As I Lay Dying Study Guide (Choose to Continue)


As I Lay Dying: Top Ten Quotes

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  1. "She ought to have taken them.but those rich town ladies can change their minds. Poor folks can't." (P. 7)Cora Tull's daughter Kate says this to her mother after Cora's sale of cakes falls through. The self-righteous Cora says she doesn't mind, but Kate is indignant not only about the loss of the sale but because of the loss of the precious ingredients used to make the cake. Social differences are illustrated here as well as women's work which is often disregarded.
  2. "At night it is better still. I used to lie on the pallet in the hall waiting until I could hear them all asleep, so I could get up and go back to the bucket. It would be black, the shelf black, the still surface of the water a round orifice in nothingness where before I stirred it awake with the dipper I could see maybe a star or two in the bucket and maybe in the dipper a star or two before I drank." (P. 11)Beyond demonstrating the powerful writing of William Faulkner, this monologue by Darl shows him as a man of words, deeply insightful and incredibly aware of his surroundings. He remembers as a young boy the simple but breathtakingly beautiful act of getting a cup of water in the dark.
  3. "And she looking at him, saying you could do so much for me if you just would." (P. 51)Darl looks at Dewey Dell and seemingly enters into her mind. He sees Dr. Peabody approach his sister to offer condolences after her mother's death and encourage her to look after the rest of the family, but Darl realizes all Dewey Dell wants from Peabody is an abortion.
  4. "And the next morning they found him in his shirt tail laying asleep on the floor like a felled steer, and the top of the box bored clean full of holes." (P. 73)Vardaman cannot come to terms with his mother's death. He is concerned about her not being able to breathe inside the coffin so he bores holes to let in the air. However, he inadvertently bores holes in her head.
  5. "My mother is a fish." (P. 84)Five words make up Vardaman's entire monologue. Vardaman caught a fish on the day his mother died. To the mentally deficient child of thirteen, because the fish is dead and his mother is dead, his mother therefore must be a fish.
  6. "But now I can get them teeth. That will be a comfort. It will." (P. 111) The neighbors and most of the family believe Anse wants to take Addie's body for burial to Jefferson because of a death-bed promise but all the selfish Anse is interested in is getting a new set of teeth.
  7. "I notice how it takes a lazy man, a man that hates moving, to get set on moving once he does get started off, the same as when he was set on staying still, like it ain't the moving he hates so much as the starting and the stopping." (P. 114)Samson, one of the Bundrens' helpful neighbors, here gives his impression of Anse Bundren. He acts as a reliable narrator because he is not a family member and his observations are credible.
  8. "The land runs out of Darl's eyes. They swim to pinpoints. They begin at my feet and rise along my body to my face and then my dress is gone; I sit naked on the cart above the unhurrying mules." (P. 121) Dewey Dell observes that her brother stops looking at the land and looks intently at her instead. Her dress isn't really gone. She realizes that Darl knows she is pregnant. She feels as if he is looking through her and thus feels naked.
  9. "He did not know that he was dead." (P. 173) After Addie gave birth to Cash, she closed her self off to Anse. To Addie, her husband Anse was dead.
  10. "He was out there under the apple tree, lying with her." (P. 225) After Jewel rescues his mother from the burning barn, he lies exhausted on top of her coffin. His actions fulfill Addie's prophesy made earlier by Addie to Cora Tull that her son Jewel would rescue her from the water, which he already did, and the flames.


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