As I Lay Passing Away- Cast of Characters
The partner of Anse Bundren and mom to Money, Darl, Jewel, Dewey Dell, and Vardaman. Addie is a mostly missing lead character, and her death sets off the book’s action. She is a previous schoolteacher whose bitter, loveless life causes her to dislike her other half and to invest all of her love in her preferred child, Gem, rather than in the rest of her family or God.
The head of the Bundren household. Anse is a poor farmer afflicted with a hunchback, whose impulses are overwhelmingly self-centered. His poor childrearing abilities appear to be mostly responsible for his children’s various predicaments. At the same time disliked and disrespected by his kids, Anse however is successful in attaining his 2 biggest objectives in one fell swoop: burying his dead other half in her hometown of Jefferson, and obtaining a brand-new set of incorrect teeth.
The second Bundren kid. Darl is the most delicate and articulate of the enduring Bundrens and provides the greatest variety of interior monologues in the novel. As the household encounters catastrophe upon disaster throughout the journey, Darl’s aggravation with the entire procedure 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 seems to understand him, Jewel remains the book’s greatest mystery, and is the least represented in its numerous areas. Gem has a proud, increasingly independent nature that most of his household and next-door neighbors confuse for selfishness. His passionate, brooding nature, nevertheless, exposes a genuine love and commitment to his mom, and he ends up being a strong protector of her casket.
The oldest Bundren kid and a proficient carpenter. Money is the apotheosis of persistence and selflessness, nearly to the point of absurdity. He refuses ever to grumble about his damaged, festering leg, permitting the injury to deteriorate to the point that he may never ever stroll once again. Cash becomes one of the novel’s couple of regularly stable characters.
Dewey Dell Bundren
The only Bundren daughter. Dewey Dell is seventeen, and a current sexual experience has left her pregnant. Increasingly desperate, she finds her mind inhabited specifically with her pregnancy, and views all men with differing degrees of suspicion.
The youngest of the Bundren kids. Vardaman has a dynamic creativity, and he sees his mother’s death through the exact same lens with which he views a fish he has actually recently captured and cleaned up. Although his ramblings at the beginning of the novel border on the maniacal, Vardaman proves to be a thoughtful and innocent child.
The Bundrens’ wealthier neighbor. Tull is both a critic of and an unappreciated help to the Bundrens. He employs Darl, Gem, and Cash for odd jobs, and helps the household cross the river in spite of its obvious hostility toward him. Tull and his other half Cora, nevertheless, are vital of the Bundrens’ choice to bury Addie’s body in Jefferson.
Vernon Tull’s wife. Cora stays with Addie during Addie’s last hours. A deeply spiritual lady and pious to a fault, Cora regularly and vocally Addie’s impiety and behavior.
The dad of Dewey Dell’s child. While he never ever appears personally in the unique, Lafe is definitely a driving force behind a number of Dewey Dell’s ideas and much of her behavior. In a supreme effort to disassociate himself from her problems, Lafe provides Dewey Dell ten dollars with which to pay for an abortion.
The regional minister. Held up by Cora Tull as the pinnacle of piety, Whitfield remains in fact a hypocrite. His affair with Addie results in Jewel’s conception, and, though Whitfield deals with to confess the affair to Anse, he ends up deciding that the simple objective to admit will do just as well.
The badly obese rural doctor who attends to Addie and later on to Money. Peabody is incredibly vital of the way Anse treats his children.
The regional farmer who installs the Bundrens on the first evening of their devastating funeral journey. Samson sees the Bundrens’ issues as a judgment on the family’s rude manners and on Addie and Anse’s neglect for God and their own children.
A local farmer who sets up the Bundrens on the 2nd evening of their funeral journey. Anse repeatedly and strictly declines Armstid’s deal to provide Anse a group of mules.
A farmer who sets up the Bundrens later on in their journey.
The Mottson druggist who indignantly declines Dewey Dell’s ask for an abortion. Moseley’s stern lecture to Dewey Dell is both the embodiment of sanctimoniousness and, some may state, of fatherly caring.
