A "pall-covered coffin-shaped structure used at requiem masses celebrated after burial" (Merriam-Webster).

So when the caravan reached town it had something of the arrogant decorum of a procession behind a catafalque, the sheriff's car in the lead, the other cars honking and blatting behind in the sheriff's and their own compounded dust (LIA 294).

The word appears in chapter 13 of Light in August as the sheriff drives through town after Joanna Burden's body is found near her burning house. It serves to blend Burden's funeral procession with the lynch mob that soon congregates to pursue Joe Christmas.

–Andrew Cedermark


Abraham Lincoln's catafalque (from sonofthesouth.net)
Abraham Lincoln's catafalque (from sonofthesouth.net)