As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner Online Book Summary
Peabody’s account of the final trip to the Bundren’s house is mostly informative, but does provide some insight into the central characters. When Peabody gets the call to come to the house, he knows that it will be the last time because only Anse would wait so long and only Anse is so luckless to need a doctor "in the face of a cyclone."
Because Jewel is not around to catch the horse, Peabody must be hauled up the hill to the house, a point that he, at seventy-five years and two hundred twenty-five pounds, obviously does not appreciate.
When Peabody enters Addie’s room, he remarks that she has been dead for ten days but by being around Anse for so long, she does not realize it. He adds that when he was young he had thought that death was a phenomenon of the body, but now he understands it to be a phenomenon of the mind. He then provides a little breadth to the issue, pointing out that the nihilists see it as the end and the fundamentalists see it as the beginning, but it fact it is nothing more than a tenant moving out.
After Peabody examines her, he asks Anse why he did not call for him sooner, and Anse replies that things kept coming up and he knew she was dying anyway. Peabody comments to himself that Anse is even more rooted than a tree, having not been to town in twelve years. He then states that Addie’s eyes look like "lamps blaring up just before the oil is gone" and that he can "feel her eyes."
The section ends with Addie calling out to Cash while he is sawing, "Cash . . . you Cash!"
This section is relatively straightforward, coming from the doctor. Peabody’s character reveals Faulkner ’s infusion of dark comedy into a book about death. The depiction of Peabody being hauled up the muddy hill by a rope forces the reader to address this novel as something more than just "tragic." There is a definite comic, and life-affirming, theme in As I Lay Dying .
Peabody also show the flaws with Anse’s rooted philosophy, namely that it can lead to a certain inaction at times. He presents as well his own view of death, which is little more than the mind moving out of the body.
When Peabody comments on Addie’s eyes, we know the end is close. The specific mention of her eyes connects her with Jewel, whose eyes are like wood, and with Vardaman, who drills out her eyes.
Her last words reveal her focus on death: she wants to make sure her coffin is being finished well.
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. 09 May 2017