I finally finished reading As I Lay Dying. Compared to this book, The Great Gatsby seemed like the most interesting book I have read in a while. Reading two books at the same time was intended to contrast the two books, and they do contrast in many ways. But first, the ending of As I Lay Dying shocked me. A NEW WIFE. Amazing. I love how the ending of this book continues to show how weird and selfish this family is. It is the best ending someone can possibly think of for this book. Most books about families make the readers remember their own family and the love they shared, leaving them with a feeling of nostalgia. But this book is different. It is the ugliest family story I have ever read, and I wonder if there are families like that. But it might not be all lies, since the world can not be a happy place where every family lives a happy life together.
From the beginning to the end, I do not like this book. I do not like any character of the book. They showed so much ignorance towards everything other than themselves, for example, Anse pouring cement on his son Cash’s broken leg. When I first heard the title of this book, I was expecting a book narrated by an old man in his bed, waiting for the time for him to die, written about how wonderful or regretful his life has been. This book was a new kind of book that I have never read before.
To go back to the whole contrasting ideas, the most visible contrast is the setting. They are in a similar time period, but Gatsby lives in a great mansion where he has parties every Saturday nights, and the big Bundren family live in a small house. The Bundrens ride their wagons to the town, in order to bury their mother, where as Gatsby goes town to entertain and have some drink. If the two settings were switched, the plots of the two novels might have changed significantly. Gatsby’s wealth helped him find a nice mansion near Daisy’s house, and Bundren’s poorness caused them to go through the trouble they had throughout the novel.
But in both the high society and the poor society, the people show selfishness; they all do things even if they can hurt others, if it makes them happier. The selfishness never leads to a happy ending in the book either. Because of their selfishness someone gets hurt, or even they get themselves into trouble.
Reading two books at the same time confused me a lot but it seemed to be a good practice for keeping the two different sets of characters separate from each other. The two different writing styles were more visible since I was reading them chapter to chapter. But I would not try to read two books at the same time again, since I enjoy concentrating on one book at a time much better.