“It’s Cash and Jewel and Vardaman and Dewey Dell,” pa says, kind of hangdog and proud too, with his teeth and all, even if he wouldn’t look at us. “Meet Mrs Bundren,” he says.
This passage, also narrated by Cash, ends the novel. Anse Bundren’s children have braved fire, flood, and humiliation to deliver their mother’s corpse to the gravesite she had chosen, and now, the day after she is buried, Anse appears sporting a set of false teeth and a new wife. There have been a number of ironic moments in the novel up to this point, but this last scene is the most ironic of all. As the final moment of the novel, it casts a shadow over the entire work—all of the events preceding it now appear either farcical or tragic. The image of the sheepish but proud Anse standing in front of his astonished brood with his new wife and false teeth certainly has its comic elements, but is especially cynical in light of the fact that this woman must certainly be the one who has loaned Anse the shovels with which to bury Addie. That the title of “Mrs. Bundren” can pass so easily from one woman to another makes us wonder if, in fact, Darl isn’t right to question whether any of us exist at all.