From Darl’s departure to Anse’s marriage

[A]int none of us pure crazy and aint none of us pure sane. . . . [I]t aint so much what a fellow does, but it’s the way the majority of folks is looking at him when he does it.

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Cash explains why the family has decided to send Darl to a mental institution in Jackson. He says that because Gillespie was prepared to sue the Bundrens over the fire, they had no other choice. The family drives into Jefferson. Darl proposes that they treat Cash’s leg before burying Addie. Cash says that he can wait. Anse stops the wagon in front of a house and enters to ask for a shovel. A gramophone is playing inside, which interests Cash. Anse stays longer than expected and eventually emerges with two shovels. After the Bundrens finish burying Addie, the men from the institution show up to take Darl away. Darl struggles violently, but his family, with Dewey Dell in the lead, helps to subdue him. Darl sits on the ground, stunned, laughing uncontrollably.


Peabody treats Cash’s broken leg. He says that Cash will hobble on a shortened leg for the rest of his life—if he walks again. Peabody berates Cash for allowing Anse to set his leg in cement and loudly deplores Anse’s treatment of his children.


MacGowan, a clerk at the Jefferson drugstore, is at work when a young girl enters. MacGowan finds the young woman, Dewey Dell, attractive, and he takes advantage of the the absence of his boss by pretending to be a doctor. Dewey Dell explains her situation to MacGowan, who understands that she wants an abortion. She offers him ten dollars to perform the operation. MacGowan’s cover is almost blown when a coworker interrupts them, but he lies his way out of it. He tells Dewey Dell that ten dollars is not enough, and asks her how far she is willing to go for this operation. Desperate, the young woman agrees. MacGowan picks a bottle at random for her to drink and tells her to meet him back at the store that night for the rest of the procedure. She drinks from the bottle and leaves. That night, MacGowan closes the store down and waits there. Dewey Dell arrives promptly with a young boy, Vardaman, who waits on the curb outside the store. MacGowan hands Dewey Dell a box of talcum capsules and tells her to come to the cellar with him.


Vardaman accompanies Dewey Dell on an evening walk through Jefferson. They pass through the dark streets and the closed stores. Vardaman wants to stop to look at a toy train, but Dewey Dell takes them in the other direction, where she enters a drugstore, leaving Vardaman on the curb. Vardaman sits alone in the town square, thinking about how Darl went crazy, and stares at a lone cow. Dewey Dell emerges, and as they walk back to their hotel, she repeatedly makes the cryptic comment that “it” will not work.


Darl rants to himself as he is brought to the mental institution by armed guards. He switches madly between the first and third person perspective as he wonders why Darl cannot stop laughing, even as he lies in a dirty, grimy cell in Jackson.

Dewey Dell

Anse asks Dewey Dell about her ten dollars. She claims that she made it by selling Cora’s cakes. Anse wants to borrow the money, but Dewey Dell explains that it is not hers to loan. She says that if he takes the money from her, he will be a thief. Anse takes the money anyway and leaves the hotel.