As the narrator grudgingly helps to carry his mother’s casket to the church, the literal issue at hand is the dilemma of the weather: the heat’s influence is stifling. The sun’s rays beat down on members of the procession. In the metaphorical interpretation of the scene, however, the reader is presented with a commentary on the human condition. A man is born into a life that can only end in death, that central, inescapable fact of life. It is an unavoidable truth.
“If you go too slowly there’s the risk of a heatstroke.
But, if you go too fast, you perspire,
and the cold air in the church gives you a chill.’
I saw her point; either way one was in for it.”