As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner Online Book Summary
The narrative returns again to Addieís room where Anse is standing over the bed, straightening it, trying to decide how to respond. In the end, all he says is, "Godís will be done, . . . Now I can get some teeth."
The final paragraph is italicized and returns the reader to Darl and Jewel. They are trying to fix the wheel. The last line is, "Jewel, I say, she is dead, Jewel. Addie Bundren is dead."
There is no way to explain the narrative of this section logically. Darl cannot know what is happening, but this is his section. The events are close enough to Peabodyís that we assume that Darl is not just speculating (for example, the last words of Addie). Dewey Dellís section is not even presented as having happened, but only as her thinking about what she would like to say. Faulkner is challenging his readerís expectations: the narrative is presented from an impossible source, and yet it seems quite accurate and believable.
Darlís narrative shows us how he sees his family as reacting to the death. Dewey Dell, for whom Darl seems to have an affinity, reacts with the greatest sign of loss. Cash, Vardaman, and Anse all react rather nonchalantly: Vardaman leaves the room; Cash says "sheís gone" and gets back to work; and Anseís response to Addieís death is fatalistic in one breath, "Godís will be done," and practical or even opportunistic in the other, "Now I can get some teeth." Anseís statement that he can now get teeth suggests that Addie has prevented him from the sensuous pleasure of eating. When we get to her section, we will see that her philosophy is death driven and thus eschews physical pleasure. Darl, who is not present, also reacts nonchalantly.
The wagon breaking its wheel and losing its load is further evidence of "Bundren bad luck," as is Addieís dying while Darl and Jewel are away.
Dewey Dellís internalized scene reflects her inability to speak her problems. She has now admitted to herself that she is pregnant, but can still not speak it (of course, she has only admitted it if this paragraph is hers and not Darlís imagining her thoughts). When she thinks "I am I and you are you," it is her philosophy in Darlís language (in Darlís next section, 17, he discusses the ideas of being and not being in similar terms).
The section ends with Darl, from afar, declaring Addie dead. He and Cash, the two not present for the actual death, are the two who make the proclamations. Faulkner is allowing in this novel declarations of fact to be provided by those least competent to make such statements, those who were not even there when the event took place. He questions the idea that the best reporter of an event is one who is present. Since As I Lay Dying and his other major novels, The Sound and the Fury and Absalom, Absalom, are about the multiple ways one can see and tell a story, this section is Faulkner ís attempt to expand the category of those who can tell the story. Instead of the limiting the number of possible accounts of a story to the number of people present, Faulkner has made it nearly limitless. Anyone can tell the story (this is how, in Absalom, Absalom, Shreve, a Canadian, can help narrate a story, which took place in Mississippi).
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TheBestNotes Staff. "TheBestNotes on As I Lay Dying".
. 09 May 2017