William Faulkner

Unit Objectives : By the end of this Unit, the student will be able to:

  1. explain how Faulkner experiments with chronological organization and narrative perspective to tell the story.
  2. analyze the use of black humor in the novel.
  3. explain the relevance and meaning of allusions to the following works: • The Bible • Homer’s Odyssey • Shakespeare’s Macbeth
  4. trace the development of ideas of fate, eternity, and being that appear in the book.
  5. explain the discrepancy between words and experience in the book.
  6. explain the relevance and meaning of the following symbols in the novel: • the fish • Jewel’s horse • the wagon • Cash’s tools • wheels and circles • the graphophone • the toy train
  7. analyze the characters’ diction, syntax, and figures of speech and explain how the language contributes to characterization.
  8. respond to multiple choice questions similar to those that will appear on the Advanced Placement in English Literature and Composition exam.
  9.  respond to writing prompts similar to those that will appear on the Advanced Placement in English Literature and Composition exam.
  10. Define Faulkner’s place in American literary history
  11. Describe Faulkner’s “South” in the context of the historical South
  12. Understand and explore the use of multiple voices in narration
  13. Examine the Bundren family through the subjective evidence provided by a multiplicity of characters

Essential Questions:

  • How does Faulkner’s form for the novel—a series of competing voices and perspectives presented as a multiple-voice narrative—work for or against the novel’s title?
  • What does the final portrait of the Bundrens look like? Are they as rotten as Addie’s corpse, full of despair and dissolution? Or are they a tribute to the vigor and resolve of a Southern family, who successfully complete an overwhelming task? Does Faulkner truly resolve this issue?


Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.

Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).

Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.

Analyze a case in which grasping a point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement).

Demonstrate knowledge of eighteenth-, nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century foundational works of American literature, including how two or more texts from the same period treat similar themes or topics.

Use words, phrases, and clauses as well as varied syntax to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships between claim(s) and reasons, between reasons and evidence, and between claim(s) and counterclaims.


A. Final essay questions for unit assessment:

You may prepare for the assessment by outlining one of these essay questions beforehand and gathering evidence to support your interpretation. The questions below the prompt are to GUIDE you toward creating your own interesting, unique, critical perspective. You will not lose points if you deviate from them or ignore them altogether. In fact, essays that are organized around answering solely these questions without any individual perspective from you, the critic, will show a lack of your own critical thinking and an over-reliance on my interpretation. I expect you to use these prompts as launching points from which to explore previously uncharted (by us, in class) critical territory. You will not suffer from a lack of things to write about. As we’ve seen, this text is extremely complex and rich with allusion, philosophical problems, symbolism, stylistic experiments, and thematic commentary on the contrast between the modern American reality of the deep South during the depression and the conventional, popular, romanticized vision of an ideal America. (As seen for example in Whitman and Longfellow’s poetry.)

Whatever you write in your essay, it should be your own. Good luck!

Family and honor
  1.      As I Lay Dying could be read as a metaphor for any family; the Bundrens are stuck together on a long journey, to help or hurt each other. The conflicts between feelings of desire, love, honor, and a longing for identity outside the family eventually lead to disaster.

How do the Bundrens exemplify “family values?”
How do they fail to?
Does Faulkner see the Bundrens as a typical American family?
(Are most people like this?)
Do you?

  2.      The religious characters in the book (Whitfield, Cora) have very little positive impact on the Bundrens. Addie explicitly rejects religion after her affair with Whitfield. Cora uses her religious outlook chiefly as a way to judge and criticize the impoverished and low-class Bundrens. Anse often quotes scripture to justify his own selfish actions.

Do you agree with Faulkner’s depiction of religion in modern life?
If so, build upon it. If not, create a counter-argument.

Mortality and ritual
  3.      To the ancient Greeks, burial ritual was an extremely important religious task, representative of the loyalty a person has engendered in his family in life. Agamemnon speaks from hell to Odysseus: “As I lay dying, the woman with the dog’s eyes would not close my eyes as I descended into Hades.” He is referring to his wife Clytemnestra, whom conspired to murder him.
Do the Bundrens betray Addie, or do they honor her? Does Addie betray them by asking Anse to make the journey to Jefferson?
Does it matter what happens to our bodies after we die?

4.      “Sometimes I think it aint none of us pure crazy and aint none of us pure sane,” says Cash. He then decides that if a person acts without thinking about how his actions affect other people, he is crazy.

Do you agree with Cash? Are we all a little crazy?
How does society use the word “crazy”—or  even “mental illness”— to define people?
Does Darl deserve is fate? How are Darl’s “special powers” of narration related to what happens to him?

  5.      Comment on the multiple perspectives of the novel. What do we learn cumulatively about the characters through their various voices?

What is the effect of these shifts in view?
Which is the truer perspective of ourselves: the one from our eyes or from the eyes of others?
You may analyze in depth one voice, or contrast two opposing voices (Darl and Jewel, for example).

6.      All of the family members use their mother’s burial as an excuse to go to town in order to acquire something.

Which desires are more sympathetic, and which are less so?
Is this a betrayal of Addie?
Do our modern desires for material goods come between us and those we love?


   7.      Faulkner’s shifting voices often finds commonality in elemental natural symbols: water, fire, horse, earth, sky, eye, wood, bird, etc.

Choose one or more of these and make a unified comment on the symbol’s ties to an allusion( journey), perspective, insight, comment, or traditional generic convention.

B. Creating a Narrative

Write a short story from your assigned character’s perspective. The narrative needs to center on what your character believes is important ( from Addie’s death to her funeral and journey to Jefferson). You do not need to include all the characters but only the ones that are critical to the story development and the development of your character. The plot does not need to include all the details of the events but crucial ones that help the reader gain understanding of the character. You will decide how the events should be organized or which details need to be included in your short story. The story should be no longer than 4 pages, double-spaces with size 12 font.

Avoid long soliloquies and choose scenes where there is the opportunity for significant dialogue and interaction between and among characters. Stay within the guidelines of Faulkner’s characters and diction but can add additional appropriate dialogue where necessary.

