Lie Down in Darkness Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Lie Down in Darkness

This is a story about the journey of two parents, Milton and Helen when they take the body of their daughter Peyton from the station and embark to bury it as they reminisce and narrate how things in their family got to this broken state. Milton is an average lawyer making what would be acceptable in 1945 and has a wife named Helen, though their relations have deteriorated a lot. Now he must sift through his feelings and the despair caused by the combined deaths of his daughters and put his life together. In the beginning, the story starts with the couple having two daughters. Maudie is the elder but has a congenital birth defect. This limits her in developmental as well as physical ways and she requires a lot of attention as a result. Helen loves Maudie from the time she came into her life and dotes on her completely because of her physical and emotional needs. Peyton on the other hand, is the perfect child so to speak.
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Milton adores Peyton and spoils her as Daddy's little girl and as a result, she grows up getting anything she wants which builds her lack of self restraint. Milton is unable to deny her anything and makes Helen jealous of her own daughter. At the same time, he is an alcoholic and has been with a mistress for a number of years named Dolly. The affair, his drinking and the tension between her and Peyton drive Helen far away from the family in her mind and she only truly loves Maudie. Milton and Peyton are very alike because Peyton also takes to drinking to numb her feelings of her bad relationship with her mother. As a result, she is sexually promiscuous like her father and they both regret their actions when under the influence. Helen is disillusioned with the church, being a devout member as she does not see the power of God in her life. She also takes a liking to Carey Carr her reverend as her spiritual adviser. Maudie then dies after an accident and Peyton who is New York City, commits suicide soon afterwards. This brings us to the present where Milton is at the station where he has to take Peyton's body to lay it to rest in the absence of Helen who refused to come.
Best part of story, including ending: I like this story because it is blunt about what marriage entails and the trials that may come during a family's tenure, even though this case was severe.

Best scene in story: I like the scene in the second chapter where, the main character Milton narrates about his mistress. he looks at her and reminds himself all the reasons that he liked her in the first place and admits that he does not do so anymore in the light of her inability to connect with him and his daughter's death.

Opinion about the main character: I do not like that the main character used alcohol to drain his sorrows and then regretted what he had done when he was under the influence at the time he sobered up. More-so, that the same trait passed on to his daughter who was the one in the family with the most potential.

The review of this Book prepared by Nicholas Waithaka a Level 3 Eurasian Jay scholar

Chapter Analysis of Lie Down in Darkness

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   depressed Time/era of story    -   1930's-1950's Internal struggle/realization?    -   Yes Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Coping with loss of loved one(s)    -   Yes Loss of...    -   child/children

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   a lawyer creature Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American)


United States    -   Yes

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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William Styron Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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