As I Lay Dying

As I Lay Dying

Darl Bundren Character Analysis

Darl Bundren is the second son of Anse and Addie Bundren. Darl narrates the greatest number of sections in the novel and is often considered to be its surrogate author figure. Not only is Darl the character who best expresses himself using language, but he also appears to have powers of clairvoyance – specifically, he can describe Addie’s death scene from afar and he somehow, inexplicably, knows about Dewey Dell’s pregnancy. Darl detaches himself from the rest of the family because of his strange wisdom, and is the only character to express explicit contempt for the Bundrens’ journey. Darl is eventually claimed to be insane by the Bundrens, after he burns down Gillepsie’s barn in an attempt to put a stop to the journey to Jefferson. Whether or not he is insane is never entirely clear.

Darl Bundren Quotes in As I Lay Dying

The As I Lay Dying quotes below are all either spoken by Darl Bundren or refer to Darl Bundren. 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.
1. Darl Quotes

“Jewel, fifteen feet behind me, looking straight ahead, steps in a single stride through the window. Still staring straight ahead, his pale eyes like wood set into his wooden face, he crosses the floor in four strides with the rigid gravity of a cigar store Indian dressed in patched overalls and endued with life from the hips down, and steps in a single stride through the opposite window and into the path again just as I come around the corner.”

Related Characters: Darl Bundren (speaker), Jewel
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

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7. Dewey Dell Quotes

“And so it was because I could not help it. It was then, and then I saw Darl and he knew. He said he knew without the words like he told me that ma is going to die without words…And that’s why I can talk to him with knowing with hating because he knows.”

Related Characters: Dewey Dell Bundren (speaker), Darl Bundren
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:

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10. Darl Quotes

“It takes two people to make you, and one people to die. That’s how the world is going to end.”

Related Characters: Darl Bundren (speaker)
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:

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12. Darl Quotes

“Jewel’s hat droops limp about his neck…Jewel, I say, she is dead, Jewel. Addie Bundren is dead.”

Related Characters: Darl Bundren (speaker), Jewel, Addie Bundren
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:

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17. Darl Quotes

“In a strange room you must empty yourself for sleep. And before you are emptied for sleep, what are you….I don’t know what I am. I don’t know if I am or am not. Jewel knows he is, because he does not know that he does not know whether he is or not.”

Related Characters: Darl Bundren (speaker), Jewel
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

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49. Vardaman Quotes

“And I saw something Dewey Dell told me not to tell nobody. It is not about pa and it is not about Cash and it is not about Jewel and it is not about Dewey Dell and it is not about me.”

Related Characters: Vardaman Bundren (speaker), Darl Bundren, Dewey Dell Bundren
Related Symbols: The Coffin
Page Number: 215
Explanation and Analysis:

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50. Darl Quotes

“Then it topples forward, gaining momentum, revealing Jewel and the sparks raining on him too in engendering gusts, so that he appears to be closed in a thin nimbus of fire.”

Related Characters: Darl Bundren (speaker), Jewel
Related Symbols: The Coffin
Page Number: 222
Explanation and Analysis:

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53. Cash Quotes

“Sometimes I aint so sho who’s got ere a right to say when a man is crazy and when he aint…It’s like it aint so much what a fellow does, but it’s the way the majority of folks is looking at him when he does it.”

Related Characters: Cash Bundren (speaker), Darl Bundren
Page Number: 233
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Darl Bundren Character Timeline in As I Lay Dying