C. Analysis of style: Write  a position paper in which you argue the extent to which and the ways in which As I Lay Dying is (or is not) an experimental novel.

Aristotle’s six elements of drama (from The Poetics) may provide a useful guide. Aristotle’s six elements (in order of importance) are plot, character, thought, diction, music and spectacle. The first four are relevant to works of prose.
a. Is the plot of As I Lay Dying traditional or experimental? [First address the question: what is the plot of As I Lay Dying.]
b. Is the presentation of character in As I Lay Dying traditional or experimental? [First address the question: how is character presented in As I Lay Dying.]
c. Is the thought (ideas presented) of As I Lay Dying traditional or experimental? [First address the question: what are the central ideas of As I Lay Dying.]
d. Is the diction (Faulkner’s word choice / individualized language associated with each character) of As I Lay Dying traditional or experimental? [First address the question: what kind of language does Faulkner use in As I Lay Dying.]

D. Character Analysis: The best papers will see both sides of each character. Students should combine their findings and put them in a written paper.


Day 1 Before Reading

Objectives: Students will be able to explore the context of the novel by examining background information on social and economic conditions in the rural South in the first decades of the twentieth century.

Do now: about the author and the novel

The background will enable us to “place” Faulkner’s novel historically and sociologically; Faulkner wrote about his own time and a place he knew well. Faulkner’s life will be presented, briefly, so that parallels can be drawn between his life and the life depicted in the text. Faulkner grew up in a small Mississippi town in a middle-class family and saw in his surroundings perfect models for characters like the Bundren family and their neighbors.

“The reason for living was to get ready to stay dead for a long time” — Addie Bundren in Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying

William Faulkner’s self-proclaimed masterpiece, As I Lay Dying, originally published in 1930, is a fascinating exploration of the many voices found in a Southern family and community. The following lesson examines the novel’s use of multiple voices in its narrative. Faulkner:

often told his stories using multiple narratives, each with their own interests and biases, who allow us to piece together the ‘true’ circumstances of the story, not as clues in a mystery, but as different melodies in a piece of music that form a crescendo. The conclusion presents a key to understanding the broad panorama surrounding the central event in a way that traditional linear narratives simply are unable to accomplish.
Evan Goodwin on Faulkner

Mini lesson with Guided Practice: title and voice

The novel’s title—As I Lay Dying—invokes a first-person speaker, presumably the voice of the dead mother, Addie Bundren. Yet she only speaks once in the novel, and she is dead, not dying, throughout most of the novel (aside from the beginning chapters). How does Faulkner’s form for the novel—a series of competing voices and perspectives presented as a multiple-voice narrative—work for or against the novel’s title?


The voice of the narrator helps shape the way that readers encounter the story. The voice can reveal the narrative point-of-view, the background of the speaker (such as education level, social standing, and so on), and the relationship of the narrator to others in the story. An omniscient narrator, for example, often gives the impression of authorial investment and oversight, but maintains distance from the characters. A character speaking from his own point-of-view, however, creates a sense of a limited but intimate perspective. Faulkner’s ability to shift narrative voice in As I Lay Dying results in a rich tapestry of often competing perspectives, where information is doled out in small bits, left to the reader to piece together in an understanding of the larger (yet not complete) family portrait of the Bundrens.

  • Bundren Genealogy, which gives an overview of the immediate Bundren family unit (note: click on the names in the image to get more information).
  • Character List for As I Lay Dying, with links to descriptions

A general review of Literature in the American South is available through the EDSITEment-reviewed websiteDocumenting the American South. While not specific to As I Lay Dying (although it does discuss other Faulkner novels), the section Civil War discusses representations of the Civil War in literature in a manner immediately relevant to the study of Faulkner’s work:

But the southern writer … has been less concerned to reconstruct the actual time of the struggle than to recount the consequent loss of the antebellum southern culture and, in the response to this loss, the creation of a postbellum culture of survival.
[from Civil War, Encyclopedia of Southern Culture edited by Charles Reagan Wilson and William Ferris.]

The section Humor provides details on many aspects of the amusing and the grotesque often found in Southern literature, attributes obvious in Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying:

Southern humor, like much of the best southern writing in general, has been boisterous and physical, often grotesque, and generally realistic. On the whole, it has no doubt been better received and more appreciated outside the region than in it … William Faulkner was certainly a puzzle to the people of Oxford in his time. Writing has never been a particularly admired occupation in the South, and its comic writers, as well as the most perceptive serious writers, have singled out aspects of southern culture that many southerners would sooner forget. This combination has produced what many southern readers would no doubt characterize as a literature of betrayal.

(From Humor, Encyclopedia of Southern Culture edited by Charles Reagan Wilson and William Ferris.)

Student Independent Practice

In a small group, read the commentary of the novel. We’ll jigsaw the piece. What can you predict what the novel will explore based on your section?

Homework: Read pages 3-34. Bring in one quotation and two questions to be shared in class.

Day 2

Objectives: students will be able to recognize each character’s voice through the portrayal of his/ her persona.

Do Now: From the Nobel prize speech, find a quotation that represents the author’s purpose of writing.

Mini lesson with Guided Practice

Read chapter 1
1. Write a one- paragraph summary.
2. Identify the event described in the narration.
3. How is the narrator connected to the other characters?
4. Which part of the narration is an example of stream of consciousness? What does it tell the reader)
5. What’s the most important detail in the chapter? Why?

  • What details stand out about the first chapter? What’s Darl’s language style? Which person is his main focus?
  • What’s Darl’s narrative perspective? Give me some evidence.

Independent studies
In small groups, read the assigned chapter and provide response the the questions.Homework: For each chapter you read, create a reading log that tracks-

  • Narrative Elements Textual References
    Main Event
    2nd characters
    3rd characters
    4th  character
    Key Quotation

Day 3

Objectives: Students will be able to examine each character’s persona through reading closely the language style exhibited in his or her narration.

