A former slave who now exists in the Bardo. Throughout his life, Elson went out of his way to educate himself using whatever resources he could find. His master’s family treated him relatively well, compared to most master-slave relationships, but he soon discovered that no amount of intelligence would get them to hold him in higher esteem. One day, while traveling with the family, he fell on the side of a trail and was unable to get up. Despite his cries, the family moved on. When one of the sons walked by—having lagged behind the group—he promised to send help for Elson. Much later, though, it became clear that the boy had forgotten, a fact that now enrages Elson. As such, he remains in the Bardo because he yearns to return to the living world and exact his revenge upon his master’s family, scorning the years of uncontested servility he showed them. When Willie reveals to the Bardo-dwellers that they’re all dead, the news does nothing to convince Elson to depart. Instead, he decides to stay because somebody—anybody, it seems—must pay for all the horrible things he had to put up with throughout his lifetime. As such, he starts fighting the racist Lieutenant Cecil Stone, tirelessly battling him in a physical match that seems as if it’ll last for the rest of eternity.