As I Lay Passing Away- Cast of Characters
The wife of Anse Bundren and mother to Money, Darl, Jewel, Dewey Dell, and Vardaman. Addie is a primarily missing protagonist, and her death sets off the book’s action. She is a former schoolteacher whose bitter, loveless life causes her to abhor her spouse and to invest all of her love in her preferred child, Gem, instead of in the rest of her family or God.
The head of the Bundren household. Anse is a poor farmer afflicted with a hunchback, whose instincts are extremely selfish. His bad childrearing abilities seem to be largely accountable for his children’s different situations. At the same time disliked and disrespected by his kids, Anse nevertheless is successful in achieving his two biggest objectives in one fell swoop: burying his dead spouse in her home town of Jefferson, and obtaining a brand-new set of incorrect teeth.
The 2nd Bundren child. Darl is the most delicate and articulate of the enduring Bundrens and delivers the best number of interior monologues in the book. As the household encounters disaster upon catastrophe throughout the trip, Darl’s frustration with the whole process leads him to attempt to end things decisively by incinerating his dead mom’s casket.
The bastard child of Addie and Whitfield, the minister. Though Darl appears to comprehend him, Gem remains the book’s biggest mystery, and is the least represented in its lots of areas. Gem has a happy, fiercely independent nature that most of his household and neighbors puzzle for selfishness. His passionate, brooding nature, nevertheless, exposes a real love and commitment to his mother, and he becomes an intense protector of her coffin.
The eldest Bundren child and a competent carpenter. Money is the paragon of patience and selflessness, nearly to the point of absurdity. He refuses ever to grumble about his damaged, festering leg, enabling the injury to degenerate to the point that he might never ever walk once again. Money emerges as one of the novel’s couple of consistently stable characters.
Dewey Dell Bundren
The only Bundren child. Dewey Dell is seventeen, and a recent sexual experience has actually left her pregnant. Progressively desperate, she finds her mind inhabited solely with her pregnancy, and views all guys with differing degrees of suspicion.
The youngest of the Bundren children. Vardaman has a dynamic imagination, and he views his mother’s death through the exact same lens with which he views a fish he has actually recently captured and cleaned. Although his ramblings at the beginning of the novel verge on the maniacal, Vardaman shows to be a thoughtful and innocent child.
The Bundrens’ wealthier neighbor. Tull is both a critic of and an unappreciated assistance to the Bundrens. He works with Darl, Gem, and Cash for tasks, and assists the family cross the river in spite of its overt hostility toward him. Tull and his better half Cora, nevertheless, are crucial of the Bundrens’ decision to bury Addie’s body in Jefferson.
Vernon Tull’s wife. Cora sticks with Addie throughout Addie’s last hours. A deeply religious female and pious to a fault, Cora regularly and vocally disapproves of Addie’s impiety and behavior.
The father of Dewey Dell’s child. While he never appears in person in the novel, Lafe is definitely a driving force behind a number of Dewey Dell’s thoughts and much of her behavior. In a supreme effort to disassociate himself from her problems, Lafe gives Dewey Dell ten dollars with which to spend for an abortion.
The regional minister. Held up by Cora Tull as the pinnacle of piety, Whitfield is in fact a hypocrite. His affair with Addie results in Jewel’s conception, and, though Whitfield deals with to admit the affair to Anse, he ends up choosing that the mere intention to admit will do just as well.
The significantly overweight rural medical professional who attends to Addie and later to Cash. Peabody is very vital of the method Anse treats his children.
The regional farmer who puts up the Bundrens on the first night of their disastrous funeral journey. Samson sees the Bundrens’ problems as a judgment on the family’s rude good manners and on Addie and Anse’s neglect for God and their own children.
A regional farmer who puts up the Bundrens on the second evening of their funeral journey. Anse consistently and rigidly refuses Armstid’s deal to provide Anse a group of mules.
A farmer who puts up the Bundrens later in their journey.
The Mottson druggist who indignantly refuses Dewey Dell’s ask for an abortion. Moseley’s stern lecture to Dewey Dell is both the embodiment of sanctimoniousness and, some may say, of fatherly caring.