Do Now: Think of a person you know very well and jot down a line or two that signify his/ her persona, could be a gesture added to somewhat or some unique expressions that are punctuated in a way that’s unmistakenly his.

Mini lesson with guide practice

  • Assign a character
  • Read Jewel’s narration and examine his character using study questions and change pov to omniscient third person point of view. Be sure to include the most important details.

Independent Practice

  • Student sit in small groups by characters and discuss assigned questions.

End of the Lesson Assessment: What do you know about your character?
Homework: Analyze the character you have been assigned through rhetorical devices.

Day 4

Objectives: Students will be able to analyze a specific character by using the details they have observed in the reading logs.

Do Now: Pair-Share one quotation by a character and explain why it signifies the characters.

Mini Lesson and Guided Practice

We’ll analyze the mother’s character through multiple-perspective narrations.

  • Darl’s descriptions of the mother-
  • Anse’s:
  • Jewel’s:
  • Cora’s:
  • Dewey Dell’s:
  • Mr. Tull’s:

Write a paragraph about the mother Addie Bundren based on the descriptions provided by the various narrators.

Independent Practice

  • Share your character analysis with a partner who has the same character. Be sure to base your claims of the character on textual details.
  • Move on to students who have different characters and ask them to add comments to your character portrayal and analysis.

End of the Lesson Assessment: What questions do I have about he  character? What have I gained about the character through our conversations?


  1. Revise your character analysis based on today’s lesson and type it up. You’ll post the character analysis on a poster paper for tomorrow’s lesson.
  2. Answer the questions in the study guide for your character.
  3. Read 35-40 and continue with your reading logs.

Day 4

Objectives: Students will be able to continue gathering details about their assigned character through small group discussions based on theri reading logs.

Do Now: Share one interesting observation about your character. Be sure to back it up with textual evidence.

Mini Lesson with Guided Practice

  1. Continue pair presentation. Teacher provided feed back. Peers ask questions.
  2. Share the information of how the work has been compared to  other mater pieces of litterateur.
  3. Discuss guided questions based on each narration.
  4. Share in pairs before sharing in class.
  5. Teacher provided feedback.

Independent Practice

In pairs by “character”, students start narrating the story about their assigned character in an omniscient 3rd person point of view. Add the new narrations up to page 40 to your retelling.

End of the Lesson Assessment: Give one example of discrepancy between a character’s self-perception and others’ perception of him or her.

Homework: Read pages 41-57 and keep a reading log that tracks only the details that pertain to your character and major events. Select a quotation about or by your character and analyze how it enhances the overall meaning.

Day 5

Objectives: Students will be able to analyze the assigned characters by engaging in a small group discussion on the study questions provided.

Do now: Explore the digital library about the South and Faulkner

Mini Lesson with Guided Practice

  1. Small groups continue presenting the assigned character. Be sure to include your observations up to page 57.
  2. Teacher provides feedback.
  3. Other groups who have presented share new observations about the character.
  4. Teacher provides feedback.

Independent Practice

Engage in small group discussion centering on the discussion questions and answers in the study guide.

  • Start with your own character’s narration questions. Mark the questions or answers that strike you for any reason.
  • Go back to the first narration by Darl. Try to go over all the questions and answers. Discuss those that feel strongly about or don’t understand.

End of the Lesson Assessment: Through small group presentation and Q&A, what new insight have you gained about your character? Why? Back it up with supporting evidence.

Homework: Read pages 58-93 and  keep a reading log that tracks only the details that pertain to your character and major events. Select three quotation about or by your character and analyze how it enhances the overall meaning.


Day 6 ( pages 58-93)

Objectives: Students will gain deeper understanding of each character in the Bundrens through small group discussion of questions.

Aim: How does the texture of the Bundrens family reveal the southern culture?


Do Now: Describe a specific relationship you have with a family member. How does the relationship reflect a culture? Pair-share the descriptions.

Mini Lesson with Guided Practice

  1. In small groups, read and discuss one assigned narration and use the guided questions( see the packet ) to gear your discussions.

2.  Raise your own questions for discussions.

Student Independent Practice

Find your partner by character and start retelling the story centering around your character ( your character become the main one) up to page 93 using omniscient third person point of view. be sure to write down your story as you “tell” it.

End of the Lesson Assessment: What insight have you gained by flipping the point of view of narration?

Homework: Read pages 94-119 and keep a reading journal tracking your character development and major events of story.


Day 7

Objectives: Students will be able to gain more insight into the characters by examining their reactions and remarks during the journey to Jefferson.

Aim: How are new relationships among the Bundrens revealed in this passage?

Do Now: Select one quotation from this section of reading and copy it on a poster paper. Explain why the quotation is significant to the development of a character or theme.

Mini Lesson:

Read Darl 107 and discuss-

  • why Darl describes the road as a spoke of a wheel and the wagon, with Addie on it as the rim of the wheel
  • how Cash’s attitude is reflected through his attitude toward the coffin.
  • How is Darl’s view toward existence revealed through the metaphor? How are other characters’ views toward life revealed?

Student Independent Practice: 

In pairs or small group of three, discuss the following questions. Be sure to cite evidence to support your response. We will share the responses in class after the discussions.

