What would be a good essay topic for the novel As I Lay Dying?
There are several detailed essay topics already available on e-notes: here are a few more -
1) Analyse the positive and negative effects of using multiple narrators to tell the story.
2) What does each character gain from the journey to lay Addie to rest? Which character gains the most?
3) How would key events in the novel differ if told from one perspective? Review a chosen section and re-tell in the third person. Present a commentary on your writing, highlighting the effects of objectivity and subjectivity on the events selected.
4) How would Cash choose to represent the final events of the novel?
5) Do you consider Darl to be sane or insane? Chart his emotional development/demise through the novel and reflect on his own viewpoint as well as that of other characters.
6) Write a continuance of the novel showing the reaction of one of the children to the 'new' Mrs Bundren. Try to emulate Faulkner's style as well as keeping the content plausible.
Here are a few possibilities:
1) Compare each of the sibling's orientation to their mother's illness and eventual death. Tell in what ways their reactions are the same. In what ways are they different? Who is most dedicated to the mother? The least?
2) Some parts of the narrative are imagined. What character or characters were not present for certain events but spoke about them anyway? Why did the author add these visions? What purpose could they serve in the novel?How do they help us understand a particular character?
3) Some critics suggest that As I Lay Dying is a dark comedy. Indeed, there are numerous elements of humor in the book. Talk about the funny parts of this novel of life and death. In addition: one can almost look upon the whole work as one, long shaggy-dog story that ends with a joke.