As I Lay Dying

Background and literary techniques

Faulkner said that he wrote the novel from midnight to 4:00 a.m. over the course of six weeks and that he did not change a word of it.[6] Faulkner wrote it while working at a power plant.

Throughout the novel, Faulkner presents 15 different points of view, each chapter narrated by one character, including Addie, who expresses her thoughts after she has already died. In 59 chapters titled only by their narrators' names, the characters are developed gradually through each other's perceptions and opinions, with Darl's predominating.

As I Lay Dying helped to solidify Faulkner's reputation as a pioneer, like James Joyce and Virginia Woolf, of stream of consciousness. He first used the technique in The Sound and the Fury, and it gives As I Lay Dying its distinctly intimate tone, through the monologues of the Bundrens and the passers-by whom they encounter. Faulkner manipulates conventional differences between stream of consciousness and interior monologue. For example, Faulkner has a character such as Darl speak in an interior monologue with far more intellectual diction (and knowledge of his physical environment) than he realistically possesses. This represents an innovation on conventions of interior monologues; as Dorrit Cohn states in Transparent Minds: Narrative Modes for Presenting Consciousness in Fiction, the language in an interior monologue is "like the language a character speaks to others ... it accords with his time, his place, his social station, level of intelligence ..." The novel represents an early progenitor of the Southern Renaissance, reflecting on being, existence, and other existential metaphysics of everyday life.


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