  1. Dewey Dell( 26): How id Dewey Dell’s narrative voice different from others’? How do Darl and Dewey communicate?
  2. Vernon Tull( 29): How does Vernon’s language and punctuation reveal about his character? How does he mean differently from Anse when he says” The Lord giveth”?
  3. Anse ( 35): What’s the significance of the “road”? What specific details reveal him as lazy?
  4. Darl ( 39): How does Darl’s description of the approaching thunderstorm reveal his past? Why does he call Addie  by her full name instead of “mother”?
  5. Darl( 47): Which two children does Addie seek in her last moments and why is it important? What are Ansie’s first words after Addie’s death? Why are they significant? What kind of power do we see from Anse in this scene? Why is Anse’s final gesture and words towards deceased Addie symbolic? How does the author contrast Jewel and Anse at the end of the scene? What’s the purpose of such contrast?
  6. Vardaman( 53): What do we know about him through the narration? How does his ” strange” behavior reveal his identity?
  7. Dewey Dell ( 58):  How does Dewey Dell feel about her pregnancy? What types of internal struggle does she goes through before she comes to terms with it? Be sure to find textual evidence to support your claim.
  8. Vardaman( 65): How does he deal with his mother’s death? How does he try to understand his mother’s death?
  9. Tull ( 68): Describe Vernon Tull through his description of Vardaman and his different views from his wife.
  10. Darl( 75): What’s Darl’s narrative perspective? What does it suggest? Why does the “wagon” metaphor mean? How does the language contribute to Darl’s character?
  11. Cash (82): Explain the author’s purpose of organizing this chapter into 13 sections; How does Cashe’s description of the roads remind the reader of Anse’s comments on the roads? How does Cash’s language reveal his character?
  12. Vardaman(84): How is his character further established by this narration?
  13. Tull( 85): How are italics used in the narration? What kind of social rituals do we learn from this section?
  14. Darl (94): What’s the significance of  Jewel’s horse?
  15. Darl ( 97): What dies it suggest when Darl uses wagon as a metaphor again?
  16. Vardaman ( 100): Why does Darl say that ” Jewel’s mother is a horse”? HOw similar or different from Varde’sman’s ” my mother is a fish” statement?
  17. Darl ( 103): What’s the significance of the image ” buzzards” in his narration?  How does the author reveal his views on eternity through the ” wheel” metaphor?
  18. Anse (110): Why does Anse consider himself ” the chose of the lord”?
  19. Samson ( 112): How does this narration reveal various characters’ religious views?

End of the lesson assessment: What’s your character’s view toward life? Be specific. Cite a specific phrase or line to demonstrate.

Homework: Organize your reading logs up to page 119. Bring them in tomorrow to share. I’ll check your reading logs tomorrow.


Day 8

Objectives: Students will analyze the theme through responding a series of questions and quotations.

Do Now:

  • Share in pairs your reading logs up to page 119. Select a detail or quotation you’d like to share with the class. Teacher checks the reading logs.
  • Select a quotation from your reading assignment and discuss the theme this quotation reveal and explain briefly why. Provide some context of the quotation by summarizing the main events that surround it.

Mini Lesson with Guided Practice:

  • Select a theme that you’d like to explore in your final essay. Find a quotation or detail in your reading logs that relate to the theme ( develop, reveal or illustrate). Make a statement based on the detail or quotation about the theme.
  • Share in class your choice and explain how the details or quotations help illustrate your theme.
  • Share your responses to the assigned questions.

Student Independent Practice

Continue developing your thesis on one of the themes. How does our discussion on the questions add on to your understanding of the theme?

End of the Lesson Assessment: Write a thesis statement to reveal your understanding of your theme based on today’s discussion.


  • Read pages 120-136 and keep your reading logs updated.
  • Read pages 137-155 and keep your reading logs updated.

Day 9 Review

Objectives: Students will be able to review the theme and character development up to page 136 of As I Lay Dying.


Do Now: Ask questions concerning the novel’s theme or narrative style or any question you may have.

Mini Lesson with Guided Practice

Theme development- Authors use characters, setting and conflict or irony ( story elements)to develop or reveal a deeper message, theme.

Identify key details about your character, find relevant quotations that reveal your character’s thoughts, action and interaction with other characters. Through the development of the character in a specific setting, what theme is conveyed to the reader?

How does Faulkner interact all three elements to reveal themes?

Student Independent Practice

Use the study guide to guide your reading of the novel. Mark the responses that you have doubts about or diagree.

Complete your responses to the assigned questions-

  1. Dewey Dell (120): What do her visions and flashes of thinking reveal about her concerns and relationship with her mother and Darl?
  2. Tull ( 123): What’s the river’s symbolic function in this chapter? How does it reveal various characters? What is each willing to risk? What is repeated at the end of the chapter?  Why? Is it the central idea of the chapter?
  3. Darl ( 123): How does Darl refer to his mother in this chapter? Why is it different from other chapters? How is his perspective different from other narrations? How are family relationships perceived by Darl? What does his observations of Jewel and his horse suggest? How reveals Darl’s understanding that Jewel is different from them?
  4. Tull ( 137): What metaphor does Tull use to describe his hourse and land as he views them from the other side of the river? What does it signify?
  5. Darl ( 141): What language does Darl use to describe the river? What allusion is Faulkner making with the language? How does Darl describe his relationship with his big brother Cash? What does the simile ” loping string” mean?

End of the Lesson Assessment: How does the section helps deepen your understanding of the theme?

Homework: Read pages 137-155 and keep your reading logs updated. Select a quotation and explain how it relates to your theme.


Day 10 ( 53-155)

Objectives: Students will analyze the selected chapter and demonstrate their understanding by providing significant details and their analysis.

Do now: Write a three-sentence summary of the chapter you have been assigned to present.

Mini Lesson:

When presenting the chapter, please do the following

  1. provide page number of the narration
  2. provide a brief summary of the chapter as context
  3. use your annotations for the  presentation
  4. share important quotations ( details) from the narration that reveal the main character and theme
  5. analyze each detail and bring out the implications
  6. synthesize the details and connect to a specific theme.
  7. 7-minute limit

Independent Practice

Student presentation and evaluation.

Exist Slip: Comment on a specific presentation from which you have learned a great deal. What made it successful?

Homework: Continue digging out more more details up to page 155 for class discussion. Prepare three open-ended questions and one multiple-choice question based on your narration.


Day 11

Objectives: Students will be able to establish claims about their characters through examining details in each chapter.

Do now: Select a direct quotation from your character’s narration that is revealing about him/her or a relationship between characters . Read it dramatically to you partner.

Mini Lesson

Combining scenes into one-

Select three separate scenes where each character narrates the same moment and event. How can we move all the characters into the same scene and put them in conversation?

Work in groups of three and create a short scene.

Student Presentation and Evaluation

Students will be evaluated using the provided rubric.

