A heroic figure is someone who does something that other people in the society are afraid to do. He expresses the qualities of a hero and is exceptional in the society in which he lives. A heroic figure has characteristics such as courage, bravery, and readiness to face any danger in order to achieve his aims in life.
Despite the problems that the heroic individual faces, he or she still presses on. The novel “As I Lay Dying” is about the Bundrens who, together with all the family members, want to realize the wish of Addie Bundren (the mother) to be buried in Jefferson beside her members of the family. Heroism in this novel is mostly seen when the Bundrens and the other family members are on the way to burry Addie. Jewel expresses his heroic character not only on their way to the burry his mother but also in the various circumstances that he faces together with the Bundrens. The analysis of Jewel clearly shows his heroic character and how he courageously overcame all the obstacles (Faulkner 10).
Jewel Bundren is Addie’s third son. He does not appear in many dialogues throughout the novel, but his actions express a great message. He is considered to be harsh and rough. The reason behind this is that he treats the members of his family harshly as well as other people in the society. Biologically, he is not a member of the Bundrens; this is because his biological father is Reverend Whitfield (Faulkner 15).
Jewel expresses his heroic character in that despite being disowned by his family, he still continues to stay with them and works hard to buy a horse. He loves his mother Addie very much; this is the reason why he continues to stay in the family. Jewel’s heroism is in his endurance to stay with the Bundrens despite being separated from the family (Faulkner 16).
When Jewel returns after he had run away from the family, he shows his fierce love to his mother since he believes no one cares about her. He feels that he does not belong to the Bundrens family, but the fact that he is Addie’s son encourages him to stay. Jewel is a heroic character as despite him being excluded by the other members of the family, he takes the initiative to take care of his mother. Addie is the closest person to Jewel in the family (Faulkner 17).
Throughout the novel, Jewel expresses his love for his mother. He is reticent, does not show his emotions towards his dead mother, and has unique feelings. When his mother dies, he does not go close to her to bid her farewell yet we know he loves his mother so much. It is a sign of being unique and not showing his emotions about his mother’s death to everyone. Jewel’s heroism is expressed vividly when the family is on the way to Addie’s burial. On the way to Jefferson where Addie was to be buried, the family encounters a flooded river, and everyone is worried on how to take the corpse to the other side of the river. (Faulkner 21)
During the crossing of the river, Darl (Jewel’s brother) jumps out of the sinking boat to save his life and justifies himself saying that it is a way of saving his family. Darl’s action shows his disrespect for his dead mother. The family struggled to cross the river for a long time, but later Jewel came to save them (Faulkner 17).
It is due to Jewel’s bravery that he sacrifices his horse by submerging himself and the animal in the treacherous river. Jewel is the most valiant character since he sacrifices his beloved horse and also risks his life in order to take his mother’s coffin safely to the other side. During this time, he acts as the commandant of the whole operation since he is the one on the front line. During this heroic action, Jewel’s brothers stayed together in fear and crossed the river together. Therefore, it is right to say that Jewel was a hero since he first took the initiative to save his mother’s coffin from drowning (Faulkner 23).
Jewel also shows his heroic devotion when he looks for tools that belonged to Cash after they had crossed the river. During his search for the tools in the river, he almost fights with an alien who he deems has offended the family. To summarize Jewel’s character, he is a self-regulating and lone man of deeds since he is isolated by the family members; however, despite that, he can take quick actions when there is a need (Faulkner 31).
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In conclusion, there is heroism in the novel “As I Lay Down” as expressed by Jewel. Jewel lives among the family members who do not appreciate him for whom he is; nevertheless, he survives in that family despite being alienated. His endurance in such hard circumstances makes him appear as a hero in the novel. Moreover, he shows his bravery further by sacrificing his life and his horse and submerging in the flooding river in order to save his mother’s coffin. Later, after everybody had crossed the dangerous river, he searches for Cash’s tools from the river which is quite risky. Trying to save them is a brave act since he was the only one who was willing to look for the tools; the rest of the family had stayed aside.