By V Formers Alex von Campe, Luke Chiasson, and William D’Angelo
You’re at the hospital. Your mother, lying on her deathbed. She’s been sick for over a week now. The doctor went in to treat her just moments ago. He comes out, and his face says it all. The treatment didn’t work. She’s dead. Well, she was dying anyways. It wasn’t the treatment that killed her, right? She would not have lasted much longer, at least the good doctor tried. But your mother is dead and you can’t help but place some blame on the doctor. She had stayed alive until seeing him, right? No, no. The doctor did nothing wrong.
Now think of Cash, Darl, and Jewel. When their mother died after seeing the doctor, they didn’t think much of it. He did not kill her because she would have died anyways. It was quite logical. But Vardaman wasn’t as old or mature. In his mind, the logic was simple. His mother was alive, the doctor came, and then his mother was dead. The older brothers could easily see that her death was obviously not the doctor’s fault. At least he had made an effort to help. But Vardaman lacked the mental ability to see it this way. His brain was not nearly as developed. This incident would likely be imprinted as one of the most traumatic events in his life. So he did what many young children might do – abandon reason and find someone or something to take the blame.
This event is a good example of how some people develop certain fears. It is likely that for the rest of his life, Vardaman will distrust doctors. He will always relate doctors with the one who he thinks killed his mother. Even in 20 years if he were to look back on the event, his memory wouldn’t change for it had been forever implanted in his mind since that day. To Vardaman, it will always be that doctor who killed his mother when he was just a young boy.
My dad’s death was the most influential moment that occurred in my life. I was only 10 years old on December 26, 2007, as I was in the back seat driving into Tufts Hospital in Boston. All I heard from my mom was, “Something happened to Dad at work and we need to go.” He had a past of heart problems, and heart problems also ran in his family, but I did not want to believe that happened. Those 50 minutes of the car ride were the most confusing, unexplained 50 minutes of my life. What was next? Was my dad okay? Will I get to talk to him? I did not know what to expect when I got to the hospital. After waiting in a private room for roughly 10 minutes, the doctor came in and told us the news. My dad suffered a heart attack while working on the rafters during the performance of “The Nutcracker,” while doing his favorite thing, which was making the snow fall during the performance. My life was changed forever. The man I looked up to my whole life was no longer there, but I knew at the time, and still know now, that he is right there with me every step I take. Addie is also with her family every step they take.
As we know, the children Cash, Darl, Jewel, Dewey Dell, and Vardaman have lost their mother, Addie. Addie is currently being transported to the town in her coffin as she wished before she died. Her family is honoring her by doing what they were told to do. Along this journey, the family encountered a sign for a town that was located three miles away called New Hope. This is a sign for better things to come for the family after their mothers’ death. Death is a tragedy for any family, but after death is when families come together the strongest. The Bundren family is on a long hard road of grieving that seems like it will never end; although they will always miss their mother, there will be closure once they reach their final destination and fulfill her wish. Darl is having a very tough time with his mother’s death because he is very sensitive, but even he will hopefully start to realize that he will be making his mom proud. By being on this journey together, the family, whether they know it or not, will become stronger. The feeling of losing a loved one, especially a parent, is a feeling that will never go away, but it is what you do with that feeling to make your loved one proud of you. I know my dad is proud of me, and hopefully Addie is proud of her family.
Two Hobbits’ quest to destroy the One Ring in faraway Mordor. A young boy and a black man raft down a river to freedom. A father and son seek what is left of humanity in a post-apocalyptic world. And a family struggles to bury their mother in her final resting place.
All of these examples from well-known literature share a common motif, which is one of the most common in all of history: “The Journey,” a quintessential theme of any story, adventure, or otherwise. Serving as a literal, figurative, and metaphorical symbol, the idea of a Journey is one of the symbols with which you would almost groan and roll your eyes when a teacher brings it up. It is so common, in fact, that I believe it has lost a central significance in many stories.
Most of us know Lao Tzu’s quotation, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Maybe you also know Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quotation, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” These capture the essence of the Journey. Growth and change almost always happen on a road, or quest, or voyage, or expedition. With the family of As I Lay Dying, it is undoubtable that we will see growth in the characters. If we didn’t, there is no point in the book, no lesson learned. Luke talked about that once the family reaches their destination, their lives will have changed. But the act of reaching it will not be what changes them; the Journey will.
But we cannot know how their lives will change. Vardamon may grow up and learn more about the reality of life, or he may break down completely and go demented. Dewey Dell may learn to accept her choices and keep the baby, or she may never tell her family. Jewel may accept his family, or his hatred for them may grow. We cannot really tell what will happen because we, and all characters of literature are, in the words of one our own Green Class members, all “living our own independent journey.”
(These speeches are part of public speaking training in Mr. Camp’s V Form American Literature class. Each day, a new member of class must stand in front of the class and deliver an original speech–on the reading for homework–that must be two minutes in length. The speakers are assessed by the class through a rubric that addresses five categories in “Delivery” and four categories in “Content”)
Alex von Campe is a V Form day student from Groton, MA. He is interested in music and snowboarding, while at St. Mark’s he plays soccer, basketball, and crew.
Luke Chiasson, from Hudson, MA, is a V Form prefect in Marr-Coolidge House. He is a two-sport varsity starter in football and baseball.
William D’Angelo is a V Form day student from Medfield, MA. He plays football, wrestles, and is an avid reader of cracked.com.