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As I Lay Dying Study Guide


As I Lay Dying was released in 1930, right away following the work that numerous consider to be Faulkner’s work of art, The Sound and the Fury. The Noise and the Fury is commonly thought about to be amongst the greatest of the modernist books, and is hailed as a masterpiece of 20th century literature.

In both of these novels, Faulkner developed on a tradition started by modernist authors like James Joyce and Virginia Woolf. Faulkner used stream-of-consciousness narrative to explore understanding and thought as the basis of experience. Objective reality does not exist in As I Lay Passing away; we have only the highly subjective interior monologues of fifteen different narrators. Darl, who emerges early as the book’s essential storyteller, is significant however thought about odd by his household and next-door neighbors. He ends up being put into an asylum, with his older sibling Cash musing on the meaning of “ridiculous.” Examining “fact” becomes an equally difficult enterprise, with Faulkner depicting a fact as mutable and violent as the river the Bundrens cross midway through the book.

The structure of As I Lay Dying is powerful and ingenious. Fifteen storytellers alternate, providing interior monologues with varying degrees of coherence and emotional intensity. The language is extreme and highly subjective, with an identifiable modification in language depending upon the narrator. Each area falls someplace in the range from confessional to stream-of-consciousness. The novel is a series of interior monologues, and through these fragmented passages we piece together the story of Addie Bundren’s death and the transportation of her body to Jefferson.

The narrative appears fragmentary, however the story shows admirable unity: it is restricted to the span of a few days, and the various sub-plots are realistically and masterfully interwoven. Faulkner’s innovation is in how we see this merged set of events: we are forced to look at the story from a number of various perspectives, each of which is extremely subjective. In The Sound and the Fury, Faulkner made use of some components of this technique. Nevertheless, As I Lay Passing away presents us with a far greater variety of voices. Furthermore, The Noise and the Fury supplies a clearer difference between undependable and trustworthy storytellers. Part Three of The Noise and the Fury is told by a male who is clearly evil, and Part 4 assists clarify the novel through its use of a more objective third-person narrator. The voices in As I Lay Dying are more numerous and more ambiguous.

Amongst Faulkner’s accomplishments, in this unique and somewhere else, was the making of the vernacular of the South into poetic literary language. The Bundrens reside in Faulkner’s imaginary neighborhood of Yoknapatawpha County, a setting used in a lot of his novels, and they are among the poorest characters in all of Faulkner’s work. And yet Darl is one of Faulkner’s most articulate and poetic productions. His damage has an awful depth and dignity. Faulkner depicts the besieged and impoverished Bundrens with empathy and grace, although he never glamorizes them, nor does he avoid portraying their lack of knowledge and failings. His depiction here of poverty and rural people is amongst the most abundant and layered pictures in all of literature.

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