Tag Archives: Faulkner

The Forgotten Jewel

“I said if you’d just let her alone. Sawing and knocking, and keeping the air always moving so fast on her face that when you’re tired you cant breathe it, and that goddamn adze going One lick less. One lick less. One lick less until everybody that passes in the road will have to stop and see it and say what a fine carpenter he is. If it had just been me when Cash fell off that church and if it had just been me when pa laid sick with that load of wood fell on him, it would not be happening with every bastard in the country coming in to stare at her because if there is a God what the hell is He for. It would just be me and her on a high hill and me rolling the rocks down the hill at their faces picking them up and throwing them down the hill faces and teeth and all by God until she was quiet and not that goddamn adze going One lick less. One lick less and we could be quiet.”

William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying, The Modern Library Editions, 2000

Notes: Jewel cares about Addie as she is now, not only concerned with her death. Everyone seems to be preoccupied with their own duties (Cash making the coffin) that they are neglecting Addie. Jewel seems a bit isolated from everyone else,  he wants to be alone with his mother. Sign of desire for maternal love?

Modernist style


“I made it on the bevel.
1. There is more surface for the nails to grip.
2. There is twice the gripping-surface to each seam.
3. The water will have to seep into it on a slant. Water moves easiest up and down or straight across.
4. In a house people are upright two thirds of the time. So the seams and joints are made up-and-down. Because the stress is up-and-down.
5. In a bed where people lie down all the time, the joints and seams are made sideways, because the stress is sideways.
6. Except.
7. A body is not square like a crosstie.
8. Animal magnetism.
9. The animal magnetism of a dead body makes the stress come slanting, so the seams and joints of a coffin are made on the bevel.
10. You can see by an old grave that the earth sinks down on the bevel.
11. While in a natural hole it sinks by the center, the stress being up-and-down.
12. So I made it on the bevel.
13. It makes a neater job.” (82-83)

William Faulkner, As I lay dying, The Modern Library Editions, 2000

Notes : Chapter that displays Cash’s obsession with the coffin. It  reflects the character’s personality and  inner thoughts.  Faulkner is modern is his style and  use of different forms, such as this listing. Chapters as multiple perspectives. Use of repetitions still distinctive in this novel, as a way to express the characters’ inner obsessions.

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.


Formal elements in narration

“It’s because he stays out there, right under the window, hammering and sawing on that goddamn box. Where every breath she draws is full of his knocking and sawing where she can see him saying See. See what a good one I am making for you. I told him to go somewhere else. I said Good God do you want to see her in it. It’s like when he was a little boy and she says if she had some fertilizer she would try to raise some flowers and he taken the bread pan and brought it back from the barn full of dung.” (14)

Nots: repetition within repetition, how the omission of quotation marks forges connections between characters

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.

Peabody’s notions about death

I can remember how when I was young I believed death to be a phenomenon of the body; now I know it to be merely a function of the mind – and that of the minds of the ones who suffer the bereavement. The nihilists say it is the end; the fundamentalists, the beginning; when in reality it is no more than a single tenant or family moving out of a tenement or a town.

William Faulkner, “As I Lay Dying,” in As I Lay Dying (New York: Vintage Books, 1930), 43-44.

Notes: It’s really interesting for a doctor to take such a stance on death. He completely discredits it in any medical sense. I think there’s some slight foreshadowing here, since the Bundren family does uproot for Addie’s burial.