The death of Addie Bundren is not only the catalyst to the entire novel, but through her brief monologue and subtle memories from Cora, Addie emerges as one of the most important characters in the novel. It is her consciousness and her memory of the Bundren past that makes the narrative passages of her family what they are. Addie has only one monologue to herself, but it is key to the novel. It is ironically placed after her son, Jewel, had rescued her coffin from the floodwaters. The monologue occurs "as I lay dying," but it is revealed to us that as she lay dead, her will is still powerfully dictated by the acts of her children.
As the passage begins, Addie remembers her life as a schoolgirl before her marriage to Anse. To get away from the hateful school she took Anse; and she shortly discovered, with the birth of their first child, that "living was terrible and that this was no answer to it. That was when I learned that that words are no good; that words don't ever fit even what they are trying to say." (Faulkner AILD pg.171). These words she remembers are Anse's, and Anse remains a man of words throughout the entire novel. But Cash, the first-born, who arrived before the termination of Addie's love and trust, proves to be a reliable, practical, and sensible person.
Cash's birth was the dividing line in Addie's relationship with her husband. She now knew "that we had had to use one another by words like spiders dangling by their mouths from a beam."(AILD pg.172). But she is further embittered in the second birth: "Then I found that I had Darl. It was as though Anse had tricked me, hidden within a word like within a paper screen and struck me in the back through it".(AILD pg.172) Her bitterness over this is translated into hostility for Darl, who becomes the most vocal, the most upset, and eventually destructive member of the family. His acts and his words are desperate attempts to assert himself as an important member of the of the family.