“As I Lay Dying” Lego Diorama

My entry on As I Lay Dying is forthcoming, but one scene in the book so stirred my imagination that I felt compelled to make a diorama. Just for fun. I don’t know that I’ve ever made one in my life. 6yo Guppy helped me out.

SPOILERS! Also, this diorama is not to scale. And we didn’t have enough blue Legos to make a big enough river, so we used a cardboard base and Guppy colored it with marker.


The bridge:

Anse was setting there, looking at the bridge where it was swagged down into the river with just the two ends in sight…The boy was watching the bridge where it was mid-sunk and logs and such drifted over it. (123-4)

The wagon:

Then the wagon tilted over and then it and Jewel and the horse was all mixed up together. Cash went outen sight, still holding the coffin braced, and then I couldn’t tell anything…(154)

The mules:

They roll up out of the water in succession, turning completely over, their legs stiffly extended as when they had lost contact with the earth. (149)



Since he lost his teeth his mouth collapses…The stubble gives his lower face that appearance that old dogs have. (17)

Dewey Dell:

pa and Dewey Dell stand watching us (149),

Squatting, Dewey Dell’s wet dress shapes for the dead eyes of three blind men those mammalian ludicrosities which ar the horizons and the valleys of the earth. (164)


Cash tried but she fell off and Darl jumped going under he went under and Cash holleringto catch her and I hollering running and hollering…

“Where is ma, Darl?” I said. You never got her. You knew she is a fish but you let her get away. You never got her. Darl. Darl. Darl.” I began to run along the bank, watching the mules dive up slow again and then down again. (150-1)



[Darl] is looking at me. He dont say nothing; just looks at me with them queer eyes of hisn that makes folks talk. I always say it aint never been what he done so much or said or anything so much as how he looks at you. It’s like he had got into the inside of you, someway. Like somehow you was looking at yourself and your doings outen his eyes. (125)

Lego interpretation: Note his self-satisfied expression and arresting eyes.



Cash lies on his back on the earth, his head raised on a rolled garment. His…face is gray, his hair plastered in a smooth smear across his forehead as though done with a paint brush. His face appears sunken a little, sagging from the bony ridges of eye sockets, nose, gums, as thought the wetting had slacked the firmness which had held the skin full….He lies pole-thin in his wet clothes, a little pool of vomit at his head. (156)

Dewey Dell has laid Cash’s head back on the folded coat, twisting his head a little to avoid the vomit. Beside him his tools lie. “A fellow might call it lucky it was the same leg he broke when he fell offen that church,” pa says. (163)

Lego interpretation: the grey spot to the right of his head is vomit and Dewey Dell attends to him. His tools are in the water and at his side. His injured leg is elevated, he’s pale from almost drowning, and he’s in a lot of pain.



Lego interpretation: he is taller than the others, has a different skin tone, black hair instead of brown, and has a cranky, man-of-action expression on his face. Note the circular bumps on the narrow end of the coffin, where Addie’s head would be, and where Vardaman drilled air holes, then Cash carefully filled them. Also note one of Cash’s tools in river and the dead mule in the background.

It took a great deal of time to sort through our Legos to find appropriate expressions and hair for the characters. I was quite surprised how easy it was to find coffin-shaped pieces. Discerning Lego enthusiasts may recognize many Star Wars elements.

6 Responses to ““As I Lay Dying” Lego Diorama”

  1. Amy Says:

    OK, so, not every book inspires you to do this, but surely some of Flannery O’Connor’s stories would?

  2. Susan Says:

    I love this so much. Dead mules in the river! (Only Truman Capote does dead mules better.)




    This makes me so happy I can’t stand it.

  3. girldetective Says:

    Susan, I’m so glad you do, since you were the one who spurred me to read the book, which resulted in this fit of bizarre creativity!

  4. Karen K. Says:

    That’s too funny!! I did guess that some of the pieces were from Star Wars sets. Someone very creative should make an entire book of classic lit dioramas made out of Lego, like the Peeps dioramas. There’s a book of Bible scenes made of Lego (The Brick Bible) — why not classic lit?

  5. Ruthie Says:

    Anse: did you connect the name? I can hear Guppy’s Great Granny saying how his Great-great Granny saw Devil Anse Hatfield in the creek (”they traveled in the creek so no one could track them”). Got so scared, she ran away.

  6. jennifer Says: