Favorite Quotes From Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying"

William Faulkner stands before a small propeller plane
Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

"As I Lay Dying" is the fictional chronicle of Addie Bundren's death. The family undertakes a journey to bury her body. The novel is narrated with the shifting viewpoints of 15 characters, and made all the more vivid through Faulkner's use of the vernacular and stream-of-consciousness style. Here are several powerful quotations from "As I Lay Dying," divided into each character's sections.


  • "Riches is nothing in the face of the Lord, for He can see into the heart."
  • "The quilt is drawn up to her chin, hot as it is, with only her two hands and her face outside. She is propped on the pillow, with her head raised so she can see out the window, and we can hear him every time he takes up the adze or the saw. If we were deaf we could almost watch her face and hear him, see him. Her face is wasted away so that the bones draw just under the skin in white lines. Her eyes are like two candles when you watch them gutter down into the sockets of iron candlesticks. But the eternal and the everlasting salvation and grace is not upon her."
  • "Because it is not us that can judge our sins or know what is sin in the Lord's eyes. She has had a hard life, but so does every woman. But you'd think from the way she talked that she knew more about sin and salvation than the Lord God Himself, than them who have strove and labored with the sin in this human world."


  • "I know her. Wagon or no wagon, she wouldn't wait. Then she'd be upset, and I wouldn't upset her for the living world. With that family burying-ground in Jefferson and them of her blood waiting for her there, she'll be impatient. I promised my word me and the boys would get her there quick as mules could walk it, so she could rest quiet."
  • "The wagon moves; the mules' ears begin to bob. Behind us, above the house, motionless in tall and soaring circles, they diminish and disappear."
  • "We go on, with a motion so soporific, so dreamlike as to be uninferant of progress, as though time and not space were decreasing between us and it."
  • "She cried hard, maybe because she had to cry so quiet; maybe because she felt the same way about tears she did about deceit, hating herself for doing it, hating him because she had to. And then I knew that I knew. I knew that as plain on that day as I knew about Dewey Dell on that day."
  • "It is as though the space between us were time: an irrevocable quality. It is as though time, no longer running straight before us in a diminishing line, now runs parallel between us like a looping string, the distance being the doubling accretion of the thread an not the interval between."
  • "Life was created in the valleys. It blew up into the hills on the old terrors, the old lusts, the old despairs. That's why you must walk up the hills so you can ride down."
  • "Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes."


  • "I have heard men cuss their luck, and right, for they were sinful men. But I do not say it's a curse on me, because I have done no wrong to be cussed by. I am not religious, I reckon. But peace is my heart: I know it is. I have done things but neither better nor worse than them that pretend otherlike, and I know that Old Marster will care for me as for ere a sparrow that falls. But is seems hard that a man in his need could be so flouted by a road."


  • "I knew that nobody but a luckless man could ever need a doctor in the face of a cyclone."

Dewey Dell

  • "It's because I am alone. If I could just feel it, it would be different, because I would not be alone. But if I were not alone, everybody would know it. And he could do so much for me, and then I would not be alone. Then I could be all right alone."
  • "I heard that my mother is dead. I wish I had time to let her die. I wish I had time to wish I had. It is because the wild and outraged earth too soon too soon too soon."


  • "I reckon if there's ere a man or woman anywhere that He could turn it all over to and go away with His mind at rest, it would be Cora. And I reckon she would make a few changes, no matter how He was running it. And I reckon they would be for man's good. Leastways, we would have to like them. Leastways, we might as well go on and make like we did."


  • "While I waited for him in the woods, waiting for him before he saw me, I would think of him as dressed in sin. I would think of him as thinking of me as dressed also in sin, he the more beautiful since the garment which he had exchanged for sin was sanctified. I would think of the sin as garments which we would remove in order to shape and coerce the terrible blood to the forlorn echo o the dead word high in the air. Then I would lay with Anse again - I did not lie to him: I just refused, just as I refused my breast to Cash and Darl after their time was up--hearing the dark land talking the voiceless speech."


  • "I give that money. I thought that if I could do without eating, my sons could do without riding. God knows I did."


  • "It had been dead eight days, Albert said. They came from some place in Yoknapatawpha County, trying to get to Jefferson with it. It must have been like a piece of rotten cheese coming into an anti-hill, in that ramshackle wagon that Albert said folks were scared would fall all to pieces before they could get it out of town, with that home-made box and another fellow with a broken leg lying on a quilt on top of it, and the father and a little boy sitting on the seat and the marshal trying to make them get out of town."


  • "Jewel came back. He came up the road and got into the wagon. He was walking. Jewel hasn’t got a horse any more. Jewel is my brother. Cash is my brother. Cash has a broken leg. We fixed Cash’s leg so it doesn’t hurt. Cash is my brother. Jewel is my brother too, but he hasn’t got a broken leg."
  • "When I went to find where they stay at night, I saw something that Dewey Dell says I mustn't never tell nobody."


  • "Sometimes I ain't so sho who's got ere a right to say when a man is crazy and when he aint. Sometimes I think it aint none of us pure crazy and aint none of us pure sane until the balance of us talks him that-a-way. 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."
  • "It's Cash and Jewel and Vardaman and Dewey Dell,' pa says, kind of hangdog and proud too, with his teeth and all, even if he wouldn't look at us. 'Meet Mrs Bundren,' he says."


  • "She looked pretty good. One of them black eyed ones that look like she'd as soon put a knife in you as not if you two-timed her. She looked pretty good."
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Lombardi, Esther. "Favorite Quotes From Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying"." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, thoughtco.com/as-i-lay-dying-quotes-738631. Lombardi, Esther. (2020, August 28). Favorite Quotes From Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying". Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/as-i-lay-dying-quotes-738631 Lombardi, Esther. "Favorite Quotes From Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying"." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/as-i-lay-dying-quotes-738631 (accessed June 2, 2023).