Vardaman In John Steinbeck's As I Lay Dying

2955 Words12 Pages
Vardaman (ch 15) Vardaman runs out of the house and begins to cry. He sees the spot on the ground where he first laid the fish he caught, and thinks about how the fish is now chopped up into little pieces of “not-fish” and “not-blood.” Vardaman reasons that Peabody is responsible for Addie’s death and curses him for it. He jumps off the porch and runs into the barn. Still crying, Vardaman picks up a stick and begins beating Peabody’s horses, cursing them and blaming them for Addie’s death, until they run off. He shoos away a cow that wants milking, and returns to the barn to cry quietly. Cash passes by and Dewey Dell calls out, but Vardaman continues to cry in the dark. Darl (ch 42) Darl helps lay the semiconscious Cash on top of the coffin.…show more content…
We do not need Darl, or a narrator, to explain that Anse is selfish—this observation is made obvious by the fact that Anse views his wife’s death as merely another example of his rotten luck. Anse’s colloquial diction tells us that he is rural and uneducated, which gives us a sufficient idea of his background. Furthermore, we can compare disparate voices, like the frantic thoughts of Dewey Dell and the calm reflectiveness of Tull, to get a sense of how these characters differ from one another; Dewey Dell is trapped by her problems, for example, while Tull is so removed that he barely…show more content…
Cora has already speculated that Vardaman’s strange behavior is a curse on Addie and Anse, and she reiterates this point here, calling Addie overly proud and an idolater, due to Addie’s worship of Jewel. Now the absurd circumstances of the first few sections appear to add up to a colossal punishment for these past sins. This river episode also invokes classical mythology, most notably the legend of the River Styx. According to the ancient Greeks, the River Styx flowed nine times around the underworld, a spiral of poisonous waters that were thought to dissolve any mortal vessel that attempted to make a crossing—a consequence similar to the disastrous effect that crossing the river has on the Bundrens’ mule team and wagon. In classical mythology, however, the damned crossing the river were aided by a boatman named Charon, while the Bundrens have no such assistance, and are left to navigate the river
Open Document