As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner Online Book Summary
It is important to note that Darl does not mention Addie’s corpse. While we are told in detail which of Cash’s tools are saved and where in the water they were, we are not told if Addie’s coffin was rescued. Darl does not seem very invested in getting his mother to Jefferson. He would happily be done with this trip.
The loss of Cash’s tools is a symbolic emasculation. Cash cannot be the hero if he does not have his weapons; for Cash, the tools with which he made Addie’s coffin are his weapons. It takes his brothers and a neighbor to find them; at best, Cash is a compromised hero. Dewey Dell takes on the role of Mary Magdalene when she wipes the vomit from his mouth.
Cash’s section consists solely of the lines, "It wasn’t on balance. I told them that if they wanted to tote it and ride on a balance, they would have to."
Cash is delirious, but still maintains his devotion to balance and line. It is clear that no amount of balance would have helped them cross the river, but Cash still adheres to a belief system which posits a way. For Cash, the rules of carpentry are his religion. The answer always lies in "balance" and "line"; if things are unbalanced or out of line, they are doomed. Cash assumes as well that if they are balanced and on line, then they will succeed.
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TheBestNotes Staff. "TheBestNotes on As I Lay Dying".
. 09 May 2017