Tag Archives: william faulkner

“In a strange room you must empty yourself for sleep. And before you are  emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are emptied for sleep, you are not. And when you are filled with sleep, you never were. I don’t know what I am. I don’t know if I am or not” (27).


notes: vagueness, ‘unsaid’, internal turmoil/conflict, different ways of dealing with death and loss, escapism in regards to sleep and dreams


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

Multiple POVs of the Same Event in As I Lay Dying

[Darl] “Jewel stops at the spring and takes the gourd from the willow branch and drinks. I pass him and mount the path, beginning to hear Cash’s saw” (Faulkner 4).

[Cora] “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… ‘She’s just watching Cash yonder,’ the girl says. We can hear the saw in the board” (Faulkner  8-9).

[Darl] “Jewel strikes [the horse] across the face with his fist and slides on to the trough and mounts upon it. Clinging t the hay-rack he lowers his head and peers out across the stall tops and through the doorway. The path is empty; from here he cannot even hear Cash sawing” (Faulkner 13).

[Jewel] “It’s because [Cash] stays out there, right under the window, hammering and sawing on that goddamn box… Sawing and knocking, and keeping the air always moving so fast on her face that when you’re tired you can’t breathe it, and that goddamn adze going One lick less. One lick less. One lick less…” (Faulkner 15).

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. New York, NY: Modern Library, 2000. Print.

Notes: Different points of view of the same event, multiple narrations, different characters, similar to Mrs. Dalloway where one major event is seen and interpreted by many different characters, stream of consciousness.



“”But my mother is a fish.” ‘”Jewel’s mother is a horse,’ Darl said.” “Because if I had one, it is was. And if it is was, it can’t be is.” “Are is too many for one woman to foal.” Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. New York: Vintage International, 1990. Print. (101)
‘”Jewel,” ma said, looking at him. “I’ll give- I’ll give-give-” Then she began to cry. (135)

I’m still trying to figure this out. Vardaman is trying to understand his mother’s death and equates it to the fish he had caught and cleaned, death, blood. He cannot eat the cooked fish. Jewel’s mother covers for him when he works nights to earn money to buy himself a horse ~ his possession, his freedom, distance from his father. Darl ponders is, are, was. What IS your ma? She no longer is ~ she was.
So far their have not been many glimpses of the mother alive so the story about how she covers for Jewel is remarkable. I found her words “I give” to be especially sad and an excellent description of her role as mother to this poor family.


“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.”