Darl, the second child of Anse and Addie Bundren is the most prolific voice in the novel As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner. Darl Bundren, the next eldest of the Bundren children, delivers the largest number of interior monologues in the novel. An extremely sensitive and articulate young man, he is heartbroken by the death of his mother and the plight of his family’s burial journey. Darl seemed to possess a gift of clairvoyance, which allowed him to narrate; for instance, the scene of Addie’s death. Even though he and Jewel were away at the time. Similarly, he knew Dewey Dell was pregnant because he had seen her with Lafe, and he also knew that Jewel was illegitimate. Nevertheless, he was regarded as strange. Cora Tull says, he was “the one that folks says is queer, lazy, pottering about the place no better than Anse.” Out of jealousy, he constantly taunted Jewel, Addie’s favorite child. Except for Jewel, he alone among the Bundrens had no hidden motive for wanting to go to Jefferson.
Rejected by his mother, Darl exhibited signs throughout the novel of an ego at odds with itself; lacking a definitive way of identifying himself. He demonstrated in his narratives detailed descriptions of events but rarely did he reveal any emotional attachment to his subjects. When they are trying to cross the flooded Yoknapatawpha River, Darl was useless in trying to save the wagon or Addie’s coffin. Later, when they stayed at Gillespie’s place, he set the barn on fire where Addie’s coffin was, supposedly to end the journey with Addie’s decomposing corpse.
After he sets fire to the Gillespie barn in an attempt to incinerate his mother’s corpse, his family commits him against his will to a mental institution in Jackson.
On the train to Jackson, his identity was completely cut off when be began to refer to himself in the third person.