As I Lay Dying
Author: William Faulkner
Average Rating: 184.108.40.206
Personal Rating: 4.0/5.0
Page Count: 267
Finished Reading: March
Published: 30 January 1991 (1st edition: 1930)
According to Goodreads:
As I Lay Dying is Faulkner's harrowing account of the Bundren family's odyssey across the Mississippi countryside to bury Addie, their wife and mother. Told in turns by each of the family members—including Addie herself—the novel ranges in mood from dark comedy to the deepest pathos.
Another classic novel checked off my list! I had to read As I Lay Dying for my Modern American Classics course I'm taking. Before we started to the reading assignments, my teacher told us that only three of us would enjoy Faulkner's writing style. As you might have already guessed, I was one of the three. Go figure.
The novel is narrated by 15 different narrators through alternating chapters. Each of the narrators tell their side of what is currently happening as the Bundrens travel to Jefferson to bury their mother. A distinct voice is given to each of the characters, and a beginning version of the vernacular was incorporated. Faulkner uses train of consciousness throughout the novel to show what the characters are thinking at the time the events occur.
I think every family has their weird quirks that makes them unique to other families. We also may be guilty of going along with someone, so we can get something out of it too. "Sure dad I'll go to the gas station with you, and while I'm there I'll buy myself a soda." "I'll go to Barnes & Noble for you mom, and that way I can buy a couple of books for myself." Guilty as charged. You have Addie's husband repeatedly saying how he promised to take her to Jefferson to be buried with her family, but all of us readers know he wants to go to Jefferson to buy himself a new set of teeth. Each member of the family has something they want for themselves in Jefferson besides laying their mother to rest and fulfilling her request. Their wants take away from their proper mourning. That's another thing, even though their mother just died none of them seemed to show any emotion throughout the journey. There were a few tears after she first died, and then afterwards it was like she had been dead for years. I believe they were all wrapped up in their own wants that they didn't bother to mourn.
Vardaman was by far my favorite character. He is the youngest of the five Bundren children, and the most neglected. He's about seven years old, and he isn't too bright. He becomes obsessed with the fact that he thinks his mother is a fish, because she looked like the dead fish he had caught when she died. Throughout the rest of the novel he keeps coming back to his initial thought of how his mother is a fish. He uses analogies during different incidents that compare her to fish-like characteristics.
The train of consciousness caused some difficulty keeping up with the characters' thought processes. One minute you would be reading about a fish, and the next you would be reading about how Dewey Dell is a great sister. Each chapter was narrated by a different character, which led me to having to stop to check who was narrating so I could get their right speaking style in my head. As I Lay Dying is not a fluffy ready by any stretch of the imagination. It's more on the morbid side. I would recommend this novel due to Faulkner's unique writing style, and for the plot line of how a family uses the excuse of fulfilling a loved one's request in order for themselves to fulfill their own wants.