As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
As I Lay Dying is told in the story of 15 different perspectives including Addie Bundren over the course of 59 chapters.
The Bundren family lives on their farm in Yoknapatawpha County, a fictional rural county in Mississippi. They are extremely poor and Addie Bundren, their mother is nearing death. Cash, the eldest son of the family is a carpenter. For his last gift for his mother he builds a coffin for her outside the window of the room where she lies dying. Anse, the father and head of the household is very weak and sends two of his sons, Darl and Jewel on a lumber shipping job that will net the family a few extra dollars. While Darl and Jewel were in the middle of their trip, their mother died. Dewey Dell the only girl of the family, nurses her own secrets: she is pregnant, and wishes for an abortion. Vardaman, the youngest child is deeply traumatized by his mother’s death.
The family sets off to transport the body to Jefferson because Addie wished to be buried among her birth family. The family has a difficult journey due to storms and bridges that are washed away. In Mottson, Dewey Dell tries to find a druggist who will give an abortion treatment. Meanwhile, the family has trouble with the sheriff, due to the horrifying stench of the body. The Bundrens seek shelter at the Gillespie farm when they are no longer able to control what is happening to the body. The next day they arrive in Jefferson and bury Addie, Darl is captured and taken off to a mental institution in Jackson by his own family. Anse, after burying his wife, finds a new wife in town.
As I read this book, I ended up getting really confused and lost in the book. There were so many perspectives in the book, each chapter was a different character telling their own point of view. I would have to frequently look back to see who was telling their story. There is deep pathos in the novel. William Faulkner expresses a lot of philosophy in this novel, especially Modernism.
Would I recommend this book? Yes and no. Yes to all you readers that enjoy dark comedy and gothic themes. I wouldn’t recommend it to regular teen readers.
–Dafne, 15, Teen Center Adviser