How we cite our quotes:
"It's a man. Stop the wagon, we must help him!"
"He is past helping, Miss," the driver said as he urged on the horses. "I checked him on the way out to fetch you this morning. He were too far gone to go to the hospital. His family tossed him out so as they wouldn't catch the fever. The death cart will get him soon for burying." (16.37)
How does one deal with dead bodies during a fever epidemic? Well, it's a good question. Once a person is dead, should he or she still be honored? What about in times of crisis, with plenty of other pressing matters?
Dead? Grandfather couldn't be dead. My grandfather – candy-giving, wood-chopping, tobacco-smelling grandfather. Who carried me through Philadelphia like a princess. Who knew every politician, printer, carpenter, and captain. Who fed stray dogs. Who curbed Mother's tongue. Who carved me a doll's cradle. Who dried my tears.
Death has finally taken someone closes to Matilda, her grandfather. Note the enormity of the emotional loss as Matilda runs through her memory banks, cataloguing his presence at every important step of her life. Who will be there for Matilda now that Grandfather is gone?
There could be no running from this. Hiding from death was not like hiding from Mother when she wanted me to scrub kettles, or ignoring Silas when he begged for food. I was the only one left. (20.6)
As the epidemic rages, death is personified and becomes something Mattie feels is pursuing her. Death hits closer and closer to home as Mattie realizes that she too will die one day. And possibly sooner than she would like.