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As I Lay Dying

As I Lay Dying Summary


Here you will find a As I Lay Dying summary (William Faulkner's book).
We begin with a summary of the entire book, and then you can read each individual chapter's summary by visiting the links on the "Chapters" section.

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Last Updated: Monday 1 Jan, 2024

As I Lay Dying Summary Overview

Addie Bundren, the mother figure of an impoverished Southern household, is gravely sick and predicted to pass away shortly. Her eldest son, Cash, using his adept woodworking skills, constructs her coffin within her sight. As Addie’s health deteriorates, two of her sons, Darl and Jewel, depart to run an errand for their neighbor, Vernon Tull. Following their departure, Addie passes away. Vardaman, the youngest of the Bundren children, equates his mother's death to the death of a fish he had caught and cleaned earlier that day. Upon Addie’s death, the family holds a funeral service where women sing hymns in their home while the men converse outside. The family, despite its hardships, is committed to fulfilling Addie's dying wish of being buried in the town of Jefferson. Darl and Jewel return days later to find their home swarmed by buzzards, signifying their mother’s death. Despite the burdensome journey to Jefferson, Anse, Addie’s husband, insists on fulfilling her dying wish, influenced by his own desire for false teeth. The journey is tumultuous, marked by a mishap at a river where a stray log upsets their wagon, causing the coffin to be knocked out, reinjury to Cash's broken leg, and the drowning of their mules. With the help of their neighbor Vernon Tull, they manage to retrieve the coffin and continue their journey. Their journey reveals more about the family's past and the various tribulations they face. Cora Tull, Vernon's wife, reveals Addie's past affair with the local minister, Whitfield, which resulted in Jewel's birth. During their journey, they face negative reactions from townsfolk repulsed by the smell from the coffin. Dewey Dell, Addie's only daughter and pregnant from a recent sexual encounter with a local farmhand, is denied a drug to abort her pregnancy. Amid their journey, Darl, disillusioned with their mission, attempts to burn their mother's coffin, only to be stopped by Jewel. Upon their arrival in Jefferson, the Bundrens bury Addie, declare Darl as insane to avoid litigation for the attempted arson, and commit him to a mental institution. The ordeal concludes with their father, Anse, introducing them to his new wife, a local woman he met while borrowing shovels to bury Addie.

section 1

Darl Bundren narrates his journey with his sibling, Jewel, across a field leading to their home. They come across a rundown cotton house, which Darl circumvents, while Jewel opts to traverse directly through it via the wide-open windows. Upon arriving at a bluff's base, they spot Vernon Tull, their affluent neighbor, loading two chairs on his wagon. At the bluff's peak, their elder brother, Cash, is meticulously assembling planks to build their mother, Addie's, coffin. Ignoring Cash, Darl proceeds into their house.

section 2

In this section, the story is told from Cora, Tull's wife's view. She's upset because a cake order she's finished was abruptly cancelled. Her daughter, Kate, is indignant about this, but Cora remains calm. Nearby, their other daughter, Eula, keeps a vigil over Addie who lies silently in a weak state, possibly asleep or observing Cash's ongoing work through the window. The constant noise of Cash’s sawing fills the outside. Cora fondly remembers Addie's knack for cake-baking. Meanwhile, Darl quietly moves through the hallway and heads toward the rear of the house.

section 3

Darl finds his dad, Anse, and their friend, Vernon Tull, lounging on the porch. Anse queries about Jewel. Darl, while taking a sip of water, contemplates its simple joy and recalls his childhood stealthy midnight water-drinking escapades. He then tells Anse that Jewel is busy with the horses. Meanwhile, Jewel grapples to ride a horse in the barn, eventually managing to jump on its back and gallops it up and down a slope. Once back in the barn, Jewel steps down and provides the horse its feed.

section 4

Jewel harbors a deep-seated resentment about Cash's decision to build Addie’s coffin just outside her window. He is upset with his family for letting Cash continue with his actions. His desire is to spend his mother's last days with her in solitude.

