As I Lay Dying 5

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What does Cash’s list of the 13 reasons for beveling the edges of the coffin tell us about him?

In the novel As I Lay Dying, Cash has to build a coffin for his dying mother. He decides to bevel the edges, and he makes a list of thirteen reasons for doing so. This action tells a lot about his personality.

By making this list, it is made apparent that Cash is a practical person who likes order. Only an organized person would make a list-and an extensive one at that- of reasons why he is doing something. Cash’s list supports the fact that he is the practical one of the family. This list also shows that Cash is an excellent carpenter. Nearly all of his reasons are scientific reasons for beveling the coffin, which shows that he is well educated in his craft.

In addition, it can be inferred that by making this list, Cash is attempting to escape the insanity currently going on around him. Because no one would normally make a list of reasons for doing something, it is obvious that Cash is doing what he does best, which is putting order to things, in order to calm himself down in such a stressful time in his life. We can also see that he is partly just going through his own thoughts in this list. Examples are number 6 on his list which simply says “Except” because it is just serving as a transition between thoughts, and number 12 which says “So I made it on the bevel” which is just completing one of his thoughts.

There is so much that can be inferred about Cash’s personality from one simple list. True to his unique writing style, William Faulkner characterizes Cash, along with all of the other characters in the novel, without saying a word about him. He writes in such a way that we learn about him through his thoughts and actions.
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