As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner Online Book Summary
Cash derives his philosophy from carpentry. He believes that if he does things "on the line," they will succeed. However, when he details how he will make Addie’s coffin, he mentions that he must also consider "animal magnetism." Animal magnetism is not rational, but requires that Cash take into consideration how bodies interact with each other. In a sense, animal magnetism is what Darl, Anse, and Addie all lack; none of them knows how to interact with those around them. Cash is not without problems at the end, but the one thing that he does want from this trip is to have a source of music in their house, which the new Mrs. Bundren provides with her graphophone.
Jewel does not formally present a philosophy, but he is dedicated to his mother, or least to her memory. He saves her corpse from the river and later saves it from the fire. He even sacrifices his horse, which Darl says is Jewel’s mother, for a team to carry the body do Jefferson. His dedication to his dead mother sounds like a variation of Addie’s death-centered philosophy.
Dewey Dell’s narrative is noticeably less grammatically correct than most other characters’, and this fits with her own lack of "real-world" experience. Lafe can trick her into sex. Darl can possibly force her into sex. MacGowan can trick her into sex. Dewey Dell does gain a modicum of revenge when she turns in Darl, but for the most part, Dewey Dell is the victim of circumstances with little knowledge to better her situation.
Vardaman’s philosophy is "my mother is a fish." Reality for him is fluid. Sometimes his mother is in the coffin, sometimes she is lying in the frying pan. Ultimately, the toy train and a bunch of bananas steal his focus. Vardaman’s reality it sensual: what he can see, taste, and feel are real. Everything else is blurry.
The plot is the least important of the major elements of story. The culmination of the plot is Addie’s burial, but Faulkner intentionally avoids showing us the burial. We are only told that "we got it filled and covered." It is not the plot that matters but the way that the stories are told.
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TheBestNotes Staff. "TheBestNotes on As I Lay Dying".
. 09 May 2017