The book is told by 15 different characters over 59 chapters. It is the story of the death of Addie Bundren and her poor, rural family’s mission and inspirations– noble or selfish– to honor her desire to be buried in her hometown of Jefferson, Mississippi.
As the book opens, Addie lives, though in ill health. Addie and others expect her to die soon, and she sits at a window watching as her firstborn, Cash, builds her casket. Anse, Addie’s partner, waits on the porch, while their daughter, Dewey Dell, fans her mom in the July heat. The night after Addie passes away a heavy rainstorm sets in; rivers rise and rinse bridges the household will require to cross to get to Jefferson.
The family’s trek by wagon begins, with Addie’s non-embalmed body in the casket. Along the method, Anse and the five kids come across various difficulties. Anse regularly declines any offers of help, consisting of meals or lodging, so sometimes the family goes hungry and sleeps in barns. At other times he contradicts loans from people, declaring he wishes to “be beholden to no man”, thus controling the would-be-lender into giving him charity as a present not to be repaid.
Gem, Addie’s middle kid, tries to leave his dysfunctional household after Anse sells Jewel’s most valued belongings, his horse, yet can not turn his back on them through the trials. Money breaks a leg and winds up riding atop the casket. He refuses to confess to any discomfort, however the family eventually puts a makeshift cast of concrete on his leg. Twice, the household nearly loses Addie’s coffin– initially, while crossing a river on a washed-out bridge (2 mules are lost), and 2nd, when a fire of suspicious origin, starts in the barn where the casket is being saved for a night.
After 9 days, the household lastly arrives in Jefferson, where the odor from the casket is quickly smelled by the townspeople. In town, member of the family have various products of company to take care of. Money’s damaged leg needs attention. Dewey Dell, for the 2nd time in the unique, goes to a drug store, attempting to acquire an abortion that she does not understand how to request. Initially, however, Anse wishes to borrow some shovels to bury Addie, because that was the function of the trip and the family need to be together for that. Before that happens, nevertheless, Darl, the 2nd eldest, is taken for the arson of the barn and sent out to the Mississippi State Insane Asylum in Jackson.  With Addie only simply buried, Anse forces Dewey Dell to give up her cash provided to her by Lafe (the guy who got her pregnant) for an abortion, which he spends on getting “new teeth”, and marries the woman from whom he obtained the spades.
As are many of Faulkner’s works, the story is embeded in Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, which Faulkner referred to as “my apocryphal county”, a fictional performance of the author’s house of Lafayette County in the exact same state.