As I Lay Dying


William Faulkner

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As I Lay Dying: 45. Moseley Summary & Analysis

A clerk in the Mottson town pharmacy named Moseley notices a girl looking inside the store-window with a blank look on her face. The girl is Dewey Dell. She eventually comes into the store, carrying a package wrapped in newspaper and appearing confused as to where to look for what she is there to buy. Moseley asks her what she is there for but doesn't get an answer until he asks if she needs medicine. She answers affirmatively, and ultimately mentions that she is there to buy an abortion. Moseley tells her that they have nothing for her in the store, and that she should instead buy a wedding license.
Moseley offers a unique perspective on the Bundrens and their often ridiculous actions, highlighting the novel's interest in subjectivity versus objectivity, language versus action. Dewey Dell's fear about asking Moseley for the abortion is palpable, and emphasizes the novel's unromantic view of pregnancy and birth. Despite the self-interest of wanting to go to Jefferson for an abortion, Dewey Dell merely acts out of a practical state of desperation.
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Disturbed by his encounter with Dewey Dell, Moseley then learns more about the Bundrens from his colleague Albert. Apparently, Anse was approached by a town marshal that same day because of the smell of "rotten cheese" emanating from the family's loud and decrepit "ramshackle wagon." Furthermore, the town marshal saw one of the Bundren children buy cement intended to be used as a setting for Cash's broken leg, and eventually tells Cash to go see a doctor.
The opinions of Moseley's colleague and the town marshal reveal the heightened degree of absurdity with which onlookers regard the Bundrens' journey. The observations of the Mottson townspeople foreground the question of whether the Bundrens' commitment to burying Addie in Jefferson can even be seen as remotely heroic.
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