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As I Lay Dying Summary and Analysis of Section 3


Third Section (Vardamann, Tull, Darl, Money, Vardaman, Tull, Darl, Money, Darl, Vardaman, Darl, Anse; pp. 59-95):

Vardaman narrates. He is interrupted by the concept of shutting Addie up in the coffin. He speaks confusedly about the marvels of town and the secrets of his mother’s death. He doesn’t comprehend why he’s a country young boy and why such differences exist in between town and nation. He can’t seem to comprehend the concept of death, and in his thoughts he confuses Addie’s corpse with the dead fish. He feels the need to get Vernon, since Vernon also saw the fish.

Tull tells. A storm has started. He is woken by the death of Peabody’s (riderless) team. Cora hears the noise and thinks Addie has actually passed. She wishes to drawback up and go to help, but Tull chooses to wait till he’s called. Vardaman reaches their door, leaking wait, and speaking incoherently about fish. His babbling is odd and eerie, and Tull shares the reader’s response: “I’ll be durn if it didn’t offer me the creeps” (63 ). Vernon hitches up the team, and when he returns into the house he finds Vardaman and Cora in the kitchen, the kid still mentioning fish. Cora believes it’s a judgment versus Anse. They bring Vardaman back, and assist where they can. Toward dawn, the casket is complete and they put Addie within it, nailing the cover shut. Vardaman is discovered later, asleep on the floor, after having actually utilized the drill to put holes into the top of the coffin; two of the holes were bored right into Addie’s face. It is dawn before the Tulls return house. Tull considers God and faith and his other half, and the unhappiness of the world, the powerlessness of man.

Darl tells. He has come home to get an extra wheel for the wagon. He enjoys as Cash completes the coffin. Anse obstructs, so Cash sends him inside. Tull assists finish the coffin. Money makes the casket on a bevel, although it takes longer. They finish and bring it in. Darl and Gem have actually set out once again to finish their job. Beneath an odd roofing, Darl thinks about being, and the contradictions of being, and home.

Money tells. It is a list of thirteen reasons to build the coffin on a bevel.

Vardaman narrates. “My mom is a fish” (76 ).

Vernon Tull tells. He returns to the Bundren house with the wagon at 10 AM the next day. With Quick and Anstid, he has actually discussed the high level of the river due to the storm; Anse had best hurry. The bridge is old and will not hold up much longer. Vardaman has actually been distressed. He attacked Dewey Dell when she formulated the fish he caught. The lady are within and the men are on the deck. Cash repair work the damage Vardaman did to the coffin. They lay Addie in backwards, to safeguard her dress. Whitfield, the minister, gets here. He announces that the bridge has been swept away. The ladies sing, and Whitfield performs the rites for Addie. The ladies sing again. En route home, Cora is still singing. They see a filthy Vardaman fishing in the slough, and they attempt to get him to come house with them so he can rest for a bit, however the boy declines.

Darl narrates. He is telling Gem that it is not his horse that’s dead. Jewel is mad. 3 days have actually passed, and they have actually returned house. Anse has been waiting on them; Addie’s body decomposes in the casket. Buzzards circle in the sky.

Money narrates. He tries to describe to Jewel why the casket won’t stabilize, however Gem overlooks his suggestions and firmly insists that Cash assistance to lift the casket and move it to the wagon.

Darl tells. He is experiencing the exchange in between Jewel and Cash. The men bring the casket down the hill to the wagon, having a great deal of difficult: Cash is right. It doesn’t balance. In the end, Jewel is bring the majority of the weight, and with large muscle and weight he hoists the casket into the wagon.

Vardaman tells. The household is going to town. Dewey Dell has ensured him that the toy train set he saw long ago in the area will still exist. Anse and Jewel argue: Gem wants to ride his horse, however Anse desires him to ride in the wagon like Addie would have desired. Darl and Vardaman have an unusual discussion about their mom (see below, Analysis). Cash is bringing his tools along; on the way back from dropping off Addie, he’s going to have to get to work on Tull’s barn roofing. Dewey Dell is taking Mrs. Tull’s cakes to town for her.

Darl narrates. Everyone is entering the wagon. Jewel appears not to be coming, angry about not being able to ride his horse. Anse is angry; Money tries to brush it off, saying that Jewell will go and stay with the Tulls. But Darl predicts aloud that Jewel will meet them later on. The buzzards circle in the distance.

Anse tells. They are in the wagon, riding on. He is fuming about his children. He is mad at Gem for wishing to ride the horse and then declining to come. He becomes angry when Darl begins chuckling unexpectedly; habits like that is what makes people believe Darl is insane. Anse berates his kids’ lack of respect for their dead mom. We quickly see the source of Darl’s laughter: Jewel, as Darl anticipated, is overtaking them. He is riding his horse.


Both Vardaman and Darl are taken by concerns of being, consciousness, and identity. His mother’s death has only included confusion to these concerns; Vardaman can not understand how something that “is” can end up being “was.” Simply put, the harmful power of time, the terror of death, and the secret of disappearing have been excessive for Vardaman. In his mind, his mom has become something else. Vardaman turns death into improvement. His mother is a fish. He then envisions her as a rabbit, because she has actually gone far away, simply as the rabbits did. He is disturbed by the fact that they are going to consume the fish.

Vardaman has a hard time to find teleology for the occasions around him. He attempts to link what happens to reasons, when in fact frequently things happen for no factor at all. He blames his mom’s death on Peabody, since Peabody’s arrival preceded his mother’s death. He likewise has connected the fish and his mom. His thinking is clearly incorrect, but in lots of methods it is no less affordable than descriptions offered by other characters of the book. Think About Cora Tull, he repetitively maintains that all takes place by God’s will, for God’s factors. Yet she is so involved forcing occasions into a Christian structure that her declarations become tedious. She sees Vardaman’s instability as God’s punishment for Anse. Her reasoning is no more advanced than Vardaman’s; the sole distinction is that she has the support of her near-fanatical religious beliefs.

