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As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner Online Book Summary

 

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CRITICISM/NOTES AS I LAY DYING


SECTION 22: Cash


Summary

Cash’s section is a very brief argument in which Cash is trying to convince the others that Addie is not balanced as they are trying to carry her to the wagon.


Notes

This section foreshadows the numerous catastrophes which occur along the route. Cash is once again the son struggling to save the mother.


SECTION 23: Darl


Summary

Darl’s section provides the context for, and includes within it, Cash’s section (22).

Anse, Darl, Cash, and Jewel are responsible for taking the coffin from the house to the wagon. Anse nearly upends the coffin at the very beginning, and so does not help carry it to the wagon. Cash is trying to make sure the remaining helpers keep it balanced, but his injured foot forces him to lag behind. Jewel is leading and Darl must hurry to keep up. The coffin is finally slid roughly onto the wagon.


Notes

Faulkner is playing with narrative order again. Cash’s section does not have a context: there could be any number of reasons why it is not balanced. It is only after one has read Darl’s section that Cash’s makes sense. We can see these two sections as Faulkner ’s attempt to unsettle the reader; the reader is given potentially meaningless information which must be brought together with other information and from that, the reader can construct a narrative.



SECTION 24: Vardaman


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.


Notes

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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