Addie Brunden fell ill and died 10 days later, leaving behind a husband, 4 sons, and a daughter. Her wish was to be buried in her childhood hometown of Jefferson, Mississippi. So, her family built a coffin, tied horses to their wagon, and began the journey across the rural south.
William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying chronicles their troubling 9-day journey, interrupted by a near-disastrous river crossing, a broken leg, and a fire. The narration switches quickly between over a dozen narrators, who provide details of the trip, as well as their perspectives on life, death, and family.
Faulkner unfolds the story from different perspectives in a way that keeps the reader engaged; and he slowly reveals secrets of infidelity and illegitimacy and teen pregnancy in a way that humanizes the family.
Faulkner does a good job of giving a unique voice to each character - the childlike innocence of Vardaman; the thoughtfulness of Darl, the stoicism of Cash, and the selfishness of Anse.
The reader's challenge is keeping the characters straight and remembering which ones are most significant. The novel's stream-of-consciousness style gives an immediacy to the action, but it can confuse.
As I Lay Dying explores the dynamics of family relationships, especially during a time of great crisis and conflict, as everyone deals with death in their own way. It is well worth your time.