As I Lay Dying Short Summary
The book by William Faulkner is narrated in sections. Though a bulk of the story is told by people who belong to Bundren’s family, some parts are narrated by the neighbors. The intention here is that the reader should also get the family story from the perspective of an outsider. However, all the narrations are found to be unreliable, and the reader is left to decide as to what is real.
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As the story begins, the readers encounter Addie Bundren is laying in her bed. Outside the bedroom window, Cash, her son is building her coffin. On the other hand, Anse, her husband, is arranging how she will be buried in Jefferson. Addie Bundren chose the location.
Anse goes to Jefferson to search for another wife and to get his teeth fixed. Darl and Jewel, though not in the right psychological state, have to deal with the fact that their mother may soon die. Darl taunts people though he is a perceptive person. Jewel shows his love for people through violent behavior.
Dewey Dell, their sister, is pregnant. She is described as someone who cannot think logically. She is on her way to Jefferson to abort. Vardaman, who is the youngest child in the family, is also a retard.
When Addie Bundren finally dies, the family has to adhere to her wishes to be buried in Jefferson. Therefore, the whole family through a period of hot and wet weather through Mississippi. Because of the weather and the long distance, the body begins to decay. As the family gets to the river, they find the bridge destroyed; they have to work on the way to get the body to the destination. In the process, they go through events that can be considered both comical and tragic.
The events that take place are too horrific, and Darl no longer feels comfortable. However, he knows that his mother disserves a decent burial. Darl attempts to burn his mother’s body while inside the coffin. The other people take him as insane because of this act. Anse permits that Darl should be taken to asylum because of his insanity. Jewel saves the body from burning. That is the same way he had saved the body from drowning. Addie Bundren has prophesized these acts by Jewel.