As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner Online Book Summary
Cash and Anse are walking down the hill as Jewel, whose eyes are now like "marbles," heads into the barn. Anse says that they will all ride on the wagon like Addie would have liked, indicating that he does not want Jewel to ride beside them on his horse. Vardaman states that his mother is a fish (this could be the context for Vardaman’s previous statement/section, 17). Darl decides to play with Vardaman’s simplicity by telling him that Jewel’s mother is a horse. Vardaman knows that Jewel is his brother so then he decides that maybe his mother is a horse too. Darl explains that they could have the same father and different mothers. Jewel asks Darl who his mother is and he says he does not have one: "If I had one, it is was. And if it is was, it cant be is." Darl continues by asking Vardaman, "Then I am not, am I?" Vardaman first answers, "no," but then changes his answer to "But you are."
Vardaman tells us that Anse is now shaving every day "because my mother is a fish." He adds that Cash is taking his tools and Dewey Dell is taking Cora’s cakes to town to sell. Both of these things Anse says are disrespectful to their mother.
Jewel’s trip to the barn represents his need to find his mother (the horse), and reestablish the maternal link, just as Vardaman does with the fish.
Darl and Vardaman’s conversation reveals two different personalities. Darl is joking with Vardaman while trying to be a deep thinker. Darl questions his existence, but Vardaman, in a moment of practical clarity, states that he does exist. Darl’s metaphysics represent part of his difficulty to exist in the real world. Vardaman, while he may be simplistic, does survive.
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. 09 May 2017