As I Lay Dying

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As I Lay Dying 55. MacGowan Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Dewey Dell enters the Jefferson pharmacy when MacGowan is on duty. Since he finds Dewey Dell to be "a pretty hot mamma for a country girl," MacGowan decides to lie and pretend to be a doctor. She tells him her situation, and he comforts her, while telling her that ten dollars is not enough to get the operation. MacGowan asks, "How bad do you want to do something?" Dewey Dell says that she will do anything in order to get an abortion. Still pretending to be the doctor, MacGowan takes a random glass for Dewey Dell to drink. He tells her to come back later for the rest of the operation. Dewey Dell agrees and returns that night with Vardaman, who waits outside on the curb. MacGowan gives Dewey Dell a box of capsules and leads her to "the rest of the treatment" in the pharmacy basement, where he will take advantage of her.
MacGowan's attempt to pretend to be a doctor is not particularly sophisticated, and thus reveals the extent of both Dewey Dell's desperation and her ignorance. The fact that Dewey Dell is not only manipulated by Lafe in the first place, leading her to bear the burden of pregnancy, continues to de-romanticize the idea of childbirth, and further victimizes Dewey Dell. The extremity of Dewey Dell's desperation also retroactively points out the extent of her self-interested thoughts throughout the Bundrens' journey, as she truly is willing to do whatever it takes to get an abortion.
Themes
Self-Interest Versus Heroic Duty Theme Icon
Family, Birth, and Death Theme Icon