As I Lay Dying

As I Lay Dying

Pdf fan
Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Jewel's Horse Symbol Analysis

Jewel's Horse Symbol Icon
Jewel's relationship with his horse symbolizes his willful decision to separate himself from the rest of the Bundren family. Of course, Jewel is not biologically a Bundren child; however, he deliberately emphasizes his desire to detach from the family through cultivating such a strong relationship with the horse. In order to buy the horse initially, Jewel had to work every night, lying to his family with the exception of Addie, who favored Jewel and forced her other children to take over his chores. Darl even remarks sardonically that Jewel's mother is a horse. On the journey to Jefferson itself, Jewel rides ahead on his horse, symbolizing his desire for independence from the Bundren clan. When Anse ultimately trades Jewel's horse in for a new team of mules, it is as though he is trying to strip Jewel of his independence and make him feel a sense of duty to the family.

Jewel's Horse Quotes in As I Lay Dying

The As I Lay Dying quotes below all refer to the symbol of Jewel's Horse. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of As I Lay Dying published in 1991.
21. Darl Quotes

“It’s not your horse that’s dead, Jewel…Jewel’s mother is a horse.”

Related Characters: Darl Bundren (speaker), Jewel, Addie Bundren
Related Symbols: Jewel's Horse
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:

Darl continues his rivalry with Jewel, contrasting his way of understanding the world to his brother’s, even as they both attempt to grapple with Addie’s death in different ways. Darl views Jewel’s attachment to his horse critically, both because Jewel’s attachment to it sets him off from the rest of the family, and because Jewel’s focus on the horse embodies such a different, more visceral way of grappling with Addie’s death than Darl’s language-based, symbolically complex attitude.

Here, Darl connects Jewel’s love for Addie to his love for horses, and, using the same transitive property as Vardaman did earlier, links Addie to a horse ("my mother is a fish" becomes "Jewel's mother is a horse"). This potentially pejorative statement has more to do, however, with Darl’s own frustrations in trying to assign meaning to his mother’s life and death within the context of a family that is so internally different and inconsistent.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other As I Lay Dying quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
26. Anse Quotes

“I told him not to bring that horse out of respect for his dead ma, because it wouldn’t look right, him prancing along on a durn circus animal and her wanting us all to be in the wagon….”

Related Characters: Anse Bundren (speaker), Jewel, Addie Bundren
Related Symbols: Jewel's Horse
Page Number: 105
Explanation and Analysis:

Anse is angry that Jewel wants to bring his horse along as the family travels to Jefferson. Here, Anse claims that Jewel is acting out of self-interest, wanting to ride his horse just to show off, and failing to be somber and serious enough in a way that would honor Addie’s life and death. Anse also argues that Addie would have wanted the entire family to be in the wagon together, making Jewel’s choice even more disrespectful.

Nonetheless, Anse’s arguments are weak at best, disingenuous at worst. We have already seen how Jewel is perhaps the member of the family who was closest to Addie and who feels her loss most profoundly. Anse, meanwhile, has been more preoccupied with himself than with anyone else. His understanding of family duty seems to have much more to do with empty actions, gestures devoid of substance, which look right but fail to mean anything. Anse’s fixation on what Jewel’s horse will look like – a “circus animal” – further underlines his interest in appearances more than in actual family obligations and duties, not to mention sincere love and connection.

34. Darl Quotes

“Jewel shouts at the horse…He is just above the top of the ford and the horse has a purchase of some sort for it surges forward, shining wetly half out of water…Cash is half turned, the reins running taut from his hand and disappearing into the water, the other hand reached back upon Addie, holding her jammed over against the high side of the wagon.”

