A novel by William Faulkner.
About the Bundren family's journey to bury their mother and wife, Addie's Bundren.
The book is in the form of stream of consciousness and each chapter is one character.
The family is Anse and Addie Bundren, the parents. Addie is dying and does die in the beginning of the novel.
The children are Cash, Jewel, Darl, Dewey Dell, and Vardaman.
Faulkner's writing is very confusing. Darl, the most complicated character, is a good example of Faulkner's style. Here is one passage from Darl:
In a strange room you must empty yourself for sleep. And before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are emptied for sleep, you are not. And when you are filled with sleep, you never were. I dont know what i am. I dont know if i am or not. Jewel knows he is, because he does not know that he does not know whether he is ot not. He cannot empty himself for sleep because he is not what he is and he is what he is not...And since sleep is is-not and rain and wind was, it is not. Yet the wagon is, because when the wagon is was, Addie bundren will not be. And Jewel is, so Addie Bundren must be. And then I must be, or I could not empty myself for sleep in a strange room.

Although confusing, it is a great book. Loved it.

This is also the source of the famous quote by Vardaman: My mother is a fish.

William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying is about a family's trek across the Mississippi countryside in an effort to bury the matriarch of the family, Addie Bundren. The character Vardaman illustrates the confusion that may occur when using words to define feelings as he struggles with the idea of the fish versus the "not-fish." Cora Tull uses many words but fails to give them meaning: she is not a better baker just because she says she is. Addie has realized that words are useless and uses violence as a means of expressing her identity. Faulkner implies through these characters that words cannot define existence and are meaningless. Existence, however, is not meaningless, but defined by actions and not words, for example, Vardaman's and Addie's violence and Cora's lack of action.

Vardaman is the youngest of the Bundren's children and, accordingly, the most juvenile. While everyone else is working he is catching fish. The fish he catches is cut up and to Vardaman it becomes "not-fish." - p. 52 This is significant because it shows the uselessness of words; if it's not a fish it is "not-fish." This doesn't help to define the fish's existence, it is simply a different name. Another example of Faulkner's rendering words useless is when Vardaman, unable to use words to explain his feelings of remorse for his dead mother, takes action in the only way he knows how, by beating the doctor's horses. The action has significance where words fail. Later in the same chapter, he explains that as Dewey Dell calls for him he is silent and so is nothing. The lack of words apparently makes him nothing, yet physically, one knows he still exists, so words must be worthless. Confusion ensues when he tries to discover how his mother could be a fish if his brother's mother is a horse. Wordplay becomes Faulkner's method of making words useless, proving his point about their lack of importance, especially in defining existence or experience.

Cora's human experience throughout the novel revolves around her boasting. In Cora's first chapter she repeats four times that the cakes she made are good, and then says twice that even if she cannot sell them it did not cost her anything to make them. She tries to convince herself that she is right in baking the cakes and that she is a good baker. Much later in the book, as Addie expresses the fact that words are meaningless, she talks about "Cora, who could never even cook." - p. 166 Faulkner further emphasizes the unimportance of words here by having Addie's statement come in the midst of a chapter that revolves around the idea that words are meaningless. Cora is never shown to take action, even in religious matters in which she seems so immersed. Addie again refers to Cora when she says that "people to whom sin is just a matter of words, to them salvation is just words too." - p. 176 It is Cora's lack of action that defines her human experience.

Addie's chapter is centered around words and more specifically the need for action as definition. She states that words are only sounds people invented, used when feelings are lacking, and that one could never gain the authentic feeling until they forgot the word. She uses action to define herself instead of the words she has come to loathe: "I would think with each blow of the switch: Now you are aware of me! Now I am something in your secret and selfish life." - p. 162 She looks forward to having to beat her school children because it is the one way she knows they will know her. Knowing her name isn't truly understanding she exists; for Addie, it is the switch of discipline that reinforces her existence.

Throughout the novel, words are shown to be unimportant, especially when contrasted with the actions of the characters. Vardaman, unable to describe his feelings using words, resorts to beating the horses as his only outlet for his sadness. Cora takes no action which defines her character as one who is only involved on the surface. Though Addie may hate the children, her hate is truly shown when she beats them. Just as in the title, As I Lay Dying, words cannot describe the emotions surrounding a momentous event, in this case, death, in someone's life. Faulkner emphasizes throughout the novel the ineffectual use of words that often obstructs reality, rather than reflect it.

The title of As I Lay Dying is an allusion to Homer's The Odyssey. Supposedly Faulkner could quote from memory the speech that Agamemnon gives Odysseus in Book XI: "As I lay dying the woman with the dog's eyes would not close my eyes for me as I descended into Hades." In As I Lay Dying, eyes are an important motif-- Jewel, for instance, is described as having "wooden eyes."

Another minor character in the The Odyssey is Elsinore, who falls off a roof, just like Cash. Also, Greek myth held that a body must be buried or else it would become a ghost.

Also the name of a heavy metal band from California. As I Lay Dying have a brand of music which is fairly difficult to define, being a kind of blur between hardcore and death metal that most music geeks label "metalcore."

