Singing is everywhere in the world of the novel. Characters sing to one another and normal speech is often compared to song. As the book’s title indicates, singing also plays a powerful role as a symbol and metaphor. The song of the world represents the “spirit” that, according to Mam and Pop, resides in everything on Earth. This speaks both to the particular energy contained within plants and animals, and also to the spirits of the dead, those killed by acts of violence like Richie and Given who linger on Earth and haunt the living. Certain people, such as Leonie, have the gift of being able to hear the “songs” of these dead people. The phrase Sing, Unburied, Sing thus indicates that the spirits of dead people have their own songs to sing, and implies that these ghosts need to tell their stories to the living in order to be able to move on to the next world.
Singing also highlights the connection between humans and the animal world, as it is not just people who sing; animals such as birds do as well. Finally, singing is an important part of African-American history, as it was one way in which African culture was passed down by enslaved people and their descendants. Indeed, song traditions such as work songs and spirituals contain a blend of African and Euro-American influences, and are thus examples of the hybrid culture that is so important in the world of the novel.
Singing Quotes in Sing, Unburied, Sing
I ain't never have the talent for it. Seeing the dead. I could read people, read the future or the past in they bodies. Know what was wrong or needed by their songs: in the plants, in the animals, too. But never saw the dead. Wanted it so bad after Given died––
He ran so fast. Sometimes I had to follow him by sound. Him talking to hisself the whole time. Not hisself. His mama. Telling her he was coming home. That he wanted her to sing for him. Sing for your son, he said. Sing.