Study Guide

As I Lay Dying Women and Femininity

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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. The novel also features a single, teenage girl pregnant with an unwanted baby. The difficulty of maintaining this secret while trying to get an illegal abortion is staggering. Meanwhile, shame and embarrassment seem to accompany any mention of the female body or female sexuality.

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. How is sex portrayed in As I Lay Dying? Is this a positive or negative representation?
  2. What is the significance of Addie’s death when you consider that she is the matriarch of the Bundren family?
  3. What ideal of femininity is promoted in this novel? What about masculinity? Is there an ideal male or ideal female character?

Chew on This

Addie is the strongest character in this book.

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