Family is not a pleasant topic in As I Lay Dying. Poor or no communication creates intense barriers of misunderstanding and resentment between family members, but particularly siblings who are rivals for their mother’s love. An illegitimate child further complicates an already tense set of relationships. Personal needs trump familial duties, though these selfish acts are masked with the pretense of devotion. For women, family is particularly painful, since it essentially assigns child-bearing as their sole purpose in life.
The Bundrens’ journey to Jefferson is driven by familial duty, not by familial love.