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As I Lay Dying Summary and Analysis of Section 1


First Area (Darl, Cora, Gem, Darl, Cora, Dewey Dell; pages 1-23):

Darl Bundren narrates. He and his younger sibling Gem can be found in from the field, passing a dilapidated cotton house. Darl walks the shack, however Jewel steps through a window and strolls directly on through. They increase a path, turning up the bluff; Vernon Tull’s wagon is by the spring, and in the wagon bed are 2 chairs. At the spring, Jewel beverages from a gourd. Darl can hear his sibling Money sawing away, constructing the coffin for their mother, Addie Bundren. Money is constructing the casket right outside your house. Darl goes within.

Cora Tull tells. She baked some cakes on engagement, but the town lady client changed her mind afterward. She now needs to discover another place to offer them. Her child Kate voices her anger about the cancellation: “But those abundant town girls can alter their minds. Poor folks can’t.” Cora sees the situation differently, basking in her God. He sees into people’s hearts. Cora Tull and her household live close by. They have actually concerned help as Addie Bundren in passing away. Cora and her 2 daughters, Kate and Eula, aid with the chores. Darl hands down through your home, and Cora notes that Eula views Darl with signs of infatuation.

Darl narrates. He goes onto the back deck, where his daddy Anse and Vernon Tull sit around waiting for Addie to die. Anse Bundren asks after Jewel. Darl takes a deep beverage of water, and considers the satisfaction of water and other times he has actually felt it, particularly in the cool of night. He thinks of masturbating quietly in the dark, and wonders if his older bro Money, sleeping not far away, was doing the very same thing. Darl replies to his daddy’s question, telling him that Gem is in the barn harnessing the team. However Darl knows that in fact Gem has actually passed through the barn and out into the pasture, to deal with his horse. The horse, fiery and independent, gives him hell, and Gem consistently deals with the animal as “you boy of a bitch”; it is clear that the horse is Jewel’s passion.

Gem tells. He dislikes Money for sawing the casket right where Addie can see him; Money, Gem believes, wants to be complimented for his woodworking, wants to show off what an excellent child he is. He views the others as waiting around for Addie’s death “like buzzards.” He wishes strongly that he might be alone with her, so that her last days might be peaceful, private.

Darl tells. He, Gem, Anse, and Vernon Tull discuss whether Darl and Jewel are going to do a job carrying lumber for Tull. Anse waffles, clearly wanting the cash but scared of seeming cold. The household needs the 3 dollars. Darl and Anse discuss the possibility that if they go, Darl and Jewel may not make it back in time to bid farewell to the passing away Addie. Gem declines to admit that Addie is that sick. Gem is angry that Tull is even there, and accuses the family of attempting rush Addie into the grave. Anse states that she wishes to see the coffin being made, and that Gem is self-centered and does not try to appreciate her wishes. Darl leaves the choice in Anse’s hands, however the man continues to waffle, clearly wanting the cash however doing not have the courage to admit it. The siblings go to get the job done. Darl enters into your home to look at his mom. He hears voices.

Cora tells. She sees Darl, looking in on Addie, and believes more fervently than ever that he is the best of the Bundren lot. Cora has been pertaining to help for a while, attempting to comfort Addie in her last dies. She discovers the Bundrens a terrible lot. She does not authorize of Addie being buried among her family in Jefferson; an other half she be buried near her spouse and kids. She believes that Gem hates Addie many of all, regardless of Addie’s partiality toward him. And she notices that Dewey Dell, the only child of the household, requires to her job fanning Addie with a type of unhealthy possessiveness. Dewey Dell appears to desire Addie all to herself. Cora believes that Darl asked Anse not to send him off on that lumber task, which Gem would rather have three dollars than say goodbye to his mom.

Dewey Dell tells. She remembers when she opted for the young boy Lafe to the secret shade, questioning if she would succumb to him and have sex. They were harvesting, and she told him that if her sack were complete by the time they reached the secret shade it meant that God meant for her to do it. Lafe assisted her fill her sack. She later saw Darl, and he understood without being informed what had actually taken place. The communication between the two is powerful, typically unspoken, but part of Dewey Dell dislikes Darl for this closeness: “Which’s why I can speak to him with knowing with hating due to the fact that he understands” (23 ). Darl stands in the door now, taking a look at Addie. He informs Dewey Dell that Addie is going to pass away prior to he and Gem return.


As I Lay Dying is a crucial experiment in narrative. The language is intense and extremely subjective, with a recognizable change in language depending upon the storyteller. Each section falls somewhere in the range from confessional to stream-of-consciousness. The book is a series of interior monologues, and through these fragmented passages we piece together the story of Addie Bundren’s death and the transport of her body to Jefferson.

