Study Guide

As I Lay Dying What’s Up With the Ending?

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What’s Up With the Ending?

Surprise, surprise – Anse is a selfish jerk. We had our suspicions all along, and now we can be about 90% sure that this entire trip to Jefferson was about him getting his new teeth…and a new wife.

Speaking of that new wife, what do you make of the final line of the novel – "Meet Mrs. Bundren"? Addie’s been in the ground about, mmm…two seconds and Anse is already getting married. In fact, he picked up Mrs. Bundren the sequel before Addie was buried, since this is the woman he borrowed the shovels from. The lesson here seems to be that people are replaceable – or at least that women are. In this time and place, women do little more than serve a household purpose: have babies and cook dinner. At times in the novel, they even seem little more than farm animals. Dewey Dell earlier compared herself to the cow she had to milk, and more than one woman has expressed the idea that, once they have their babies, they are finally free to die (Tull remembers his mother saying as much, and Addie expresses the same thought in her narrative section). Sadly enough, it turns out that Addie isn’t finished being used by her husband when she dies. She’s still fulfilling an obligation, via her corpse, post-mortem.

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