A rather despicable young employee at a Jefferson drugstore. MacGowan obtains a sexual favor from Dewey Dell in return for a phony abortion treatment.
The Gillespie boy
Gillespie’s boy, who helps Gem save the animals from the burning barn.
Plot Summary 1
Addie Bundren, the spouse of Anse Bundren and the matriarch of a poor southern household, is very ill, and is expected to pass away quickly. Her oldest boy, Cash, puts all of his carpentry skills into preparing her coffin, which he develops right in front of Addie’s bedroom window. Although Addie’s health is failing quickly, 2 of her other sons, Darl and Gem, leave town to make a shipment for the Bundrens’ next-door neighbor, Vernon Tull, whose wife and two children have been tending to Addie. Shortly after Darl and Gem leave, Addie dies. The youngest Bundren child, Vardaman, associates his mom’s death with that of a fish he caught and cleaned up previously that day. With some assistance, Money completes the casket prior to dawn. Vardaman is troubled by the truth that his mom is nailed shut inside a box, and while the others sleep, he bores holes in the cover, 2 of which go through his mom’s face. Addie and Anse’s daughter, Dewey Dell, whose recent sexual liaisons with a regional farmhand called Lafe have actually left her pregnant, is so overwhelmed by anxiety over her condition that she barely grieves her mom’s death. A funeral service is hung on the following day, where the women sing songs inside the Bundren house while the guys stand outdoors on the patio speaking to each other.
Plot Overview 2
Darl, who tells much of this very first area, returns with Gem a few days later on, and the presence of buzzards over their house lets them know their mom is dead. On seeing this sign, Darl sardonically assures Jewel, who is extensively perceived as thankless and uncaring, that he can be sure his cherished horse is not dead. Addie has made Anse assure that she will be buried in the town of Jefferson, and though this demand is an even more complicated proposal than burying her at home, Anse’s sense of obligation, integrated with his desire to buy a set of incorrect teeth, compels him to fulfill Addie’s dying desire. Cash, who has broken his leg on a job website, assists the family lift the out of balance coffin, however it is Jewel who winds up manhandling it, nearly solitarily, into the wagon. Gem declines, however, to really can be found in the wagon, and follows the remainder of the family riding on his horse, which he bought when he was young by covertly working nights on a neighbor’s land.
Plot Overview 3
On the opening night of their journey, the Bundrens stay at the house of a generous regional household, who concerns the Bundrens’ mission with hesitation. Due to serious flooding, the main bridges leading over the local river have been flooded or removed, and the Bundrens are forced to reverse and try a river-crossing over a makeshift ford. When a stray log upsets the wagon, the coffin is knocked out, Money’s damaged leg is reinjured, and the group of mules drowns. Vernon Tull sees the wreck, and helps Jewel rescue the casket and the wagon from the river. Together, the member of the family and Tull browse the riverbed for Money’s tools.
Plot Summary 4
Cora, Tull’s other half, remembers Addie’s unchristian disposition to respect her boy Jewel more than God. Addie herself, speaking either from her coffin or in a leap back in time to her deathbed, recalls events from her life: her loveless marital relationship to Anse; her affair with the local minister, Whitfield, which led to Jewel’s conception; and the birth of her various kids. Whitfield recalls taking a trip to the Bundrens’ home to admit the affair to Anse, and his ultimate decision not to state anything after all.
Plot Summary 5
A horse physician sets Cash’s broken leg, while Money faints from the discomfort without ever complaining. Anse has the ability to acquire a brand-new team of mules by mortgaging his farm equipment, using money that he was saving for his incorrect teeth and cash that Money was conserving for a brand-new gramophone, and trading in Gem’s horse. The household continues its method. In the town of Mottson, homeowners respond with scary to the stench coming from the Bundren wagon. While the family is in town, Dewey Dell tries to buy a drug that will abort her undesirable pregnancy, however the pharmacist declines to offer it to her, and recommends marriage rather. With cement the family has actually acquired in the area, Darl develops a makeshift cast for Money’s damaged leg, which fits poorly and only increases Cash’s discomfort. The Bundrens then invest the night at a local farm owned by a male called Gillespie. Darl, who has actually been skeptical of their mission for some time, burns down the Gillespie barn with the objective of incinerating the casket and Addie’s decomposing corpse. Jewel rescues the animals in the barn, then risks his life to drag out Addie’s coffin. Darl lies on his mother’s coffin and weeps.
