As I Lay Dying

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As I Lay Dying 43. Armstid Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Armstid attempts to help Anse troubleshoot the question of where to get more mules, first suggesting that he ask Snopes, another nearby farmer. Anse mumbles in response and eventually tells Armstid "A man'll alwas help a fellow in a tight, if he's got ere a drop of Christian blood in him." Presumably in response to this remark, Armstid offers Anse one of his mules to borrow. Anse declines the offer and says that Addie would prefer traveling with mules that were the Bundrens' own mules.
Anse's response to Armstid's helpful suggestions is passive-aggressive and reveals Anse's inability to communicate directly and with integrity. Specifically, he unapologetically invokes Christianity to manipulate Armstid into offering his mules. Then, after receiving the result he expectedly wanted, Anse defends his own selfish desire to own the mules by attributing that desire to Addie.
Themes
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Jewel returns to Armstid's house with a horse-physician to help Cash with his injured leg. The doctor orders Cash to drink whisky and Anse realizes that Cash has re-broken the leg. The doctor sets Cash's leg, which causes Cash to faint.
Despite only having one narration, Jewel's gestures reveal his personality. While Jewel and Darl have an intense rivalry, Jewel shows himself to care for Cash through actions, not words.
Themes
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon
Anse leaves Armstid's house the next morning with Jewel's horse, riding off to inquire Snopes about opportunities for buying a team of mules nearby. Back at Armstid's house, Darl notices the cloud of buzzards that is beginning to gather above Addie's coffin. While Anse is out with his horse, Jewel tries to make himself useful by getting the wagon out of their host's shed, but struggles in doing so. He asks for Darl's help, as he is standing nearby and asks what Jewel is doing, but Darl refuses to help his brother.
Unlike many of the other characters, Darl does not attempt to rationalize his actions as heroic, but shamelessly thinks the way he wants to think and acts the way he wants to act. Here, Darl refuses to help Jewel move the wagon out of Armstid's shed not because he does not want to be a good guest, but because he wishes for Jewel to be angry.
Themes
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
Anse triumphantly returns boasting of the fact that he got the family a new team of mules. He calls Jewel over, but Darl intervenes and asks Anse what he gave Snopes to get the mules. Anse does not make eye contact with Darl but answers to the two brothers that he gave a mortgage on some farm machinery. When Darl presses him that there must be more he gave over, Anse eventually admits that he also gave money that Cash was saving (to buy himself a graphophone, explains Darl), some money from his teeth fund, and, finally, Jewel's horse.
After purchasing the new team of mules, Anse believes himself to be fulfilling a heroic act for the rest of his family. However, Anse could have simply borrowed Armstid's mules and spared the saintly Cash his meager savings and Jewel his prized horse. Anse attempts to justify his gesture as selfless, as he donated some money from his teeth-fund; though in reality, this episode reveals Anse to be the embodiment of selfishness and hypocrisy, the antithesis of what a father should be to his children.
Themes
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon
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Jewel appears more dumbfounded then infuriated at this news, and decides to ride away on his horse, making it so that the mule deal would not ultimately pan out. Though the next morning, a man approaches Armstid's house delivering the Bundrens their new team of mules, explaining that Jewel's horse was simply left on Snopes' farm. Jewel is still missing.
Jewel's eventual acceptance of Anse's decision is surprising, as Jewel usually acts impetuously and aggressively. However, his silence functions as expression: unlike Anse and the rest of the clan, Jewel feels such a strong sense of duty to get Addie to Jefferson that he can put his own desires aside and make a sacrifice that is truly for the sake of his mother.
Themes
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Language versus Action Theme Icon