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Free Study Guide-As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner-Free Book Notes
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

SECTION 49: Vardaman

Summary

Addie’s coffin is lying under an apple tree and Darl takes Vardaman over to it. Darl tells him that she is calling to God to help her. Vardaman tries to hear her but cannot. Darl adds that she wants to hide from the sight of man. Vardaman says that she is looking at him, but cannot understand how she can see through the wood; he wants to turn the coffin so she can see him through the holes he drilled.

Vardaman then says to himself that he saw something that Dewey Dell told him not to tell anyone. A few sentences later, while helping Cash, he says to himself again that it was not something Anse, Cash, Dewey Dell, Jewel, or himself.

Vardaman thinks again about the train in the window in Jefferson. The section ends with him thinking again about his secret.

Notes

Vardaman’s secret is about Darl, and that secret, we find out shortly, is that he is the one who burns down the barn. With this action in mind, Darl’s comments regarding Addie’s voice from the coffin become more significant. Darl says that Addie wants to be buried, but this trip seems to never end. Darl probably tried to lose the coffin in the river, but that failed. Now he tries another method, fire.


Vardaman acts like he thinks Addie is still in the coffin; he refers to it as "she," listens to her, and even thinks she can see him. More than anything, Vardaman seems not to understand what has happened to his mother or where she is.

SECTION 50: Darl

Summary

Darl has just started the fire and left the barn when Jewel arrives. Darl tells him to rescue the horses, hoping to prevent him from saving Addie’s corpse. Everyone else wakes up, comes out, and tries to help. The mules and the cow are rescued, and Jewel wants to go in again for Addie. Darl tries to stop him, and then gets others to stop him. Jewel finally breaks loose and runs into the burning barn, picks up the coffin and struggles out with it.

Notes

This episode seems to represent the culmination of the battle conflict between Jewel and Darl. Darl wants his mother buried and the episode concluded. Jewel wants to save his mother and follow her wishes. Darl may also feel antagonism toward Addie because in her section, she said that it was after she was pregnant with Darl that she put this "curse" on Anse. If Darl feels like the unwanted son, he would be most antagonistic towards the "love child." The fact that Jewel is named "Jewel" further accentuates the value that he held to Addie.

Addie had said that "he" would save her from the water and the fire, and Jewel did. If a very biblical sense, Jewel is her savior.

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