The narrative appears fragmentary, but the story shows admirable unity: it is limited to the span of a few days, and the different sub-plots are logically and skilfully interwoven. Faulkner’s development is in how we see this unified set of events: we are required to take a look at the story from a number of various point of views, each of which is extremely subjective. In The Sound and the Fury, Faulkner used some elements of this technique. However, As I Lay Dying presents us with a far greater series of voices. Additionally, The Sound and the Fury provides a clearer distinction between unreliable and dependable storytellers. Part Three of The Noise and the Fury is told by a male who is clearly evil, and Part Four helps clarify the novel through its use of a more objective third-person narrator. The voices in As I Lay Dying are more various and more ambiguous.

Darl is the very first and essential narrator of the book. He is sensitive, instinctive, and smart, and his monologues are some of the most eloquent; they are likewise a more elaborate representation of the procedure of thought. A few of the interior monologues are relatively straightforward, but Darl’s passages are stream-of-consciousness narrative. For much of the novel, he serves as a type of narrative anchor. Among the obstacles of the novel is the complete absence of an unbiased third-person storyteller. Whatever we know about these characters is told to us through the lens of a subjective speaker; since of Darl’s level of sensitivity and isolation from the other characters, many readers pertain to rely greatly on his variation of occasions. He is eloquent, intelligent, and isolated. Seclusion is among the recurring styles of the novel. Because of the novel’s distinct structure, the seclusion of the characters is highlighted. Darl informs us what he and alone can observe, and his isolation is the most poetic; ultimately, it is likewise the most terrible.

From the very first section, the sensory and sensual images of the novel are a strong aspect. Although the unique takes the type of interior monologues, each character is strongly affected, in his own method, by the large physicality of their world. As I Lay Dying presents among the most rugged and rural settings of any Faulkner novel; this South is the South of heartbreaking hardship and life lived near to a typically unforgiving land. Nature and physical needs dominate as a style: Darl tells a long passage on the satisfaction of drinking water, and relates a memory of seeing the stars reflected in a pail full of water. He is referred to as constantly having his eyes “filled with the land” by other characters; he sees something worldwide that the others don’t, and his descriptions of nature are frequently striking for their sensuality and the uncommon metaphors he utilizes.

Work belongs to the relationship to the land, and it is an important theme of the novel. Cash is a male whose work provides him an identity; we hear the noise of his saw before we see him, and in all of the characters monologues Money is inseparable from his work as a carpenter. The sound of his saw is the continuous background noise that accompanies us all the method to Addie Bundren’s death. Jewel is furious at Money for constructing the casket right near Addie: “It’s because he avoids there, right under the window, hammering, and sawing on that goddamn box. Where she’s got to see him. Where every breath she draws is full of his knocking and sawing where she can see him saying See. See what a great one I am producing you” (11 ). But Jewel love’s is possessive and maybe disregards Addie’s desires: she wishes to see the casket being made. Cash is providing for her the only thing he can do. He takes his identity from his work as a carpenter, and the casket is the only gift he can offer his mom.

We do not just find out about the unfavorable elements of characters from other characters; characters typically inadvertently present their own faults in their own sections. In Cora Tull’s first section, Cora’s self-righteousness and irritating piety come through loud and clear. Her child Kate seems far healthier in comparison: Kate grumbles about the insensitivities of the rich. Cora’s mindset of acceptance appears in the beginning to be kinder, but in the end ends up being self-righteous and similarly angry. She continues to talk to us about the cakes, thinking about them once again and again without reason, and continuing to take comfort in the power of God, who “can see into the heart” (4 ). Implicit in Cora’s interior monologue is that she feels she does not need to judge the abundant because her God will. Religious beliefs is a style of the novel, and typically Faulkner is deeply crucial of the religious characters of the book. Characters often are blinded by their own piety.

Poverty is an essential style of the novel. The Bundrens are among the poorest families in any of Faulkner’s books. Gem and Darl are going to miss their mom’s death for three dollars. The family lives in a perpetual state of requirement, constantly a little short of money.

Isolation likewise appears in Dewey Dell’s story. She is the only child of the family, and Addie’s death will leave her as the sole female. This fact might explain the extreme possessiveness with which she supervises Addie. Dewey Dell is clearly lonely, and has actually found comfort in the arms of a young boy who lives close by. But although she is lonely and isolated and suffers for it, some part of her treasures this isolation. Part of her resents and worries Darl because he intuitively comprehends her and can see her tricks. The majority of the time, Dewey Dell seems really partial to Darl. The two take pleasure in a closeness and love that appears to the other members of the family. But in Dewey Dell’s very first area, she voices a bitterness that will explain her actions later on: “And that’s why I can speak to him with knowing with hating because he knows” (23 ).

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