Thursday, March 11, 2010

Interchangeable Parts

After discussing Faulkner in class today, it got me thinking...

What concept could be applied to the Bundren family? Specifically, what concept could be applied to Anse Bundren? After mulling this over for a little while, I have decided that Anse Bundren is inaccurately applying Eli Whitney's idea of interchangeable parts.

If you are not familiar with the man, Eli Whitney is most famous for two inventions. The first being the cotton gin. This machine helped to produce cotton at a much faster rate than before. This also has absolutely nothing to do with what I am trying to point out. The second idea that Whitney came up with, or is given credit for, is the concept of interchangeable parts. This idea was meant to increase the productivity within a factory. Prior to this "invention," each product was essentially unique, and was built by one worker, or perhaps a team of workers. The interchangeable parts concept could be applied to any sort of manufacturing and is the very basic idea that not all finished products are unique. You can take the same part of a product and use it to build other products. An example of this would be a product like cell phones. Each finished cell phone requires a battery, keys, an antenna (could be built into the phone), and other parts to make the phone complete. Whitney realized that you could use the same parts (battery, keys, antenna) to build another finished product. The same parts used in the making of the last cell phone, could be applied to the making of the new one.

In a fucked up sort of way, this can be applied to Anse Bundren. Bundren is applying the concept of interchangeable parts within his family. He loses one wife, and decides that you can insert another female in that role in order to take her place. Since all females are the same in the eyes of Anse, and simply serve the function of producing babies, Eli's theory works perfectly. He can still produce babies, and in the eyes of the production equation, nothing has changed.

Take this for what you will. It is coming from a Business major who somehow wound up in an English class. They teach us to apply business concepts to just about everything...

Let's hear your thoughts...


  1. Can I just start off by saying, that it's pretty damn awesome that we can cut loose on those blog posts and comments and not feel scared or awkward! Amen!

    This interchangeable idea pretty much rocked for Whitney, but I think Anse considers women to be more like cellphones in the sense that Addie was an older model, broken down, battery is dead, texts are disappearing, service is unreliable, and after he "recycled" her, bought a new one. Perverted and twisted as it is, I think Anse doesn't like the idea of not having a "cellphone" with him at all times, and needs to get a new one every time the old one "dies."

  2. Hmm... this is really interesting! In the first section Darl mentions that there is a cottonhouse on their property. Cottonhouse, Eli Whitney, interchangeable parts... I feel like Faulkner could definitely be hinting at this.

  3. Perhaps we should also consider that childbirth happens via a process called labor. Whuddya think about that?

  4. its really unclear to me if Anse had been seeing the new Mrs Bundren before Addies death. I think that he was, but then the question is was he seeing her in preparation for Addies death? or simply because he was having an affair and then Addie died so marriage was an option. I feel that he was seeing her because he knew Addie was going to die, but you never know... and I guess that is Faulkner's point.