As I Lay Dying

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As I Lay Dying 5. Darl Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Darl and Jewel prepare to run an errand for Vernon Tull. Anse cautions the boys against leaving, fearing they will still be away at the time of Addie's death. Darl defends their choice by explaining that the errand will bring them three dollars, and then thinks to himself about how Anse has never sweat a day in his life.
Darl's dismissive attitude toward his father reveals the extent to which even Anse's own children doubt his sense of responsibility and care toward them. However, Darl's interest in the three dollars does show the selfish concerns the Bundrens still have even just before Addie's death. This further complicates the novel's portrayal of family and heroism.
Themes
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Tull comforts Jewel and Darl by pointing out that Addie has seemed more like herself recently, though Jewel is angered by Tull's interference in the situation. Anse then begins to discuss potential arrangements for carting Addie's coffin to Jefferson, but is silenced by Jewel, who expresses anger at the family as a whole for their apparent desire to rush Addie to her death. Anse ultimately resolves to allow Jewel and Darl to leave on their errand—under the condition that they return before sundown.
Tull's role in this scene is characteristic: he offers the Bundrens consistent help and support during their times of need, despite his wholly separate role from their family structure. His generosity in these ways only serves to point out Anse's failures as a father and his frequent use of self-rationalization to justify his selfish thoughts and actions.
Themes
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon