As I Lay Dying is Faulkner’s fifth novel published in 1930. Most of the 59 chapters are short and are narrated by 15 different characters in a stream of consciousness writing technique. He wrote it in six weeks and didn’t change a word of it. It’s considered one of the best novels of 20th-century literature.
Addie, the mother in a poor family, requested that when she dies, she wants to be buried in her hometown of Jefferson, Mississippi, a trek in a wagon pulled by mules. Her husband and five adult children try to honor her wishes but run into several difficulties. Previously I was not a fan of Faulkner’s style, but after reading Intruder in the Dust, I was hooked. I couldn’t stop reading As I Lay Dying although I had many projects to do, I had to find out what would happen next.
In the chapter from Addie’s point of view in a flashback, she says her father used to say that “the reason for living was to get ready to stay dead a long time.” Readers learn about her unhappiness with her life. She’s tired of taking care of the family. She regrets choosing Anse for her husband.
Faulkner created a memorable family. I recommend taking time to meet them.