A rather despicable young worker at a Jefferson drugstore. MacGowan obtains a sexual favor from Dewey Dell in return for a phony abortion treatment.
The Gillespie young boy
Gillespie’s son, who assists Gem save the animals from the burning barn.
Plot Summary 1
Addie Bundren, the wife of Anse Bundren and the matriarch of a poor southern family, is very ill, and is anticipated to pass away quickly. Her oldest kid, Cash, puts all of his woodworking skills into preparing her casket, which he builds right in front of Addie’s bed room window. Although Addie’s health is stopping working rapidly, 2 of her other boys, Darl and Gem, leave town to make a delivery for the Bundrens’ neighbor, Vernon Tull, whose partner and two children have been tending to Addie. Quickly after Darl and Gem leave, Addie passes away. The youngest Bundren child, Vardaman, associates his mother’s death with that of a fish he captured and cleaned up previously that day. With some aid, Money completes the coffin prior to dawn. Vardaman is troubled by the fact that his mom is nailed shut inside a box, and while the others sleep, he bores holes in the cover, two of which go through his mother’s face. Addie and Anse’s child, Dewey Dell, whose current sexual liaisons with a local farmhand called Lafe have actually left her pregnant, is so overwhelmed by stress and anxiety over her condition that she barely mourns her mom’s death. A funeral service is hung on the following day, where the women sing songs inside the Bundren home while the men stand outside on the patio talking to each other.
Plot Overview 2
Darl, who tells much of this very first section, returns with Jewel a couple of days later, and the existence of buzzards over their home lets them understand their mother is dead. On seeing this indication, Darl sardonically assures Gem, who is widely viewed as thankless and unconcerned, that he can be sure his precious horse is not dead. Addie has actually made Anse assure that she will be buried in the town of Jefferson, and though this demand is an even more complicated proposition than burying her in your home, Anse’s sense of responsibility, combined with his desire to purchase a set of incorrect teeth, forces him to meet Addie’s passing away desire. Money, who has actually broken his leg on a job website, helps the family lift the unbalanced coffin, but it is Jewel who ends up manhandling it, practically single-handedly, into the wagon. Jewel refuses, however, to in fact be available in the wagon, and follows the rest of the family riding on his horse, which he purchased when he was young by secretly working nights on a neighbor’s land.
Plot Introduction 3
On the opening night of their journey, the Bundrens stay at the home of a generous regional family, who concerns the Bundrens’ mission with skepticism. Due to extreme flooding, the primary bridges leading over the regional river have been flooded or removed, and the Bundrens are forced to reverse and try a river-crossing over a makeshift ford. When a roaming log upsets the wagon, the casket is knocked out, Money’s broken leg is reinjured, and the group of mules drowns. Vernon Tull sees the wreck, and assists Jewel rescue the coffin and the wagon from the river. Together, the relative and Tull search the riverbed for Cash’s tools.
Plot Introduction 4
Cora, Tull’s spouse, keeps in mind Addie’s unchristian disposition to respect her boy Gem more than God. Addie herself, speaking either from her casket or in a leap back in time to her deathbed, remembers events from her life: her loveless marriage to Anse; her affair with the regional minister, Whitfield, which resulted in Gem’s conception; and the birth of her different children. Whitfield recalls taking a trip to the Bundrens’ house to admit the affair to Anse, and his eventual choice not to state anything after all.
Plot Introduction 5
A horse doctor sets Cash’s damaged leg, while Cash passes out from the discomfort without ever grumbling. Anse is able to buy a new team of mules by mortgaging his farm equipment, using cash that he was conserving for his incorrect teeth and cash that Cash was saving for a new gramophone, and trading in Gem’s horse. The household continues its way. In the town of Mottson, locals respond with horror to the stench originating from the Bundren wagon. While the household remains in town, Dewey Dell tries to buy a drug that will terminate her unwanted pregnancy, but the pharmacist refuses to offer it to her, and recommends marital relationship instead. With cement the household has actually bought in town, Darl creates a makeshift cast for Cash’s broken leg, which fits poorly and only increases Cash’s pain. The Bundrens then spend the night at a regional farm owned by a guy named Gillespie. Darl, who has been doubtful of their objective for some time, burns down the Gillespie barn with the intention of incinerating the coffin and Addie’s decomposing corpse. Jewel rescues the animals in the barn, then risks his life to drag out Addie’s casket. Darl pushes his mom’s casket and sobs.
