Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo


George Saunders

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Lincoln in the Bardo: Chapter 98 Summary & Analysis

Isabelle Perkins includes a post-script in her letter to her brother, saying that she saw President Lincoln exit the cemetery, mount his horse, and ride away. Looking across the road, she opened her window and shouted to ask Manders if it was truly the president who just departed the cemetery. When he confirms that Lincoln did indeed just proceed into the night, Isabelle wonders about “the extent” of the president’s “heartache.” She then admits that she should have her caretaker her help her to bed, since it’s late and she is unwell. Ending her letter, she implores her brother to come home, telling him that she loves and misses him and admitting that she has “no real friend here in this place.”
By portraying Isabelle as lonely, Saunders shows that the Bardo-dwellers aren’t necessarily the only ones who are estranged from their loved ones. Indeed, Isabelle is still alive, and yet she finds herself in a similar state as people like Hans Vollman, who still waits to rejoin Anna. Although the majority of the novel frames the act of waiting as something that ought to be avoided, in this moment Saunders backhandedly intimates that waiting is also a deeply human endeavor, regardless of the realm in which a person exists.
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