Chasing Lincoln’s Killer


James L. Swanson

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Mementos Symbol Analysis

Mementos Symbol Icon

Mementos of the dead were an important part of nineteenth century grieving culture. Throughout Chasing Lincoln’s Killer, the living gather mementos of those who have died to remember them by. The constant presence of death during the Civil War era, when a catastrophic number of people died both on the battlefield and from disease, led people to gather physical reminders of those they had lost. Physical relics taken from the dead (including President Lincoln, in the book) are used to hold onto memories of the dead and what they stood for.

Mementos Quotes in Chasing Lincoln’s Killer

The Chasing Lincoln’s Killer quotes below all refer to the symbol of Mementos. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
News, Information, and Misinformation Theme Icon
Chapter 6 Quotes

Stanton knew that if any person in Washington deserved a precious lock of the martyr’s hair, it was Mary Jane Welles. She later framed the cherished relic with dried flowers that had decorated Abraham Lincoln’s coffin at the White House funeral. Stanton gazed down at his fallen chief and wept.

Related Characters: Abraham Lincoln, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, Mary Jane Welles
Related Symbols: Mementos
Page Number: 105
Explanation and Analysis:

The nation could hardly bury its martyred Father Abraham with a lead ball lodged in his brain. They cut it out, marked it as evidence, and preserved it for history. His blood, according to a newspaper report, was drained from his corpse by an embalmer, transferred to glass jars, and preserved. When they were finished, Mary Todd Lincoln sent a request: Please cut off a lock of his hair for her.

Related Characters: Abraham Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln
Related Symbols: Mementos
Page Number: 109-110
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mementos Symbol Timeline in Chasing Lincoln’s Killer

The timeline below shows where the symbol Mementos appears in Chasing Lincoln’s Killer. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
The Theatrical and The Real Theme Icon
Survival vs Principles Theme Icon
...blood and brain matter, and in the days afterwards people would beg to see this memento from the historic night. Meanwhile, Leale prepared to move the president, although he did not... (full context)
Chapter 6
Survival vs Principles Theme Icon
...where Lincoln had died emptied out, Stanton cut a lock of Lincoln’s hair as a memento. He put the lock of hair in an envelope addressed to Mary Jane Welles, the... (full context)
The Theatrical and The Real Theme Icon
Survival vs Principles Theme Icon
Today at Ford’s Theatre, a museum preserves the mementos collected after the assassination: including Booth’s keys, his photos of his girlfriends, his Deringer pistol... (full context)