section 5

Darl narrates the planning of a delivery trip he and Jewel are arranging for Tull, who is offering three dollars for the job. Anse, however, is uncertain about their departure, fearing Addie may pass away before they return with the horse team. Tull's reassurances about Addie frustrate Jewel, leading him to express resentment towards Cash and other family members for their apparent rush towards Addie's demise. Anse commends the family's strength in respecting Addie’s final wishes. Eventually, Anse permits the boys to undertake the journey as long as they are back by the following day at sunset. Upon entering the house, Darl ponders how voices echo in the hallway, describing it as, “they sound as though they were speaking out of the air about your head.”

section 6

Cora observes Darl going into the house and is moved by the sentiment he shows when saying goodbye to Addie. She compares Darl's tender demeanor with the indifference of Anse and Jewel. Standing at the entrance, his sister, Dewey Dell, inquires about his needs but he disregards her, focusing on his mother, his emotions leaving him "his heart too full for words."

section 7

Dewey Dell reflects on a past incident where she was in the woods with Lafe, one of the Bundren farm laborers. Despite her initial unease, they end up sleeping together because Dewey Dell "could not help it." She later discovered that Darl knew about her relationship with Lafe. These memories come back to her as Darl stands at the doorway bidding farewell to Addie. Darl informs Dewey Dell of Addie's imminent death before he, along with Jewel, return. Despite this, he decides to bring Jewel along to assist him with loading the wagon.

section 8

Tull attempts to calm Anse's lingering doubts about Darl's journey. Darl's youngest sibling, Vardaman, emerges carrying a big fish he wants to show Addie. Anse, who is not moved by this, instructs him to clean the fish before bringing it inside. As the evening draws in, Cora and Tull leave with Anse left alone with Addie. Cora and Tull discuss the Bundren family's situation and the children's future with a sense of pessimism once they are in the wagon with Kate and Eula.

section 9

Uneducated Anse grumbles about the weather, his children, and the disruptions of the nearby road. He's sure that the newly constructed road near his home has brought misfortune, attributing it to Addie's declining health. Vardaman emerges, bloodied from gutting his fish. Anse orders him to clean his hands. Later, Anse muses over his inability to feel deeply about anything, pointing fingers at the weather for his emotional detachment.

section 10

Darl finds himself sharing a wagon ride with Jewel. He reminisces on his previous encounter with Dewey Dell, concerning her meeting with Lafe. The horizon is just about to swallow the sun. Despite Jewel's silence, Darl continuously expresses his acceptance of Addie’s impending demise.

section 11

Peabody, Addie's physician, is summoned to the Bundren residence by Anse. On his way, he observes a looming storm. His large size hinders him, requiring assistance to scale the bluff leading to the house. Overcoming this, he reaches the Bundren's dwelling. Inside, he finds Addie motionless except for her eyes. In a conversation outside, Peabody questions Anse's delay in seeking medical help. Their talk is cut short by Dewey Dell, who informs Peabody that Addie wishes him to leave. All the while, Cash keeps on sawing, causing Addie to shout his name.

section 12

Still journeying with Jewel, Darl mysteriously senses the events at the Bundren home. The family is gathered around Addie's bed. She speaks to Cash again, who mimes assembling the coffin so she can visualize it. Dewey Dell clings to Addie passionately, while Vardaman and Anse watch silently. At this point, Addie passes away. Dewey Dell cries out for her mother as the story shifts to Jewel and Darl, with Darl repeating Jewel's name twice. Back at the house, Cash learns of Addie's death from Anse, who instructs him to finish the coffin swiftly. Cash gazes at Addie before resuming his work. Anse asks Dewey Dell to make dinner and she departs. Anse awkwardly caresses his deceased wife's face before attending to other affairs. Darl informs Jewel of their mother's death.

section 13

Vardaman, in his grief, leaves the house and starts crying. He notices the place where he had placed his freshly caught fish, now reduced to tiny fragments of “not-fish” and “not-blood.” He blames Peabody for his mother Addie’s death and angrily curses him. In his fury, he sprints into the barn, where he picks up a stick and lashes out at Peabody’s horses, holding them accountable for his mother's death, until they scatter in fear. He also chases away a cow in need of milking before he slinks back into the barn to weep silently. Although Cash walks by and Dewey Dell shouts out, Vardaman remains in the barn, sobbing in the darkness.

