As I Lay Dying

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As I Lay Dying 2. Cora Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Cora Tull delightfully thinks about the cakes she has just made. Cora had been hired to make the cakes, although the woman hiring her decided not to take them or pay her, leading Cora's daughter Kate to feel resentful on her mother's behalf. Cora is not disturbed by the loss of money or her time, rationalizing the situation by saying that "Riches is nothing in the face of the Lord, for He can see into the heart."
Cora offers a perspective from outside of the Bundren family and establishes a counter-perspective to the often dysfunctional family dynamic early on in the novel. In particular, Cora uses language and thought to rationalize her own behavior as pious and to assure herself of her own faith in God.
Themes
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
Cora shifts her attention to Addie, who is lying silently on her deathbed nearby. Looking at Addie's sickly face and eyes, Cora remembers how well her friend used to bake cakes. Cora's other daughter Eula claims that Addie must either be listening to or watching Cash build her coffin. Then Darl walks in the door without looking at or talking to any of the women.
Despite her ostensible pious nature, Cora's attention to the Bundren family—exemplified here by her reference to Addie's cakes, Cash's coffin-building, and Darl's silence—speaks to her critical nature and her tendency to make judgments about the family in an effort to contrast their behaviors to those of her and her family.
Themes
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon