Overview: As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

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William Faulkner’s novel As I Lay Dying takes place in the fictional town of Yaknapatawpha, Mississippi in the 1920’s. It is set in the summertime in the ‘deep south’, which had continual dry and hot conditions. The novel tells of the quest of the Bundren family to bury Addie Bundren in Jefferson, where her family was buried. The Bundren family goes through many unexpected trials on this journey, but still manages to bury Addie where she requested. Among her children, were two of her four sons, Darl and Vardaman. They both had different perspectives and ways of understanding people and Addie’s death. Darl and Vardaman’s perspectives differed widely because of the age difference and maturity levels. Throughout the novel, Vardaman struggles with understanding the events that transpire. One of the most important things that he has to go through is seeing the death of his mother. Vardaman is a young boy, around the age of seven. This immediately creates a problem for him because at such a young age he would have no experience with death. Vardaman was out fishing the day that his mother died, and caught a large fish. He was proud of his catch so he brought it back to show the family. He seemed vaguely aware of what was going on in the house with Addie being near death. Shortly after bringing the fish back, Addie died. This caused Vardaman to relate her death to the death of the fish. Therefore, in his mind, his mother must be a fish. Vardaman’s shortest chapter in the book consists of only one sentence, “My mother is a fish” (84). It is evident to the readers at this point that Vardaman cannot apprehend the idea of death, and demonstrates the dull awareness of the eternal aspect he has upon it. Vardaman shares the thoughts of Addie... ... middle of paper ... ...ve different opinions and recognition of the situations that take place. Darl holds much understanding about death, and about the secrets of his family. Vardaman, however, possesses very little understanding throughout the novel because of his age and inexperience with death. In As I Lay Dying, Faulkner makes good use of contrasting these two characters. He makes it clear what the most significant things about Vardaman and Darl are in relation to the family, and Addie’s death. Works Cited Faulkner William, As I Lay Dying. New York: Vintage International, 1990. Print. Willis, Clarissa A. “The Grieving Process in Children: Strategies for Understanding, Educating and Reconciling Children’s Perceptions of Death”. Early Childhood Education Journal. Vol. 29, No. 4. (2002) 221-224. Print.

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