As I Lay Dying Part III Summary

     They put Cash on top of the coffin after he was kicked in the stomach by the horse and broke his leg. In between vomiting, Cash told them he was concerned about his tools, but Dewey Dell assured him that Jewel had retrieved all of them. They stayed at Armstid's place that night, so Jewel rode over to try to find Dr. Peabody, but he returned with Uncle Billy instead, who seems to be a veterinarian. Billy made Cash drink some whisky before he folded the mattress around Cash's leg and had Jewel sit on it to pop the bone back in place. Then Anse took the horse and rode over to see Snopes about getting a new team of mules. He came back and announced that he got a team. The family wanted to know how he paid for it, and he admitted that he had to sell Jewel's horse. Jewel got on his horse and took off. The next morning Eustace, who works on Snopes' place brought them the mules. Anse was confused because he thought Jewel had ridden off with the horse, but actually Jewel brought it to Snopes to pay for the mules and never returned.

     The family then starts their journey again with Cash on the coffin and Jewel missing. Vardaman counts as more and more buzzards begin circling the corpse. When they arrive in Mottson, Dewey Dell goes into a store with her package. She tries to tell the druggist about her female trouble, but his advice is for her to marry the boy and raise the child. Even though she offers the ten dollars that Lafe gave her, the man refuses to sell her anything. When she returns to the wagon, the people in town are complaining about the smell. Jewel, who had returned, went to buy some cement to set Cash's leg, mixes it up, and pours it over his leg before the family continues on.

     Vardaman starts talking about something he saw that Dewey Dell told him not to tell anyone, which happened the night they stayed at Gillespie's. The coffin was in the barn, so Darl set fire to the coffin to put an end to their journey. Everyone rushed out to save the animals from the barn, and Jewel even ran in and saved the coffin. He burnt his back, but he saved his mother for a second time. Gillespie was angry about the loss of his barn and told the family that they needed to pay for it or have Darl locked up. Since the family couldn't pay, they decided they had to send Darl to a facility in Jackson. They chose to wait until after the body was buried though. They discuss taking Cash to the doctor because his foot has turned black due to loss of circulation from the cement, which they tried to crack off his leg, but it was all stuck to his skin.

     After nine days they reached Jefferson, and Anse had to borrow shovels to bury the coffin. They took Cash to see Peabody who cursed Anse for using the cement and told Cash he would limp for the rest of his life. Meanwhile, Dewey Dell, who had put on nicer clothes at their last stop, went to another store, and spoke to a young man, pretending to be a doctor, about needing an abortion. He gave her something to drink and told her to return at ten o'clock that night, which she did. When she returned he had sex with her then gave her some pills with talcum powder in them, telling her that would cure her. Vardaman waited outside on the curb while this went on, so Dewey Dell bought him bananas as a reward. As soon as she left the store, Dewey Dell knew the pills wouldn't work. Later, her father found the ten dollars that Lafe had given her, and even though she said the money didn't belong to her, her father took it anyway and used it to get his new teeth. After they buried the body, Darl was taken away on a train to the asylum, and Anse introduced them to his new wife, whom it is unclear whether he knew before and had already begun having an affair with or whether he had just met and won her over with his new teeth.

     This often confusing tale shows family dynamics and how people react differently to death. Each member was affected by the loss of Addie, most of them became more selfish as they looked to fix their problems themselves although a few like Cash and Jewel showed some selflessness in their actions during the journey.

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