Last Updated on May 17, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 592
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 agrarian societies, the barns in the novel indicate the livelihood and sustenance of the society itself. Symbolic of continued perseverance and orderliness and more important even than homes to these farmers and share croppers, barns provide settings for two pivotal scenes in the novel. In the barn of the Bundrens’ neighbors, the Tulls, buzzards discover Addie’s body and begin to follow the wagon and funeral procession ominously. Later when the body is being stored in a barn belonging to a helpful stranger named Gillespie, who lives outside Jefferson, Darl Bundren tries to perform an act of sanity by burning down the barn to cleanse his mother’s body with fire. Instead, he fails and is sent to an asylum for the insane.
River. Unnamed stream that is more a creek than a river and that impedes the Bundrens’ progress when it becomes too swollen to cross. The river’s waters universally represent the water of cleansing, purification, birth, and baptism that a flood can provide through total destruction. Although the river is the most formidable obstacle that the Bundrens confront on their journey, it is the one that can, perhaps, provide the greatest chance of redemption: Nature itself rebels against the continued attempt of the family to outrage God by not burying the body at once. The family escapes the river just as it escapes the flames of the burning barn.
Drugstore. Pharmacy where Dewey Dell Bundren tries to buy an abortion “medicine” from a corrupt employee, who later seduces her as part of his treatment. Representative of the ability of science to correct moral faults, this pharmacy fails to provide any relief and serves only to worsen the predicaments of the members of the family.
Jefferson. Seat of Mississippi’s Yoknapatawpha County, in whose cemetery Addie is finally buried, after Anse borrows a shovel to dig her grave. This small southern town gives shelter and approval to the Bundren family for their actions by hypocritically ignoring the violation against nature that the delayed burial manifests. Thus, the town itself participates in the further corruption of the entire society.
Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 654
Farm Life in the South
Despite efforts to improve technology and farming methods, a farmer's life during the 1920s involved a constant struggle for survival. The farming life was restrictive and demanding on both men and women. In fact, farmers often lived on an income of little over one hundred dollars a year. Therefore, even families who owned their land relied almost exclusively on themselves to supply both farm labor and basic necessities. Some would hire additional help during harvesting season, yet this expense could prove burdensome as well.
One can see, then, that Darl and Jewel earning three dollars to haul wood was a good job, and the purchases of luxuries like false teeth and bananas were a big deal. In essence, a farm family's land, labor, livestock, and equipment were its only assets. To lose any of them could prove disastrous, a fact which underscores the impact of Darl's decision to burn Gillespie's barn.
According to many scholars of Southern culture, two belief systems provided many Southerners with pride and a sense of purpose: religious conviction and racism. Religion in this community was a potent emotional and psychological force, and a person's relationship with God provided one with a set of values, activities, and friends. Many critics contend that poor whites used religious beliefs as a means of coping with economic deprivation, social inferiority, and political weakness.
White supremacist beliefs also served these ends for some white citizens, providing poor white laborers with a sense of personal worth and group solidarity against a perceived menace. The economic conditions, religious beliefs, and racial views of white farmers became important factors in Southern politics in the early twentieth century.
Economics and Politics in the Rural South
On October 24, 1929, the day before Faulkner began writing As I Lay Dying, the American stock market crashed. This financial disaster ended a period of post-World War I economic expansion and marked the beginning of the Great Depression of the 1930s.
In the rural South, however, economic hardship had been a way of life for years, especially for poor farmers. Three factors, in particular, affected Mississippi cotton farmers. One, farmers operated under a lien system, whereby they pledged future crops to merchants in return for necessary supplies. Thus, they were in continuous debt. Second, a longstanding depression in the cotton market forced farmers to go further into debt until they could barely manage to sustain their farms or their families. Third, heavy rains and floods in the late 1920s nearly ruined production. These elements combined with outdated farming methods to make already difficult conditions even worse.
Such tensions were a staple element of Southern life in the early decades of the century. The exploitation of the working class generated populist movements that impacted Mississippi politics in the early 1900s. Sometimes termed "the revolt of the rednecks," these reforms ushered in a new breed of politician.