The timeline below shows where the character Darl Bundren appears in As I Lay Dying. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
1. Darl
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
Darl and Jewel walk single-file on a large field, heading toward their home. On the way,... (full context)
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
Upon reaching the foot of a bluff, Darl notices a wagon with two chairs stacked on it, arranged by the Bundrens' neighbor Vernon... (full context)
2. Cora
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
...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. (full context)
3. Darl
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
Anse Bundren and Vernon Tull sit on the Bundrens' back porch as Darl makes his return home. Anse asks Darl where Jewel is; before answering his father, Darl... (full context)
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
Darl tells Anse that Jewel is down in the barn, where he is attempting to mount... (full context)
5. Darl
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Darl and Jewel prepare to run an errand for Vernon Tull. Anse cautions the boys against... (full context)
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
Tull comforts Jewel and Darl by pointing out that Addie has seemed more like herself recently, though Jewel is angered... (full context)
6. Cora
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
...the Bundren household to take care of Addie in her last moments, Cora thinks about Darl's sweet disposition as she watches say goodbye to Addie. In particular, Cora contrasts Darl to... (full context)
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
...will die surrounded by the love and respect of her Christian family. Dewey Dell asks Darl what he wants, but Darl does not answer and instead continues to stare at Addie.... (full context)
7. Dewey Dell
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
Dewey Dell then has the realization that Darl knows about her experience with Lafe, saying, "He said he knew without the words like... (full context)
8. Tull
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Tull tells Anse not to worry about Jewel and Darl's trip and that they'll be back before long. Anse repeats that the family will need... (full context)
10. Darl
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
On their errand, Darl provokes Jewel by telling him that Addie is going to die. Jewel does not answer,... (full context)
Mortality and the Nature of Existence Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
Darl then recalls the moment when he accused Dewey Dell of wanting Addie to die just... (full context)
12. Darl
Mortality and the Nature of Existence Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
Although Jewel and Darl are still on their errand for Tull, Darl is somehow able to describe what is... (full context)
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Darl's thoughts then return to him and Jewel, still on their journey. Darl calls out to... (full context)
14. Dewey Dell
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
...unrealistic world. She claims, "I would let him come in between me and Lafe, like Darl did." Dewey Dell is distracted by the sound of Cash's saw, but complies with her... (full context)
17. Darl
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
Darl once again describes what is happening at the Bundren home after Addie's death, even as... (full context)
Mortality and the Nature of Existence Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
...finishes the coffin before dawn—and Cash, Anse, Tull and Peabody immediately bring the coffin inside. Darl shifts his focus to his and Jewel's present situation and ponders the need to "empty... (full context)
21. Darl
Mortality and the Nature of Existence Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
Darl points out the thick cloud of buzzards flying overheard him and Jewel, as they make... (full context)
23. Darl
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
Darl describes the experience of lifting Addie's coffin with Cash, Jewel and Anse. It is revealed... (full context)
24. Vardaman
Mortality and the Nature of Existence Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
Vardaman states once 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... (full context)
25. Darl
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
Darl watches Anse go toward the barn as Dewey Dell approaches carrying a basket in one... (full context)
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
...will follow the Bundren wagon from behind, though Cash suggests that Jewel just stay home. Darl reasons that he will catch up. The wagon leaves and the Bundrens head to Jefferson... (full context)
26. Anse
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Darl laughs and Anse wonders how and why his son is able to laugh with his... (full context)
27. Darl
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Darl watches Jewel catch up with the family in his wagon, and notices Tull wave at... (full context)
31. Tull
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
...though he is the object of the Bundrens' scorn, noticing in particular Dewey Dell and Darl's cold stares and Cash's meticulous look, as though Tull were the coffin Cash was trying... (full context)
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
...not allow his mule in the water to help them. Jewel curses the mule and Darl taunts Tull for his decision. Regardless, Tull repeats his statement that he will not allow... (full context)
32. Darl
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
Darl focuses his gaze on Jewel, who is glaring with hostility at Tull. The scene sets... (full context)
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
One night, Darl hears Jewel get up and climb out of his window, only to be followed by... (full context)
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