section 14

Dewey Dell, again, dwells on her intimate relationship with Lafe, which has led to her pregnancy. She resentfully ponders over the potential help she could receive from Peabody. Meanwhile, outside, Cash persists in his task of sawing wood for Addie’s coffin. Busy cooking a meal of bread and greens, Dewey Dell is unable to cook Vardaman's caught fish. The arrival of Cash in the kitchen disrupts her, as he informs about Peabody's lost horses. Cash, Peabody, and Anse start their meal, extending an invitation to Dewey Dell. However, she departs to search for Vardaman, who's nowhere to be found. She sprints towards the barn to milk the cow, but postpones it. As she traverses the stalls, she mumbles Lafe's name under her breath. Discovering Vardaman hidden in a stall, she accuses him of spying on her. After giving him a stern shake, she sends him off and once more, her mind wanders back to Peabody. She wishes he could provide some assistance in her predicament.

section 15

Tull recalls discovering Addie's death when Peabody's horses arrived at his place. He falls asleep on a rainy night, only to be awoken by a knocking at his door. He finds Vardaman, drenched and muddy, rambling about a fish he caught earlier. After hitching up the horses, Tull reenters to see Cora and Vardaman in the kitchen, with Vardaman still talking about his fish. The trio then travels to the Bundren's place, where Tull assists Cash in completing the coffin. They place Addie in the coffin and seal it before dawn. The following morning, they discover the coffin drilled with holes and Vardaman sleeping beside it. Unaware, Vardaman has drilled two holes through his mother's face. Throughout this section, Tull sees Vardaman's strange behavior as a divine punishment for Anse's shortcomings as a father and spouse. As the sun rises, Cora and Tull head home.

section 16

Despite being away with Jewel on a delivery job, Darl is somehow aware of the events unfolding back at his home. He envisions Cash and Anse striving to finish the coffin as rain starts to pour. Cash carries on, undeterred by the rain. Upon Cora and Tull's arrival, Anse is dismissed and Cash along with Tull hasten to finish the coffin. As the first light of day breaks, Cash finally completes his task. Together with Anse, Peabody, and Tull, they shift the coffin indoors. Observing all this, Darl muses over his own existence, contrasting himself with Jewel, who unquestionably knows he "is" as he never doubts his own being.

section 17

Cash carefully explains his reasoning for creating the coffin with a bevel, a minor inclination.

section 18

Vardaman asserts that his mother embodies the essence of a fish.

section 19

Tull arrives back at the Bundren residence with Peabody’s horses the next morning. He and two locals, Quick and Armstid, talk about the river's rising water levels. Anse greets them at the door, and the ladies head inside while the men continue conversing on the porch. Tull finds Cash at the back of the house, fixing the holes Vardaman drilled in the coffin. Addie is positioned oddly in her coffin due to the shape of her wedding dress, with her feet at the head end. A mosquito net covers her face, hiding the drill holes. As Tull prepares to depart, Minister Whitfield arrives to conduct the funeral, revealing the bridge has been swept away. They discuss Addie's wish to be laid to rest in Jefferson and commend Anse's commitment to honoring her wish. Cash shares with Tull how he broke his leg in a church construction accident. The women start singing indoors, and Whitfield begins the service. The men remain outside during the service. As the group disperses, Cora keeps singing. On their ride home, Tull and Cora spot Vardaman fishing in a marsh. Despite Tull's insistence that there are no fish, Vardaman holds firm that Dewey Dell spotted one.

section 20

Unexpected events have led to Darl and Jewel being held back for a while. As they near their home, Darl sarcastically comforts Jewel, insisting that the circling vultures are not a sign of his horse's death. Jewel responds with anger, and Darl muses on the fact that while his mother's passing doesn't affect him because she is no longer alive, Jewel's mother is a horse.

section 21

Without attributing the conversation to either person, Cash attempts to clarify to Jewel the reason behind the coffin's imbalance. However, Jewel swears at him, insisting that he should lift the coffin nonetheless.

