Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo


George Saunders

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Lincoln in the Bardo: Chapter 92 Summary & Analysis

In his final monologue, Willie asserts that he is simultaneously himself and not himself. Now “allowed” to do whatever he wants, he delights in “swinging from the chandelier” and floating around, flying wherever he pleases. “Whatever that former fellow (willie) had,” he says, “must now be given back (is given back gladly) as it never was mine (never his) and therefore is not being taken away, not at all! As I (who was of willie but is no longer (merely) of willie) return to such beauty.”
Willie’s final words appear after he has already departed the Bardo, giving readers a look into the mentality he carries into the afterlife. In turn, his assertion that he must “give back” everything—including himself—is in line with Lincoln’s earlier idea that humans come from “nothingness” and then return once more to that nothingness. As Willie retreats from the Bardo—and, thus, farther away from life itself—he revels in the “beauty” of relinquishing his ties to the world, ultimately framing the transition between life and death as a wonderful, natural occurrence.
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