Tag Archives: as i lay dying

Repetition Strikes Again

“And so it was because I could not help it. It was then, and then I saw Darl and he knew. He said he knew without the words like he told me that ma is going to die without words, and I knew he knew because if he has said he knew with the words I would not have believed that he had been there and saw us. But he said he did know and I said ‘Are you going to tell pa are you going to kill him?’ without the words I said it and he said ‘Why?’ without  the words, And that’s why I can talk to him with knowing with hating because he knows” (27).

Faulkner , William . As I Lay Dying. Random House Inc., print.

Notes: Repetition seems to be a real trend, but here it seems  to reflect the repetition in everyday speech and less so for irony’s sake. Although colloquial, the way each character talks is continued even when not in dialogue form and furthermore, it is interesting to see it used so because the novel is written in first person.


The Secret Shade

“We picked on down the row, the woods getting closer and closer and the secret shade, picking on into the secret shade with my sack and Lafe’s sack. Because I said will I or wont I when the sack was half full because I said if the sack is full when we got to the woods it wont be me. I said if it dont mean for me to do it the sack will not be full and I will turn up the next row but if the sack is full, I cannot help it. And we picked on toward the secret shade and our eyes would drown together touching on his hands and my hands and I didn’t say anything” (Faulkner 27).

Notes: Within the passage there are a plethora of repeated words. The phrase “picked on” appears again in the same sentence but in a different tense and becomes, “picking on.” “Secret shade” also appears thrice in the passage. Words like woods, closer, sack, and full are also repeated. Aside from reinforcing the setting and the actions, the repeated words and phrases force the reader to pay closer attention to the paragraph. Also, the character’s personality and thought process is further highlighted by the fact that there isn’t much of a variation in the words used.

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text. New York: Vintage, 1990.


“And I did not think that Darl would, that sits at the supper table with his eyes gone further than the food and the lamp, full of the land dug out of his skull and the holes filled with distance beyond the land” (26-27).

“And that’s why I can talk to him with knowing with hating because he knows” (27).

comparison: “She hated her: She loved her” (Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway)

“It’s like everything in the world for me is inside a tub full of guts, so that you wonder how there can be any room in it for anything else very important” (58).

“He is his guts and I am my guts. And I am Lafe’s guts” (60).

“Go on, now, before that old green-eating tub of guts eats everything up from you” (63).

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. Vintage Books: New York. 1990.

As Addie Lay Dying…

“The quilt is drawn up to her chin, hot as it is, with only her two hands and her face outside. She is propped on the pillow, with her head raised so she can see out the window, and we can hear him every time he takes up the adze or the saw. If we were deaf we could almost watch her face and hear him, see him. Her face is wasted away so that the bones draw just under the skin in white lines. Her eyes are like two candles when you watch them gutter down into the sockets of iron candlesticks.  But the eternal and the everlasting salvation and grace is not upon her…Under the quilt she makes no more of a hump than a rail would, and the only way you can tell she is breathing is by the sound of the mattress shucks. Even the hair at her cheek does not move, even with that girl standing right over her, fanning her with the fan” (6-7).


Faulkner, W. (2012). As i lay dying. (pp. 6-7). New York: The Modern Library.


Notes: The reader can really sense death here, especially with the description of Addie’s eyes being “like two candlesticks.”  Through the description of Addie, the reader can see that she is not far from dying and that she is “wasting away.”