Homework: Read pages 156-166 and keep adding new details in your reading log. Create a new scene in which at least three characters interact and show their individual views/actions/emotions/reactions toward an event or issue described in the novel.


Day 12 (As I Lay Dying up to page 166)

Objectives: Students will demonstrate their understanding of a specific theme in the novel As I Lay Dying by acting out a scene they have collaborated based on the relevant narrations.

Analyze a case in which grasping a point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement).

Demonstrate knowledge of eighteenth-, nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century foundational works of American literature, including how two or more texts from the same period treat similar themes or topics.

Do now: Pick out a specific quotation by your character and read it dramatically to your partner. What does this quotation reveal about your the character? What do you believe is Faulkner’s intention of creating this character? Write a couple of sentences to describe his intention.

Mini Lesson with Guided Practice

During our last lesson, we worked on turning a nonlinear form of narration into more linear plot. You have selected a event or scene in which you assembled the characters involved and let them speak directly to each other. In doing so, you may need to transform the stream-of-consciousness into a direct speech by “forcing” the characters to face each other. In your character’s speech, you may also include the setting descriptions where the thoughts take shapes.

Select a group from Friday’s” rehearsal”, perform the scene.

  • Be sure to read the lines dramatically to portray your character.
  • What’s the setting? issue?
  • As audience, what do we learn from the scene? Why? Comment and discuss.

Student Independent Practice

  • Get together with your partners and start the rehearsal of the scene you have written as a group project. Do have your scripts ready and make necessary changes when rehearing.  I’ll be observing and asking questions.

Exist Slip: Which team reveals a theme that you want to explore later? Why?

Homework: Continue revising your scene and be sure to come up with a theme that helps you select your quotations to be included in the scene. Read pages 166-176 and keep annotating the text.


Lesson 12

Objectives: Students will demonstrate their understanding of the character and theme by performing a scene they have collaborated in a small group.

Do Now: Print out the scenes for the group performance and do a quick warm-up by reading the first few lines of your scene. Make sure you have included a thematic statement  or explanation on why you have recreated the scene.

Mini Lesson

  • Review the rubric.
  • Performers: perform your scene. Make clear which character you are.
  • Audience: after each group’s performance, write down what you believe the theme revealed and one or two specific textual evidence that supports it.

Student Practice

Groups perform the scenes.

Exit Slip: Which team reveals a theme that you want to explore later? Why?

Homework: Select a theme that you want to explore. Select relevant details and evidence that will help illustrate the theme ( up to page 176). Write two paragraphs to explore the theme.


Day 13

Objectives: Students will be able to explore various themes embedded in A I Lay Dying through character analysis or pivotal moments in the novel.

Do now: Select one of the themes below and consider which character or moments in the novel may relate to it. What do you believe Faulkner try to convey about the theme?

  1. Mourning
  2. Identity
  3. Maternity
  4. Addie being revengeful and defiant
  5. Do you agree, “The pairing of Camus and Faulkner is justified because each is concerned with the development of the individual as a function of reactions to uncontrollable external forces: Camus represents the movement from innocence, to despair, to transcendence by tracing a hypothetical person’s progression, while Faulkner does so by artistic implication.”Explain.

Mini Lesson with Guided Practice

Read chapter Addie from page 169 to page 176 and discuss the questions-

  1. Where in space and time is Addie as she narrates this chapter?
  2. Why does Addie claim to have hated her students?
  3. Why does Addie marry Anse?
  5. What distinction does Addie make between words and experiences? What ideas from previous chapters does this distinction echo?

Independent Practice

Discuss questions 10-17 in the study guide in small groups. Do you agree with the responses? Why not?

Exist Slip: Through today’s discussion about Addie, what do you know more about her life? What kind of woman is he?

Homework: Read 177-183 and continue adding to your journals.


Day 14

Objectives: Students will be able to explore the character development and theme through identifying details and closely examining the connection between the text and themes.

Do NowDo you agree, “The pairing of Camus and Faulkner is justified because each is concerned with the development of the individual as a function of reactions to uncontrollable external forces: Camus represents the movement from innocence, to despair, to transcendence by tracing a hypothetical person’s progression, while Faulkner does so by artistic implication.”Explain.

Mini Lesson with Guided Practice

Developing a theme through the following-

  • a main character
  • relationship between two characters
  • a motif
  • a pivotal scene

Developing a theme through a character –
Addie: Through the portrayal of Addie’s rebellious and defiant attitude toward her husband Anse who embodies the moral codes of a patriarchal society in the  beginning of the 20th century Mississippi, Faulkner reveals an oppressive Southern America where women feel trapped, dissatisfied and even abandoned and suggests changes be made through education.

  • What’s character’s dominant trait?
  • In a specific social setting ( physical or cultural) , what result does the action yield?
  • What’s the author’s intention to create such a character in the physical or cultural setting?

Independent Practice
In pairs, generate a thesis statement based on the character traits.

Exist Slip: What did you learn about theme development?

Homework: Finish reading the novel and continue gathering details about your character and track the cahracter or scene development. Be prepared to recreate a short story based on three major scenes in the novel.


Day 15 Comparing Cora with Addie

Objectives: Students will be able to compare and contrast Addie and Cora by examining their role as a head of the family and in the community as well as their views toward men.

Do now: Select a chapter that is your favorite for any reason. Explain why in writing. Turn to a partner and share your thoughts.

Mini Lesson with Guided Practice

Read chapter Addie from page 169 to page 176 and discuss the questions-

  1. Where in space and time is Addie as she narrates this chapter?
  2. Why does Addie claim to have hated her students?
  3. Why does Addie marry Anse?
  5. What distinction does Addie make between words and experiences? What ideas from previous chapters does this distinction echo?
  6. Why is it significant that Darl’s birth made Addie ask Anse to take her back to Jefferson when she died? What does Addie, in the context of her own language, mean by “died”?
  7. Explain why Addies compares Anse to a jar.
  8. What does Addie mean by God’s sin?
  9. What does blood symbolize to Addie? What does milk symbolize?
  10. Compare Addie’s and Cora’s definitions of sin. How does the difference reveal their character differences?
  11. What does Addie mean by ” clean my house”? Whose phrasing from an earlier chapter does this echo? How does Jewel’s birth allow Addie to clean her house?

