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Topic for discussion: Week 4

From page 108 of As I Lay Dying:

(DARL) "It turns off at right angles, the wheel-marks of last Sunday healed away now: a smooth, red scoriation curving away into the pines; a white signboard with faded lettering: New Hope Church. 3 mi. It wheels up like a motionless hand lifted above the profound desolation of the ocean; beyond it the red road lies like a spoke of which Addie Bundren is the rim. It wheels past, empty, unscarred, the white signboard turns away its fading and tranquil assertion."

How do you interpret some of the symbols in this paragraph? Why do you think it's an important moment in the story?


As poetic as this passage may be, it is still confusing. I think the "profound desolation of the ocean" may be referring to the Bundren family's desolation is that no one else but the family can share in the anguish of the death and their journey. The "ocean" is the long, seamingly never ending journey to bury and depart with their dead mother. What is fueling their journey is, of course, Addie, the rim. This is supported by the passage, "...the red road lies like a spoke of which Addie Bundrn is the rim." The road they follow is the spoke, the support and direction, to where they are taking Addie.
That's what I translated the passage as, I am curious to see what other people thought.

Yes, it's definitely still a confusing passage, as are many in this book! :-)

I like your interpretation of the ocean representing the vastness of their undertaking. The wheel image is very strong as well. You're right that Addie is the driving force.

What struck me in the paragraph is that they are at a literal--and figurative--crossroads. They make an important decision here, which is choosing not to bury Addie at the New Hope Church, but instead committing to the journey to Jefferson.

Other viewpoints?

Wow! This passage is confusing, but I will try my best to understand it. I think the wheel is translating about the family is going on the trip to Jefferson. They are taking the long trip to Jefferson to bury their mother and Addie is the main reason why they are going there. I think it is an important part of the story because it show how much respect the family have for thier mother last wish.

I also found this passage to have multiple meanings. When it says, "It wheels up like a motionless hand lifted above the profound desolation of the ocean..." I interpret it as saying that, since their journey is so long, as is when you take a ship across the sea. When they see this sign, it is probably the first thing they have seen in a while so it is as if this sign is coming out of nowhere (the ocean). So to me it is saying that the road they are on is as if they were on the ocean. As for the rest of the passage I agree with Meg, that Addie is their driving force (the rim) and that the road they follow is their direction (the spoke).

I also think that the decision of not burying Addie at this church they pass, but going all the way to Jefferson, is very crucial, because their journey could've ended right there.

In this paragraph, there is evidence of symbolism in Darl's passage. Although it is quite confusing, the "wheel marks of last Sunday healed away now" symbolizes a few beginning, forgiveness. The wheel marks affect the road, as their mother's death affects their lives. It can be healed but not forgotten, the path is never the same as their lives. The colors red and white and then mentioning the church seem to represent sin and purity. The profound desolation of the ocean seems to symbolize a long journey taken. You think of sailors traveling months and days on the seas for some purpose just as they have been traveling on this road for days for the purpose of their mother's wishes. Addie Burden is the rim, she's what's keeping the family moving and going, she's their force. The white sign symbolizes hope in their journey. It is their hope and motivation.

This passage was pretty difficult for me to figure out, but with all the references to the color white and a smooth road, I think the church only three miles away offers a easy path. Their long and enduring journey could have been avoided if they had taken her to New Hope Church. However the red road may be a symbol for the sin Addie committed with a member of the church. Perhaps this is why Addie didn't want to be buried there. I also agree with the rest of the comments that Addie as the rim symbolizes her being the reason the entire family is going on this journey. The ocean reference seems like a pretty solid comparison to the long trip they are about to take as well. With all of this symbolism though, i could be way off.

I don’t know if I will be able to interpret any symbols in this confusing paragraph but I will try my best to interpret the symbols. I think the wheel-marks of last Sunday mean that their grief had healed but there is still a scare left behind from losing Addie. I think the second sentence about the signboard could be sign of a long journey that lay ahead of them as they start their journey. I don’t if these interpretations are correct but I will love to know the true meaning of them.