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As I Lay Dying Lesson Plan


Published in 1930, As I Lay Dying is among Faulkner’s most famous books, gone beyond just by The Noise and the Fury. Faulkner composed As I Lay Dying while working at a power plant at the University of Mississippi. With its publication, Faulkner continued the work he started with The Noise and the Fury, and strengthened his track record as an author in the modernist style, signing up with the similarity James Joyce and Virginia Woolf.

The unique informs a simple story of a household journeying throughout Mississippi to bury their mother. As we follow the Bundren family, we see how grief affects each of them in a different way, and are offered a glance into the anxieties and tricks that each member avoids the rest. Faulkner’s capability to delve into each character’s head and to provide the reader with their thoughts is As I Lay Perishing’s specifying feature, and turns a straightforward plot into a thick collection of interior monologues.

Key Elements of As I Lay Dying


Since the book is told from several viewpoints, Faulkner’s tone modifications frequently. At times his sentences are long and filled with gorgeous prose, while at others he with easy, uncomplicated sentences. Faulkner also completely composes with a Southern dialect for most of his characters. His option to bring the reader into each character’s mind creates a far more intimate portrait of the bereaved Bundren family than a conventional narrator might provide.


The story is set in Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, a fictionalized version of Lafayette County, where Faulkner matured. Throughout the novel, we follow the Bundren household as they make their way to Jefferson, Mississippi, to bury Addie in her hometown.


As I Lay Dying is narrated by 15 various characters throughout 59 chapters. Most of storytellers are members of the Bundren family, though secondary characters receive their own chapters from time to time, also. Leaping in between several perspectives gives As I Lay Dying a rich tapestry of language, emotions, and thoughts, permitting the reader the chance to see how the death of Addie Bundren impacts each member of the family differently.

The novel’s main figures are, naturally, the Bundrens. We hear from every member of the family, including the departed Addie. The other Bundrens are Anse, Addie’s widower, and their five kids (from earliest to youngest: Cash, Darl, Jewel, Dewey Dell, and Vardaman).

Character advancement

Anse Bundren is the patriarch of the household, though he does a poor task of properly filling this function. He does not appear to hold any particular love for his kids, and we regularly hear other characters discuss how lazy and foolish Anse is. Although he indicates no harm, his persistence on burying Addie in Jefferson does a great deal of damage to his kids. In truth, Anse appears coldly detached from the novel’s events, never ever appearing to grieve his deceased wife, or his newly-institutionalized boy, Darl. Anse uses the trip to Jefferson as a chance to purchase a new set of false teeth, and the novel ends with him presenting his children to his recently betrothed, the lady who lent him 2 shovels to bury Addie with.

Darl Bundren is the novel’s crucial storyteller: his variation of the occasions that unfold seem the most trustworthy, and he tells 19 of the 59 chapters. As the journey to Jefferson ends up being more and more distressed, Darl tries to put a stop to the household’s suffering by burning down a barn containing his mom’s casket. By the end of the novel, after the reader has actually begun to depend on Darl as the closest thing to an unbiased storyteller, his increasing disappointment with the dreadful trip to Jefferson cause the barn fire, and he is institutionalized by his household. The last we see of Darl is him having actually lost his mind, in a cage, foaming at the mouth. It must be kept in mind that Darl may be the only character who understands who Gem’s genuine daddy is, and that Dewey Dell is pregnant, and he continuously shows this sort of omniscience, even detailing events he wasn’t present for.

Money is the earliest Bundren child, someplace in his 20s. We do not discover quite about Cash throughout the majority of the novel, other than that he is a carpenter by trade, and that he defines himself by this reality. Money builds Addie’s coffin and joins the journey to Jefferson in spite of a hurt leg. Throughout the journey, his leg is broken once again in an accident, and a makeshift cast just ends up triggering him more pain. By the end of the novel, Cash becomes the most reliable and simple storyteller.

Jewel is the middle child. Throughout a chapter narrated by the deceased Addie, we find out that Jewel is, in truth, an invalid child between her and the minister, Whitfield. Although Gem starts the novel as an understanding character, goodwill toward him slowly erodes, up until there is not quite to like about him by the end. In spite of the fact that Darl conserves Gem from a guy with a knife, Gem switches on his sibling practically right away when the subject of his parenthood turns up. There are reasonably couple of chapters from Jewel’s perspective, so most of what we understand about him is based on how other characters react to him.

Dewey Dell is the daughter of the family, and the second youngest kid. We find out that Dewey Dell has become pregnant, and it becomes all she can think of. She tries to purchase drugs to assist in an abortion, but is tricked into trading sexual favors for snake oil by a boy operating at the Jefferson basic shop. In addition to Gem, Dewey Dell betrays Darl by tackling him to the ground so that the authorities can gather him and take him to the outrageous asylum, perhaps to keep him far away and not able to share her secret.

Vardaman is the youngest kid, at about seven years old. Addie’s death proves to be deeply traumatizing to the young kid, and early in the novel appears to have lost his mind from grief. Vardaman frequently discusses how his mother is a fish, as he has plainly begun to associate her death with catching and cleaning up a big fish earlier in the day. By the end of the novel, Vardaman seems to be doing better, and he sounds fairly stabilized in his last chapters.


Death and Death

In As I Lay Dying, Addie Bundren’s death is hardly a dignified one. After she passes on, she is required withstand the indignities that befall her household as they make the hard journey to Jefferson. Death is a genuine, visceral thing in this unique, as her remains decomposes and produces a significantly foul smell and buzzards fly overhead, drawing unwanted attention from passersby. Even death is not an escape for this female, whose hands are described as unresting, as if the cruelty of her improverished life with Anse means a similarly challenging afterlife.


