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As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner Online Book Summary

 

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SECTION 52: Darl


Summary

As they approach the outskirts of Jefferson, Darl and Jewel are walking behind the wagon. Dewey Dell says she needs to stop to relieve herself and takes her package. Anse cannot figure out why she needs her cakes with her to urinate. When she returns, she is in her Sunday dress, complete with shoes, stockings, and beads.

Jewel passes a man walking and the road and whirls around at that moment and says "sons of bitches" to three other men walking on ahead; the man assumes it was directed at him and takes offense. The man says "bastard" which sets Jewel off; the man pulls a knife and a Darl is barely able to prevent a fight.


Notes

Here is where we discover that there are no cakes. Dewey Dellís "package" is clothes and her cash. Jewelís response to the manís epithet indicates that what he said was "bastard"; we are never told but that is the only thing that would create such a response in Jewel. His response further supports the idea that Jewel knows he is not Anseís son but is in severe denial.


SECTION 53: Cash


Summary

Cashís section begins with him thinking to himself that there was nothing they could do but send Darl to prison. Gillespie knew that Darl did it and threatened to sue if Darl was not incarcerated. Jewel is the one who is visibly most eager to jail Darl, arguing that if they do not, he will burn the wagon and the team. Cash says that they could at least wait until Addie is buried.

Cash then gives us his definition of madness: "Itís like it aint so much what a fellow does, but itís the way the majority of folks is looking at him when he does it."

Cash, despite his connection with Addie, sympathizes with Darl. He recalls that when they were in the river, he sort of hoped that the coffin would be lost and suggests that Darl did in fact try to get rid of it. This section is also the only point where we are told who saves the coffin from the river, Jewel. Cash even suggests that God may have been trying to end the journey with the river and Jewel was fighting against God to save her. Cash understands Darlís desire to destroy the coffin with fire, but faults Darl for destroying another personís property in the process.

Darl suggests that they drop Cash off at the doctorís before they go any further. Anse says that they should all be present at the funeral, and Darl responds that she has already waited nine days, a little longer would not hurt.


Anse has not called ahead to have a grave dug and has forgotten to bring a shovel. Darl suggest buying one, but Anse does not want to spend any money. He says they can borrow one. They have stopped in front of a house, which Cash states is "Mrs. Bundrenís house" and from which they hear a graphophone playing music, to borrow a shovel. Anse speaks with the woman for much longer that Cash or Darl expected and returns with two shovels. She is looking out the window after Anse.

When the wagon starts up again, Cash remarks that Darl and Dewey Dell look at each other like "they knowed things betwixt them" and that Dewey Dell seems to like Darl better than any other the other siblings. The burial is only alluded to in one sentence: "we got it filled and covered."

After the burial, men are waiting to arrest Darl and Dewey Dell is there first to turn him in. Cash then realizes how Gillespie knew who burned the barn. Dewey Dell starts attacking Darl, the officers separate them, and Anse, Jewel and one of the other officers throw Darl to the ground. Darl looks up and asks Cash why he did not tell him this was going to happen. Jewel is calling out, "kill him, kill the son of a bitch." Cash is not able to respond to Darlís question, and Darl starts laughing. Darl asks him if he wants him to go too, and Cash says, "Itíll be better for you . . . itíll be quiet, with none of the bothering and such." Darl starts laughing again and saying "better." Cash ends his section with the idea that the sane and the insane are in all people.


Notes

This is one of the most important and eventful sections in the entire novel: Addie is buried, Darl is arrested, and Anse meets the new Mrs. Bundren. It is also important that this section is not Darlís. Cash, who is given only a few other sections, narrates it. If one is trying to argue that Darl is the protagonist because he has the most sections to narrate, one must ask why Darl does not narrate some of the more important moments.

Cash is sympathetic with Darl and reveals that he too wished the ordeal would end, but did not have the will or conviction required to act. He also questions whether or not Darl is the insane one. Cash defines sanity not by what is inside the mind or the action, but how people view it: insanity is a community decision that one is not normal. Cashís knowledge of the impending arrest and his sympathy with Darl make him a voice of moderation. He cares about Darl and Darl clearly cares about him: the difficulty for Cash is trying to decide what is right for him, what is right for Darl, what is right for the family, and what is socially correct. Cashís answer to Darlís question is not that Darl belongs there, but that it might be better, quieter. Having watched the family wander over the countryside, we might agree that Darl would be better off no matter where he was, so long as he was not with them.

Dewey Dellís "betrayal" of Darl creates far more questions than it answers. For Dewey Dell to betray the one person who knew she was pregnant indicates and suggests a number of things. First, she must feel sure now that she is in Jefferson that she can get an abortion; if not, she would not risk Darl betraying that secret when he is arrested. All she has to do is deny it, and get the abortion and there would be no proof. Secondly, Darl must have done something bad to her to make her want him arrested and then make her react so violently when he is arrested. Dewey Dell must be reacting to something more than the attempted burning of Addieís coffin because we never see in her sections the same kind of attachment as we do with Jewel, but it is a possibility. The more likely reason for Dewey Dellís betrayal is that Darl took advantage of her sexually.

Since we know Dewey Dellís inability to speak what she does not want to admit, the section (30) when Dewey Dell mentions the desire to kill Darl shortly after feeling him look at her as a sexual object and the section (14) when she mentions that Darl came between her and Lafe provide definite hints to a relationship between the two of them. Darl knew that she was pregnant and she was afraid he would either kill Lafe or tell Anse; Darl could have quite easily manipulated or tricked her into having sex with him (after all, Lafe and the druggistís assistant MacGowan trick her into sex). Turning Darl in is the only way she has of getting back at him.


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