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Suzan-Lori Parks and Faulkner

amanda.simone's picture

On Tuesday of my break, I went to go visit some of my old high school teachers including my 11th grade English teacher. He was teaching his students As I Lay Dying, and we started chatting once his students started working on their assignment which was to write an additional chapter for the book from the perspective of a character of their choice. I have never read the novel, but he explained to me that each chapter is narrated by one character. I have read Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury though which has a similar format. During our conversation, a student came up to him to ask if she could write from the perspective of a deceased character. He was wary, concerned that it would be too ghostly and fantastical.

Today while finishing Getting Mother's Body, I started focusing on Willa Mae's sections. Although they bring her voice to life, there is no doubt that she is dead. Instead, they hint at the past and reveal important details about her relationships with the present characters. This reminded me of the student who wanted to explore the voice of the deceased character in her writing. Although my former teacher was ambivalent, the voice of a dead character does not necessarily cause an eerie or fanastical tone. Then this led me to realized that Suzan-Lori Parks' book is similar to As I Lay Dying (from what I have heard/read) in terms of format and content. I would love to ask her about the connections between her novel and Faulkner's, and am now motivated to read Faulkner's novel.

Additionally, I was really intrigued and impressed with Park's development of Dill's character and I am looking forward to discussing their identity in class and hearing what Park's has to say this coming week.