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As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner Online Book Summary


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Darl’s second section furthers the detailed reporting of the first and adds an element of stream of consciousness (where the narrative attempts to follow the patterns of thought) to it. Darl begins by describing Anse and Vernon, then moves to the taste of water. We again are told how hot of a July it is. The water leads Darl back to thinking about his younger years, and to sex. His youth leads him to think about his father’s youth and how hard it was on him. Jewel is mentioned, and so Darl then shifts to thinking about and watching Jewel and his horse. The interaction between Jewel and the horse is violent, ending in the horse kicking at Jewel and Jewel then kicking the horse in the stomach, and later hitting it in the mouth. We are told that this is far enough away that Jewel does not hear Cash sawing, and the section ends with a sort of reconciliation between Jewel and his horse: "Eat . . . you sweet son of a bitch."


By including elements of stream of consciousness narration to Darl, Faulkner adds more dimension to the possible ways of telling a story. Not only does he have fifteen people sharing in the story-telling process, he also has each of them tell their version in unique ways.

Darl’s brief mention of his father’s rough childhood helps us understand Anse’s actions at the end of the novel.

Darl also mentions that he used to wonder if Cash was out in the woods masturbating or having sex. This is important because one of Darl’s problems is that he is too involved in other people’s sexuality.

The relationship between Jewel and his horse is both violent and loving, which is important because it parallels Jewel’s relationship to his mother. Most of the children have associations with animals: Jewel’s is his horse.

By stating that Jewel is too far away to hear Cash sawing, Darl reminds us of Addie’s imminent death, the death that permeates the novel.

SECTION 4: Jewel


Jewel’s narrative is an internal monologue. The first thing he mentions is Cash’s constant hammering and sawing right under Addie’s window. Jewel interprets this as being Cash’s attempt to show off. He then moves to the people, including his sister Dewey Dell, who sit with Addie "like buzzards." He says he wants them to leave her alone, but it is clear that he wants to take care of her. He states that he wishes that he had fallen off of the church instead of Cash or that the lumber that fell off of the wagon had landed on him instead of Anse; clearly, Jewel wishes that it had been he who had been cared for by Addie. The section ends with Jewel wishing that it would be just himself and Addie on the hill, where he would roll rocks down at the faces of the rest.


Jewel is desperately jealous, so jealous that he would willingly be injured or die (be on the hill) to be with his mother. We find out later that one reason for Jewel’s jealousy is that his mother intentionally shows him less affection because she is guilty and afraid that Anse might discover that he is not Jewel’s father.

Jewel’s narrative is one of strong passions, jealousy and anger, and thus it runs together. It provides a nice counter to Darl’s narrative, which is much more tightly organized.

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TheBestNotes Staff. "TheBestNotes on As I Lay Dying". . 09 May 2017