Plot Overview 6
The next day, the Bundrens get here in Jefferson and bury Addie. Rather than face a claim for Darl’s criminal barn burning, the Bundrens claim that Darl is crazy, and give him to a set of guys who dedicate him to a Jackson psychological organization. Dewey Dell tries again to buy an abortion drug at the local pharmacy, where a boy working behind the counter declares to be a medical professional and techniques her into exchanging sexual services for what she quickly understands is not an actual abortion drug. The following morning, the kids are greeted by their daddy, who sports a brand-new set of incorrect teeth and, with a mixture of pity and pride, presents them to his new bride, a local lady he meets while borrowing shovels with which to bury Addie.
Shortly after Addie’s death, the Bundren kids seize on animals as symbols of their deceased mother. Vardaman states that his mom is the fish he captured. Darl asserts that Gem’s mother is his horse. Dewey Dell calls the household cow a female as she mulls over her pregnancy only minutes after she has actually lost Addie, her only female relative. For really various reasons, the grief-stricken characters seize on animals as emblems of their own situations. Vardaman sees Addie in his fish since, like the fish, she has actually been transformed to a different state than when she lived. The cow, inflamed with milk, signifies to Dewey Dell the unpleasantness of being stuck with an undesirable burden. Gem and his horse include a brand-new wrinkle to the use of animals as symbols. To us, based on Darl’s word, the horse is a symbol of Jewel’s love for his mother. For Jewel, however, the horse, based upon his riding of it, obviously signifies a hard-won freedom from the Bundren household. That we can draw such various conclusions from the novel’s characters makes the horse in numerous ways agent of the unforeseeable and subjective nature of signs in As I Lay Perishing.
The Impermanence of Existence and Identity
The death of Addie Bundren motivates numerous characters to wrestle with the rather substantial concerns of presence and identity. Vardaman is mystified and frightened by the transformation of a fish he caught and cleaned into “pieces of not-fish,” and associates that image with the improvement of Addie from a person into an indefinable nonperson. Jewel never ever truly promotes himself, but his grief is summarized for him by Darl, who states that Gem’s mom is a horse. For his own part, Darl believes that given that the dead Addie is now best referred to as “was” instead of “is,” it needs to hold true that she no longer exists. If his mother does not exist, Darl factors, then Darl has no mother and, by implication, does not exist. These speculations are not mere games of language and reasoning. Rather, they have tangible, even dreadful, effects for the book’s characters. Vardaman and Darl, the characters for whom these concerns are the most urgent, both find their hold on truth loosened up as they present such inquiries. Vardaman babbles senselessly early in the novel, while Darl is ultimately declared crazy. The fragility and unpredictability of human existence is additional illustrated at the end of the unique, when Anse presents his new partner as “Mrs. Bundren,” a name that, till recently, has actually belonged to Addie. If the identity of Mrs. Bundren can be taken over so quickly, the unavoidable conclusion is that any person’s identity is equally unsteady.
The Tension In Between Words and Words
Addie’s assertion that words are “just words,” perpetually disappointing the ideas and emotions they seek to communicate, shows the wonder about with which the novel as an entire deals with verbal interaction. While the inner monologues that make up the novel demonstrate that the characters have abundant inner lives, very little of the material of these inner lives is ever interacted between people. Certainly, discussions tend to be terse, halting, and irrelevant to what the characters are thinking at the time. When, for example, Tull and numerous other regional males are talking with Money about his broken leg during Addie’s funeral service, we exist with 2 entirely separate discussions. One, printed in regular type, is vague and simple and is probably the discussion that is actually occurring. The 2nd, in italics, is far richer in content and is most likely 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 rich material of their minds is equated to just the barest, most begrudging scraps of dialogue, which in turn causes any variety of misconceptions and miscommunications.