As I Lay Dying
Study Questions & Essay Topics
Do you consider As I Lay Dying to be primarily a comic or a tragic novel?
Comment on the novel’s structure. What does Faulkner accomplish by choosing an unconventional narrative style?
How does the narrative style of As I Lay Dying affect the reader’s or the characters’ perceptions of time?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. At the end of the novel, Darl is committed to an insane asylum for setting a barn on fire. What other factors may be involved in his family’s decision to commit him? What justification, if any, is there for his act of arson?
2. Provide a close reading of Addie’s monologue in the middle of the novel. What do we learn about her life? How is it that a dead woman’s voice can enter the narrative? Why does Faulkner introduce Addie’s voice when he does?
3. With the exception of Addie, the Bundrens have probably all received very little schooling. Do their monologues demonstrate or contradict this apparent fact?
4. Compare the monologues of members of the Bundren family with those of outside observers, like Tull, Cora, and Moseley. Which set of monologues do you feel provides a more accurate perspective on events?
5. Which characters do you think are the most heroic? Which are the most unheroic? What does the story say about the ideal of heroism?
Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!