Tag Archives: crisis

Supplementing the Narrative

“Watch yourself,” Cash says.
“I’m on it now,” Jewel says. “You can come ahead now.”
Cash takes the reins and lowers the team carefully and skillfully into the
stream.
I felt the current take us and I knew we were on the ford by that reason,
since it was only by means of that slipping contact that we could tell that we
were in motion at all. What had once been a -flat surface was now a succession
of troughs and hillocks lifting and falling about us, shoving at us, teasing at
us with light lazy touches in the vain instants of solidity underfoot. Cash
looked back at me, and then I knew that we were gone. But I did not realise the
reason for the rope until I saw the log. It surged up out of the water and
stood for an instant upright upon that surging and heaving desolation like
Christ. Get out and let the current take you down to the bend, Cash said. You
can make it all right. No, I said, I’d get just as wet that way as this
The log appears suddenly between two hills, as if it had rocketed suddenly
from the bottom of the river (147-48).

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. New York: The Modern Library, 2000. Print.

The italicized excerpt from one of Darl’s chapters changes tense in the middle of scene in which the wagon turns over into the water, a scene that is progressing in the story, shifting from present tense narrative with direct-reported discourse, to past tense narrative and indirect discourse, and then back to present tense and direct-reported discourse. This peculiar moment seems as though it was placed into the story a-chronologically in order to supplement the story in a later edition, as though at the time of the experience, Darl could not possibly have comprehended his surroundings enough to fully tell the story, highlighting the problems that can occur when narrative attempts to convey experience.