Talking about As I Lay Dying in your book club, on our message boards or with one of your friends? These thought-provoking questions will get the discussion flowing!
1. Why do you think Addie's chapter is placed where it is? How does her chapter change your earlier perceptions of the Bundren family? For example, how well did Cora really know Addie?
2. On pages 173–174, Addie meditates on the distance between words and actions. Is Faulkner saying that words—his own chosen medium—are inadequate? What do Addie's definitions say about her as a woman?
3. Anse Bundren alone thrives in the midst of disaster. What was his real reason for wanting to go to Jefferson? Who else gets what they came for?
4. Humor and the grotesque are often interdependent in this novel, such as Vardaman's accidental drilling of holes in his dead mother's face so she can breathe, the family setting Cash's broken leg in cement and the family's apparent imperviousness to the stench of Addie's rotting corpse. What are other examples? What was your reaction to such moments?
5. Darl is able to describe Addie's death when he is not present and intuit Dewey Dell's pregnancy. What does this uncanny visionary power mean, particularly in the context of what happens to Darl at the end of the novel?
6. The Bundrens must endure a number of obstacles on their way to Jefferson. To what extent are the elements against them, and to what extent do they sabotage themselves?
7. What compels loyalty in this family? What are the ways in which that loyalty is betrayed? Who do you feel makes the ultimate sacrifice for the family? Overall, do you find this novel to be hopeful or pessimistic? Share your comments.
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