition provides a novel means of examining the exposed consciousnesses of Faulkner's characters and how the metaphorical nature of their perception guides their experiences. Focusing on water metaphors in particular places the novels in conversation: The Sound and the Fury demonstrates the pervasiveness of water metaphors as a part of characters' thinking and as an integral component of readers' understanding of the novels; the overwhelming presence of water metaphors in As I Lay Dying offers a means of reconciling the different narratives to revision truth as a product of the perceptions of many; Absalom, Absalom! highlights the fluid nature of truth and suggests how readers approach a narrative: question, doubt, and become part of it. Though, at first, these novels generate obfuscation, the means to understand them also flows through their pages. For readers with knowledge of the way the human mind understands through metaphors based in the natural world, Faulkner's texts offer a chart by which to navigate towards comprehension.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


I. Introduction...1
II. The Sound and the Fury: Water and Dissolving Minds...11
III. As I Lay Dying: Water and Dissolving Texts...33
IV. Absalom, Absalom!: Solution and Dissolution...46
V. Staying Afloat...61
VI. Works Cited...68

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