Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo


George Saunders

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Lincoln in the Bardo: Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Vollman tells Willie to follow him, Bevins, and the Reverend. “There is someone we would like you to meet,” he says, and Willie joins them, discovering that he can “walk-skim” over the ground. As he follows these older souls, he finds that he’s glad to distance himself from his coffin, since there’s something “untoward” lying inside of it, something he thinks is a “worm the size of a boy.” This worm, he notes, is wearing his suit.
Willie’s aversion to his own body further illustrates the fact that these souls now lead entirely new existences—existences quite unlike the ones to which they’ve grown accustomed. Indeed, Willie has trouble recognizing the end of his corporeal presence, instead turning his physical body into an abstraction by calling it a “worm.” This ultimately helps him avoid the truth, which is that he is dead. In turn, he enables himself to continue existing in the Bardo, which seems to require a person to deny that they have died.
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