While reading As I Lay Dying, I noticed that the characters repeat certain phrases a great deal.

Here's an example from one of Tull's chapters which shows the same two phrases recurring three times in a short space of the text.

That boy comes up the hill. He is carrying a fish nigh long as he is. He slings it to the ground and grunts "Hah" and spits over his shoulder like a man.

Durn nigh long as he is.

"What's that?" I say. "A hog? Where'd you get it?"


"You clean that fish," Anse says. Vardaman stops. "Why cant Dewey Dell clean it?" he says.

"You clean that fish," Anse says.

"Aw, pa," Vardaman says.

"You clean it," Anse says. He dont look around. Vardaman comes back and picks up the fish. .... He goes on around the house, toting it in both arms like a armful of wood, it overlapping him on both ends, head and tail. Durn nigh big as he is.

These repetitions are not unique to Tull but occur in other chapters narrated by other characters (see the previous chapter where Dewey Dell repeats "without the words" for example).

Because they are phrases in thought and speech, they seem to be fundamentally different to, although mirroring, the descriptive repetition that occurs elsewhere in the book.

It will give her confidence and comfort. I go on to the house, followed by the Chuck. Chuck. Chuck. of the adze.

Why does Faulkner have his characters repeat themselves so often? Is it a common speech pattern in the Southern US dialect he's seeking to mimic, or are there deeper meanings here, perhaps related to the descriptive repetition?


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