Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo


George Saunders

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Lincoln in the Bardo: Chapter 63 Summary & Analysis

Lincoln approaches the white stone home, goes inside, takes Willie’s coffin from the wall, puts it on the ground, kneels, and opens it. Vollman, Bevins, and the Reverend watch this until they hear Willie cry out from the roof, where the tendrils have now fixed him in place so strongly that none of them can pull him up. However, Vollman realizes there are no tendrils beneath Willie, so the group pushes the boy through the roof until he lands inside the white stone home next to his father. “Go in, listen well. You may learn something useful,” Vollman urges him. “We have recently heard your father express a certain wish,” Bevins adds. They then tell him that Lincoln wants his son to be in “some bright place,” “free of suffering,” “resplendent in a new mode of being.” As such, Willie approaches his father but hesitates to enter.
Yet again, Willie’s fellow Bardo-dwellers want to show him that he’s unfit for the Bardo. Since Lincoln wants his son to exist in a “new mode of being,” they urge him to enter his father, hoping that doing so will help the boy see that he shouldn’t cling to his past life. After all, living in a “new mode of being” would mean freeing himself from any ties he has to his previous existence, thereby embracing change and transition.
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