Places Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Places)
Bundren house. Home of Addie and Anse Bundren, located in Yoknapatawpha County on a ridge far removed from a secondary gravel road and nearly inaccessible. The house is a fortress of “white-trash” values, tension, and ignorance. There, Anse and Addie have reared five children, all of whom characterize some aspect of the Old South in its demise. The family members occupy the house in disharmony, at odds not only with one another but with the universe itself. Nevertheless, they are representative members and products of their society, who manifest the stench of the South’s decay. Addie dies in the house in the opening chapter, and the family’s struggle to dispose of her body drives the rest of the narrative.
Road. Unnamed and little-traveled road leading to New Hope Baptist Church and Varner’s Store that provides the main backdrop of the novel’s setting during the Bundrens’ six-day journey conveying Addie’s body forty miles to Jefferson. Taking the form of a mock epic, the funeral journey occurs mostly on a backwoods route that is beset by a dangerous flood and a fire. Though remote and isolated, the road contains much to mimic and intimates the cosmic setup of the universe as the Bundren family attempts to get Addie’s decomposing body to town so they can bury her in the cemetery she chose before she died.
Barns. Like most barns in totally...
(The entire section is 592 words.)
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Unit 1 Questions and Answers
1. Why are Cora and Vernon Tull, Kate, and Eula at the Bundren house?
2. What reason does Anse give for not working?
3. How do we know Cora Tull is not a reliable narrator?
4. How does Dewey Dell explain why she got pregnant?
5. What reason does Tull give for people continuing to help Anse out?
6. Who is Anse’s main concern?
7. Why is Peabody upset at being called to the Bundren’s farm?
8. Why didn’t Anse send for Peabody sooner?
9. What is the function of the italicized sections in Darl’s narratives?
10. What are Anse’s and Dewey Dell’s actual motives for getting to...
(The entire section is 418 words.)
Unit 2 Questions and Answers
1. How does Peabody’s team of horses get chased away from the Bundren farm?
2. How did Lafe respond when Dewey Dell told him she was pregnant?
3. How do Cora and Vernon Tull discover that Addie has died?
4. Before boring the holes in the coffin, how else does Vardaman attempt to provide his dead mother with air?
5. Why does Armstid suggest Anse bury Addie in New Hope?
6. Why does Cash walk with a limp?
7. According to Cora, what reward has Addie finally received?
8. Why does Cash take his tools with him on the trip to Jefferson?
9. What other indication does Darl give that he knows Dewey Dell is...
(The entire section is 336 words.)
Unit 3 Questions and Answers
1. Why won’t the Bundrens accept food or decent shelter from Samson?
2. What does Samson consider to be the way to show respect to Addie?
3. What does the buzzard in the barn remind Samson of?
4. Who decides that they will cross the river?
5. Why didn’t they get a doctor for Jewel when they thought he was sick years ago?
6. Why did Cash hope that Jewel was not having an affair with a married woman?
7. Who followed Jewel to find out where he was spending all of his time?
8. Why was Tull so intent on getting Cash out of the river?
9. What happens to the Bundren’s team of mules?
(The entire section is 319 words.)
Unit 4 Questions and Answers
1. What does Cora believe was the relationship between Addie and Reverend Whitfield?
2. Where does Addie go when school lets out?
3. How does Addie feel about her father?
4. Are we sure Addie’s kin are dead?
5. Who does Whitfield credit for Addie’s not confessing about their affair?
6. What kind of doctoring does Uncle Billy usually practice?
7. Why doesn’t Vardaman come in to dinner at Armstid’s house?
8. What does Moseley suggest Dewey Dell use the ten dollars for?
9. How many days has Addie been dead by the time the family arrives in Mottson?
10. What is Cash’s reaction to...
(The entire section is 301 words.)
Unit 5 Questions and Answers
1. Who tries to stop Jewel from returning to the burning barn to save Addie?
2. What is Peabody’s reaction when he sees Cash’s leg in the cement cast?
3. What reactions does the wagon get as it approaches the town of Jefferson?
4. When Anse criticizes Darl’s suggestion that they go to the hardware store to buy spades with which to dig Addie’s grave, what does Darl reply?
5. What does Jewel suggest they do with Darl before the authorities come to get him?
6. How many days has it been between Addie’s death and her burial?
7. Why was Cash surprised that Dewey Dell turned Darl in to the authorities?
(The entire section is 562 words.)
Ideas for Group Discussions
Compare and Contrast
Topics for Further Study
What Do I Read Next?
Bibliography (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Bleikasten, André. Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying.” Translated by Roger Little. Rev. ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1973. The only book-length study of Faulkner’s novel. Lucid and comprehensive; an excellent starting point for serious study. Discusses Faulkner’s manuscript and typescript and includes two facsimile pages.
Blotner, Joseph. Faulkner: A Biography. 2 vols. New York: Random House, 1974. An enormously detailed work. Begins with discussion of Faulkner’s ancestors and traces the writer’s development from precocious poet to preeminent novelist.
Cox, Dianne L., ed. William...
(The entire section is 243 words.)