Leaving Elise Traynor, Willie asks Bevins, Vollman, and the Reverend if the same thing will happen to him if he stays, and they assure him it will. “It is—it is somewhat happening already,” the Reverend says. “I believe, then, that I must do as you say,” Willie admits. As the group prepares to say goodbye, though, his eyes fix on something in the distance, and his face alights with joy. “Father,” he says.
Once again, Saunders emphasizes the idea that young people aren’t meant to “tarry” in states of stasis. Just as Willie comes to terms with this notion, though, he sees his father, a fact that will no doubt upset his plans to leave. In this moment, Willie reconnects to his past life, remembering his connection to his father—a connection that makes it harder for him to leave the Bardo.