Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Anse Bundren, an ignorant and poor white man. When his wife dies, he is determined to take her body to Jefferson, as he had promised, even though the town is forty miles away. In a rickety old wagon, he and his sons must get across a flooded river that has destroyed most of the nearby bridges. Ostensibly, the shiftless and unlucky man is burying his wife there because of the promise. After a long trip with her unembalmed corpse, now dead more than a week, he arrives in Jefferson, pursued by a flock of buzzards that, like a grim chorus, hang apparently motionless against a sultry Mississippi sky. On reaching Jefferson, his family learns Anse’s true reason for the trip: a set of false teeth and a “duck-shaped woman” whom he marries, to the surprise of his children.
Addie Bundren, Anse’s overworked wife. Though dying, she wants to see her coffin finished. Anse does not know it, but she has always thought him to be only a man of words, and words, she thinks, are useless. Feeling isolated from him and her children, she has always tried to break through the wall of isolation surrounding her, but despairing, she never finds any meaning in her grinding existence. To her, sexual relationship means only violation, whereas, to Anse, it means love. Before her death, she believes her father’s words to be true: “The reason for living was to get ready to stay dead a long time.”
Darl Bundren, Addie’s strange son, thought by his family to be feebleminded. Unlike the...
(The entire section is 650 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of As I Lay Dying Characters. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!