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As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner - Review by Pranathi, Teen Blogger

“I knew that fear was invented by someone who never had the fear; pride, who had never had the pride; [motherhood by one who was never a mother and love by one who never loved]” –Addie Bundren (pg. 152).

Fear, pride, motherhood and love were all just empty words to Addie Bundren, just shapes to fill empty spaces. What may have seemed real at first, such as the affection she felt for her husband Hans, had disappeared. To Addie Bundren nothing was right, nobody was pure, and most words were lies. She believed her family had taken her away from her home and that most of her children showed no care for her. With these poisonous thoughts in her mind, she decided her family deserved the worst punishment. William Faulkner, through this novel, tells the story of a woman who lived a bitter life: a life of hate and a life or paranoia which drove her mad.    

As I Lay Dying is a dark, yet quirky classic novel written by William Faulkner. It follows the journey of a poor countryside family who have set out to bury their dead mother/wife in her native lands. That was Addie Bundren’s dying wish: to be buried in her native lands. This journey would take the family just a little over a week with many disasters along the way. In this novel Faulkner captures the difficulties, both religious and social, of the countryside folk in the early 1900’s.

What I found most interesting in this novel was how peculiar this family was. There were many times in the book where I had concluded that this family must be delusional. They just had to be. “My mother is a fish”, the youngest child (Vardaman) would say (pg. 72). He would keep comparing the death of a fish he had caught to the death of his mother and had concluded that his mother was the fish to cope with her death. Earlier in the book, before Addie Bundren took her final breath, her eldest son, Cash, was building a coffin for her. Although this may seem like a normal thing to do because they were poor country folk, what caught my eye was that he was building her coffin right in front of her, upon her request. One would think they just had to be delusional after that.

All in all, As I Lay Dying is a great classic novel to kick back with to try and get a sense of life before most things modernized. It captures the difficulties of the poor and the differences between the social classes of the town folk and the country folk with great accuracy. This novel happened to be a greater read than I had expected it to be and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a well written classic novel.


Teen Blogger

[Editor's Note: This book can be found in the Library's Adult Fiction collection.]


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