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In my opinion, each character in the Bundren family seems to represent some form of common human emotion or character. For example; Anse Bundren would be procrastination and unqualified egocentrism. Darl would most likely represent some form of clarity, or analytical thinking. Dewey Dell would represent desires and the need to right past wrongs. Allowing one's mind to follow this concept, it is easy to determine that Jewel is the heroism and courage of the chaos that's around him. This is obviously shown when he pulls his mothers coffin from a burning barn, despite his own safety. (pg) Now, the fact that he is a child conceived outside of wed-lock makes it all the more intriguing when you apply the Bundren characters (meaning their represented characteristics) to a general populous. Having an illegitimate child is not necessarily a common thing, and neither is heroism.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â However, in this whole idea of each Bundren representing something, Addie would represent the human self and body. So, in essence, maybe saving his mother's body and coffin was not an act of courage, but overall, an act of dedication to a goal (moving Addie's body) despite the emotions and logic telling it to stop (Darl burning the barn down).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Getting away from that idea, Jewel seems to be a very loving and caring person. Despite his selfish acts such as buying a horse instead of benefiting the family (pg), he still shows that he cares deeply for his mother when he yells at Cash for making her coffin right outside of her window, declaring it's wrong and inhumane of him. (pg) To me at least, this shows his caring, or at least a natural respect for her, disproving any sort of callous facade he may put on in front of the other characters. Also, in his monologue, he expresses the wish to be alone with his mother as she lay dying in her final days by thinking "And now them others sitting there, like buzzards." (pg). Again, this proves that he at least views everyone else as not worthy, or seemingly unfit to be there. He feels they are there for they're own personal gain, like buzzards.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Whenever Jewel does something that's considered selfish or against the family's wishes, it could often be argued that it is not merely his wants or desires. This is because, in fact, Jewel being Addie's favorite, would she not want him to have the best things he could? For him to have a new horse? To ride separate from his insane 'family'?(pg) Jewels actions are not meant to portray selfishness, but to show Addie's wants. Jewel thinks he's more deserving than everyone else because he is her favorite child, and after she died, he just wants to mourn and honor her as best he can, whether or not he needs to save her decaying body from a burning farm. Dewey Dell and Vardaman were conceived because Addie felt guilty about Jewel and felt as though that even though Anse didn't know about her affair, she needed to make it up to him (pg).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Jewel's dependence on Addie as his caregiver makes her death impact him that much more severely. He doesn't care about anyone else in the family, respecting his mother and himself, he is sort of forced into being selfish to honor his mother, because in his mind, that's what she would have wanted. Basically, by him being selfish, he is honoring his mother, which is in fact being respectful and selfless.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Not only was Jewel the only one to really respect Addie and care for her like he did, but he was also her protector.Â On a number of occasions, Darl calls JewelÂ "wooden." Faulkner did not use this word by coincidence, Jewel is his mother's body'sÂ guardian, and describing him as wooden relates him to the Coffin built for her so painstakingly by her eldest son Cash. Cash would represent order and charity in myÂ opinion. When Addie points to Cash during her last moments alive, she isn't saying she wants him to be with her, she wants order and charity for her favorite son, Jewel. In the body's (Addie's) last wish, it wishes for heroism (Jewel) to become stronger. It becomes stronger by Cash being sure to put in as much time and attention as he can to making the coffin, Addie's protection and Jewel, strong.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â All in all, Jewel should represent selfishness, however, if one delves much deeper, they'll find that he is just the opposite. Defending his mother at every chance he can. Heroism is a unique thing, and so is a bastard child for that matter. Not everyone has either of these.Â Jewel is caring and tenacious, not necessarily a great thinker, but he gets done what he sets out to do, such as buying his own horse. Oddly, these are things that Anse, NOT Jewels father, feels that he is, and is sadly mistaken. It seems as though Faulkner was trying so say something about Anse as well when he constructed Jewels character. It suggests, along with Jewel being Addie's favorite child, that the emotions felt with reverend whitfield and her were much stronger than those between her and Anse, or else, why would Faulkner make Jewel a tall, determined, and selfless character, while Anse is just the opposite, hunched, procrastinating, and selfish character. Contracting these two really brings out the whole idea behind Jewels actions, and makes them acquire that much more clarity.