Lie Down in Darkness Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 37 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Lie Down in Darkness.
This section contains 458 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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Lie Down in Darkness Summary & Study Guide Description

Lie Down in Darkness Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Literary Precedents and a Free Quiz on Lie Down in Darkness by William Styron.

William Styron's LIE DOWN IN DARKNESS tells he story of the Loftis family. Milton Loftis lives in the fictional city of Port Warwick, Virginia with his wife Helen and their daughters, Maude and Peyton. The narrative revolves around Helen and Milton's actual and metaphysical journey to bury Peyton from the time her body arrives at the train station in Port Warwick until they reach the funeral home for Peyton's burial. The story of the Loftises ends as desperately as it begins. The narrative proper, however, ends on a flashy note of hope mixed with bittersweet resignation. That being said, LIE DOWN IN DARKNESS also addresses relationships between blacks and whites in the South during the time period. Specifically, the author's commentary focuses on the interactions between Milton, Helen and Ella Swan, their longtime housekeeper and cook. Most of what takes place happens in and around Port Warwick, Virginia in 1945. A small number of scenes take place in New York City.

Milton is a lawyer of average caliber; Helen is a homemaker. The Loftises have two daughters. Maude (or "Maudie") is the older of the two girls. She is born with a congenital birth defect and as such, is physically and developmentally impacted. Maudie requires a great deal of time and care. Helen dotes on Maudie because of Maudie's specific physical needs. Unlike her older sister, though, Peyton is a golden child in most everyone's eyes. Milton showers Peyton with attention because he adores her. Consequently, he is unable to refuse Peyton anything. Their closeness provokes Helen, who lives each day feeling jealous of her young daughter. Milton is an alcoholic and partly because of this, Helen has become embittered. Furthermore, Milton has been having an affair with family friend Dolly Bonner for a number of years. The tension between mother and daughter, combined with Milton's infidelity and other deeper problems, has caused the deterioration of Milton and Helen's marriage. Milton and Peyton are very much alike in that the daughter is a problem drinker as well. Peyton drinks to kill the pain of hating her mother and to release the inhibition to fuel her impulse to gain attention and adoration from men. In addition, father and daughter also experience a significant amount of guilt in connection with their actions while inebriated. Helen feels continually disappointed in the church and doubts God is moving in her life. Also, Helen feels a strong connection to Reverend Carey Carr, her Episcopalian pastor and spiritual adviser. Maudie dies after taking a fall. She is 23 at the time. Shortly thereafter, Peyton commits suicide in New York City. The strain of losing both of their children and finally, each other, is enough to completely defeat both Milton and Helen in the end.

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This section contains 458 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Lie Down in Darkness Study Guide
Copyrights
Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction and Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults
Lie Down in Darkness from Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction and Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.