One of the most prominent of these men, James K. Vardaman, serves as a representative example (especially since Faulkner's family supported him and Faulkner named the youngest Bundren son after him). As Mississippi governor from 1904 to 1908 and a United States Senator from 1912 to 1918 Vardaman was a flamboyant orator and advocate of white laborers. Coming from a poor background, he called for greater regulation of corporations and supported such progressive causes as a graduated income tax, child labor laws, and women's suffrage.
One of his most potent appeals, however, was his strident racism. His views and manner earned him both the nickname "The White Chief" and a reputation as a demagogue who used racial hatred to further his own ambitions. By 1918, Vardaman had lost his once-formidable influence because he opposed American involvement in World War I. "Vardamanism," as his brand of politics was termed, had faded by the late 1920s, but populist loyalties still existed among farmers, as did the white supremacist ideals that provided poor whites with a false sense of superiority and power.
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As I Lay Dying takes place in the northern part of Mississippi in 1928. The Bundrens must travel forty miles to bury Addie in Jefferson, the primary town in Faulkner's fictional Yoknapatawpha County. The Bundrens live in a time of economic hardship for cotton farmers, who have had to suffer through a depressed cotton market and disastrously heavy rains. They also lack modern farming equipment, instead employing farm animals and their own labor.
The modern world exists in Jefferson, however, and the Bundrens often comment on the distinctions between country people and town people. The social environment of the time features a code of ethics that obligates farm families to house and feed travelers, although the Bundrens refuse such assistance. Faulkner also depicts a natural environment that is at best indifferent and at worst actively hostile, bringing floods, heat, and intrusive buzzards.
Point of View
As I Lay Dying consists of fifty-nine chapters narrated by fifteen different characters. Darl is the most frequent voice, narrating nineteen chapters; some characters, like Addie Bundren, Jewel Bun-dren, and various townspeople, narrate only one chapter. Many chapters appear to unfold as events take place, particularly those narrated by the Bundrens; others relate events that occurred in the past. At times, Faulkner extends beyond the realm of credible narration, such as when Darl narrates Addie' s death when he is not present and when the deceased Addie recollects her life.
Through these varying perspectives, the reader witnesses both the events that take place and the character's individual perceptions of them. Indeed, at times the reader can only discern events by comparing information from various narrators. The reader learns about the assumptions and peculiarities of the different narrators, as well as their social and religious environment. As a result, Faulkner constructs not only a rendition of events but also a series of interconnected psychological studies.
Stream of Consciousness
"Stream of consciousness" is a literary technique that reproduces the thought processes of certain characters. These thoughts appear as if they are immediate, unedited responses. Faulkner does not use this technique in all of his chapters, restricting it primarily to the Bundrens, especially Darl and Vardaman.
The stream-of-consciousness passages reveal character and allow for complicated philosophical questioning. They also imply a character's confusion or distress. A key example occurs when Addie' s coffin falls into the river and Vardaman reacts hysterically: "I ran down into the water to help and I couldn't stop hollering because Darl was strong and steady holding her under the water even if she did fight he would not let her go he was seeing me and he would hold her and it was all right now it was all right now it was all right."
Although Faulkner employs paragraph breaks and, in one paragraph, italics, he does not use punctuation until Vardaman speaks to Darl at the end of the chapter. This moment and others in the novel involve the reader in the sometimes perplexing but always engaging world of the characters.
One of the most obvious features of the novel is its humor. One might expect a bleak tone from a story featuring death, a burial procession, abortion, and familial hardship, but Faulkner defies expectation by utilizing comedy, albeit dark comedy.
