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As I Lay Dying Summary

As I Lay Dying Summary

One of William Faulkner's famous novels is As I Lay Dying, first published in 1930. Faulkner wrote the book while he was working nights at a power plant. The novel employs no less that fifteen narrators over the course of its fifty-nine chapters, and often employs stream of consciousness narrative.

As I Lay Dying is ostensibly about the death of Addie Bundren and her desire to be buried in her hometown of Jefferson, Mississippi. As the story opens, Addie is still alive, but near death. Her son is outside building her coffin, and the rest of the family attends to her. After she passes in the middle of the night, a thunderstorm washes out the bridge that the family must cross to take her body to Jefferson.

Despite the rain, the family, which consists of her husband Anse and their five children, sets out with Addie's body in the family wagon, encountering numerous difficulties along the journey. Anse, a proud man, refuses any help from people along the way, often forcing the family to go hungry and sleep in barns. Cash, one of the children, breaks his leg and winds up having to ride on top of the coffin.

After nine days' journey, the family arrives in Jefferson, where the smell of Addie's body is noticeable to the entire town. The following happens once the family arrives in Jefferson:

  • Daughter Dewey Dell tries to obtain an abortion
  • Son Darl is arrested for arson and sent to the Mississippi State Insane Asylum
  • Anse forces Dewey Dell to give him her abortion money so he can get new teeth and marry the woman from whom he borrowed the shovels to bury Addie

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