In this 1930 classic book, As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner, the story is told as a stream of consciousness by the characters, who are family and friends of Addie Brunden. Addie’s family is attempting to return her body to Jefferson where she was born, but the bridge is out and they have no food or money for the trip. This leads to a series of unfortunate mishaps, arson, rape and eventually a new beginning for the family.
Addie’s husband, Anse, is portrayed as a lazy man that has relied on others to take care of him and who first asked Addie to marry him because he could not take care of himself. And she who accepted because she thought no one else would have her.
Five Children and Growing Pains
The woman’s five children, Cash, Darl, Jewel, Dewey Dell, the only daughter, and Vardaman, each with their own brand of pain, caused by growing up in a household with a cold father and cheating mother, now have to do more than any child should ever be asked to do. Cash, being a skilled carpenter, works on his mother’s coffin for days, right outside her window so she can hear it being made and therefore won’t worry.
Faulkner’s tale pulls the reader into the story so that they may feel the mud on the side of the rivers edge and smell the rot of the decaying body, as this poor family attempts to return their mother to her hometown for burial. It reaches down into the darkest part of the human mind and attempts to give the reader an understanding of why people do the things they do and how they close their mind to it afterwards. How people can do cruel things to the ones that they love the deepest when they can no longer hold back their selfish desires and the same people can risk their own lives to show their love and pain.
This book was eventually made into a movie, known as “Camera Three.”