Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo


George Saunders

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Lincoln in the Bardo: Chapter 26 Summary & Analysis

It isn’t long before a crowd of souls surround the white stone home. Everybody, Vollman explains, wants to associate themselves with Willie, hoping to know what “this apparently charmed being” thinks of their “particular reasons for remaining.” This is because, Bevins notes, there isn’t a single soul here—“not even the strongest”—who doesn’t “entertain some lingering doubt about the wisdom of his or her choice” to remain. Thinking this way, a mass of people lines up, each soul ready to tell Willie his or her story.
It’s worth noting that Bevins speaks about staying in the Bardo in terms of strength. Indeed, he says that not even the “strongest” souls are able to avoid certain misgivings regarding their decision to stay. In turn, he frames the act of lingering in this liminal realm as a feat of endurance, and this ultimately reinforces the notion that it is unnatural to embrace stasis like these Bardo-dwellers have. Indeed, children aren’t the only ones who are naturally supposed to move on—even the “strongest” adult souls in the Bardo also must fight to stay.
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