As I Lay Dying
by William Faulkner
Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis
Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.
Plot Type : The Quest
Addie Bundren’s dying wish is to be buried in Jefferson.
This last wish instigates the story arc of the novel, sending the Bundrens on their journey.
Traveling to Jefferson
This is your classic journey stage, fraught with peril as you might expect. Bad weather, a broken bridge, a secret pregnancy, and Anse’s rather annoying pride are all obstacles faced on the way to Jefferson.
Arrival and Frustration
Darl burning the barn down
OK, so this is more frustration than it is arrival (the Bundrens haven’t gotten to Jefferson yet). But it has all the hallmarks. Just ask Cash, whose twice-broken leg is encased in cement that gets charred in the flames. Or Jewel, whose horse is traded for a team of crumby mules that can barely pull the wagon the rest of the way.
The Final Ordeals
The Bundrens arrive in Jefferson; everything continues to suck.
The journey might be over, but the obstacles keep right on coming. Darl is taken away to the mental institution and Dewey Dell gets taken advantage of.
Addie is buried.
Oddly enough, the narrative doesn’t even cover the burial, probably to make the point that it doesn’t really matter. The goal may have been achieved, but it doesn’t mean the journey – or the suffering – is over.