It is cut up into pieces of not-fish now, not-blood on my hands and overalls” (53).
Patriarchal language repression would not explain Addie’s feelings as a young school teacher who hated the school children and could only feel connected to them or that she was making an impression on them when she was switching them.
Faulkner’s penetrating exploration of the interstices of language and the profound aloneness of the human condition despite language is better viewed through a humanistic lens. Wannamaker states: “Addie sees language as a patriarchal construct that she stands outside of, that cannot explain her identity or her sexuality, and that she cannot use.” On the one hand, Addie Bundren most certainly never heard of a patriarchal construct in her beleaguered life, but, on the other hand, Addie’s chapter is full of musings about the uselessness, or inadequacy, of words, certain words like ‘motherhood’, ‘fear’, ‘pride’, ‘love’, ‘sin’, and ‘salvation.’ These words for heavily weighted concepts strike Addie as so far from adequate that those people who had never experienced the concepts embodied by those words must have made them up.
Wannamaker’s thesis, that “[m]ost importantly, Addie is a character who is acutely aware of the linguistic and social oppression that traps her into a life she does not want,” while certainly not a wholly satisfactory or comprehensive analysis, provides a starting point for thinking about this complex and obscure character. Wannamaker’s “lens” limits and diminishes a reader’s capacity to decode Faulkner’s intentions or to grasp the nature of Addie’s misery.
Her condition of deadness, speaking from the void between is and not-is makes her the perfect vehicle for Faulkner to describe the indescribable, approach the unapproachable, express the inexpressible, as he so gracefully does, does-not.
The placement of Addie’s chapter in the middle of her long journey from deathbed to grave is also significant.