The Beast in the Jungle


Henry James

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Beast in the Jungle can help.

The Mourner Character Analysis

After May Bartram dies, John Marcher habitually visits her grave and one day encounters a strange mourner at the cemetery, who is grieving for some unknown person. Marcher and the mourner, a middle-aged man, make eye contact with one another, and the mourner visibly demonstrates his deep grief to Marcher with a glance. It’s not clear why he does so, though Marcher speculates that the mourner might have previously seen Marcher at the cemetery and either wants sympathy or wants to prove that his own grief is deeper than Marcher’s. This short moment of contact and connection makes Marcher envious, as he realizes that he never felt as passionate about anyone as the mourner clearly feels about his lost loved one. Marcher then realizes that his fate—which he spent the novella stressing about—is to live a life without love or passion. The mourner therefore hints at the kind of emotional and fulfilled person Marcher could have been if he hadn’t spent his life repressing his emotions and anticipating a distant fate.

The Mourner Quotes in The Beast in the Jungle

The The Beast in the Jungle quotes below are all either spoken by The Mourner or refer to The Mourner. 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:
Fate and Failure Theme Icon
Chapter 6 Quotes

This brought him close, and his pace, was slow, so that—and all the more as there was a kind of hunger in his look—the two men were for a minute directly confronted. Marcher knew him at once for one of the deeply stricken—a perception so sharp that nothing else in the picture comparatively lived, neither his dress, his age, nor his presumable character and class; nothing lived but the deep ravage of the features that he showed. He showed them—that was the point; he was moved, as he passed, by some impulse that was either a signal for sympathy or, more possibly, a challenge to an opposed sorrow. He might already have been aware of our friend, might at some previous hour have noticed in him the smooth habit of the scene, with which the state of his own senses so scantly consorted, and might thereby have been stirred as by an overt discord. […] What had the man had, to make him by the loss of it so bleed and yet live?

Related Characters: John Marcher, The Mourner, May Bartram
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Beast in the Jungle LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Beast in the Jungle PDF

The Mourner Character Timeline in The Beast in the Jungle

The timeline below shows where the character The Mourner appears in The Beast in the Jungle. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6
Fate and Failure Theme Icon
Understanding and Connection Theme Icon
...incident had never occurred, everything still would have changed. One fall day, Marcher notices another mourner at the cemetery, a middle-aged man staring at a fresh grave. Marcher is feeling particularly... (full context)
Understanding and Connection Theme Icon
At that moment, the other mourner walks past Marcher to reach the cemetery gates, and because he’s walking slowly, the two... (full context)
Understanding and Connection Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
As the mourner leaves the cemetery, Marcher realizes that he’s jealous of the mourner. He wonders what the... (full context)