Why does Darl burn the barn?

While Darl himself does not offer an explanation as to why he sets fire Gillespie’s barn on fire, Cash’s reflections on the incident suggest that his brother wanted to save his mother from the absurdity of their journey to Jefferson. Darl sees the futility inherent in their attempts to resist the will of God, symbolized by the forces of nature that stand in their way, and believes that allowing Addie to burn in the fire will allow her to leave the world in a more natural manner. Given the moments of omniscience that Darl has throughout the story, it seems likely that he suspects the selfish motivations behind the trip and aims to purify her tainted body with the fire.

How does Addie die?

Faulkner does not offer an explicit cause for Addie’s death, although he implies that she has been sick for a while prior to the start of the novel. Bedridden for ten days without much support from a doctor, Addie manages to sit up to see Cash building her coffin through the window moments before she dies. Of course, in her narrative chapter, Addie explains that she could “get ready to die” once she made up for her affair with Whitfield by giving birth to Dewey Dell and Vardaman. This perspective suggests that she was more than ready to leave her life with Anse behind. 

Where does As I Lay Dying take place?

As I Lay Dying begins at the Bundren’s home in rural Mississippi and concludes in the town of Jefferson, both of which are part of Yoknapatawpha County. This fictional county, inspired by Faulkner’s own upbringing in Mississippi, serves as the setting for a number of his masterpieces, including the novels The Sound and the Fury, Light in August, and Absolom, Absolom! as well as short stories such as “A Rose for Emily” and “Dry September.” Using Yoknapatawpha County as a central point for his body of work allows the characters and themes of his individual stories to blend and build off of one another.

What does the fish symbolize?

The large fish that Vardaman catches at the beginning of the novel ultimately serves as a metaphor through which he attempts to comprehend his mother’s death. His mantra “My mother is a fish” suggests that, like the live fish that became a meal, the woman who was once his mother has disappeared and turned into something else entirely. This logic allows Vardaman to explore the meaning of death through visual symbols that are easily accessible to him. 

Why does Addie ask to be buried in Jefferson?

Addie wants to be buried in Jefferson so that she can lie among her own family members rather than remain close to Anse and the children she feels belong purely to him. She creates this plan after Darl’s birth, a moment which reinforces her disdain for her husband and the life of service that their marriage has caused her to lead. Disillusioned by the loss of autonomy she feels as a wife and mother, Addie believes the only way to reclaim her privacy is to distance herself from Anse and force him to serve her.