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Themes

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.

Questions About Family

  1. Does Anse love his children? Do her family members love Addie?
  2. What kind of family dynamic do the Bundrens have going on?
  3. How is the Tull family similar to or different from the Bundren family?
  4. What is each family member's role in the Bundren family?
  5. How is family portrayed in this novel? What does it matter that Jewel is not Anse’s son?
  6. How do the family members communicate to one another? What is said, and what is assumed or understood without words?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The Bundrens’ journey to Jefferson is driven by familial duty, not by familial love.

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