As I Lay Dying

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As I Lay Dying 30. Dewey Dell Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The Bundrens end up passing the sign for New Hope. Dewey Dell repeats the name "New Hope" in her head out of apparent excitement. She also begins to worry to herself about how distracted she was with her own issues while Addie was on her deathbed. Between these thoughts of regret, Dewey Dell reminds herself of New Hope's arrival in three miles.
Dewey Dell clings onto the potential hope brought by the appropriately named "New Hope." Dewey Dell's thoughts are dominated by self-interested anxiety, not by the other personal matters—namely, a sense of duty to her mother. This suggests that childbirth, rather than giving her joy would only continue to deprive Dewey Dell of independence.
Themes
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Cataloguing all of her relationships with her brothers, Dewey Dell first imagines killing Darl with the knife Vardaman used to cut up the fish he caught. She then finds herself thinking about a bad dream she had when she used to sleep alongside Vardaman. In the dream, Dewey Dell could not see or feel anything, until she felt something "like a piece of cool silk" from below, on her legs.
Dewey Dell's violent anger toward Darl is not typical even for sibling rivalry; it speaks to the overall dysfunction that characterizes the Bundren family and the dynamics between the family members. The dream serves to emphasize Dewey Dell's undivided attention to her own personal anxiety.
Themes
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
As the Bundrens approach New Hope, they do not stop but instead turn into Tull's lane. Vardaman asks why they are not going to New Hope but the family remains silent in response. Dewey Dell repeats to herself that she believes in God.
In her highly desperate state, Dewey Dell presumably finds religion the last possible resort to gain a sense of hope. These moments (such as when Anse remarks about being a chosen man of God) call into question the authenticity of faith, and present religion as a language that provides the characters with a convenient sense of meaning in their lives.
Themes
Religion and Faith Theme Icon