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As I Lay Dying Summary and Analysis of Section 4


4th Area (Darl, Anse, Samson, Dewey Dell, Tull, Darl, Tull, Darl, Vardaman; pages 96-139):

Darl tells. Jewel approaches in the range. The Bundrens pass Tull’s location slowly, waving. Cash observes that the body will stink soon, and that the coffin isn’t stabilized for a long flight. A bit later, Gem passes them rapidly, offering no acknowledgment, the horse kicking up mud. A gout of mud arrive on the casket; Money eliminates it thoroughly with a tool, and a bit later on he gets some leaves as they pass under a tree and begins cleaning up the stain.

Anse narrates. He speaks about hard working males never revenue; it’s the abundant in towns. Life is harsh, but God’s will be done; the just will be rewarded in paradise. They reach Samson’s, however the bridge near there has actually likewise cleaned up. Anse comforts himself with the thought that he will soon get those false teeth.

Samson narrates. He is on his deck with some pals, MacCullum and Quick. Quick goes down to the Bundrens to inform them that the bridge has been washed out. Samson invites them to remain the night; the Bundrens accept however refuse supper. They sleep out in the barn. That night, Samson’s wife Rachel is revolted by the transportation of the body; she lashes out at Samson, for the dreadful things guys do to their partners, overlooking the truth that it was Addie’s wish to be buried far away. Samson believes he can smell the body, but believes it might be his creativity. The next morning, the Bundrens set out to backtrack, to search for a location to cross the river. They do not say goodbye. Samson goes out to his barn, still thinking he can smell it, and then he recognized it’s more than his imagination: a fat buzzard squats close by.

Dewey Dell tells. She considers Addie’s death, wanting there had actually been time to believe, time to let Addie die, time to want she had time to let Addie die. Dewey Dell feels naked under Darl’s look. She keeps in mind a dream where she killed him. She remembers a problem where she did not understand where or who or what she was, nor what was happening. The buzzard remains in the sky. They go by Tull’s again, Anse waving as before. She keeps firmly insisting that she thinks in God.

Vernon Tull tells. He takes his mule and follows the Bundrens down to the shattered bridge. Anse stares out throughout the water, not able to come up with any type of plan or make a decision. Jewel lashes out at Tull, and Dewey Dell looks at Tull with hatred. Cash attempts to exercise a prepare for crossing. Gem asks Tull if they can use his mule; he declines, which exasperates Jewel.

Darl tells. He keeps in mind years ago, when Gem was always falling asleep at odd times, and reducing weight. His mom believed it was sickness, and versus Anse’s wishes covered for Jewel, doing his chores and getting the other children to do them. Dewey Dell found that Jewel was slipping out in the evening. Cash and Darl thought it was a female, but ultimately Money followed Jewel and discovered the reality, though he didn’t inform Darl. One morning Gem came home with a beautiful horse. He ‘d been working nights clearing a field to earn the cash. Addie, who ‘d been fretting sick about Gem, began to weep. That night, as Gem slept and Addie watched over him weeping, Darl recognized that Jewel had a various dad than the rest of the kids.

Vernon Tull tells. He accompanies Anse, Dewey Dell, and Vardaman throughout the bridge, the middle of which is shattered and sinks down into the water. The crossing is terrifying; the waters are fast and thick with particles. Now the others need to try to cross.

Darl narrates. The brothers argue about the best way to cross the river. They pick a plan: Money will drive, and Darl, riding on horseback, will hold a rope tied to the wagon, to stabilize it. The river is treacherous. Darl leaves the wagon, which tilts, threatening to dispose the coffin and tools into the water. The mules drown.

Vardaman tells. Money loses his grip on the casket. Vardaman runs back and forth, chewing out Darl to catch the coffin. He thinks the casket will slip away quickly because his mom is a fish. Darl gets a hold of the coffin underwater, however finally when he emerges from the water his hands are empty.


Logistical issues dominate this part of the novel. The need to hard part of the journey comes right at the start; the river has to be crossed, but heavy rains have actually resulted in the greatest water levels in memory, and the bridges have actually been destroyed. To make these logistical matters worse, the body has started to stink. The smell of carrion is starting to bring in fat buzzards, heavy with water. The buzzards are a dark and heavy sign of mortality, and the nasty physicality of death. They will follow the Bundrens all the method to Addie’s burial, growing in number the whole time the way.

