Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA) in English: Literature



First Advisor

Paul Lindholdt

Second Advisor

Judith Logan

Third Advisor

Theresa Martin


"This paper is concerned with the character of Darl Bundren and the repeated motif of madness in William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. Possible psychiatric explanations for Darl's madness, including linguistic evidence for his psychotic breakdown, are explored. The paper does not agree with the critical use of words such as "insane" or "crazy" as the book itself questions the verity of such labels. Critical analyses concerning Darl tend to be sympathetic but use derogatory language when defending the character. Articles related to the relatively new idea of neurodiversity will counter the backhanded sympathy with which the critics regard Darl. Sociological and psychological studies are used to provide scaffolding for the discussion of mental illness. The goal of conflating 21st - century social psychology with 20th-century literature is to condemn the atrocities committed against the character of Darl without condemning the character with a diagnosis. Any diagnosis that can be generalized as "madness" is in line with the same rationale used by the other characters in the novel (especially Dad's father, Anse) to justify the incarceration of Darl. In short, this paper builds a sympathetic defense of the character of Darl that follows in the tradition of existing criticism while condemning the derogatory language used for functional people suffering from a mental illness"--Document.


Typescript. Vita.