section 22

Anse, Cash, Darl, and Jewel hoist the casket and escort it away from the abode, amidst Jewel's ongoing expletives. Cash persistently voices his concerns about the casket's lack of balance, but Jewel remains impervious and presses on, causing Cash to limp behind the group. Jewel, relying mostly on his own strength, forces the casket onto the wagon bed and then vents his frustration with another round of swearing.

section 23

Vardaman is getting ready to join the family on their trip to Jefferson. Jewel goes to the barn, ignoring Anse when he calls. Darl makes a comment saying Jewel's mother is a horse, causing Vardaman to question if his own mother is also a horse. Darl reassures him that isn't the case. Cash takes along his toolbox for a job at Tull's place after their journey, a move Anse deems disrespectful. Anse gets even more annoyed when Dewey Dell decides to bring a parcel of Mrs. Tull's pastries to the town.

section 24

Jewel walks by Darl and Anse, intent on reaching the barn, paying no heed to their quest to inter the corpse. Anse comments on Jewel's lack of respect for not joining them in their mission. Cash even suggests leaving Jewel behind. However, Darl assures them that Jewel will soon join them. With this, Darl and the rest of the clan embark on their journey in the wagon carrying the casket.

section 25

Anse is upset, believing Jewel shows no reverence, not even for his deceased mother, prompting Darl to chuckle. Having just bypassed Tull's path, Darl's prediction comes to fruition as Jewel quickly catches up to them, riding his horse from behind.

section 26

Darl spots Jewel coming their way. As they move past Tull, who raises his hand in a wave, Cash makes a comment about the body starting to emit a bad odor soon and points out the coffin’s imbalance. Darl suggests that Cash shares this information with Jewel. However, when Jewel overtakes the wagon a mile later, he doesn't respond. The mud from Jewel's horse’s hooves hits the coffin, which Cash promptly cleans off.

section 27

Anse contemplates the harsh realities faced by farmers, anticipating his heavenly reward for his struggles. The family spends the entire day journeying, eventually making it to Samson's farm at dusk. On their arrival, they discover that heavy downpour has led to the rivers overflowing and bridges being inundated. Despite this, Anse finds solace in the fact that he will soon have a new set of teeth.

section 28

Samson, a farmer who lives a ways from the Bundren family, observes them from his porch where he is seated with his buddies, MacCallum and Quick. When he notices them, Quick rushes to inform the Bundrens about a washed-out bridge. On hearing this, they return to Samson's place where they are offered shelter for the night. They gratefully accept the lodging but decline supper and opt to rest in the barn. Rachel, Samson's wife, is horrified and upset about the Bundren's hauling Addie's coffin across the country and reproaches Samson angrily. The next day, Samson chooses to stay in bed until the Bundrens have departed.

section 29

As they revert to finding another route across the river, Dewey Dell reminisces about her deceased mother and her bonds with her male family members. She dredges up a terrifying dream from when she used to sleep alongside Vardaman in which she experienced total sensory deprivation but suddenly felt an unknown "them" beneath her, feeling like "a piece of cool silk dragged across my legs." Instead of proceeding towards New Hope, they once more pass Tull’s lane, with Tull again waving at the transiting Bundrens.

section 30

Tull drives his mule to trail the wagon, catching up to it near the levee. He finds the Bundrens at the river, considering how to navigate across the river without the bridge that was washed away. He senses a wide range of hostile glances from the Bundrens. Dewey Dell appears as though he has made an advance on her, Darl greets him with cold indifference, Cash looks at him with a carpenter's critical gaze, and Jewel glares at him openly. Jewel scolds Tull for trailing them, but Cash quiets him, suggesting some of them should wade across the bridge while others guide the wagon through the river's shallows. Tull declines to lend his mule for their task. Despite reproach from Jewel and Darl, Tull remains steadfast in his decision.

section 31

Darl notices Jewel's harsh gaze towards Tull and reminisces about his brother's youth. He fondly recalls how Addie would always protect Jewel from criticism and how the rest of them discreetly did his work for him. The brothers initially thought Jewel was having an affair with a married woman due to his constant drowsiness. Cash followed Jewel one night but chose not to reveal his findings. Eventually, Jewel's secret came out when he appeared with a new horse bought from Quick. It emerged that he'd been laboring at night, using a lantern to clear land for money. This led to a confrontation with Anse, who was livid, though Jewel maintained his horse wouldn't eat Anse's food. That same night, Darl recalls finding Addie weeping next to a sleeping Jewel.