Student Independent Practice

Discuss the chapter by Cora (166-168) & chapter by Tull ( 85-93). Use the questions in the study guide to help you go in depth with your discussion. Your focus needs to be on examining what kind of woman Cora is both through her direct monologue and Tull’s.

End of the Lesson Assessment: In what ways are Addie and Cora different or similar? Why?

Homework: Start working on a short story with your assigned character as the protagonist. You can use any point of view for your writing. Focus on a main event or scene(s) and use details to portray the scene(s). The reader should be able to draw a similar theme to one from the original novel from your story. Consider framing your story through structure and selection of scenes and details.  Although you are not allowed to add new scenes or reimagine characters, you are free to recreate the story in any fashion to serve your purpose. Dialogues included need to be precise as well as the setting. Due May 23.


Day 16 Chapter to Theme

Objectives: Students will be able to analyze  a theme through details in a specific chapter.

Do now: How do we derive at a theme?

Mini Lesson and Guided Practice (cited from http://www.shmoop.com/as-i-lay-dying/themes.html)

Suffering is very much a part of every day life in As I Lay Dying. The novel tells the story of a poverty-stricken family traveling to bury their mother during the 1920s in Mississippi. Times are tough and the difficult journey brings obstacle after obstacle. As each family member is forced to give up his or her dreams – and needs, in some cases – it becomes clear that death is really the best option around, and a welcome alternative to the hardship of their lives.

Questions About Suffering 

  1. Which character suffers the most in As I Lay Dying? The least?
  2. Which kind of suffering is the most destructive in this novel – physical, or emotional?
  3. What causes the suffering the Bundrens face? Are they responsible for their own misery, or is it, as Anse believes, simply a case of bad luck?
Start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate:

The Bundren children intentionally inflict emotional pain on one another in response to their mother’s death.

Student Independent Practice

  • Share the connections you have made between specific chapter and the theme you have chosen to explore.
  • Ask three questions to deepen your exploration of the theme.

Exit Slip: How does asking questions deepen you understanding of the theme?

Homework: Select three quotations from the book that you believe will help you explore the theme or answer your questions. Explain why the quotations connect to your theme.


Day 17 (Theme Analysis)

Objectives: Students will be able to explore a theme of  Faulkner’s novel by analyzing three carefully selected quotations related to a character.

Do now: Share in pairs the three questions you have raised based on your theme. How have the questions deepened your understanding of the theme?

Mini Lesson and Guided Practice

Character : Cash


  1. Vernon: “Cash went outen sight, still holding the coffin braces…”(154)
  2. Darl:  Jewel looks down at Cash…” Ain’t he talked none yet?” (157)
  3. Darl: ” Cash has not moved. We stand above him, holding the plane, the saw, the hammer, the square, the rule, the chalk line, while Dewey Dell squats and lifts Cash’s head,” she says, “Cash.” He opens his eyes, staring profoundly up at our inverted faces. (162-163)
  4. Cash: ” It wasn’t on a balance.” (165)
  5. Cash: “It’s like it aint so much what a fellow does, but its’ the way the majority of folks is looking at him when he does it.” (233)

Analysis based on the quotations:

  1. ( quotation 1)As the wagon, Addie’s coffin, and Cash are dumped in the river ,Cash is nearly lost to the river yet still holds on to the coffin he has made. His carpentry tools are almost lost as well.
  2. ( quotations 2 &#)With the near loss of his tools and the object he has made comes the near loss of Cash’s identity, the tenuous, relative identity that is the chief commodity in which the Bundren family trades. When Jewel and his horse pull Cash’s limp body from the river. Cash is for the 1st time separated from his carpenter’s implements. His entire identity  is located in the fact that he is a carpenter and when Cash speaks, his monologues are the most terse and mechanical of the family, compose largely of lists and constructions records. A man of action-which gives him close ties with Addie and Jewel-he is unable to frame any tribute or farewell to his mother other than by the care with which he builds Addie’s coffin, seeking her approval of his work at each step of the construction. His sole means of expression is through his carpentry skills. Accordingly, Cash is pulled from the river divested of his identity. Previously an active and crucial participant,he now seems to face from view. As Vernon Tull observes, Cash ” went outen sight”. Cash them becomes a spectral figure-inert, voiceless, reduced, without identity. On the surface, this is due to his being unconscious and nearly drowned. But the loss of the tools is equally responsible for the submersion of Cash’s selfhood, for only with their retrieval is he allowed to return to the text and speak again.
  3. ( Quotation 3) The significance of the carpentry tools to Cash is apparently evident to other members of the group. With Cash ashore, the presumably hopeless search for them begins almost immediately, with an extraordinary degree of urgency. Jewel seems mos aware of the integral relation between Cash’s sense of self and his tools. Seeing in Cash’s level of consciousness a barometer of the success of the search, Jewel looks down at Cash, whose eyes are close, and asks: “Ain’t he talked non yet?” Furthermore, Cash’s individuality is decidedly independent pf the others, unlike Vardeman whose identity is based on his relations to the other family members. Underscoring this isolation, they are unaware of exactly what implements Cash has brought with him, so that the difficult of the search is increased. But the search does succeed, and Cash is ale to return to consciousness and become himself again.
  4. (Quotation 4) Once Cash’s identity is reinstated, he is allowed to speak. He is the first monologue after the river crossing, and it is a characteristically brief monologue of Cash the carpenter, who laments that the coffin ” wasn’t on a balance” before his identity drops off again into the unconsciousness.
  5.  ( Quotation 5) Cash not only regains his identity with the return of his tools but also acquires a new awareness of the relativity of that identity and how deeply it is rooted in his function as a carpenter. This new awareness evidently leads Cash to reassess his own individuality, those of others, and the fragile relativity of all personal identity, for Cash does not return to the text as a speaker until the end of the novel, when he speaks with a new voice, more detailed and abstract, the less mechanical. He has now acquired the ability to relate to one another the various events that have transpired and the conflicting  perceptions of the participants in a narrative sequence; he is no longer restricted to the list format. He had also attained a metaphoric sensibility, through which he is now able to situate the metaphysical in his world that was previously restricted to the physical. Cash’s new voice and new awareness make him the controlling voice for the novel’s comprehensive thesis, passing benign judgment on Darl and on the ambiguity of perception in general: “It’s like it aint so much what a fellow does, but its’ the way the majority of folks is looking at him when he does it.”