...part of his life a secret, but Cash attempts to comfort her. In the night, Darl discovers Addie lying next to Jewel's bed weeping. Darl claims at that moment, "And then... (full context)
34. Darl
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
Down the river from where Tull, Anse, Dewey Dell and Vardaman crossed, Darl and Cash proceed with the wagon to the ford. Jewel remains on his horse, following... (full context)
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
When Jewel, Cash and Darl attempt to execute their plan, a large log rushes toward them with the river's current.... (full context)
35. Vardaman
Mortality and the Nature of Existence Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
...Dell screams Vardaman's name as he watches Cash finally lose his grip. Vardaman hollers for Darl to chase the coffin downstream, and eventually meets Darl in the water to help him... (full context)
39. Cora
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
...about notions of judgment and sin. Cora believes Addie's sin was loving Jewel more than Darl, and since Jewel didn't love her, Addie received due punishment for her sin. (full context)
40. Addie
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
...younger ears. After Anse and Addie got married, she quickly gave birth to Cash and Darl, leading to her depression over the loss of independence and freedom. She declares, "I knew... (full context)
42. Darl
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
...the family. Anse repeatedly says that all of Armstid's favors are "for her [Addie's] sake." Darl notices that Jewel remains separate from the family while they eat in Armstid's home, and... (full context)
43. Armstid
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
...inquire Snopes about opportunities for buying a team of mules nearby. Back at Armstid's house, Darl notices the cloud of buzzards that is beginning to gather above Addie's coffin. While Anse... (full context)
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
...that he got the family a new team of mules. He calls Jewel over, but Darl intervenes and asks Anse what he gave Snopes to get the mules. Anse does not... (full context)
44. Vardaman
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Mortality and the Nature of Existence Theme Icon
...counts the number of buzzards, traveling in black circles around Addie's coffin. Vardaman listens to Darl ask Cash how his broken leg is feeling, and Cash replies that "It don't bother... (full context)
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
Darl asks Cash if he should tighten or loosen the ropes keeping Cash tied down. Darl... (full context)
46. Darl
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
The family and their mules make a pit-stop in front of a house, and Darl tells Dewey Dell to go inside and ask for a bucket to retrieve water. Darl... (full context)
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
Dewey Dell returns with the water bucket and Darl begins to mix the cement to make a cast for Cash's leg. Cash repeatedly tells... (full context)
47. Vardaman
Mortality and the Nature of Existence Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
Vardaman, Darl, Jewel and Dewey Dell walk up the hill. Vardaman mentally narrates the situation in simple,... (full context)
48. Darl
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
...on the way to Jefferson, a farm owned by a man called Gillepsie. Upon arrival, Darl asks Jewel "Whose son are you? Your mother was a horse, but who was your... (full context)
49. Vardaman
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
Vardaman and Darl go out for a walk at night to hear Addie talking from inside her coffin,... (full context)
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
...on the porch, from which the barn is visible. Vardaman notices Gillepsie's son help Jewel, Darl and Anse move the coffin from below the apple tree outside indoors to the barn.... (full context)
50. Darl
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Darl and Jewel sprint toward the barn. Darl describes the burning barn and notices the sense... (full context)
51. Vardaman
Language versus Action Theme Icon
Anse breaks off Cash's cast and his leg begins to bleed. Darl then asks Jewel if his back hurts. At some point, Darl leaves and the family... (full context)
52. Darl
Language versus Action Theme Icon
...stench coming from their wagon. Jewel curses at the man, who then flashes a knife. Darl apologizes on his brother's behalf and successfully calms the altercation between the two men. Jewel... (full context)
53. Cash
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
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Cash explains that the Bundrens needed to send Darl away to an asylum in Jackson (the capital of Mississippi). He explains that Gillepsie knew... (full context)
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
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...Addie's coffin in Jefferson's soil. The men from the mental institution then arrive to take Darl away. Cash and Dewey Dell try their best to calm Darl, who is suffering a... (full context)
56. Vardaman
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
...at the red train in the toy-store window. Vardaman continually thinks about the fact that Darl is his brother, and that Darl is going to Jackson. (full context)
Mortality and the Nature of Existence Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
...led inside by a man. As he waits, he keeps thinking to himself about how Darl is his brother, how Darl went crazy, and how Darl went to Jackson. When Dewey... (full context)
57. Darl
Language versus Action Theme Icon
Darl describes the experience of being forced onto the train to Jackson by the mental institution... (full context)
59. Cash
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
The Bundrens—minus Darl —return to the house from which they borrowed the spades. Jewel suggests that Vardaman go... (full context)