section 32

Tull assists Anse, Dewey Dell, and Vardaman in navigating across a submerged bridge. They successfully reach the opposite side, with Tull ensuring Vardaman's safety throughout the perilous journey. Upon making it to the other side, Anse shares with Tull his intention to honor Addie's wish. They then proceed towards the wagon that's making its way across the river at a different point.

section 33

Darl, Cash, and Jewel journey on a wagon near the river towards the ford, noticing Anse, Tull, Dewey Dell, and Vardaman across the riverbank. Disagreements arise among the brothers over the crossing method, but they finally reach a consensus. Jewel, with a support rope, crosses upstream on his horse while Cash steers the wagon with Darl as a passenger. As they traverse the ford, a fast-moving log interrupts their path. Following Cash's counsel, Darl leaps off the wagon downstream. Meanwhile, Jewel wrestles with his horse, Cash clings to the coffin and his tools, and Anse’s mules drown, emerging from the water.

section 34

From the other side of the river, Vardaman watches as Cash loses control of the coffin. He quickly begins to run alongside the river, shouting at Darl to stop the coffin from drifting off. Ignoring Tull's hesitation, Vardaman plunges into the water to assist Darl. Darl attempts to avoid the mules and seize the coffin, struggling underwater with it. Upon resurfacing, his hands are void of the coffin. Vardaman hastily returns to the shore and continues to run further downstream.

section 35

Tull observes the commotion as the log interrupts the wagon's movement. He watches Vardaman dart by him. Anse is reprimanded by Tull because of the entire predicament. Jewel manages to maintain control over the coffin and the wagon by holding onto a tethered rope. Meanwhile, Cash seizes a horse and is hauled to safety on the bank.

section 36

Darl discovers Cash unconscious on the riverbank, surrounded by pools of vomit. The men nearby are retrieving the remains of the wagon from the water. To prevent getting swept away, Tull links a rope from himself to a tree, with Vardaman holding it steady, while he retrieves items lost in the river. Jewel braves the water to recover Cash's lost tools. Once several tools are retrieved, the men gather around Cash, who stirs from unconsciousness long enough to throw up again. Dewey Dell hovers over him, saying his name. Jewel and Tull return to the river to locate Cash's saw set.

section 37

Cash recalls alerting the rest of his family about the unstable coffin and suggesting they correct its equilibrium.

section 38

Cora recalls a religious debate she had with Addie, where she disapproved of Addie's assumption to decide what's correct and incorrect, suggesting such verdicts be left to God. Cora recognizes that Addie was arrogant and conceited, more influenced by her affection for the ungrateful Jewel than her faith in God. She recalls Addie referring to Jewel in words typically reserved for God, stating, “He is my cross and he will be my salvation.”

section 39

This passage follows Addie’s thoughts, though it doesn't specify if these come from the grave or flashback to her lifetime. Addie recollects her days as a school teacher, deriving satisfaction from disciplining disobedient students. She reminisces about Anse's short courtship and their eventual marriage. The births of their first two children, Cash and Darl, made Addie feel invaded in her solitude. Her husband appeared dead to her and she doubted the importance of words. Addie reflects on her fleeting, lost love affair with Whitfield, a minister, which shattered her belief in virtue due to his sinful actions. This affair resulted in Jewel, Whitfield’s illegitimate child. The births of Dewey Dell and Vardaman represent the end of an emotional debt she owed to Anse, and after that, she felt ready to die. Addie remembers some of Cora's thoughts on sin and redemption, dismissing them as meaningless.

section 40

Whitfield conquers his inner conflicts, deciding to admit his past relationship with Addie to Anse before she does. Despite the bridge being destroyed, he manages to traverse. Arriving at Tull's home, he discovers that Addie has passed away, and their secret affair seems unknown to others. Whitfield interprets this unexpected development as divine intervention. He offers his final respects and departs without revealing the truth.

