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As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner Online Book Summary


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This section is mostly dialogue between Anse, Darl, Jewel, and Vernon Tull. The issue being discussed is whether to use the wagon to transport lumber from which they would earn three dollars, or keep the wagon nearby so that when Addie dies, she can be immediately taken to Jefferson. Darl states that they need the money, especially since Addie is dying; Anse knows that Addie would be happier if the wagon were close so that she could be buried with her family as soon as possible; Jewel is in denial and states that she is not going to die; and Vernon states that Addie will be up and about by the time they return, partially to comfort Jewel but also because he thinks that they need to leave before it rains.

It is in this section where we are told that Anse has no teeth, which is what he buys in Jefferson. And, Jewel’s eyes are twice described as being like "pale wooden eyes."


With this section, we begin to see the potential for different motivations for the characters. Darl and Vernon are rather pragmatic; Anse wants to fulfill his wife’s wishes but as we will see, once those wishes are fulfilled, he will feel free to pursue his own desires. Jewel is still in denial and his "pale wooden eyes" make him seem as dead as his mother will be.



This section is Cora’s interior version of the preceding section which she heard from Tull, mixed with her own feelings toward Addie, Anse, Darl, Cash, and Jewel. Cora presents Darl as the sentimentalist who tries to prevent them from taking the wagon, thus respecting his mother’s dying wishes. Anse is presented as opportunistic, and Jewel is lazy, always seeking the easiest way to make money. Cora also mentions that the reason Addie watches Cash is so that he does not do a poor job.

Cora recounts that Tull has told her that Anse told him that Addie wanted to be buried with her own family. Cora does not believe Tull or Anse. She responds that a woman’s place is with her husband and children, and since she would not leave Tull and her daughters when she dies, Addie would not either.

About Darl, Cora says that he was always Addie’s favorite, even though everyone else said he was "queer, lazy, pottering." She adds that Jewel, despite being cherished, spurned his mother by urging the trip to sell the lumber. Shortly thereafter, Cora states that Addie was only pretending that she loved Jewel most, and really loved Darl.


Cora’s interior monologue is filled with second and third hand information. The reader must filter through the layers to arrive at a truth. Faulkner uses this section to reveal how tenuous a story can be. This version brings into question Darl’s account of events. While we may give more credence to Darl’s version since he was there, we now have doubts.

This section represents the idea that two people can view one event in completely opposite ways: Darl’s narrative shows Jewel and Anse to be the ones most concerned about Addie, while Cora’s narrative suggests that Darl is most concerned.

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