Notes on As I Lay Dying Themes

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As I Lay Dying Topic Tracking: Family Devotion

Family Devotion 1: The novel begins as Addie Bundren's sons work for her dying wishes. Her eldest son, Cash, is perpetually working on her coffin, sawing outside for everyone to see. All of their actions seem to be with Addie's desires in mind.

Family Devotion 2: Anse does not want to upset his dying wife and plans to honor her dying wishes in any way possible. Jewel and Darl do leave on a job, but plan to return the following evening so that they can be with their mother before she passes away.

Family Devotion 3: Anse is bitter and frustrated over his wife's current ill condition and is concerned over his sons' actions in terms of their mother. He blames the roads for Addie's illness. He knows that they are difficult boys, but praises Addie simultaneously for doing the best job she could in raising them.

Family Devotion 4: The Bundren family says their final goodbyes to their beloved mother. Addie cries out for Jewel, only to discover that her so-called devoted son is not present. Cash comes to her bedside and Dewey Dell drapes her body over her dying mother to show the love and necessity she feels for her.

Family Devotion 5: The family works hard in order to set up everything perfectly for their mother's final wish. Cash has made a personalized coffin that Addie can lie in properly in her wedding dress, and prepares the wagon especially for the journey.

Family Devotion 6: Anse explains his promise to Addie to his host, Samson. Most outsiders do not understand the Bundren persistence in traveling to Jefferson in such terrible weather. Anse, however, cares nothing about others' opinions and vows to honor his late wife's last wish despite all obstacles.

Family Devotion 7: Dewey Dell is confused about her feelings towards the men in her family. She wishes that she could have more time with her mother, but understands that she cannot because her mother has passed away. Despite her uneasy feelings, she remains a part of the Bundren family and does not care to desert them.

Family Devotion 8: When Addie's body and coffin fall out of the wagon and into the river, Jewel jumps in to find her. Vardaman screams after him to find his beloved mother. Addie's sons stop at nothing to save her corpse and continue onward to honor her last wishes.

Family Devotion 9: Addie's idea of family devotion seems different than her children's. While they love her and journey far to honor her dying wishes, she has difficulty appreciating their life. She is unhappy after giving birth and has more children to make up for past mistakes.

Family Devotion 10: Jewel rushes into a burning barn in order to save his beloved mother's corpse from incineration. He risks his life so that Addie can have her last wish, even in death. This heroic feat results in deep burns on his back.

Family Devotion 11: As soon as Anse honors Addie's final wish, he loses his devotion to the former wife and finds a new one. In less than a fortnight, the family he has known from the past is changed without hesitation.

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