William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying is both comic and tragic in many ways throughout this book. This is a story of a family who carts their dead mother, Addie, to be buried in her hometown in Jefferson. There are fifteen monologues from this book including one from Addie. The family goes through horrendous obstacles in order to complete their trip. Addie is the heart and soul of this family yet she never wanted this life.
Addie’s father would tell her, “The reason for living was to get ready to stay dead a long time. 169. So she took Anse for a husband and gave him Cash and Darl. After she had Darl she made Anse promise to bury her in Jefferson when she died. But Anse wanted more kids. Addie had an affair with Mr. Whitfield and had Jewel. She gave Anse Dewey Dell for the negative of Jewel and last Vardaman. Addie is bitter about her life and doesn’t show the love and affection towards her kids except to Jewel her favorite. As long as she is around this family the more suffering she will bring to them.
All her children except Jewel want her love and kindness but she rebukes them. In the beginning of their journey Jewel takes horse with him, but Anse is against this because he feels it is disrespectful towards Addie. Jewel should be riding in the wagon with everybody else. They come to a bridge which has just collapsed because of the weather and the river is moving very fast. It will take the trip longer if they go around so the Bundren family makes up a plan and goes through it. Cash and Darl make their way across the broken bridge when the wagon tips.
Darl was supposed to hold on the coffin but instead lets it go hoping that God will take care of her and that would end their trip. However, Jewel went into the river to rescue his dead mother from the river and foiled Darl’s plans. Cash has a broken leg but he’s lucky because it was the same leg he had broken before so he is not begrudging it. Cash holds off on medical treatment until they bury Addie. When they come to rest at Mr. Gillippsie’s barn Darl has had enough of this trip all he wants to do is end it and send Addie on her way, peaceful like in her sleep.
So Darl sets the barn on fire, livestock and all. However, Jewel comes to the rescue again and saves the coffin from being burnt. Vardaman knows Darl set the barn on fire but lke a good brother he keeps it to himself and doesn’t tell anybody. The rest of the family suspects it is Darl and are going to deal with him after they bury Addie. Darl introspectively has an insight to his family’s secrets. He has discovered that Dewey Dell is pregnant and is going into town to get a treatment for an abortion; Jewel is not Anse’s son, and by that thought he taunts Jewel to no end.
He knows Anse is going to Jefferson for a new set of teeth even if he has to beg, steal or borrow. Anse takes money from Cash and Dewey Dell, and then he sells Jewel’s horse to pay for a new mule team to get them to Jefferson. When they do reach Jefferson Addie is passed due and ready for the ground. Anse borrows a couple spades in order to dig the grave and they lay her to rest. Betrayed by Dewey Dell and assaulted by Jewel, Darl is taken away to the asylum. Only Cash understands him; only Cash and Vardaman pity him.
Referring to himself in the third person, a sign of extreme self-estrangement, Darl says: “Darl is our brother, our brother Darl. Our brother Darl is in a cage in Jackson where, his grimed hands lying light in the quiet interstices, looking out he foams. ‘Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes’. ” To the end it is a search for kinship that obsesses Darl, and his cryptic row of affirmatives may signify a last, pathetic effort to proclaim his brotherhood. Howe The characters in As I Lay Dying do not clearly communicate to one another.
Each goes and does whatever they need to do for themselves with little regard for the other. Addie Bundren was a very private woman and would not have it any other way; I believe she passed that quality to her kids. Because, if they did talk to each other maybe there would be a better bond with all of them instead of guessing and tip toeing around the matter. In this tragic comedy book the irony is seeing what you hate inside multiply itself by 5. This is what Addie Bundren created.
Dewey Dell is in the same place her mom was only a little worse off because she is not married. Darl is goes mad and heads to an insane asylum. Vardaman is trying to piece everything together and still believes his mom is a fish. Jewel is kinder to his mother in death then he was when she was alive and I believe he regrets that. Cash has one good leg and still has his carpenter tools, he’ll make it through somehow. Anse cannot live without a wife so when gets his teeth in Jefferson he introduces the children to their new mother.