Part Two: Pages 80-160 Notes from As I Lay Dying

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As I Lay Dying Part Two: Pages 80-160


The following morning, Tull brings Peabody's team to the Bundren home, where they immediately discuss the river's current high level. As Anse greets the men at the door, the women leave to go to the house. Cash prepares the final seal on Addie's coffin, and the family places her in it reverse, as to allow enough room for her wedding dress to fit properly.

Topic Tracking: Family Devotion 5

Whitfield, the local minister with whom Addie had an elicit affair, arrives at the house to direct her funeral. Quick and Armstid, two local farmers, think it will take too long to go to Jefferson in such a miserable state of weather and turmoil and do not understand why the Bundren family is vehemently set on such a journey. Tull reveals the loss of the bridge, washed away by the heavy rain. Cash walks into the house clean and newly dressed, and the women begin to sing for their lost friend. Cora continues to sing to the Lord, even as the men leave. She sings, even as she walks home with Tull. On their way home, they see Vardaman fishing in a slough, perpetually stunned and in a state of awe.

Topic Tracking: Religion 4


Darl tells Jewel that it is not his horse that is dead, but their mother. Jewel curses Darl as they realize that the family is ready to move Addie to Jefferson.


Cash argues that the family is trying to balance the coffin poorly. He believes it will fall unless they balance it properly. He is cut off and does not finish his thoughts and directions on the proper placement of the coffin in the wagon.


Cash, Darl, and Jewel struggle to bring the coffin down the mountain and into the wagon. Because of its heavy weight, the boys struggle. Anse tells them to be careful and take their time, but Jewel seems to be in a hurry. Jewel runs ahead, carrying the coffin alone in its front, allowing it to slip. Cash runs behind him to catch up and help. Jewel curses Darl.


Vardaman is still convinced that his mother is a fish. When Darl tells him that Jewel's mother is a horse, Vardaman believes that his mother must also be a horse, since Jewel is his brother. Darl claims that he has no mother. Anse reprimands his boys for being disrespectful of himself and his wife. Dewey Dell holds Cora's cakes in a box to deliver them to town for her, on the onset of the journey.


Darl sees Jewel go into the barn, intentionally skipping out on the funeral journey to Jefferson. Dewey Dell sits in the wagon next to Vardaman and places the parcel of cake on her lap. Anse thinks it is wrong and disrespectful to stay at home, and he disapproves of Jewel's behavior. They finally leave for their destination. "The wagon moves; the mules' ears begin to bob. Behind us, above the house, motionless in tall and soaring circles, they diminish and disappear" Darl, p. 98.

Topic Tracking: Poverty 5


Anse is angry when he sees Darl sitting in the backseat of the wagon laughing mercilessly. He thinks that this type of behavior is what makes people speak pejoratively about him. He also believes Darl to be disrespectful of his mother and women for acting in such a lowly manner. Cash sits next to him and prays to the Lord to have made the coffin the best he could.

Topic Tracking: Religion 5


Darl, Anse, Cash, and Dewey Dell watch Jewel come racing on a horse behind the wagon and then past it. Tull watches on from afar. "[Vernon] watches Jewel as he passes, the horse moving with a light, high kneed driving gait, three hundred yards back. We go on, with a motion so soporific, so dreamlike as to be uninferant of progress, as though time and not space were decreasing between us and it" Darl, p. 101.

A piece of mud has landed on the coffin, of which Cash is still worried about sitting unbalanced. Jewel watches the family on his horse from afar. Cash takes one of his tools and calmly removes the mud.


Anse complains of man's struggle on land. He hopes that all men would be treated equally and make the same profits, whether townspeople or country folk. By the time they arrive at Samson's, a local farmer, another bridge had been washed away. There has never before been such a strong rain or high river. He takes comfort in the hope that as soon as they get to the city, he can get new teeth.

Topic Tracking: Poverty 6


Samson, Quick, and MacCallum see the Bundren's wagon pull up near their house and are consequently curious as to their destination on such a dark day and so recently following their mother's death. Quick, who attended Addie's funeral, tells them that Tull's bridge is also washed away. Cash says that they can make it still to the next town of New Hope, despite the obstacles. To the dismay of his wife Rachel, Samson offers his barn as shelter to the Bundrens until the morning when the river dies down. Dewey Dell stares at Samson with devilish eyes as Anse explains Addie's wish to his host. Rachel insists on serving dinner to the Bundrens and Jewel insists on paying Samson for his horse bait.

Topic Tracking: Family Devotion 6

Addie's body begins to smell. Rachel and Samson fight over their guests, leaving Samson to ponder the complexities of womanhood that he does not understand. The following morning, the Bundrens leave early without saying goodbye. Samson wonders if they could not have gone a different way to get to Jefferson - perhaps through Mount Vernon, like his friend MacCallum has just completed.

Dewey Dell

Dewey Dell repeatedly hopes to arrive in New Hope and wishes that she had more time with her mother.

"I heard that my mother is dead. I wish I had time to let her die. I wish I had time to wish I had. It is because the wild and outraged earth too soon too soon too soon. It's not that I wouldn't and will not it's that it is too soon too soon too soon." Dewey Dell, p. 114

Her neurotic thoughts turn to her sexual past, her desire to kill Darl, and her affair with her brother Vardaman. She is confused about her feelings and urgings and wants the three miles to pass quickly before they arrive in New Hope. She observes her family around her and thinks that she believes in God. Instead of going into New Hope, the family turns back to Tull's lane to cross the unruly river.

