From Addie’s funeral to Anse’s complaint
“Why?” Darl said. “If pa is your pa, why does your ma have to be a horse just because Jewel’s is?”See Important Quotations Explained
Tull returns to the Bundren household with Peabody’s team at ten the next morning. He discusses the high level of the river with two local farmers, Quick and Armstid. Anse comes to the door and greets them. The women go into the house while the men talk on the porch. Tull goes behind the house, where Cash is plugging up the holes Vardaman made in the coffin. The family has laid Addie into the coffin backward to accommodate the flared bottom of her wedding dress, with her feet in place at the head end, and there is a mosquito net over her face to mask the drilled holes.
Whitfield, the minister, arrives to perform the funeral as Tull is about to leave, and announces that the bridge has been washed away. The group discusses Addie’s desire to be buried in Jefferson, and notes Anse’s dedication to getting her body there. Cash and Tull talk about how Cash broke his leg falling from the top of a church on which he was working. Inside, the women begin to sing, and Whitfield starts the service. The men stay outside on the porch throughout the service. As they leave, Cora is still singing. On the way home, she and Tull see Vardaman fishing in a bog. When Tull tells him there are no fish in the bog, Vardaman insists that Dewey Dell has seen one.
An accident has caused Darl and Jewel to be delayed for a few days, and as they approach the house, Darl sardonically reassures Jewel that the buzzards flying overhead do not mean that Jewel’s horse is dead. Jewel curses Darl furiously, and Darl reflects that although he cannot be upset by his mother’s death, as she no longer exists, Jewel’s mother is a horse.
In a short burst of dialogue that is not actually credited to either speaker, Cash tries to explain to Jewel why the coffin will not balance, while Jewel curses at him to pick up the coffin regardless.
Anse, Cash, Darl, and Jewel lift the coffin and carry it out of the house, while Jewel curses them all. Cash reiterates his reservation about the coffin being unbalanced, but Jewel continues to push forward, leaving Cash to hobble after the rest of the group. Jewel almost single-handedly muscles the coffin into the wagon bed, and then curses again out loud.
Vardaman is preparing to go to Jefferson with the rest of the family. Jewel heads for the barn, and when Anse calls after him, Jewel does not respond. After Darl states that Jewel’s mother is a horse, Vardaman wonders if that means his mother is a horse too, but Darl assures him otherwise. Cash brings his toolbox so he can work on Tull’s place on the way back, which Anse says is disrespectful. Anse becomes even more indignant when Dewey Dell brings a package of Mrs. Tull’s cakes to deliver to town.