Cash's tools are a metaphor for his desire to fix and make things right—particularly regarding those around him. Throughout the novel, Cash does not reveal much about his inner life, but is a man of action, and consistently displays the virtues of charity and mindfulness for others. He tirelessly works (with his prized tools in hand) to finish Addie's coffin before her death in an apparent effort to show his dedication to his mother's legacy. When the log interrupts the Bundrens' river-crossing, Cash's tools are lost in the chaos, setting the family into a frenzy, as even they know how important they are to him. Cash does not express his own needs, never complaining once about his broken leg; however, he does fixate on things like the coffin's lack of balance, wishing for the entire journey that he could fix it.
Tools Symbol Timeline in As I Lay Dying
The timeline below shows where the symbol Tools appears in As I Lay Dying. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Cash approaches the wagon with his tools, so that he can stop and help Tull fix his roof on the way back... (full context)
...the wagon and Cash focuses on the safety of the coffin and his box of tools. The log ends up crashing into the wagon, but Cash holds onto the coffin. Jewel... (full context)
...missing things in the water. Jewel dives right into the current to look for Cash's tools in particular. The family and Tull attempt to wake Cash up from his unconsciousness: Dewey... (full context)
...members try to talk with Cash about his health, but Cash merely mutters about his tools. Jewel rides ahead on his horse to Armstid's home and comes back to the Bundrens... (full context)