Topic Tracking: Religion 6
Topic Tracking: Family Devotion 7


Tull observes Anse, Vardaman, and Dewey Dell staring mindlessly at the river and fallen bridge. Darl and Cash stare at him, while Jewel remains stoic and erect, with the same unchanged look as the previous day. As the men try to devise a method of crossing the river, Dewey Dell seems to seduce Tull through her gaze. Jewel breaks his silent power with an explosion at Tull, asking him to leave them alone and claiming that nobody has asked for his help. The Bundrens plan to cross the river with the hopeful use of Tull's mule. He does not allow it.


When Anse finds Jewel asleep again, Darl recalls his history of so-called narcolepsy. He would constantly fall asleep and lose weight, looking gaunt and ill. Addie worried about him and consequently gave his chore of milking the cow to Dewey Dell. One night, Cash and Darl discovered him coming home in the middle of the night, so they believed he was having an affair with a married woman. Cash follows him one night and discovers his true whereabouts with the barn's missing lantern. Soon, he brings home a healthy white horse that he bought from Quick with his own money. He had been working each night, cleaning up a field, so that he could buy this animal and feed it without an ounce of support from Anse.

Topic Tracking: Poverty 7

Anse scolds him as Vardaman gleefully begs for a ride. Dewey Dell is confused by her emotions and love for the men in her life:

"She cried hard, maybe because she had to cry so quiet; maybe because she felt the same way about tears she did about deceit, hating herself for doing it, hating him because she had to. And then I knew that I knew. I knew that as plain on that day as I knew about Dewey Dell on that day." Darl, p. 129


Tull sees the Bundren family struggle across the bridge and thinks of his mule. Remembering his wife Cora and the jars of milk, he decides to offer his mule and helps them across. Anse tells Tull that his word is sacred and that Addie will bless him in heaven.

Topic Tracking: Religion 7


Darl describes the dark current as sinister and lively. The family begins to cross the river, with Darl, Jewel, and Cash on horses in the water, and Vernon, Anse, Vardaman, and Dewey Dell in the wagon. Jewel sensitively convinces his horse to make it across. As they go farther into the water, the tide pushes them downstream. Cash realizes that Addie's coffin is not balanced. Jewel wants to get on the wagon, despite the imbalance. The four on the bridge in the wagon seem distant from the brothers in the water. Jewel does not want to abandon his horse, despite his longing to be with Addie.

"It is as though the space between us were time: an irrevocable quality. It is as though time, no longer running straight before us in a diminishing line, now runs parallel between us like a looping string, the distance being the doubling accretion of the thread an not the interval between." Darl, p. 139

They fix Addie's coffin in the wagon and continue across. Jewel has difficulty keeping his horse down the current in the river and the family struggles with the strong current, Addie's balance, and the horses and mules. When everyone finally reaches the bank, Darl jumps out of the wagon and sees the mules roll up out of the water, with their feet extended in the air, dead.


Addie's body falls out of the wagon and floats away in the river. Vardaman cries after her and screams at Darl to find and catch her. His strong brother tries to fish her out from the current. Vardaman wonders where his mother is, because although he believes her to be a fish, he cannot believe her to be lost.

Topic Tracking: Family Devotion 8


Tull tells a singing Cora about his experience getting the Wagon over the bridge with the Bundrens. It tilts over as the rope holding the bridge seems to get thinner. The coffin tilts, as well, forcing Cash to go after it, despite his inability to swim. Jewel tries to manage his horse and the entire family falls into chaos to avoid the floating logs. Darl had jumped out of the wagon earlier, leaving Cash to man it, causing even greater problems in the water. Tull winds up knee deep in mud and water, desperately trying to help the family. Cash eventually holds onto the horse as a large shoat comes by and bumps into the rope, slanting into the water. The entire group watches the shoat cause its destruction.


Cash washes up on the shore, unconscious and injured in his previously hurt leg. He has vomited and worries about his lost tools. The men see the wagon, safe but practically destroyed across the river's shore. Vardaman and Tull hold on to the rope for support as Jewel and Tull return to the water to find Cash's saw and carpentry devices.


Cash recalls that he told everyone that the coffin wasn't on a balance and if they wanted to tote and ride on a balance, then they would have to do something different. Before he says what it is that would have prevented the wagon from capsizing, he stops.


Cora remembers a conversation she had with Addie in the past about God and sinning. A devout follower of Christ, Cora cannot understand or accept Addie's lack of religious observance. Addie claims that her daily life is an acknowledgement of her sins, while Cora disagrees by saying that only the Lord can absolve her of sin.

"Because it is not us that can judge our sins or know what is sin in the Lord's eyes. She has had a hard life, but so does every woman. But you'd think from the way she talked that she knew more about sin and salvation than the Lord God Himself, than them who have strove and labored with the sin in this human world." Cora, p. 159

She thinks Addie's only sin is loving her bastard son Jewel and not the blessed Darl and the Lord above. Cora prays for Addie.

Topic Tracking: Religion 8

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