Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo


George Saunders

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Elise Traynor (or “The Traynor Girl”) Character Analysis

A fourteen-year-old girl who cannot leave the Bardo. While she was still alive, Elise wanted nothing more than to have a baby, but she never got the chance to get pregnant, since she died so young. When she arrived in the Bardo, then, she couldn’t bring herself to leave, focusing intensely on her wish to fulfill her dreams of becoming a mother. However, young people aren’t meant to “tarry” in the Bardo, and so a hellish tendril emerged from the ground and fastened Elise to the iron fence that marks the boundary of where the Bardo-dwellers can roam. Since then, Elise has been unable to leave, and the tendrils have had a terrible effect on her. Indeed, she constantly manifests as dreadful and macabre objects. In addition, her linguistic abilities have deteriorated, though she has also learned a number of vulgar words that now pepper her sentences. Vollman, Bevins, and the Reverend feel guilty for not helping the girl when they still could, since they were too busy focusing on themselves and the effort required to stay in the Bardo. When Willie arrives, the three friends take him to see Elise, hoping her situation will show him that he must leave. At the end of the novel, Vollman redeems his cowardice by using the matterlightblooming phenomenon—which occurs when a person leaves the Bardo—to free Elise from her constraints.

Elise Traynor (or “The Traynor Girl”) Quotes in Lincoln in the Bardo

The Lincoln in the Bardo quotes below are all either spoken by Elise Traynor (or “The Traynor Girl”) or refer to Elise Traynor (or “The Traynor Girl”). For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Unity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of Lincoln in the Bardo published in 2018.
Chapter 13 Quotes

I want ed so much to hold a dear Babe.

I know very wel I do not look as prety as I onseh. And over time, I admit, I have come to know serten words I did not formerly

Fuk cok shit reem ravage assfuk

[…] I did not get any. Thing.

Was gone too soon

To get

Only forteen.

Yrs of aje

Plese do come again sir it has been a pleasure to make your

But fuk yr anshient frends (do not bring them agin) who kome to ogle and mok me and ask me to swindle no that is not the werd slender slander that wich I am doing. Wich is no more than what they are doing. Is it not so? What I am doing, if I only cary on fathefully, will, I am sure, bring about that longed-for return to

Green grass kind looks.

Related Symbols: The Iron Fence
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:
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Elise Traynor (or “The Traynor Girl”) Character Timeline in Lincoln in the Bardo

The timeline below shows where the character Elise Traynor (or “The Traynor Girl”) appears in Lincoln in the Bardo. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 12
Transition and Impermanence Theme Icon
...this is the “noxious limit beyond which” they cannot “venture.” Affixed to this fence lies the Traynor girl , who has been fastened there so long that she has ultimately become part of... (full context)
Chapter 13
Transition and Impermanence Theme Icon
Vice and Virtue Theme Icon
Elise Traynor tells Willie that a number of young men used to “desire” her as they sat... (full context)
Chapter 14-15
Transition and Impermanence Theme Icon
Leaving Elise Traynor , Willie asks Bevins, Vollman, and the Reverend if the same thing will happen to... (full context)
Chapter 31
Transition and Impermanence Theme Icon
...were shaking; he had lost, by my estimation, approximately half his bodyweight.” Apparently, it took Elise Traynor roughly a month “to descend to this level,” though the Reverend says, “The fact that... (full context)
Chapter 32
Transition and Impermanence Theme Icon
Vice and Virtue Theme Icon
Vollman, Bevins, and the Reverend have seen this tendril before. Indeed, they witnessed Elise Traynor become engulfed by the very same material, so they know that the tendril will overtake... (full context)
Unity Theme Icon
Transition and Impermanence Theme Icon
Empathy and Equality Theme Icon
...Vollman, Bevins, and the Reverend because it reminds them that they did nothing to help Elise Traynor when she succumbed. They remember walking away with bowed heads as the tendril wrapped around... (full context)
Chapter 103
Transition and Impermanence Theme Icon
Empathy and Equality Theme Icon
When Vollman and Bevins reach Elise Traynor , she is in the form of a “smoking wreck of a rail car, several... (full context)