As I Lay Dying Part II Summary

     Even though they are pressed for time, Cash feels he needs to bevel the edges of the coffin before it will be complete. Cash is a very meticulous man, and focusing on the coffin seems to distract him from the fact that his mother is dead. He also carefully plugs up the holes that Vardaman drilled in the lid. Vardaman still believes his mother is in the fish. They put Addie's body in the coffin in reverse to give more room for her wedding dress. They have a short service where the women from town come and sing, then they head out toward Jefferson after Addie has already been dead for three days.

     Darl begins mentioning that Jewel's mother is a horse, which seems to connect to two ideas, both of which are explained more in later chapters. Dewey Dell brings a package wrapped in newspaper with her on the journey, which the reader assumes might be the cakes she made earlier. As they set out, Jewel stays behind at the house then later catches up riding the horse that his father specifically told him not to bring. Unfortunately, the bridge they had planned to cross has been overrun with water due to the recent storms, so they must go down to the next bridge. Samson allows the family to stay at his house overnight, offering them food and shelter, which they try hard to refuse. The first buzzard makes an appearance, sniffing out the dead body.

     They end up turning back to the sunken bridge where Vernon Tull joins them and attempts to assist them in crossing. The family decides that Anse, Dewey Dell, and Vardaman, holding onto Tull's hand, can cross the treacherous bridge while Cash, Jewel, and Darl try to drive the animals and wagon through the water. Tull points them toward a ford, which is a shallower area, to assist them. Darl remembers when Jewel first got the horse that he is riding. For many nights Jewel would go missing only to reappear the next morning asleep on his feet. Darl and Cash suspected Jewel had a girlfriend whom he would go visit, perhaps a married woman in town, so one night Cash followed him. Then a few days later Jewel came home with a horse. When his father demanded to know how he got it, Jewel said he bought it from Lon Quick. Cash confirmed that he had seen Jewel working Quick's field at night in order to earn the money to buy the horse. This story explains one of the reasons why Jewel feels so possessive of that horse.

     As the older sons attempt to cross the river, they hit a snag. The wagon tilts and the mules go under and drown. Cash is able to grab onto the horse, which is lucky since he can't swim, but he is kicked in the stomach and breaks his leg. Jewel goes after the coffin and eventually pulls it up on shore before they haul the wagon up. Then Jewel returns to the water to retrieve all of Cash's tools, about which he is very concerned.

     Cora then narrates a chapter in flashback when she spoke to Addie about the challenges in her life. Addie said Jewel was her punishment but he would also be her salvation. In other words, he would save her as he just did from the river. Then Addie, though deceased, narrates her only chapter in the novel, where she admits that she didn't actually want children, so she resented Anse after she had Cash and then Darl. As revenge she had an affair with Brother Whitfield, which is made clear in the chapter narrated by Whitfield, that produced Jewel. She then gave Anse Dewey Dell and Vardaman to make it up to him.

Related Links:

As I Lay Dying Part II Quiz
As I Lay Dying Part III Summary
As I Lay Dying Part I Summary
As I Lay Dying Summary
As I Lay Dying Quotes
As I Lay Dying Important Characters
As I Lay Dying Quiz
Literature Summaries

To link to this As I Lay Dying Part II Summary page, copy the following code to your site: