As I Lay Dying

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As I Lay Dying 52. Darl Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The road-signs begin to suggest that the family is just outside of Jefferson. Cash is lying on top of Addie's coffin with shards of cement all across his leg. Anse states that they must take him to a doctor. Dewey Dell asks to stop and despite the fuss Anse makes, he allows her to go into the bushes. When she emerges, she is wearing her Sunday dress, a necklace and stockings. Anse scolds her for bringing her nice clothes along, but Dewey Dell ignores him.
Dewey Dell reveals that she had not been carrying Cora's cakes, but clothing to wear to the Jefferson pharmacy, where she plans to get an abortion treatment. While Dewey Dell's gesture recalls her self-interest along the journey, Cash, once again, continues to prove himself to be self-sacrificing to a fault, cooperatively silent despite shards of cement on his swollen, broken leg.
Themes
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
As the Bundrens make their way into town, a bystander complains about the stench coming from their wagon. Jewel curses at the man, who then flashes a knife. Darl apologizes on his brother's behalf and successfully calms the altercation between the two men. Jewel refuses to board the wagon, and instead sets his foot on the hub of the wagon's rear wheel, appearing "motionless" and "wooden-backed" as the family continues on their way to Jefferson.
Here, Darl surprisingly comes to his brother's defense and quells the argument between Jewel and a Jefferson pedestrian. This incident reveals Darl's relative detachment from the enterprise of burying Addie in Jefferson, and speaks to their divergent tendencies—Darl's toward verbal articulation and Jewel's toward physical expression.
Themes
Language versus Action Theme Icon