section 41

Darl assists in placing a barely conscious Cash onto the coffin. Jewel hastily leaves to secure Armstid’s team as the rest of the Bundrens arrive at the Armstid residence. After transporting Cash indoors, they decline Armstid's invitation to stay for the night, opting instead to return to the shed. Anse initially turns down the offer for dinner, but later changes his mind and agrees. Jewel, however, stays with the horses.

section 42

During dinner, Anse and Armstid talk about getting a new mule team. Armstid offers his own team, but Anse refuses. Jewel goes to get Peabody, but comes back with a horse doctor to treat Cash’s broken leg. Cash passes out from pain but doesn't whine. The following day, Anse goes off on Jewel's horse to buy a team. Armstid sees Vardaman chasing away buzzards surrounding Addie’s coffin. Jewel tries to move the wagon but Darl won't assist. Anse returns later and reveals that he bought a team. He tells them he had to mortgage his farm tools, use Cash’s savings for a gramophone, dip into his dentures fund, and trade Jewel’s horse. Jewel leaves on his horse after the initial shock. Without the horse, the deal seems doomed. Yet, the next day, a farm worker arrives with a mule team, revealing that Jewel's horse was left on the property of the man Anse traded with.

section 43

Vardaman is on a journey with his kin in their cart, observing a flock of vultures hovering overhead.

section 44

A merchant in Mottson, Moseley, interacts with a young female customer, Dewey Dell, who subtly indicates her need for an abortion. He adamantly declines her request due to his religious beliefs. Dewey Dell insists, mentioning that Lafe had guaranteed a ten-dollar treatment from the drugstore. Moseley stands firm, suggesting that she should wed Lafe instead. Once Dewey Dell departs, Moseley's assistant fills him in on the peculiar Bundren family. He mentions Anse's clash with the Mottson marshal over the odor from Addie’s decomposing body, a son buying cement to mend another's leg, and their subsequent departure from Mottson.

section 45

The wagon halts before a house, prompting Darl to recommend Dewey Dell to request a water bucket. Cash's life hangs by a thread due to slow blood loss. Darl uses the fetched bucket to concoct cement, intending to fix Cash's leg with a cast. Despite Cash's insistence that he could endure another day, they proceed with applying the cement-filled splints. Just then, Jewel quietly makes his appearance and hops into the wagon. Anse notifies his kids of a looming hill, suggesting they exit the wagon and tackle the ascent on foot.

section 46

Vardaman, Darl, Dewey Dell, and Jewel are all climbing the incline. Vardaman can't let go of his thoughts about the buzzards and where they might go when the sun sets. He makes up his mind to go looking for them in the night once they've set up camp at a neighboring farm.

section 47

That evening at the homestead, Darl assists in propping the casket up against an apple tree. The hot weather causes Cash's leg to hurt and start to increase in size. To provide relief, they drench his aching leg with water. Persistently, Darl tries to pry from Jewel the identity of his biological father, but Jewel remains steadfast in his silence.

section 48

Under moonlight, Vardaman and Darl approach the apple tree where Addie's coffin resides. Darl suggests to Vardaman that Addie is talking to them from the coffin, prompting Vardaman to press his ear against it. They subsequently check on Cash in the barn. As Vardaman and Dewey Dell retire on the back porch, the coffin is repositioned. Anse, Darl, Jewel, and the Gillespie boy, the farmer's son who is accommodating the Bundrens, relocate the coffin from the apple tree to the barn. Vardaman seeks out the buzzards, and in the process, catches Darl in the act of torching the barn. He confides in Dewey Dell about Darl's actions, who in turn instructs him to keep it a secret from others.

section 49

Darl and Jewel race towards the fiery barn. The rest of the family leaves the house to watch the scene unfold. Jewel bravely plunges into the flames, determined to rescue the trapped animals. His daring doesn't stop there as he then jeopardizes his safety to retrieve the casket.

section 50

Vardaman gazes upon the charred barn wreckage. The coffin is relocated back beneath the apple tree. The family rushes indoors to care for Cash, whose leg and foot have darkened dramatically due to the restrictive cast. Anse clumsily tries to remove the concrete cast. Jewel's back, singed from the fire, turns a fiery red, before darkening due to the medicine administered by Dewey Dell. Meanwhile, Darl stays outside near the apple tree, sprawled atop the coffin, shedding tears.