Plot Introduction 6
The next day, the Bundrens get here in Jefferson and bury Addie. Rather than deal with a lawsuit for Darl’s criminal barn burning, the Bundrens claim that Darl is outrageous, and provide him to a set of guys who devote him to a Jackson mental institution. Dewey Dell tries once again to purchase an abortion drug at the regional drug store, where a kid working behind the counter declares to be a medical professional and techniques her into exchanging sexual services for what she soon recognizes is not a real abortion drug. The following morning, the kids are greeted by their dad, who sports a new set of false teeth and, with a mix of embarassment and pride, introduces them to his new bride-to-be, a local female he meets while borrowing shovels with which to bury Addie.
Quickly after Addie’s death, the Bundren children seize on animals as symbols of their departed mom. Vardaman states that his mother is the fish he captured. Darl asserts that Jewel’s mom is his horse. Dewey Dell calls the family cow a female as she mulls over her pregnancy just minutes after she has lost Addie, her only female relative. For very various factors, the grief-stricken characters take on animals as symbols of their own scenarios. Vardaman sees Addie in his fish since, like the fish, she has been transformed to a different state than when she lived. The cow, inflamed with milk, signifies to Dewey Dell the discomfort of being stuck with an undesirable concern. Gem and his horse include a new wrinkle to making use of animals as symbols. To us, based on Darl’s word, the horse is a sign of Jewel’s love for his mother. For Gem, however, the horse, based on his riding of it, obviously represents a hard-won freedom from the Bundren household. That we can draw such various conclusions from the novel’s characters makes the horse in lots of methods agent of the unpredictable and subjective nature of signs in As I Lay Perishing.
The Impermanence of Existence and Identity
The death of Addie Bundren inspires a number of characters to wrestle with the rather substantial questions of presence and identity. Vardaman is baffled and frightened by the change of a fish he caught and cleaned into “pieces of not-fish,” and associates that image with the transformation of Addie from a person into an indefinable nonperson. Jewel never really speaks for himself, but his sorrow is summarized for him by Darl, who says that Gem’s mom is a horse. For his own part, Darl thinks that given that the dead Addie is now best described as “was” rather than “is,” it should hold true that she no longer exists. If his mom does not exist, Darl reasons, then Darl has no mother and, by ramification, does not exist. These speculations are not mere games of language and logic. Rather, they have tangible, even terrible, repercussions for the novel’s characters. Vardaman and Darl, the characters for whom these questions are the most urgent, both find their hold on truth loosened up as they position such questions. Vardaman babbles senselessly early in the unique, while Darl is ultimately declared ridiculous. The fragility and uncertainty of human existence is additional showed at the end of the unique, when Anse introduces his brand-new spouse as “Mrs. Bundren,” a name that, up until recently, has actually belonged to Addie. If the identity of Mrs. Bundren can be usurped so rapidly, the inevitable conclusion is that any person’s identity is similarly unsteady.
The Stress Between Words and Words
Addie’s assertion that words are “simply words,” constantly disappointing the concepts and feelings they look for to convey, shows the wonder about with which the novel as a whole treats verbal interaction. While the inner monologues that comprise the unique show that the characters have rich inner lives, really little of the material of these inner lives is ever communicated in between individuals. Undoubtedly, conversations tend to be terse, halting, and unimportant to what the characters are believing at the time. When, for example, Tull and numerous other local men are talking with Money about his damaged leg during Addie’s funeral, we are presented with two totally different conversations. One, printed in typical type, is unclear and simple and is probably the discussion that is actually happening. The 2nd, in italics, is far richer in content and is presumably the one that the characters would have if they really spoke their minds. All of the characters are so fiercely protective of their inner thoughts that the abundant content of their minds is equated to just the barest, most begrudging scraps of discussion, which in turn causes any number of misconceptions and miscommunications.