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The essence of existing with the people who surround you is communication, the idea of expressing yourself. If you do not express yourself to others, how can they understand? If you do not express your feelings to yourself, how can you understand? If you cannot understand, how will you progress in life? You must ask yourself these questions and begin to comprehend that communication consists of two elements, the realm of action and the realm of words. Existing in exclusively one of these realms is not beneficial to you or the people around you, and it will be the downfall of your being. Any one of us can sit there and create small talk and simple actions. But, it is the person who feels what they are saying and doing who will get ahead in this world. In the novel As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner, we see that words and actions need to go hand in hand in order for communication to progress and be beneficial.

To begin with, the character of Jewel provides for an excellent example of why one cannot live exclusively in the realm of actions. Through Jewel s short temper, aggressive behavior and use of foul language, he proves to us that he lacks the ability to express himself through words. Not once throughout the novel did we see Jewel communicate to Addie through words. This bastard child took after his mother in believing as Addie said, words don t ever fit even what they are trying to say at (171). Thus, he never used words with Addie. Instead, his love for her was expressed when Jewel saved his mother from the water and from the fire (168). If he had not taken actions such as his courageous rescues, how would we have known the love Jewel had felt for Addie? There would have been no way to distinguish it. And that is where the fault lies in Jewel. The entire essence of Jewel is the actions that he takes during the book, besides an abundance of cursing whenever he opened his mouth, nothing more than small talk is spoken. Jewel had a strong character and he also possessed the intelligence to express him self not only through actions, but also by words as well. By not expressing his feelings through words, he merely held himself back from the greater things that he could accomplish. For instance, all of his other four siblings could have used his guidance. Each brother and sister could have benefited from the aid of Jewel, no matter how small it might have been. I believe that what his siblings, including himself, really needed was for someone to sit down with them and help them to sort out their feelings. Whether they were feelings of remorse, confusion or if they simply needed to express themselves to someone anyone. I think that one reason why Jewel never spoke much was because the reason you will not say it is, when you say it, even to yourself, you will know it is true (40). Jewel knew that if he expressed how much he loved his mother, he might actually begin to grieve and feel remorse for her. This in turn would break down his tough exterior, which he had built for himself and displayed to everyone around him. He covered up his emotions and feelings in his words with rude obscenities. Actions cannot compare to the moment where words are needed. Just so we do something (146). Why not Jewel just do something for himself? I think that Jewel needed to express his remorse for his mother through words, he needed to either tell her before she died or talk to someone after. It was unhealthy for this young man to simply do something and not express something.

The next character, Darl, dwells exclusively in the single realm of words and pays a hefty price for his lack of actions. Although Darl is the only one in this novel who seems to realize that his family s trip to Jefferson is a complete mistake, he is no better than Jewel and his ability to communicate properly or lack there of. Darl seems to be consumed by the very nature of his words and we find later on in the novel that it is his downfall. Because of his use of words, he is sent to a mental facility for the better of the family. Words are Darl, and Darl are words. Until the very end of the book, the language of words is the only thing that keeps him from snapping. Darl s words comfort him, they are like a cushion that he can fall back upon when the burden s of the world seem too heavy, such as the death of his mother. He can get lost in his words and almost escape reality, because his thoughts alone, as well as what he says can be confusing, especially to the readers. How can you express yourself if the people around you cannot comprehend what you are trying to say? Most people will turn away and will not try to understand. Furthermore, in order to progress in life, you must live it. Darl was no doubt intelligent and bright, he proved that by the incredible thought process he used, but he lacked the courage and the strength to take a stand for what he said and act upon it. It was not until the buzzards were practically pecking at the wood of the casket when Darl finally decides to make his move, take a chance, and create his action. It is too late and because of this, his actions are useless. Words are like airwaves, which lead to actions. If the signal is at all interrupted or misunderstood, the message will never make it to its destination free of interference and be acted upon. Unlike the others in this novel, Darl feels the words which he speaks, and yet words his words can be seen as just a shape to fill a lack (172). I think that Darl s words did indeed fill a lack, they filled a great lack, and the words filled his realm of action. As much as actions can prove to be useless at times, words can have the same effect. For instance, we can see clearly that words would not suffice with Anse. As long as the work gets done and people continue helping him, he does not care. He was too lazy to really care what any of his family members thought. Thus, Darl had the words to outsmart his father, but he did not have the action. Therefore, unless someone literally pushed Anse out of the way, their father would be the demise of the family, if not destroying it completely with Anse s carelessness. It is situations such as the one with Darl s father in which we see the realm of words being useless if they are used alone. Consequently, Darl is sent to spend the rest of his life in a mental hospital and he is punished for not existing in both realms. Let his abundance of words and lack of actions be a fair warning to us all on how important both realms of communication are to existence.

Lastly, there must be a balance, the character of Cash proves to us that indeed a balance can be reached and benefited from. Cash is the ray of hope in this novel. He is the only one who understands that life is not worth living unless you exist in the realm of words and action. The growth of Cash s personality and character in this story is tremendous. He begins as a simple man, with simple thoughts, and a simple task. Complete his mother s casket. Everything was structured with Cash, nothing out of line, nothing out of place, and if it was, fix it. It wasn t on a balance. I told them that if they wanted it to tote and ride on a balance, they would have to (165). Of course, Cash is speaking of the wagon and the casket, which sits upon it as they try to get it across the river. But, if you think about it, this phrase is true for the concept of communication. If you want to progress, you must reach a balance between both realms otherwise you will not make it across the river of life without tipping over. Cash finally reaches his. We find in the scene where Cash almost drowns, that the sight of his tools suddenly regenerates him. His spirit is lifted and he finds new meaning to the word life . From that point on, Cash begins to process thoughts of his own. He thinks beyond his field of work and sees the world in a true color. We clearly see this change in Cash as he begins to ponder who is pure sane and who is pure crazy when Darl is being taken away (233). Cash was once consumed by words, but he realized that he could not live on words alone. Thus, he changed his ways. Anse has never been, nor ever will be the father that his children need. Now that Cash finally sees the world through the realm of words and actions, he is all they have left for guidance. Cash now has the ability to help his pregnant sister, his young confused brother, and his other action-orientated brother. He feels life and therefore he truly lives.

Thus, words can never replace the realm of action and actions can never replace the realm of words. Nevertheless, people such as Jewel and Darl exist today, exist among us, and exist within us. They tip the scale on our goal for balance for staying in both realms. In addition, there is a penalty to pay if you dwell in a single realm and lack the essence of communicating completely, not just in one dimension. It is the people like Cash who set the example of not only how one can change for the better, but also how one can be complete within themselves, by themselves, and for themselves. We can learn from Cash, Jewel, and Darl that communication is the one thing that lets us express ourselves properly and be able to interact with the world around us.


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