• Year Published: 1930.
  • Pages: 270.

As I Lay Dying Summary

The story revolves around the Bundren family, who are residents of a town in Mississippi. The novel is told in various points of views which mostly involves that of all the family members as well as that of their neighbors.

The novel starts with the family matriarch, Addie, a mother of five children, lying on her deathbed. Her eldest son Cash, who is a carpenter, offers to build her a coffin as his final gift. With Addie’s health failing her by the day, her husband Anse, instructs their two sons Jewel and Darl, to set out on a delivery job that can help them earn additional money.

Both children set off on their journey hoping to be able to return right away but unfortunately, they met a couple of delays on the road. Addie dies without two of her children present by her side. Poverty-stricken, the family sets off to the town of Jefferson, as a part of Addie’s dying wish to be buried there.

Left with no funds and barely scrapping their daily needs, Addie’s husband Anse, together with their children, set off towards the said town while focusing on their own problems instead of the death of their matriarch.

Anse is eager to get himself a new set of teeth. Darl and Jewel go through their own personal grief over the loss of their mother. Dewey Dell is keen on going to town in order to abort her baby. The youngest child, Vardaman, is engulfed in his own thoughts over the cause of his mother’s death.

During the journey, the family meets a terrible storm. The bridge gets broken and in an attempt to cross the river, Cash suffers from a leg injury. The mules driving the wagon got carried away and eventually drown in the water. In a last-minute attempt, Jewel is able to save their mother’s coffin from floating away.

Later on, the family is able to find shelter in a farm while they buy a cast for Cash’s broken leg. At that time, the stench of their mother’s body is too much to take.In an impulsive effort, Darl lights up the barn to burn his mother’s coffin, which Jewel is able to save the second time around.

Comic tragedy happens one after the other and eventually, Addie’s body is buried in Jefferson. However, due to setting up a fire in the barn, Anse declares Darl as mentally insane to save their family from taking responsibility for the fire’s damage.

Eventually, Darlis sent to a mental institution, Cash is able to see a good doctor for his leg injury, Dewey Dell is tricked into getting a fake abortion, and Anse successfully manages to get himself a new wife.

The story closes with Anse introducing a new woman in front of his children to be his new bride.

Written by William Faulkner in the year 1929, As I Lay Dying is a novel which defies convention and relations. It is a novel that is mainly focused on the personal experiences and points of view of its characters while failing to mourn over the death of the matriarch of their family.

As I Lay Dying Themes

1. Family
2. Death
3. Isolation
4. Religion
5. Duty
6. Poverty
7. Identity
8. Mortality
9. Sanity
10. Selfishness
11. Suffering
12. Femininity

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