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Free Study Guide-As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner-Free Book Notes
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

SECTION 14: Dewey Dell

Summary

Dewey Dell repeats part of her inner monologue from Darl’s section: "He could do so much for me if he just would." She wants Peabody to help her end her pregnancy but cannot ask him.

Part of her fear is that she feels alone. She feels that if she could sense the fetus, she would feel better; then she would not be alone. She follows this with an ambiguous comment that she would let Peabody come between her and Lafe just as Darl has come between her and Lafe.

With the sound of Cash sawing in the background, she puts the bleeding fish pieces in the pan. She thinks how it took Addie ten days to die and then wonders if she is gone dead or if she will wait around until Cash finishes or Jewel arrives.

Cash and Peabody are eating and Anse sits down (but does not eat), but no one can find Vardaman. Dewey Dell sees that the cow needs to be milked and goes out to milk her. When she gets to the barn, the cow addresses her in the same way it did Vardaman: "She nuzzles at me, snuffling, blowing her breath in a sweet, hot blast, through my dress, against my hot nakedness, moaning." The cow follows Dewey Dell into the barn. In the barn, the interaction between her and the cow escalates: "I feel my body, my bones and flesh beginning to part and open upon the alone." As this scene ends, Dewey Dell associates the sweet blast of the cow with wood and silence (like Vardaman).


Immediately after this, Dewey Dell notices Vardaman hiding in the stall. Her reaction to Vardaman suggests that she realizes that her interaction with the cow is not proper: "‘You durn little sneak!’ My hands shake him hard." Vardaman thinks she is shaking him because he let the horses go, so he denies it. She then sends him to the house to eat dinner before Peabody eats everything up and Vardaman repeats that he is the one who killed Addie.

Dewey Dell returns to the cow and tells her that the milk that is causing her pain is nothing compared to the trouble that the fetus that she has in her is causing. The section ends with her telling the cow that she does not know what worry is.

Notes

This section associates Dewey Dell with the cow. Not only is her name suggestive of fertility and life, "dew" and "dell," but she is also associated with an animal suggestive of fertility. This section also repeats Dewey Dell’s previous desire to have the abortion. Her difficulty is speaking her problem. Peabody knows her and is local. To ask him to help her could be paramount to telling Anse herself, which is what she specifically does not want.

This section also sets up Peabody as an antagonist: first, for Vardaman, Peabody represents the death of Addie; secondly, for Dewey Dell, Peabody is the "big tub of guts" who could help her but doesn’t. It does not matter that Peabody is responsible for neither problem, he is blamed.

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