Short summary - As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

Summary of the work - Sykalo Eugen 2023

Short summary - As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

As I Lay Dying is a novel written by William Faulkner, a renowned American author. The novel is a complex and intricate tale that tells the story of the Bundren family and their journey to bury their matriarch, Addie Bundren. The story is set in the fictional rural town of Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, during the 1920s.

The novel is divided into 59 sections, each narrated by a different character, including the family members and the people they encounter on their journey. The narrative is non-linear and often ambiguous, with each character offering their own perspective on the events of the story.

The novel begins with Addie's death, and her husband, Anse, deciding to fulfill her dying wish of being buried in her hometown of Jefferson. The rest of the family, including their five children, Cash, Darl, Jewel, Dewey Dell, and Vardaman, are tasked with accompanying her coffin on the long journey. The journey is fraught with difficulties, as the family must navigate treacherous terrain and face numerous obstacles, including a flooded river and a fire that destroys their wagon.

Each family member has their own motivations for making the journey, and their relationships with each other are strained and complicated. Cash, the eldest son, is a carpenter who has made Addie's coffin. Darl is the most introspective of the siblings and has a strained relationship with Jewel, who is fiercely protective of his mother's honor. Dewey Dell is pregnant and looking for a way to terminate her pregnancy, while Vardaman is struggling to come to terms with his mother's death.

The family's relationships with each other also deteriorate as secrets are revealed and tensions boil over. Darl, who is the most complex character in the story, becomes increasingly unstable throughout the novel. He is the most introspective of the siblings and often appears to be the only one who has any real understanding of the family's situation. However, his perceptions of reality become increasingly skewed as the story progresses, leading to his eventual institutionalization.

One of the key themes of the novel is the nature of death and the way it affects the living. Each character has their own way of dealing with the loss of Addie, and their experiences on the journey force them to confront their own mortality. The novel also explores the complexities of family relationships and how they can be both comforting and suffocating. Faulkner's use of multiple narrators and stream-of-consciousness techniques creates a fragmented and often confusing narrative that requires careful attention from the reader.

As I Lay Dying is a challenging novel that requires a certain level of literary sophistication and attention to detail. However, the novel's exploration of themes such as death, family, and identity make it a rewarding and thought-provoking read. The novel is a classic of American literature and is widely considered to be one of Faulkner's finest works.

In conclusion, As I Lay Dying is a complex and challenging novel that explores the human condition and the complexities of family relationships. The novel is a masterpiece of American literature that is still widely read and studied today. Faulkner's use of multiple narrators and stream-of-consciousness techniques creates a unique and powerful narrative that is both haunting and memorable. If you are looking for a thought-provoking and challenging read, then As I Lay Dying is definitely worth picking up.