To some extent, the entire novel constitutes one huge paradox. Addie’s family members profess their loyalty and devotion to their mother and the ostensible purpose of their trip is to bury her, but almost everything that occurs on the trip works against the completion of that task. The children who consider themselves most devoted are completely at odds, as Jewel is intent on fulfilling her request and Darl is equally determined to prevent its realization.
While hypocrisy is most evident in the character of Anse. Although he seems to be a concerned husband and father, it is gradually revealed that he is not Jewel’s father and that Addie had outgrown their marriage. After her death, when the family accompanies her body to the burial site in Jefferson, he seems most interested in all the town has to offer and not in the least concerned with his deceased wife. Anse betrays the children, first by stealing money from them and then by quickly remarrying and expecting them to accept a new “mother.”