Thesis: Through portraying Cash as a man who perceives himself  and is perceived by others through a particular trade, carpentry,  and the temporary loss of self due to the accidental separation from his tools, Faulkner exposes the fragility and inconstancy of  human psyche that defines one’s identity.  

Student Independent Practice

Continue analyzing the quotations that describe a specific character and explain how others’ observations and the character’s own inner thoughts reveal a specific theme.

In your essay, you will need to include the following-

  1. 3-5 quotations directly from the novel.
  2. All quotations are about the same cahracter ( by the character him/herself or by other characters)
  3. Analyse each quotation within the context and connect to your theme.
  4. Thesis statement

Homework: The final essay is due May 25.


Assessment of the Unit As I Lay Dying : Socratic Seminar

Objectives: Students will examine Faulkner’s idea of “the human heart in conflict with itself ” and his tone of “pity or compassion” through his novel As I Lay Dying in a Socratic seminar .

Materials: copies of As I Lay Dying, prepared responses from homework; Socratic Seminar evaluation rubric, self-assessment sheet

Text: Faulkner’s Nobel Prize speech


  • READING: INFORMATIONAL – RI.11-12.1-7, 9-10
  • WRITING – W.11-12.1-10

Do Now: In pairs, briefly discuss the rules of conducting a Socratic Seminar for and check the necessary tools each participant needs to have to play a role. Ask questions if you are unclear about any particular rule. ( 5 minutes)

  • Form two concentric circles and have the inner circle discuss their responses to the questions ,providing evidence for their ideas and actively incorporating others into the discussion. (SL.11-12.1a-b, SL.11-12.4)
  • While the inner circle discusses, students in the outer circle evaluate the point of view, reasoning, participation, and use of evidence of an assigned partner in the inner circle. (SL.11-12.3)
  • Students in the outer circle record their evalation of their partners using the Socratic Seminar observation checklist.
  • Students in the inner circle don’t need to raise hands to talk. They should focus on the main speaker and wait their turn. They should respond to each other, using each other’s names and express agreement or disagreement in a courteous, thoughtful manner.

Round 1:

  • Inner circle-Mykai, Ashely, Brian( leader), Karen, Jalon, , Jasmin, Juleissy ( round 1)
  • Outer circle: Amberlyn, Jesiree, Shuzel, Evan, Yousself, Cassie( leader), Romela, Natalina ( round 2)
  • Observation/Evaluation Partners: Mykai-Amberlyn, Ashely-Even, Jesiree, Brain-Cassie, Karen-Shuzel, Jalon-Yousself, Jasmin-Romelo, Juleissy-Natalina

Rules for  Socratic Seminar leader

  • Your role as the facilitator is to ask( read)  questions and move along the discussion. You should be careful to limit your own talk time. Still, you play an active role shaping the dialogue andsynthesizing group’s ideas if necessay.
  • As your group members talk, listen carefully, so you can ask thoughtful follow-up questions. Keep track of talk time so you can encourage everyone to participate. It helps to draw a map of the dialogue, taking notes on participants ‘s responses. Afterward, use your notes to offer helpful feedback.
  • If the discussion gets out of hand, you might need to break in and remind students of the seminar rules and goals. But don’t get discouraged!

Sample questions to move along the discussion:

  • Who has a different perspective?
  • Who has not yet had a chance to speak?
  • Where do you find evidence for that in the text?
  • Can you clarify what you mean by that? How does that relate to what (someone else) said?
  • Is there something in the text that is unclear to you? Has anyone changed their mind?


Mini Lesson with Guided Practice 

These are today’s whole class discussion goals.-

  • You have already come so far in your discussion skills: making claims, referring to textual evidence, buidling off of each other, challeging each other’s ideas, inviting others into the conversattion, etc
  • You have developed your skills in keeping a topic alive by asking probing questions
  • You will learn to build your skills at using discussion to develop meaning by analyzing evidence  instead of simply including evidence.
  • You’ll also learn to acknowledge changes in your perspective.

Personal Goals: (Choose a personal goal to focus on during today’s seminar)

  • a. Ask a probing question;
  • b) build on others’ discussion by referring to the text or analyzing the evidence
  • c) contribute a new idea to the converstaion
  • d) synthesize group ideas
  • e) make eye contact with your peers when speaking
  • f) articulating your ideas
  • g)making more connections between ideas

Seminar Plan

  1. We’ll share one idea from As I Lay Dying that stands out for you.
  2. Choose a personal goal: a. Ask a probing question; b) build on others’ discussion by referring to the text or analyzing the evidence c) contribute a new idea to the conversation d) synthesize group ideas e) make eye contact with your peers when speaking e) articulating your ideas f) practice listening
  3. Our class goal today is using discussion to develop meaning by analyzing evidence  instead of simply including evidence.


Student Independent Practice:Conducting a student-led Socratic Seminar

Opening Question:

Core Questions: 

Round 1

  1. Where does the story take place (time period and location)?
  2. What does Vernon Tull think about Anse’s fatherly role concerning Vardaman?
  3. In what ways does Cora try to convince Addie that the Lord is her only salvation? And what does Addie respond?
  4. What is the reason for Addie marrying Anse?
  5. What are the reasons behind Addie’s giving birth to Dewey Dell and Vardaman?
  6. What does Cora Tull state that displays her criticism of Anse? (pgs 152-153)
  7. What excuse does Anse use that led to the Bundren’s late departure for Jefferson?
  8. What does Cash think about Darl’s mental illness?
  9. What do Peabody’s and Cora’s opinions on Addie say about her as a mother?
  10. What does Anse blame for his inability to move? What does this say about him in relation to his family?
  11. What does the family do to fix Cash’s leg?
  • What are Moseley’s opinions of country people? Do the other chapters in the book back him up? Is Moseley a sympathetic character? Give evidence.

