“As I Lay Dying” by William Faulkner Commonplace-Book Entry: How Vernon Tull Describes Addie Bundren’s Funeral

“They had laid her in it reversed. Cash made it clock-shape, like this ⚰ with every joint and seam bevelled and scrubbed with the plane, tight as a drum and neat as a sewing basket, and they had laid her in it head to foot so it wouldn’t crush her dress. It was her wedding dress and it had a flare-out bottom, and they had laid her head to foot in it so the dress could spread out, and they had made her a veil out of a mosquito bar so the auger holes in her face wouldn’t show.”

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. Vintage International, 1990, page 88.

I found that this passage has interesting language, because instead of describing the coffin with words, Vernon Tull uses a picture of the shape in the middle of his sentence, which is the only time this has happened in the book so far. I wonder if this is because he can’t find the words in his mind at this time, and so pictures how it looks in his mind, or is imagining himself drawing the shape that he means to describe with his hands. His similies also are unique to me, too, since I never heard someone comparing something tight to a drum, or something neat to a sewing basket, even in this book. Finally, Vernon Tull refers to different specific parts of what Addie Bundren is wearing, and what their purposes were for as she laid in her coffin, which I think could imply that he is very knowledgeable about and familiar with why people decide to dress their dead relatives a certain way for their funerals, which could mean that he is experienced in being involved with setting up funerals. Perhaps this is why the Bundrens trust Vernon Tull with helping out during Addie Bundren’s funeral so much.

As I Lay Dying; Interesting Language

“Before us the thick dark current runs. It talks up to us in a murmur become ceaseless and myriad, the yellow surface dimpled monstrously into fading swirls travelling along the surface for an instant, silent, impermanent and profoundly significant, as though just beneath the surface something huge and alive waked for a moment of lazy alertness out of and into light slumber again.”

141 Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying, New York Vintage, 1990, page 141.