When Vollman steps into Lincoln once again, he discovers that the man is trying “to formulate a goodbye, in some sort of positive spirit, not wishing to enact that final departure in gloom, in case it might be felt, somehow, by the lad (even as he told himself that the lad was now past all feeling).” Feeling this way, Lincoln remains in the white stone home, waiting for “some comforting notion to arise,” but no such idea emerges. In an effort to spark some thought that might help improve his mood, he projects his thoughts to the external world, thinking about “his life out there, and the encouragement of his future prospects, and the high regard in which he [is] held,” but he finds that “no comfort [is] forthcoming, but on the contrary: he [is] not, it seem[s] well thought of, or succeeding in much of anything at all.”
Once again, Lincoln’s misgivings regarding his leadership during the Civil War bring themselves to bear on his mourning process. As he tries to say goodbye to Willie, he can’t help but avoid thinking about the political unrest ravaging the country he’s supposed to lead. In this manner, Saunders once again introduces the real world’s many problems to the Bardo, as Vollman sits inside Lincoln and witnesses the man’s insecurity about his responsibility to keep the country on track.