Grief over Addie’s death manifests itself in a different way for each character. Vardaman, for example, develops a strange association between his mom’s passing and a big fish he had actually caught previously in the day. The young kid is quite shaken, and he sounds crazy in some chapters. By the book’s end, however, Vardaman seems to have his head back on his shoulders, and he makes a couple of remarkably informative remarks about class and social standing within the society he occupies. On the other hand, Cash’s sorrow ties carefully with his work as a carpenter: he labors away at developing his mom’s coffin and presses forward to Jefferson despite a significantly injured leg, just appearing to become upset when the possibility is raised that his woodworking tools have actually been lost in the river.

Words versus Ideas

Due to the fact that the novel is comprised nearly entirely of interior monologues, the reader is often able to see the stress that exists in between what a character says and what he or she really suggests. Dialogue is regularly brief, stilted, and recurring, as if Faulkner’s characters will do anything to secure their inner ideas. Those ideas are typically expressed in italics, and offer even more insight into what the individual really believes. As Addie says, “words are no great … words don’t [sic] ever fit even what they are attempting to say at.”


The structure of As I Lay Passing away always isolates each character from the others. We never see them interact together from a detached, unbiased viewpoint. Rather, each chapter leaves us alone with the thoughts and fears of whoever’s chapter we are presently reading. We likewise see simply how lonely a few of these characters are. In particular, there is Darl, whose intelligence and insight are in fact a liability. He is avoided by his brother or sisters since of what he knows and ends up literally isolated in a ridiculous asylum. Jewel needs to compete with his own isolation as the illegitimate child of the bunch. Anse’s isolation seems by choice, as he plows headlong toward Jefferson, never taking a moment to consider how his actions damage his family, and Dewey Dell handles her unwanted pregnancy entirely on her own, after losing the only other woman in her family.


Addie’s Coffin

Addie’s coffin is both a literal and figurative burden to the Bundren family. It is the things around which Anse and his kids join and what delivers them to Jefferson. However, much in the way that Addie’s corpse throws the coffin (and thus the remainder of the household’s cart) out of balance, so too does the Bundren household begin to go off-kilter. Vardaman bores holes into his mother’s face; Dewey Dell’s attempts to terminate her pregnancy stop working; Money’s leg is reinjured, and tries to correct it only do more harm to the kid; Anse’s search for a brand-new set of teeth somehow lead him to a brand-new spouse; and Darl is betrayed by his siblings and sent out to an asylum.


After Addie’s death, the Bundren kids begin to associate the event with various animals. Vardaman regularly asserts that his mom is a fish, Darl calls her a horse, and Dewey Dell has a moment with a cow, which she refers to as a female. Dewey Dell explains the cow as inflamed with milk, not unlike her impregnated state. The horse Darl likens to his mom is owned by Gem, who himself sees the animal as his chance to leave the Bundrens and strike out on his own. Last but not least, much in the way that cleaning up a fish basically changes the animal’s form, death has actually fundamentally changed Addie into a various being.


In As I Lay Perishing, nature is presented as a cold, unfeeling entity. Although they are presented as salt-of-the-earth farmers, the Bundrens spend most of the novel competing with the many difficulties nature throws at them. Naturally, death itself is a natural and inevitable part of life, and it is a death that sets the story into motion. During their travels, Addie’s remains begins the natural decomposition procedure, becoming a rotting, stinking problem on the Bundrens’ wagon. It proves to be a river that triggers a few of the largest problems, and a manmade bridge shows unhelpful as they attempt to cross. In this novel, the life that mankind draws from nature is an obtained one, and can be reclaimed promptly and harshly.

Cash’s Tools

As a character, Money is defined mostly by his work: we meet him as he labors away at his mom’s coffin, and he clearly holds them near his heart. As opposed to his dad, who is often provided as lazy, Cash is often mentioned in tandem with his work. As such, he (and his tools) end up being a bigger sign for the guarantee of prosperity that originates from hard work. It is no surprise, then, that Money is not the only one who searches for his tools desperately when they are swept away by the raving river: the entire Bundren family participate in the effort to save them.


The novel’s climax comes as the Bundrens set about setting up camp at a farm near Jefferson. Vardaman invests a long time with his mother’s casket in the barn and sees Darl setting the building on fire. Gem faces the fire, conserving the horses and mules, followed by his mom’s casket. The next morning, the family starts their technique to Jefferson and a group of passersby remark at the smell coming from the wagon. Jewel nearly enters a battle with a regional man, but Darl is able to put an end to the run-in before it escalates too far. After going into Jefferson, Darl is sent out to a psychological asylum, seemingly due to the fact that the owners of the barn he set on fire were threatening to sue the Bundrens. The Bundrens bury Addie, and Money sees a healthcare facility, where he is told he will walk with a hobble for the rest of his life. Later, Dewey Dell checks out a pharmacy where a young clerk impersonates a doctor and offers her a bottle of random liquid. She later returns for the remainder of the phony medication, which she gets in exchange for sexual favors with the kid. The next early morning, Anse fulfills the rest of his family with a brand-new set of false teeth and a female at his side. He presents all of his children to the female, who he describes as “Mrs. Bundren.”


Each chapter in As I Lay Perishing is told from a various character’s viewpoint. Typically, we are brought into the minds of a Bundren, however sometimes we see other character respond to the household. As a result, we often see the exact same event from several points of view, and the details might alter from one character to the next.

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