Related Characters: Darl Bundren (speaker), Jewel, Cash Bundren, Addie Bundren
Related Symbols: Jewel's Horse
Page Number: 148-149
Explanation and Analysis:

Darl describes a scene of chaos and desperation when the family attempts to cross a river, and the wagon pitches as the horse rears up and through the water. The way Darl describes the scene imbues it with an almost mythical beauty and significance. The family’s trip to Jefferson, described skeptically by a number of the characters, becomes more than a pointless journey and suddenly takes on life-and-death implications. Cash’s insistence on keeping Addie’s coffin afloat reminds us that members of the family do have real feelings for Addie, even as they sometimes coexist with pettier, more self-interested motivations. Still, this one brief surge of heroism as the brothers strive to keep the family together and cross the river contrasts to such an extent with the rest of the voyage as to challenge the idea that the journey is really heroic and significant at all.

Get the entire As I Lay Dying LitChart as a printable PDF.
As i lay dying.pdf.medium

Jewel's Horse Symbol Timeline in As I Lay Dying

The timeline below shows where the symbol Jewel's Horse appears in As I Lay Dying. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
3. Darl
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
...Anse that Jewel is down in the barn, where he is attempting to mount his horse, which is behaving aggressively and resisting Jewel's command. Jewel finally mounts the horse and rides... (full context)
21. Darl
Mortality and the Nature of Existence Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
...make an unexpectedly delayed return home. He sarcastically reminds Jewel that it is not his horse that is dead. Jewel curses him. Darl thinks to himself that he can no longer... (full context)
24. Vardaman
Mortality and the Nature of Existence Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
...again that his mother is a fish, though Darl claims that Jewel's mother is a horse. Vardaman confusedly reasons that if Jewel is his brother, and Jewel's mother is a horse,... (full context)
25. Darl
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
...family gathers in the wagon and Anse laments Jewel's inconsiderate behavior—specifically his obsession with his horse and the related face that he is not coming with them in the wagon to... (full context)
26. Anse
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
...coffin laying at his feet. The wagon passes Tull's lane just as Jewel and his horse catch up with the family's wagon. Darl continues to laugh. (full context)
27. Darl
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
...Cash tell Jewel all of these unfortunate details. Jewel swiftly passes the wagon on his horse, which kicks up a burst of mud onto Addie's coffin. Cash uses his tools to... (full context)
32. Darl
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
...private. One morning in November, five months later, Jewel returns home one day on a horse. When Anse asks where he got the horse, Jewel replies that he bought it from... (full context)
34. Darl
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
...crossed, Darl and Cash proceed with the wagon to the ford. Jewel remains on his horse, following Darl and Cash at the wagon's rear wheel. The brothers spot the rest of... (full context)
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
...up crashing into the wagon, but Cash holds onto the coffin. Jewel shouts at his horse, as the other family members rush along the riverbank. Because of the strong surge of... (full context)
42. Darl
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
...about his health, but Cash merely mutters about his tools. Jewel rides ahead on his horse to Armstid's home and comes back to the Bundrens with Armstid's team of mules that... (full context)
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
...while they eat in Armstid's home, and describes Jewel's rituals of taking care of the horse. (full context)
43. Armstid
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Anse leaves Armstid's house the next morning with Jewel's horse, riding off to inquire Snopes about opportunities for buying a team of mules nearby. Back... (full context)
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
...buy himself a graphophone, explains Darl), some money from his teeth fund, and, finally, Jewel's horse. (full context)
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
...appears more dumbfounded then infuriated at this news, and decides to ride away on his horse, making it so that the mule deal would not ultimately pan out. Though the next... (full context)
46. Darl
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
...Jewel, who still had been missing, returns to the family silently. No longer with a horse, Jewel boards the wagon. Anse points out the upcoming hill and tells his children to... (full context)
47. Vardaman
Mortality and the Nature of Existence Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
...the situation in simple, declarative sentences: "Jewel came back"¦He was walking. Jewel hasn't got a horse anymore. Jewel is my brother. Cash is my brother. Cash has a broken leg." Vardaman... (full context)
48. Darl
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
...called Gillepsie. Upon arrival, Darl asks Jewel "Whose son are you? Your mother was a horse, but who was your father Jewel?" Jewel becomes angry and repeats again and again that... (full context)