Faulkner employs a variety of means to achieve this effect. The family journey to bury Addie is absurd in itself, and the dogged determination of the Bundrens often evokes a humorous reaction. Faulkner also uses the characters' perceptions and faults to generate humor, such as when Anse slithers out of his responsibility for Cash's broken leg: “‘It's a trial,' he says. 'But I don't begrudge her [Addie] it.'" Cash's own understatement can create humor, as well, whether it is his stoic refrain on his leg, "It don't bother me none," or his recollection of the distance he fell off of a roof: “‘Twenty-eight foot, four and half inches, about.' "
Perhaps the most glaring and outrageous comic moment is the ending. After all the family has endured and the losses they have suffered, the selfish, resilient Anse appears with a set of new teeth and a "duckshaped" woman as his new wife. Such episodes make the novel difficult to categorize and greatly enrich its texture and effects.
Critics often associate Faulkner with literary modernism, a movement that began before World War I and gained prominence during the 1920s. In fact, Faulkner was greatly influenced by two of the most celebrated modernists T. S. Eliot and James Joyce. Eliot's poem The Waste Land explored, in both form and content, the dehumanizing effects of industrialization. Joyce's landmark novel Ulysses featured the use of "stream of consciousness," which Faulkner employs in As I Lay Dying.
Modernist writers experimented with language and literary form and were concerned with the limits of expression. Most modernist authors depicted characters grappling with the loss of traditional beliefs after the destructiveness of World War I. These characters are alienated from their past and from others characters, and often suffer from an inability to communicate. Faulkner's interest in these practices and themes is obvious, especially in his experiments with narrative perspective, his focus on language and its failures, and his themes of alienation and the destruction of community, including families.
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Faulkner's narrative point of view in As I Lay Dying is a challenge to readers. The reader's entire sense of character comes from the fifteen character/narrators who relate fifty-nine interior monologues. According to Robert Humphrey, these monologues are internal meditations of the action and they represent psychic content and processes of character, partly or entirely unuttered, just as these processes exist at various levels of conscious control. Without an omniscient third-person perspective or a clear authorial view, these perspectives may be flawed. Cora, Vernon Tull's wife misreads Darl's and Jewel's affection for Addie; she thinks Jewel is indifferent to Addie and that Darl cares. Because Darl and Vardaman are responsible for 29 of the monologues, Darl's insanity and Vardaman's emotional distress over his mother's death force the reader to question their points of view. Since Darl is extremely jealous of Addie's affection for Jewel, the reader cannot trust Darl's judgment of his brother. Since Vardaman first believes that Doctor Peabody has murdered Addie, the reader must question Vardaman's view of the doctor. Without an omniscient narrator, the reader's perception of the characters are composed of what others think about them and of what these characters say, think, and do themselves. Rather than provide a clear and complete view of any character, Faulkner provides caricatured scraps of identity—reading characters' hands and eyes, making comparisons to animals, sometimes setting up mythic or biblical comparisons. For example, Jewel's eyes are wooden; Addie's eyes listen and touch; Anse's eyes are burned out cinders, while Darl's eyes drink up what they observe. Anse is a tall bird or owl while Dewey Dell is a cow. Darl's loss of Addie's birthright alludes to the biblical birthright story of Isaac, Jacob, and Esau.
Readers familiar with Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury might think that As I Lay Dying, with fifty-nine distinct narrations as opposed to the four that comprise The Sound and the Fury would be more difficult to read, but As I Lay Dying is easier to follow. This is because of Faulkner's organization of the interior monologues in As I Lay Dying, as well as the nature of these monologues themselves.
The action of As I Lay Dying is chronological, and about half the time it is narrated in present tense. The death of Addie begins the action, which proceeds over the ten days of the family's journey to Jefferson. Significant events provide foci to which interior monologues are attached like spokes to the hub of a wheel: the river crossing, the fire in the barn, and the arrival in Jefferson. Thus, chronology and place anchor the monologues in As I Lay Dying, while in The Sound and the Fury, particularly in Quentin's narration, both chronology and place are difficult to determine. Some monologues in As I Lay Dying are exceptions to this structural feature: Darl's narrative describing Addie's death scene even though Darl and Jewel are miles away or later, when Darl is still away, his narrative describing Cash's completion of Addie's coffin or Addie's own monologue which appears several days after her death. However, on the whole, chronology and place anchor the interior monologues.
Similar to the juxtaposition of scene shifts Faulkner uses in Benjy's and Quentin's narratives in The Sound and the Fury for emotional or thematic development, so too does he use juxtaposition in As I Lay Dying. Surrounding Addie's monologue are one by Cora Tull and another by Reverend Whitfield, both religious hypocrites. Addie's deep honesty about her life makes the fundamental dishonesty of Cora and Whitfield plainer, while their hypocrisy emphasizes Addie's honesty.
Interior monologues, either in Joyce's Ulysses or Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, mimic what writers thought to be the irrational associations characteristic of preconscious thought, but many of the interior monologues of As I Lay Dying are more rational in their appearance. Frequently these interior monologues seem like conscious and rational dramatic monologues, so that the novel resembles such lyrical works as the monologues of Robert Browning or the assembled monologues in Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology, and the short stories of Sherwood Anderson in Winesburg, Ohio. The monologues of neighbors and people met in or along the journey to Jefferson generally have the appearance of dramatic monologues, while the monologues of the Bundrens—particularly those of Darl, Vardaman, Dewey Dell, and Jewel—share the features of the interior monologue.
One might wonder how Faulkner employs the epic features of As I Lay Dying considering that he uses the interior monologues of his rural folk to convey the action in the novel. One of the ways Faulkner evokes the epic tradition is through Darl, the most frequent narrator. Darl is a farmer's son, and he has a vocabulary and range of cultural associations far beyond what might be credible for his character. But even with characters of more blunted intellects, Faulkner manages to include symbolic and mythic overlays within his novel's action. Thus, crossing the flooded river seems like crossing a river in Hades, and Jewel's rescue of the stock and Addie's corpse from the burning barn is similar to the great deeds of a mythic hero. When Gillespie and Jewel struggle over Jewel's return to the burning barn, they are depicted as sculpted heroes: "two figures in a Greek frieze." Addie's coffin looks unbelievably large, like an epic god or demon, when it stands upright "while the sparks rain on it in scattering bursts as though they engendered other sparks from the contact." Even the title, As I Lay Dying, is a statement from Agamemon to Odysseus in Book XI of the Odyssey: "As I lay dying the woman with the dog's eyes would not close my eyes for me as I descended into Hades."
Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 251
1920s: The Democratic party dominates Southern politics. Women are granted voting rights in 1920, but African Americans are disenfranchised and discouraged from participating in the democratic process.
Today: Since the 1960s, the Republican party has gained power and influence in the South. African American citizens are more politically active, usually providing support for the Democratic party.
1920s: Cotton is the dominant crop in Mississippi. Outdated farming methods, a lack of technology, the lien system, and a depressed cotton market keep most small farmers in debt.
Today: Cotton is still a major crop in the South, but it is no longer the dominant source of agricultural income. Production is dependent on technology and corporate ownership. Industrial employment now exceeds agricultural employment in the state.
1920s: African Americans are the majority population in Mississippi, followed by whites, Native Americans (primarily Choctaw), and Chinese immigrants who lived in the Delta region.
Today: Because of migrations out of state after 1940, African Americans comprise about a third of the population with whites in the majority. Native American and Asian-American residents still remain in minority status.
1920s: Laws prohibiting abortion exist in most states since the late 1800s. Drugs that supposedly induced abortion had been on the market since the mid-nineteenth century. Abortion is considered a medical, moral, and religious issue.
Today: With its 1973 decision in the Roe v. Wade case, the Supreme Court legalized abortion during the first six months of pregnancy. Age restrictions apply in many areas. Abortion is considered a medical, moral, and religious issue.
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Like Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology (1915) or Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio (1919), both of which portray communities through individual speakers and stories, Faulkner also uses interior monologues in As I Lay Dying. Faulkner admired Anderson's work in Winesburg, Ohio, and had spent time with Anderson in New Orleans a few years prior to the publication of As I Lay Dying, and for a time, both Faulkner and Masters were published by Boni and Liveright.