section 51

Darl discerns from the surroundings that they're nearing Jefferson. Cash, laid on the coffin, needs medical attention according to Anse. Dewey Dell suddenly announces her need to disappear into the bushes, returning in her Sunday dress. They pass by people who comment on the stench of the body. Jewel reacts sharply to one of them, leading to the man drawing a knife. Darl diffuses the situation without blaming Jewel and they continue their journey into Jefferson.

section 52

Cash reveals the reason behind Darl's impending institutionalization in Jackson is due to Gillespie's threat of a lawsuit over the fire. As the family heads into Jefferson, Darl suggests tending to Cash’s injury before they bury Addie, but Cash insists he can manage. The wagon halts in front of a house as Anse goes to borrow a shovel, intrigued by the melodious gramophone playing within. He ultimately returns with two shovels. Post Addie's burial, the asylum workers arrive to escort Darl. Despite his violent resistance, his family, spearheaded by Dewey Dell, succeed in calming him down. Darl is left sitting on the ground, dazed and laughing uncontrollably.

section 53

Peabody is tasked with handling Cash's fractured limb. He predicts that Cash may have to limp on a shortened limb forever—if he even regains the ability to walk. Peabody criticizes Cash for letting Anse use cement to treat his broken bone and openly condemns Anse's handling of his offspring.

section 54

While working at the Jefferson drugstore, MacGowan, a clerk, encounters a young girl named Dewey Dell. He is attracted to her and makes use of his boss's absence to impersonate a doctor. Dewey Dell discloses her predicament to MacGowan, who realizes she seeks an abortion. She proposes to pay him ten dollars for the procedure. MacGowan manages to maintain his ruse even when a colleague interrupts them. He informs Dewey Dell that ten dollars is insufficient and questions her about her desperation for the operation. The distressed girl consents to his terms. MacGowan hands her a random bottle to drink and instructs her to return to the store that night for the next phase of the procedure. She complies and departs. Later that night, MacGowan locks up the store and waits for her. Dewey Dell returns punctually with a young lad named Vardaman who stays outside the store. MacGowan gives Dewey Dell a container of talcum capsules and asks her to accompany him to the basement.

section 55

Vardaman joins Dewey Dell on a night time stroll in Jefferson. They wander through the shadowy lanes and past shuttered shops. Vardaman is intrigued by a toy train, however, Dewey Dell steers them elsewhere, popping into a pharmacy and leaving Vardaman outside. Alone in the city square, Vardaman dwells on Darl's mental breakdown and gazes at a solitary cow. Dewey Dell reappears, and during their return to the inn, she puzzlingly states that “it” won't succeed.

section 56

Darl is taken to the mental asylum by armed officials while he converses crazily with himself. His perspective toggles erratically between first and third person, puzzled over why Darl continues to laugh even when confined in a filthy, squalid cell in Jackson.

section 57

Anse inquires Dewey Dell about her cash. She justifies that she earned it from the sale of Cora’s pastries. Anse aims to borrow it, but Dewey Dell argues that she cannot lend what isn't hers. She warns that if he snatches the money, he’d be stealing. Despite her words, Anse appropriates the cash and departs the hotel.

section 58

Cash recalls Anse retreating into the house to put away the digging tools but stays inside for a while. Anse, looking a bit bashful, heads into town for some undisclosed errand that same night. The following morning, the family is getting ready to depart Jefferson when Anse steps out, instructing his kids to join him later. The children pass the time by eating bananas while waiting for him at a designated corner. Anse finally shows up, sporting a fresh pair of dentures and accompanied by a stern-faced woman bearing a gramophone. Anse, looking both embarrassed and proud, introduces his kids to the woman, instructing them to “[m]eet Mrs. Bundren.” Anse, looking both somewhat guilty but also proud with his new teeth, introduces his children to the woman. “It’s Cash and Jewel and Vardaman and Dewey Dell,” he says, despite avoiding eye contact with them. He repeats, “Meet Mrs Bundren."

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