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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 41: Whitfield

Summary

When Whitfield hears that Addie is dying, he decides it is time to confess to Anse and the family his sin of adultery. He crosses the river and Tull tells him that Addie has already died. He goes to the funeral claiming that he intends to confess, but only says, "God’s grace upon this house."

Notes

Whitfield speaks like a fire-and-brimstone preacher, but his narrative suggests a reluctance to live up to his own standards. Whitfield (and Cora) represents organized religion in this novel, and through him we can see a critique of the hypocrisy of it. Whitfield cannot take responsibility for his own sins and yet expects others to do so.

SECTION 42: Darl

Summary

Jewel rides ahead to Armstid’s and brings back a new team. Cash is loaded on the wagon on top of Addie’s coffin. They go to Armstid’s house where Cash is tended to. Addie’s coffin and the team are placed in the barn.


Jewel’s face and eyes are described as "two colors of wood, the wrong one pale and the wrong one dark." He goes into the barn to take care of his horse while Anse leaves to buy a new team and the rest eat.

Notes

We now know for sure that Addie’s coffin was rescued from the water. Cash is laid on top of the coffin, symbolizing his own death. Addie’s wish to be buried with her family is literally takes them with her.

Jewel is again associated with Addie. The wooden eyes of the early chapters and the drilled eyes of the coffin are recalled in this section.

Darl’s narrative is split between his thoughts and observations of Jewel which are italicized and his thoughts and observations about the rest, which are in regular type.

SECTION 43: Armstid

Summary

Armstid’s narrative begins while Anse is looking for a mule team. Littlejohn tells Armstid that a levee has broken on the route to Jefferson so that the Bundren's will have to make another detour.

Jewel tries to get Peabody to come for Cash, but since Peabody is too far away, he brings back Uncle Billy, the horse doctor. While Billy is examining him, Cash tries to say something. Dewey Dell is the one who understands him: Cash wants his tools. Darl brings them over and shows them to him, and then places them under the bed so Cash can touch them when he feels better.

Armstid hears sees buzzards circling and hears a commotion near the barn. Vardaman is chasing a buzzard that has landed on Addie’s coffin.

While Anse is away at the Snopses’ buying mules, we find out that in order to buy the mules they would have to go into debt. When Anse gets back he is told about the new detour. He is asked how he could be the team, and reluctantly says: he put a mortgage on his seeder and he took Cash’s money and Jewel’s horse. Anse justifies this by saying that if he had to go without teeth, they could go without something too.

Armstid suggests that they leave Cash at his place to convalesce, but they would not allow it. He offers them a place to stay for the night, but they choose instead to camp down the road. And he offers them food, but they insist on eating food brought from home.

In the morning, the Snopses’ team is brought up, and we discover that Jewel probably was to one to take his horse to them. Armstid assumed that he would have gotten on it and ridden to Texas before he did that, but he says that Anse has a strange kind of power over people.

Notes

The revelation that a levee on the Bundren’s route has broken is no longer tragic: it is pathetic and darkly comical. Each problem that hits them does not make them stronger, it makes the worse. No one finds Anse courageous for trying to fulfill his wife’s dying wish (curse). Anse is stealing from his children, and he is endangering Cash’s life. This trip is appearing like it will be the end of the Bundren's.

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