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On what parts of the novel "As I Lay Dying" can we can find elements of grotesque?

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lizbethlongoria | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 9, 2008 at 4:00 AM via web

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On what parts of the novel "As I Lay Dying" can we can find elements of grotesque?

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cybil | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted April 9, 2008 at 6:39 AM (Answer #1)

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Grotesque refers to abnormal or macabre characters or incidents presented in a mix of comedy and pathos or horror creating something like a "sick joke." As I Lay Dying is full of the grotesque. One example is Anse's decision to set Cash's broken with cement because Anse is too cheap to pay for a doctor to set it properly. Doc Peabody says Cash will likely limp for the rest of his life; Cash never once complains. Darl's belief that God is talking to him, telling him to give Addie a "clean" death when Darl hears the bubbling sounds from Addie's decaying corpse is another example. Of course, one of the most grotesque aspects of the novel is that unembalmed corpse. The family travels for over a week in hot weather with an increasingly nasty-smelling coffin, nauseating everyone they meet. Poor Vardaman confuses his mother with a fish partly because no one explains his mother's death to him. Anse's only comment when his wife dies is "Now I can git them teeth," his ulterior motive for upholding his promise to Addie. As soon as Addie is buried, Anse wastes no time either bringing in the "new Mrs. Bundren," not bothering to mourn the loss of the mother of his children. This Faulkner novel demonstrates some fine examples of the grotesque. We are both appalled and amused by the dark humor.

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