Study Guide

As I Lay Dying Section Forty, narrated by Addie

By William Faulkner

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Section Forty, narrated by Addie

  • Addie’s remembers what her father used to say to her when she was younger, that the point of living was to ready oneself to be dead a long time.
  • She then recalls Anse courting her when she was a single schoolteacher. She used to take pleasure in whipping the schoolchildren who were bad.
  • Then came her wedding to Anse and her first two children, Cash and Darl. Addie wasn’t one for maternal instinct, because she felt violated by these children, as though she could never be alone again. She resented Anse for fathering the children.
  • Then Addie had an affair with the minister Whitfield, and Jewel was born. She loved Jewel the most because she felt he was the only child that was her own, whereas the other kids belonged to Anse.
  • Addie next gave birth to two more of Anse’s children, Dewey Dell and then Vardaman. She feels she paid her debt to Anse with these babies, and after they were born she was finally allowed to die.
  • She also remembers Cora rambling on about sin and redemption and God, none of which she took very seriously.

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