Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel Symbols & Objects

George Saunders
This Study Guide consists of approximately 39 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Lincoln in the Bardo.
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The Bardo

The bardo symbolizes the intersection between life and death. As an intermediate space between life and reincarnation, the bardo stands as a strong symbol for the ways in which death affects those still living. Abraham Lincoln, for example, struggles throughout the novel to balance his grief for his son with the duties of his office. Furthermore, because the novel plays with metaphysics in such a way that makes the deceased characters the focus of the story, the bardo also serves as a frame for examining the ways in which one reflects upon one’s own life, either with regret or with acceptance.

The Sick-Box

Coffins, or “sick-boxes,” symbolize vain hope and misunderstanding. The deceased characters of the novel remain in the bardo until they accept that they are dead and must pass on to their next lives. Thus, characters like Vollman and Bevins, who have...

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This section contains 967 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel Study Guide
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