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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Mortality

As I Lay Dying suggests that dying is a relief from the suffering of life. Religious characters in the novel believe that, because death is a reward, it provides the motivation to live one’s...

Family

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 riva...

Suffering

Suffering is very much a part of every day life in As I Lay Dying. The novel tells the story of a poverty-stricken family traveling to bury their mother during the 1920s in Mississippi. Times are t...

Women and Femininity

Women have it rough in As I Lay Dying. Their basic role in life is to have babies, which makes it difficult to establish a personal and individual identity, at least for one woman in particular. Th...

Religion

Religion is in many ways mocked by As I Lay Dying. The story is an ironic twist of the classic quest – a journey without a purpose, confession without redemption. Divine justice is never just...

Duty

As I Lay Dying explores obligation to the family as well as to honor and principles. But the story’s principle plot line – a family’s lengthy journey to town from the country R...

Versions of Reality

As I Lay Dying is written in multiple first-person narratives. Every new section is a new version of reality, particularly noticeable when the narratives overlap and cover the same event two differ...

Poverty

As I Lay Dying tells the story of a poverty-stricken family experiencing disaster after disaster in Mississippi in the 1920s. Every incident is made worse by the fact that they have no money. Many...
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