Sing, Unburied, Sing


Jesmyn Ward

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on Sing, Unburied, Sing makes teaching easy.
Themes and Colors
Family, Heritage, and Homecoming Theme Icon
Animals and Nature Theme Icon
Illness, Wounds, and Death Theme Icon
Feeding, Healing, and Care Theme Icon
Racism Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Sing, Unburied, Sing, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Family, Heritage, and Homecoming

Sing, Unburied, Sing is a family saga. Although the main action of the plot takes place over only a few days, the narrative jumps back to tell stories of Jojo’s family’s history that happened many years before he was born. Indeed, one of the most important ideas in the novel is the connection that exists even between family members who are not alive at the same time, such as the connection between Jojo and…

read analysis of Family, Heritage, and Homecoming

Animals and Nature

In Sing, Unburied, Sing, the boundary between human existence and the natural world is not a strict one––and at times, it seems barely to exist at all. Jojo and his family live in a rural part of Mississippi, and Jojo is extremely comfortable in nature. Indeed, the natural world is often presented as a source of relief, comfort, and solace to the characters. The gris-gris bag that Pop gives Jojo contains a rock, a…

read analysis of Animals and Nature

Illness, Wounds, and Death

Illness, wounds, and death cast a shadow over the narrative of Sing, Unburied, Sing from the very beginning. In the opening scene, Jojo mentions that Mam is suffering from cancer, and then describes himself and Pop slaughtering a goat to be eaten. Immediately, this shows that while illness and injury are inherently dark, tragic phenomena, they—along with death itself—are also part of the natural cycle of life. Illness, wounds, and death are ever-present in the…

read analysis of Illness, Wounds, and Death
Get the entire Sing, Unburied, Sing LitChart as a printable PDF.
Sing, Unburied, Sing PDF

Feeding, Healing, and Care

In opposition to the important themes of illness, wounds, and death, Sing, Unburied, Sing also deals directly with themes of feeding, healing, and care. Sing, Unburied, Sing pays close attention to the daily practice of caring for others, showing this to be both a form of love and a (sometimes punishing) form of labor. The person whose care the reader witnesses the most is Jojo. Neglected by Leonie, Jojo is left to…

read analysis of Feeding, Healing, and Care


Sing, Unburied, Sing takes place in a world haunted by slavery, lynching, and other extreme forms of anti-black violence. Rather than being relegated to the past, these forms of violence have a powerful impact on the present. This sense of continuity is shown through the numerous instances of violence that take place in the novel, including the murder of Given, the lynching of Blue, and the unjust imprisonment of Pop and Richie

read analysis of Racism