Questions of identity and being are connected to poverty and rural life for Vardaman. In, Vardaman’s first interior monologue of this section, he asks others and himself why he is who he is: “Why ain’t I a town kid, pa?” (59 ). With a stopover “in the area” impending, the themes of hardship and rural vs. town life creep up. For Vardaman, the occasion gives rise to concerns about why he has actually been born bad, without the things town kids have.

Poverty and rural difficulty continue to be styles. Even for the Bundren children, the journey to bring Addie’s body to burial should be mixed with service; life is too severe to give grieving periods. Money brings his tools, so that he can stop and work at Tull’s on the way back. Anse says that this act is rude, but Darl protects Money. And Dewey Dell must bring Cora’s cakes to sell in town.

The Tulls are studies for the theme of religious beliefs. Cora’s piety, as Faulkner depicts it, is something easy to admire and similarly simple to ridicule. Cora’s faith makes her a terrific assistance at times, however she is likewise judgmental, self-deceiving, and typically misinterprets circumstances out of a zealousness to require all events into a Christian framework of understanding.

Tull’s fatalism is a counterpoint to his partner’s faith. He too believes in God, a God who directs all things, however he appears to derive little confort. He wonders about the burden of being human: what God chooses, male must do. He appreciates his spouse, and says that if God were to put things into mortal hands, they would be Cora’s. However he seems resigned to suffering as a constant of life: “And I reckon she would make a couple of changes, no matter how He was running it. And I reckon they would be for guy’s great. Leastaways, we would need to like them. Leastaways, we may as well go on and make like we did” (67 ). This passage touches on Tull’s spiritual attitudes, while functioning as a concise declaration of how he feels about his self-important other half.

Cash is seen in looks; so far, his only interior monologues are closely connected to his work as a carpenter. Cash is doing the only thing he knows how to do. He draws implying from his work. Tull remarks that Cash takes care over carpentry tasks that require little craftsmanship (79 ). He is so bound up in his work and the information of craftsmanship that he seems unreasonable to his siblings. Jewel dismisses Money’s demonstrations, while Cash continues to difficulty. But carpentry is Money’s life; without it, he is absolutely nothing.

The brother or sisters have actually highly specified personalities, and every one is really various from the others. Gem is seemingly the hothead of the family. He is likewise tall and incredibly strong, hoisting Addie’s casket into the wagon almost solitarily. His interior life is far less complicated that Darl’s or Vardaman’s. He reveals his grief not through thought, but through surges of physical power. His sensations are extreme and genuine, expressed mainly as bursts of defiance and anger and disgust. After he gets the casket up into the wagon, he says “Goddamn you” repeatedly, and the target of his cursing here appears to be almost everyone. His defiance becomes clear again in his dispute with Anse, and his decision to come along, separate from the others, on horseback. His pride is clear, and he trips the horse in spite of the reality that it could be considered rude to his household and dead mother.

Darl continues to be the most instinctive of the characters. He talks to Vardaman as if he can read the boy’s mind, and he properly anticipates Jewel’s behavior.

Darl’s musings divert between striking eloquence and a sort of sophisticated unfamiliarity. When dealing with questions of what it suggests to be, his syntax ends up being simple, almost childlike; at these times, he and Vardaman have the most in typical of any of the siblings. He also acknowledges that his questioning, instead of buttress his understanding of himself, makes him far less specific as an entity than somebody like Gem: “I don’t know what I am. I don’t know if I am or not. Gem knows he is, since he does not understand that he does not know whether he is or not” (73 ). Gem’s thickheadedness protects him from the sort of philosophical self-torture that Darl can not assist however engage in. Tull believes firmly that Darl thinks excessive, and the thinking has actually made Darl go amusing in the head (64 ). Darl forces himself to question the really structures of his being. As he falls asleep, he feels his identity disappearing. He reasons back and forth, confirming his presence, but also seeming to realize that his being is unsteady: “And then I must be, or I might not clear myself for sleep in an odd room. And so if I am not cleared yet, I am is” (74 ). Falling asleep, for now Darl is able to affirm his being, and yet this entire monologue foreshadows the unraveling of Darl’s being later in the novel.

The discussion in between Darl and Vardaman is one of the book’s more upsetting moments (90-1). Darl appears to be having fun with Vardaman as older brothers do, however offered their interior monologues the dialogue ends up being troubling. This section benefits close inspection. Vardaman mentions how his mom is a fish, and Darl does not seem to contradict him. They ask aloud who their moms are. Darl informs Vardaman that he does not have a mom: “Due to the fact that if I had one, it is was. And if it is was, it can’t be is” (91 ). He also repeats to Vardaman an idea Darl had in an earlier monologue: “Jewel’s mother is a horse” (90 ). He appears for now to be alluding to Gem’s amazing love for his horse, which seems more significant to him than Addie. However Darl also discusses to Vardaman that even if Jewel’s mom is a horse, it doesn’t always follow that Vardaman’s is. Darl’s meaning will end up being clear later on.

Something crucial to keep in mind: the interior monologues of the Bundrens are almost always in the present tense, while the interior monologues of those outside the household are normally, however not constantly, in the previous tense. This relocation separates characters like the Tulls from the primary action, making their stories originate from a position of some range. The struggle to bring Addie’s body to Jefferson is the Bundrens’; they suffer the most, and the woman they bury is theirs and no one else’s. The feelings of those outside the household are properly less extreme, and this distance is shown in the verb tense.

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