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

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William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying contains many elements of the grotesque, primarily involving Addie Bundren’s corpse. After Addie dies, her youngest son Vardaman is confused. Vardaman believes she needs air to breathe in the coffin, so he drills holes in the coffin lid. The drill accidentally carves holes...

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William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying contains many elements of the grotesque, primarily involving Addie Bundren’s corpse. After Addie dies, her youngest son Vardaman is confused. Vardaman believes she needs air to breathe in the coffin, so he drills holes in the coffin lid. The drill accidentally carves holes into her face. After the coffin’s holes are patched up, the Bundren family sets off on a long journey to transport Addie’s body for burial. The novel is set in Mississippi in July, and the body begins to decompose since it has not been embalmed. Onlookers comment on the repulsive smell as the Bundrens pass with the coffin aboard a wagon, and a flock of buzzards begins to follow the entourage.

When the Bundrens attempt to cross a flooded river, Addie’s coffin slips off the wagon and Cash breaks his leg. Anse, the patriarch of the Bundren family, is too cheap to take his son Cash to the doctor. Instead, he sets the leg with cement. Cash lies on top of the coffin for the rest of the journey, and the bones of his broken leg rub together as he is jostled over the country roads. The extreme heat causes the cement to burn Cash’s leg, so the family pours water on the cement to cool it. By the time Cash visits a doctor, his leg is beginning to exhibit symptoms of gangrene. When the family stops along the way to spend the night in a barn, Darl attempts to halt the horrible funeral procession by setting fire to his mother’s coffin. This act, which could be viewed as a sane response to the entire grotesque episode, is considered insane by the family. As a result, Darl is sent to a mental institution, while the family proceeds to town to bury Addie.

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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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