Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo

by

George Saunders

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Lincoln in the Bardo: Chapter 30 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After the “onslaught,” Vollman, Bevins, and the Reverend try to determine which three souls departed, since they heard three instances of the “matterlightblooming phenomenon.” As they search, they pass many people “weeping with the effort of resistance” and replaying the various “seductive visions and temptations to which they” were exposed. As the trio of friends makes their way across the grounds, they assume that Willie was one of the three souls to have moved on, since it is “unlikely that one so young could” survive “such a merciless assault.” After all, children are meant to move on, since the “alternative” is “eternal enslavement.”
Once again, it becomes clear that remaining in the Bardo takes a large amount of “effort”—an act of “resistance” that leaves the remaining souls utterly depleted after the heaven-sent beings try to convince them to leave. If remaining in this realm takes so much effort, it’s clear that staying is unnatural, and that humans are otherwise inherently inclined to move on. In addition, Bevins, Vollman, and the Reverend once more suggest that children are unfit for the Bardo, since young people who stay here are doomed to “eternal enslavement.”
Themes
Transition and Impermanence Theme Icon