Anse never quite manages to be a likable, or perhaps forgivable character, even when he is speaking. His interior monologue is about the failure of the poor truthful man to make a go of it, but it’s clear that he slouches and weak. On the banks of the river, his sons have to make all of the decisions. He is not capable of choosing anything; he is too weak and too scared to take obligation for even the easiest of choices.

The family shows a weird, often useless mix of dependency and pride; this paradoxical combination comes from their extreme poverty. When remaining in Samson’s bar, they refuse to accept much of the hospitality Samson provides, out of pride. But it is clear from the earlier monologues that the Bundrens have been dependent on neighbors’ help often times in the past. The spectacle of the Bundrens bringing the body to Jefferson takes on an entire new measurement when seen from the eyes of outsiders. We see them through the eyes of individuals who often look down on them, however our compassion for the characters, and the fact that we have seen things from the Bundrens’ viewpoint, makes this point of view unpleasant. When others condescend to the Bundrens, the reader pities the family even more. Anse is the character who remains farthest from a lot of readers’ compassions. However the others all command our compassion, even regard; to see them looked on with contempt hurts.

Darl’s relationship to his family and his next-door neighbors is paradoxical. He is at when the most linked to and the most isolated from all of individuals around him. His extraordinary powers of intuition handle a mystic dimension; years ago he found out, in a flash of insight, that Gem’s dad is not Anse. The leap recommends that Darl knew his mother better than any of the other Bundren children could have. Her favoritism of Gem had much to do with the reality that he was something that was hers and not Anse’s.

But Darl’s insights likewise make him hated. The book has lots of separated voices, but seclusion is often valued. Dewey Dell says that she feels naked in front of Darl’s instinctive look: in her dreams, she plays out fantasies of eliminating him (107-8). Darl is increasingly devoted to her in his own method: she observes that “He’ll do what I say. He constantly does” (108 ), however his commitment is not recompense enough for how susceptible she makes him feel.

Darl’s eyes are the most common source of discomfort. Dewey Dell recoils under his gaze. Tull sums up Darl succinctly, “He is taking a look at me. He do not state nothing; simply looks at me with them queer eyes of hisn that makes folks talk. I always state it ain’t never ever been what he done so much or stated or anything so much as how he takes a look at you. It’s like he had actually got into the inside of you, someway. Like somehow you was looking at yourself and your behaviors outen his eyes” (112 ). The look into Darl’s eyes is the key, for other characters, to understanding that their seclusion has actually been violated. Darl penetrates deeply into the awareness of others. Despite the powerful loneliness of so many of the characters, with Dewey Dell being amongst the loneliest of them all, this psychological intimacy is not welcome.

Jewel has plenty of intense pride, along with a selfishness and aggressiveness that isolate him from his household in a different method. Earlier in the novel, Dewey Dell insisted that Jewel “do not care about anything he is not kin to us in caring, not care-kin” (22 ). His fierce mood and pride are often self-defeating. He refuses Samson’s deal of feed for his horse (103 ); he lashes out at Tull and then seems angry a minute later on when he asks Tull for aid and Tull refuses (113 ). He is, sometimes, very self-centered. He works himself relentlessly for the cash to buy his horse, requiring his brother or sisters to pick up the slack around the Bundren farm. But Gem’s isolation may originate from a sense that he is not a complete brother or sister to the others; we never hear straight from Jewel if he knows the fact of his parentage, although definitely it is hinted. And dealing with Anse, Gem has actually found out to feel bitter and dislike the begrudging generosity with which Anse treats his kids. When Gem returns with the recently purchased horse, Anse is mad that he’ll need to feed it. Jewel’s reaction is withering and intense: “He will not never eat a mouthful of yours … Not a mouthful. I’ll kill him first. Do not you never believe it. Do not you never ever” (123 ). Pride, frequently carried to outrageous extremes, and a determination to do whatever for himself and by himself, have actually been Jewel’s reactions to Anse’s half-hearted fathering.

Cash and his work continue to be inextricable. When Jewel flights by at a gallop, splashing the casket with mud, Money thoroughly gets rid of the mud and scrubs out the stain. He works calmly, without voicing any grievance to Gem (97 ). While a negative reader may argue that Cash is more concerned about his piece of carpentry work than what is within the casket, a strong case can be made that the coffin is the personification of Cash’s sorrow. He is not an emotive individual, however there is something tender and mild about him. At least on an unconscious level, his grief at Addie’s passing is wrapped up in the piece of work he created for her.

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