Despite having a typically fierce and growling sound, and being signed to Metal Blade Records - a label which is also host to acts such as Cannibal Corpse and Black Dahlia Murder - As I Lay Dying also happen to be unashamedly Christian, a fact which they often reflect in the lyrics of their songs. This doesn't appear to have hurt them too much, however, as they have a fairly strong fanbase in the Secular metal scene as well as the Christian one. Fans from the latter camp often compare them to Zao, another spirit-filled metalcore act, but I personally don't see it. AILD seem much closer to the aggressive death metal side of things, and their music is more akin to the likes of Killswitch Engage. They have had two major album releases, Beneath the Encasing of Ashes (2001) and Frail Words Collapse (2003). Their current line-up is as follows:

Tim Lambesis - Vocals
Jordan Mancino - Drums
Clint Norris - Bass
Phil Sgrosso - Guitar
Nick Hipa - Guitar

Website: http://www.asilaydying.com/

Like any work of literature, there are two ways to interpret "As I Lay Dying" -- as a work of plot, or as a work of character. The second method seems to be more common, and in some ways, it may been what William Faulkner was aiming for. He does tell each chapter from the view of a different character, and helpfully titles each chapter thusly, so that you know from whose viewpoint you are reading: which does make the book somewhat simpler. However, there are two reasons why the plot of the book should be studied, perhaps before the characters are. The first is that in any work, character and plot are complementary of each other, and one doesn't make sense without the other. The second is that in the case of "As I Lay Dying", the characters reveal themselves through oblique inner monologues instead of through prosaic descriptions. This makes sorting out which character is which, and what their motivations are, somewhat difficult until the reader has finished most of the novel and/or they have studied a Cliff's Notes version of the book. On the other hand, the plot of the work is fairly simple: a poor rural family must transport their dead mother, via wagon, to her hometown for burial.

The plot is actually fairly simple, but within that plot, various levels of conflict are brought up:

  1. Humans versus nature: One of the most basic and understandable parts of the book, and frankly the part that kept me on track after some of the opening monologues had confused me to pieces. The book includes dramatic scenes where the family attempts to ford a river and almost has the coffin, the wagon, and several family members wash away because of it. Other than providing action in a plot that is heavy on introspection, these scenes are important for other reasons. First, they give a lot of shape to the characterization, because the characters only become who they are when faced with obstacles. In fact, some of the natural hazards end up showing characters in a different light: when the coffin washes away at the ford, it is Jewel, who before then had seemed like somewhat of a dandy who did not want to participate in the adventure, who risks himself and his beloved horse to rescue the coffin. Secondly, the book is, as the title suggests, about death, which could be seen as the most basic natural obstacle that humans must face.
  2. Social group versus social group: How much Faulkner intended this as a theme, and how much of it is unavoidable background, is something that I am not sure of, because I don't know enough about Faulkner's politics or about the social situation at the time of writing. One of the major points of the book is that the family who is undergoing this voyage is a poor, rural family that has to journey through the world of slightly richer, slightly more urban people. This becomes an especially big problem when combined with the morbid, difficult situation under which they are traveling. In one scene, a law officer orders them to leave town because the wagon they are traveling in smells like death. In other scenes, they are either neglected or exploited by most of the pillars of middle class society: the church, the medical profession, and the merchant class, included. Again, I do not know whether this is because Faulkner is writing something explicitly political, or whether he is just including it for dramatic effect.
  3. Interpersonal conflict: The family group that is making the voyage has to temporarily put their animosities aside to make the journey, something that they fail to do for long. Each character has conflicts with the other characters, either open rivalries or conflicts of deception and omission. While bound to their common goal, each character also has an agenda of their own, which conflicts with the overall mission. Some of these conflicts come to a head quite dramatically in the closing chapters. Some of the social conflict from outside of the family could also be seen as interpersonal conflict.

Those are three obvious levels of conflict in the book. One area of conflict is conspicuous by its absence, at least for the current reader: there is no racial conflict or struggle mentioned in the book, with black residents only being mentioned once or twice in passing. I don't know if this is a deliberate omission, or rather that racial conflicts were not seen as important at the time as they did in hindsight. It is an interesting issue, to say the least. The last level of conflict could be seen as the three way struggle between Faulkner, his narrators, and the reader. In somewhat of a darkly whimsical fashion, I can imagine Faulkner stuffing his characters, protesting, into that cramped wagon with a corpse. But there is a large amount of conflict between what happens in the book, how the characters describe it, and how the reader chooses to interpret it. And this metaconflict, together with the many other levels of conflict, is one of the major lenses with which to read "As I Lay Dying".

As I Lay Dying is a Metalcore band from San Diego, California. The band was formed in 2000. They signed with Pluto Records and released their debut-album named Beneath the Encasing of Ashes in July 2001. In this season the band played Deathcore.
In 2003 they signed with Metal Blades Records and released their second album, Frail Words Collapse. At the same season they toured with famous bands like: Shadows Fall, Hinsa, The Black Dahlia Murder, among others.
Shadows Are Security, their third album, was released in June 2005. It was produced by the lead vocalist, Tim Lambesis, and the rhythm guitarist, Phil Sgrosso. The album was considered the best by the fans. With it they got a concert at second stage on Ozzfest 2005.
The fourth album, An Ocean Between Us, released in 2007, yielded them a nomination for Grammy 2008 with the song Nothing Left as the best metal live performance. An Ocean Between Us reached the fifth position in the Billboard. The following year they had the opportunity to shoot their first DVD and live album named, This Is Who We Are thought Metal Blade Records.
In 2010 was released, The Powerless Rise, another album widespread critical acclaim. Next year was released, Decas, an album commemorating 10 years of the band with covers song and remixes.
In 25, September 2012 the band released their seventh album named Awakened.

Current members

Tim Lambesis – lead vocals (since 2000)
Jordan Mancino – drums (since 2000)
Phil Sgrosso – rhythm guitar (since 2003)
Nick Hipa – lead guitar (since 2004)
Josh Gilbert – bass guitar, clean vocals (since 2007)

Former members

Clint Norris – bass guitar, clean vocals (2003–2006)
Evan White – lead guitar (2001–2003)
Tommy Garcia – lead guitar (2002–2003)
Jasun Krebs – rhythm guitar (2003)
Aaron Kennedy – bass guitar (2003)
Noah Chase – bass guitar (2001)

Official Band Website
Official Band Facebook
Official Band Myspace

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