Read As I Lay Dying:
There are fifty-nine narratives delivered by fifteen different characters, and these narratives together interweave the contour and content of the life in the Deep South. The emotional structure of these characters' lives will surface with the full impact of their pathos and bathos only after you put together these fifty-nine vignettes together.
William Faulkner uses such modernist storytelling techniques as internal monologue and stream of consciousness to capture the moral uncertainties of the degenerate society and the absurd and fragmented understanding of one's life in such a time and space.
Addie Bundren dies
Darl: In the opening narrative, Faulkner exposits the time and space Darl inhabits. What diction, imagery, and symbolism does the author utilize to portray Darl as an omniscient seer or an ill-fated prophet? What can we infer about Darl's view of himself and Jewel?
Cora: We hear the proud and stupid mind of Cora at work to justify her loss of eggs and labor in this narrative. Where is Cora while she goes through this internal monologue?
Why secret desires do Anse, Dewey Dell, and Vardaman harbor that they think going to Jefferson will fulfill?
Darl and Jewel return home and the Bundrens leave for Jefferson
Dewey Dell--Vardaman--Tull--Darl--Cash--Vardaman--Tull--Darl--Cash--Darl--Vardaman--Darl--Anse--Darl--Anse--Samson--Dewey Dell
Why are Vardaman and Dewey Dell resentful toward Dr. Peabody?
Describe Anse's transformation once Addie's funeral begins (you may focus on Tull's and Samson's narratives).
When the Bundrens arrive in Samson's homestead, Addie has been dead for four days. Why was this journey delayed and what is its consequence?
The Bundrens cross the river
Why do you think there is a narrative delivered by Addie who is already dead? Is there any other epic narrative in which the dead speaks from the underworld to inform the living of the secrets of the living?
What are the roles that each of the Bundrens plays while crossing the bridge and the ford?
What do Cash and Jewel respectively sacrifice while securing the coffin?
Armstid relays Uncle Billy's observation, "Like he says, a man aint so different from a horse or a mule, come long come short, except a mule or a horse has got a little more sense." Why do you think Faulkner repetitively compares the Bundrens to mules and a horse?
From whom does Anse purchase a new team of mules? How does he secure the payment of fifty dollars?
Identify some episodes of tragicomedy, or black comedy.
The Bundrens arrive in Jefferson
Meet the Hateful Eight, the Most loving, Pathetic Family in the Whole Wide Deep South
The Holy Grail, or What the Bundrens Desire
How do the Hellenic and Hebraic Mythologies shape Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha?
As the title of As I Lay Dying imparts, Faulkner sets this 1930 novel against the backdrop of classical epic narratives--to be specific, that of The Odyssey. What qualities and traditional values do the Bundrens honor? Which character exhibits such bravery and leadership that behooves an epic hero? What kind of heroic narrative do you think As I Lay Dying is?
Have you noticed how often characters such as Anse, Cora, and Whitfield, among others, quote the Bible and refer to God? Indeed, there is definitely an underlying theme of Christian redemption. Anse who seemingly achieves his Holy Grail by the novel's end repeatedly quotes the Bible and invokes the divine providence. In what ways does Faulkner utilize the Christian mythology of the original sin, expulsion from “Eden,” personal suffering and sacrifice, the pursuit of the Holy Grail, and the redemption in this novel?
The Fools' Progress
Why do you think Faulkner chose to borrow a phrase from The Odyssey and use it as the title of his novel, As I Lay Dying?
What Is Satire?