Faulkner's own The Sound and the Fury is a more immediate literary precedent to As I Lay Dying, however. Just as the Bundrens deal with a dying or absent Addie, so must the Compsons in The Sound and the Fury deal with the effects of Caddy Compson. Despite his background, Darl is similar to Quentin Compson as a narrator. The structures of the two novels are also similar in structure to Faulkner's use of interior monologues, but As I Lay Dying is much simpler than The Sound and the Fury. As stated earlier the interior monologues in As I Lay Dying are closer to consciousness and many resemble dramatic monologues more than they do interior monologues. While juxtaposition occurs between the monologues of As I Lay Dying, much more occurs in The Sound and the Fury where Benjy's and Quentin's narratives alone contain over 300 juxtaposed scenes.
Joyce's Ulysses is frequently seen as a precursor of The Sound and the Fury in its use of interior monologues, while his A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a closer analogue to As I Lay Dying. Joyce's project and Faulkner's novel are different, since in the former Joyce presents a portrait of Stephen Dedalus, while in the latter Faulkner presents a portrait of the entire Bundren family, but the level of consciousness of the two books is similar.
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So far most of the adaptations of Faulkner's As I Lay Dying have been on the stage. The first was produced in Paris in June, 1935; it was adapted by the French actor, Charles Dullin, as a pantomime under the title Autour d'une mere. Dullin was interested in finding body-movement parallels to Faulkner's "drama in its primitive state." In 1956 John McGiffert adapted the novel for CBS. In the production, which was broadcast on October 7, Mildred Dunnock was the most famous person in the cast. In 1964 "Journey to Jefferson," which was adapted from Faulkner's novel for the stage by another novelist, Robert Flynn, won an award in Paris, and it has been revived several times, usually on college or university stages. A folk opera of As I Lay Dying was successfully performed both at the University of Mississippi, the seat of Faulkner's home and the annual Faulkner conference, and at New Albany, Mississippi, by a group of musicians headed by Nashville's Tommy Goldsmith in 1992 and 1993. Since that time, the Faulkner estate has refused to allow further development of the operatic form.
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Initially As I Lay Dying was adapted for the stage by Jean-Louis Barrault. The 1935 production was performed in Paris and featured extensive pantomime, surrealistic settings and costumes, and only Addie's monologues.
Peter Gill adapted the novel for a 1985 production at London's National Theatre. Gill also directed the play, employing sparse staging and effects.
Frank Galati adapted and directed the work for Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company in 1995. Galati previously had adapted John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath.
The Threshold Theatre Company of Kingston, Ontario performed the work in Toronto in August, 1995. Mark Cassidy adapted and directed the play. The company performed the play outside, and the audience walked with the actors on their funeral journey.
Edward Kemp adapted the play in 1998 for London' s Young Vic theatre company. The play was directed by Tim Supple.
Last Updated on May 17, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 243
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 Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying”: A Critical Casebook. New York: Garland, 1985. Contains a dozen essays examining such topics as the novel’s chronology, language, and narrative design. Interesting individual chapters focus on the novel’s debt to the Cubist movement and to the works of T. S. Eliot. Extensive annotated checklist of criticism.
Vickery, Olga W. The Novels of William Faulkner. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959. A classic treatment of the Faulkner canon, still relevant despite years of subsequent scholarship. Asserts that the heart of As I Lay Dying is not the fulfillment of the burial promise but rather Addie herself and her effect on the Bundren family.
Volpe, Edmond L. A Reader’s Guide to William Faulkner. New York: Noonday Press, 1964. An excellent beginner’s source for discussion of Faulkner’s works. Analyzes structure, themes, and characters and includes a useful appendix that clarifies the often-confusing chronologies and scene shifts of Faulkner’s complex novels.
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André Bleikasten, Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, translated by Roger Little, Indiana University Press, 1973, pp. 7, 73.
Cleanth Brooks, William Faulkner: The Yoknapatawpha Country, Yale University Press, 1963.
