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As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner Online Book Summary


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SECTION 29: Samson


Samsonís section frames Anseís (28). Samson and the men with him think that the Bundren's are taking a vacation. They think Addie is already buried because they were at the funeral. When the Bundrenís arrive, we are told that the body already smells.

Samson as well tells us that his bridge is out and the closest bridge is in the opposite direction that they are traveling; they must go back the way they came and pass through New Hope again. He does not know all of the childrenís names, and describes Darl as "the one folks talk about."

Samson thinks to himself that Anse is quite rooted, but once he gets going, he is impossible to stop. His conclusion is that it is not the movement that Anse does not like, but the starting and stopping.

Samson suggests that they spend the night, put the coffin in the barn, and then bury it in the morning. Dewey Dell looks at him with eyes like blazing pistols., but he does not understand why. Dewey Dell reminds Anse that Addie had waited to die until he promised to bury her in Jefferson, so Anse keeps to his original plan.

One of the final things that Samson mentions is the presence of a buzzard.


One of the men at Samsonís place, mentions that Jewelís horse had belonged to the Snopes. The Snopes are a family that appears in other Faulkner novels and stories.

According to Samsonís narrative, Anse is beginning to waver in his commitment to burying Addie in Jefferson, but it is Dewey Dell who is insistent on making the trip.

Samson and his wife Rachel provide the point of view of outsiders. From this viewpoint, the Bundren's look even more pathetic, more cursed, and more doomed. Even without the presence of the buzzard, we would know that things could only get worse.

SECTION 30: Dewey Dell


Dewey Dellís section begins with her looking at the sign for New Hope and thinking how the sign has the luxury of waiting.

Her narrative then moves to her mother. Dewey Dell says that she heard that her mother had died, even though we know that she was present and reacted first and most dramatically.

She then proceeds to look at Cash, Jewel, and Darl. When she looks at Darl, she describes how his eyes "begin at my feet and rise along my body to my face, and then my dress is gone. I sit naked." When she looks at Vardaman, she sees back to time he cut up the fish. She thinks to herself how Vardaman would do anything she told him, and then pictures herself taking his knife and killing Darl.

That leads into her remembering a nightmare in which she could neither see nor feel herself; she did not know who or what she was. She only felt like she was being blown around by the wind.

When Dewey Dell returns to the present, they have passed the road for New Hope, and with it Dewey Dellís hope seems to fade. However, she does start repeating "I believe in God." Darl points out to Jewel that the buzzard is still there as they arrive at Vernon and Cora Tullís house again.


For Dewey Dell, the death of her mother is becoming less of a real event to her as her pregnancy is becoming more real. Her hope is fading fast, which is why she must tell herself at the end of the section that she believes in God. It is her attempt to find hope.

This section reveals that Dewey Dell has mixed reactions to Darl. She recognizes that Darl sees her as a sexual object, and she also has this repressed desire to kill him.

SECTION 31: Tull


Tull tells how Anse and his family have returned and how Anse wants to try to cross the damaged and partially submerged bridge. Tull is adamantly against it, and Cash can only imagine it being crossed by a person walking carefully. Dewey Dell thinks they should try it. Darl just looks with his "queer eyes," that make is seem like "somehow you was looking at yourself and your doings outen his eyes." Jewel tells Tull to get back to his work and asks him why he followed them here. Anse is starting to look defeated, and then Cash says that Anse, Dewey Dell, and Vardaman can walk across and the rest will use Jewelís horse and Tullís mule to lead the wagon. Tull objects, not wanting to lose his mule in the river.


The situation is becoming desperate. Anse is losing the will to continue, feeling defeated at every move. Dewey Dell needs to get to town to get the abortion. Cash, perhaps out of a desire to please his mother, takes control to get them across the river.

Darl does not seem to have any motivation or desire in this effort. The comment by Tull about Darlís eyes may explain why Faulkner allows Darl to narrate sections he is not present for: Darl can see through other characters or even see events he is not present for.

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