——————Switch Roles ( inner circle to outer circle and visa versa)

Round 2

  1. What does MacGowan want from Dewey Dell in order to give her medicine?
  2. Does Anse ever get his teeth? What change does it bring about?
  3. What is Addie’s rationale for her affair?
  4. What does Cora believe Jewel’s place in Addie’s life(167-168)?
  5. How does Whitfiled’s descriptions of crossing the river compare the way Tull described him in the chapter beginning “ It was ten o’clock when I got back…”(177)?
  6. Does Whitfield confess to Anse about his affair with Addie? Why or why not?
  7. What is Cash’s reaction to losing his toolbox?
  8. What relationship is portrayed between Cash and Addie through their narratives?
  9. How does Jewel react after a man in the town makes a comment on Cash’s leg?
  10. What is Darl’s motive to burn the barn?
  11. Who is  the last person to decide whether Darl should be sent away to the mental institution?
  12. What obstacle do the Bundrens endure on their way to Jefferson? To what extent are the elements against them, and to what extent do they sabotage themselves?
  • Describe Dewey Dell based on various perspectives, in particular Moseley’s eye.

Closing Question

What do we learn about the characters and other events of the novel? DO they remain the same? Why or why not? What’s Faulkner’s intention to tell a story in such a way?

Homework: Prepare for your response to interpretive questions.


As I Lay Dying Socratic Seminar #2 -Interpretive Questions


Final Interpretive Questions

  • Inner circle-Mykai, Ashely (leader), Brian, Karen, Jalon, , Jasmin, Juleissy ( round 1)
  • Outer circle: Amberlyn, Jesiree, Shuzel, Evan(leader), Yousself, Cassie, Romela, Natalina ( round 2)

Inner circle students: Respond to Qs1-8; outer circle : Qs 9-16. Be sure to have the responses before the class begins. Email me the responses at 8:10 tomorrow before we start with the socratic seminar.

  1. What kind of man is Witfield based on the language he uses? How does this characterization relate to the theme of the novel (177)?
  2. Why does Faulkner seem to highlight the contrast between Cora and Tulls perspective? What does this say about men and women in the society during the time?
  3. Is Tull and Jewel’s search in the river for Cash’s tools an act of love or obligation? Why or why not?
  4. Addie meditates on the distance between words and actions. Is Faulkner saying that words—his own chosen medium—are inadequate? What do Addie’s definitions say about her as a woman?
  5. Humor and the grotesque are often interdependent in this novel, such as Vardaman’s accidental drilling of holes in his dead mother’s face so she can breathe, the family setting Cash’s broken leg in cement and the family’s apparent imperviousness to the stench of Addie’s rotting corpse. What are other examples? What was your reaction to such moments? How do these moments help the reader “see” the decadent South?
  6. How does this quote, “And then, life wasn’t made to be easy on folks: they wouldn’t ever have any reason to be good and die,” (Page 137), conveys the theme of book?
  7. How does Darl’s being sent to an mental institution in the end effect the pathos of the novel?  Why?
  8. Why is Jewl portrayed as an outsider even though he shares the same mother as the rest of the Bundrens’ ?         
  9. Why is Vardaman’s character important to the story? In what way is his voice of innocence and misunderstanding contribute to the plot?          
  10. How has all of the members of the Bundren family dealt with isolationism throughout the novel?
  11. How is Cora Tull a hypocrite regarding religion compared to Addie Bundren’s religious view?
  12. How does Darl’s views of their journey to jackson shift throughout the novel, what does that reveal about his views on death and his relationship with his mother?
  13. How does Addie’s defiance towards religion and a traditional family structure suggest about her? What does William Faulkner imply through his character Addie—-a woman who can be considered unorthodoxical in relation to her time?  Why is Anse portrayed as someone who lacks the ability to keep the family together but lead it toward destruction?
  14. How does this quotation “Addie Bundren could not want a better one, better box to lie in. It will give her confidence and comfort”  reveal a theme as the novel unravels?
  15. How is stream of consciousness employed in order to add complexity to characters?
  16. Why does Faulkner end the novel by having Darl sent to an insane asylum? What’s his view about the society he portrays?

Socratic Seminar #3 Evaluative questions

  1. To what extent are the themes of this novel universal? Is this story for the American South or a larger audience? How do you know?
  2. What compels loyalty in this family? What are the ways in which that loyalty is betrayed? Who do you feel makes the ultimate sacrifice for the family? Overall, do you find this novel to be hopeful or pessimistic? Share your comments.
  3. How do or do not  the Bundrens correlate with our traditional idea of family?
  4. Why does Faulkner choose the South to be the setting of the story? How does the story represent the Southern culture of post Civil War era?
  5. Since Faulkner was born and grew up in Mississippi, how did his knowledge of southern life and social expectations help structure and develop the narrative in As I Lay Dying?
  6. What may have contributed to Faulkner’s  creating a story where the protagonist is already dead? What effect does that have on the book as a whole and on the reader?
  7. How does the concurring obstacles and pain suffered by the Bundren family during their travel to Jefferson symbolize the fatalistic struggle of man to reach a goal?
  8. In what ways does William Faulkner’s use of a nonlinear storyline symbolize the non-linear unknow path of real life?They say life is unpredictable—how true does William Faulkner stay true to this concept?
  9. According to As I lay Dying, what is the truest definition of family?
  10. In Faulkner’s Nobel Prize speech, he claims, “…man is immortal simply because he will endure: that when the last dingdong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.” How does the novel As I Lay Dying illustrate Faulkner’s views on man as well as the writer( poet)’s responsibilities?