Malcolm Cowley, "Introduction to The Portable Faulkner," in Faulkner: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Robert Penn Warren Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966, p. 36.
Malcolm Cowley, The Faulkner-Cowley File: Letters and Memories, 1944-1962. New York: Penguin Books, 1978.
William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying, New York: Vintage Books, 1964.
Irving Howe, "As I Lay Dying," in William Faulkner: A Critical Study, The University of Chicago Press, 1951, 1975, p. 189.
Myra Jehlen, Class and Character in Faulkner’s South. New York: Columbia University Press, 1976.
Stephen B. Oates, William Faulkner: The Man and the Artist. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1987.
Olga Vickery, The Novels of William Faulkner: A Critical Interpretation, Louisiana State University Press, 1959.
Warwick Wadlington, As I Lay Dying: Stories out of Stories, Twayne Publishers, 1992.
Hyatt H. Waggoner, William Faulkner: From Jefferson to the World. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1966.
Floyd C. Watkins, "As I Lay Dying: The Dignity of Earth," in In Time and Place: Some Origins of American Fiction, The University of Georgia Press, p. 180.
For Further Study
Carvel Collins, "The Pairing of The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying," Princeton University Library Chronicle, Vol. 18, 1957, pp. 114-23.
Carvel's influential early study details myth patterns in the book, particularly Greek myth.
Dianne L. Cox, editor, William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying: A Critical Casebook, Garland Publishing, Inc., 1985.
This important collection includes many valuable essays examining such topics as Faulkner's narrative design, language, characterization, and major themes.
Philip Hanson, "Rewriting Poor White Myth in As I Lay Dying," Arkansas Quarterly, Vol. 2, No. 4, 1993, pp. 308-24.
Employing the economic, cultural, and political environment of the Bundrens, Hanson explores Faulkner's treatment of beast imagery in relation to poor white Southerners.
Elizabeth Hayes, "Tension Between Darl and Jewel," Southern Literary Journal, Vol. 24, No. 2, Spring, 1992, pp. 49-61.
Hayes analyzes the centrality of Darl and Jewel's relationship to the novel. In contrast to many critics, she denies that Darl hates Jewel, contending that he sees Jewel as a means to verifying his own identity.
Robert Hemenway, "Enigmas of Being in As I Lay Dying," Modern Fiction Studies, Vol. 19, Summer, 1970, pp. 133-46.
Hemenway analyzes Darl's most important philosophical monologues and conversations.
Lynn Gartrell Levins, Faulkner's Heroic Design: The Yoknapatawpha Novels, University of Georgia Press, 1976.
In her study of the novel, Levins finds similarities in the Bundrens' trip and epic and Christian journeys.
Robert Merrill, "Faulknerian Tragedy: The Example of As I Lay Dying," Mississippi Quarterly, Vol. 47, No. 3, Summer, 1994, pp. 403-18.
Merrill contends that Faulkner blends comedy and tragedy in the novel, but that tragedy ultimately prevails.
Michael Millgate, The Achievement of William Faulkner, Random House, 1966.
Millgate provide a general introduction to Faulkner's novel.
Stephen M. Ross, Fiction's Inexhaustible Voice: Speech and Writing in Faulkner, University of Georgia Press, 1989.
Ross examines Faulkner's narrative techniques.
Patricia R. Schroeder, "The Comic World of As I Lay Dying," in Faulkner and Humor, edited by Doreen Fowler and Ann J. Abadie, University Press of Mississippi, 1986, pp. 34-46.
Schroeder surveys the variety of humor in the novel as well as Faulkner's overall comic vision.
John K. Simon, "What Are You Laughing At, Darl?: Madness and Humor in As I Lay Dying," College English, Vol. 25, November, 1963, pp. 104-11.
In his respected study of Darl, Simon closely analyzes the character's madness and final speech.
Hyatt Waggoner, William Faulkner: From Jefferson to the World, University of Kentucky Press, 1959.
Waggoner offers a Christian interpretation of the text, examining many of its elements from this perspective.