Study Guide

As I Lay Dying Themes

This Study Guide consists of approximately 67 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of As I Lay Dying.
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Faulkner's use of multiple narrators underscores one of his primary themes: every character is essentially isolated from the others. Moreover, the characters in the novel do not communicate effectively with one another. Although the reader is privy to the characters' thoughts and emotional responses, none of the characters adequately express their dilemmas or desires to others. Outside of Darl, who knows Addie's and Dewey Dell's secrets through intuition, the characters can only guess at the motivations, beliefs, and feelings of others. When these guesses turn out to be wrong, misunderstandings ensue.

As a result of their communication problems, members of the Bundren family live alienated from each other - whether willfully (like Addie or Jewel), unknowingly (like Anse, Cash, Dewey Dell, or Vardaman), or painfully (like Darl). This alienation extends to neighbors, who misinterpret or simply cannot fathom the family's actions.

The more sensitive characters, especially...

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This section contains 1,131 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the As I Lay Dying Study Guide
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As I Lay Dying from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.