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As I Lay Dying.

As I Lay Dying

(1930) A novel by William Faulkner. It tells the story of the death of Addie Bundren and the ordeals her family undergoes in carrying the body to Jefferson, Mississippi, for burial. Her husband, Anse; her four sons, Cash, Darl, Jewel, and Vardaman; her daughter, Dewey Dell; and several neighbors all reveal their relationships with Addie in the course of the story. A series of mishaps besets the family: in crossing a flooding river, the mules are drowned, Cash's leg is broken, and the coffin is upset and rescued by Jewel. Later, the family rests at a farmhouse, where Darl sets fire to the barn, in an attempt to destroy the now - putrescent corpse; again the coffin is rescued by Jewel. The family finally reaches Jefferson, where Addie is buried; Darl is taken to the insane asylum, and Anse acquires a new wife.

In the course of the narrative, it is revealed that Jewel was born of Addie's affair with Whitfield, a local preacher. Her relationship to Anse had been spiritually and emotionally barren, based on words alone. Significantly, Jewel is a silent man, active and passionate, while Darl is sensitive and perceptive, living in the world of his own mind.

The story unfolds in some sixty short sections, each labeled with the name of the character who narrates his thoughts and perceptions; as in The Sound and the Fury, Faulkner uses the stream of consciousness technique. A grim story of the ordeals of fire and water, the novel is often comic, ending with the new wife, who is " duck - shaped " and popeyed.

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Publication:Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia, 3rd ed.
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1987
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