Mourning: A Novel Summary & Study Guide

Eduardo Halfon
This Study Guide consists of approximately 37 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Mourning.
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Mourning: A Novel Summary & Study Guide Description

Mourning: A Novel Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Mourning: A Novel by Eduardo Halfon.

The following version of this book was used to create the guide: Halfon, Eduardo, Mourning. Bellevue Literary Press, 2018.

In Eduardo Halfon's novel Mourning, the first person narrator Eduardo sets out on a pilgrimage in search of the truth of his ancestors past. In the first section of the novel, "Signor Hoffman," Eduardo travels to Calabria, Italy. After Panebianco, the director of the concentration camp Ferramonti di Tarsia, reads Eduardo's book about his Polish grandfather, he invites him to do a talk as a part of the commemorative events of Holocaust Memorial Day. While there, Eduardo meets a graduate student, Marina, who tells him the camp is a replica of the original site. This truth along with Panebianco's sketchy transfer of money to Eduardo for doing the talk unsettles him. He becomes consumed and disturbed by the commodification of human suffering, fearing he too is a participant in these societal trends. He then sets to spending all of his payment on booze while out with Marina in an attempt to rid himself of the guilt he feels.

In the second section, "Oh Ghetto My Love," Eduardo goes to Poland to meet with Madame Maroszek, who he has been communicating with through letters. Desperate to visit the city and apartment where his grandfather and great-grandparents once lived, a friend puts him in contact with Madame Maroszek. Though no one is sure of her exact intentions, she is known for her work to help Jews uncover the lost histories of their family members. While in Łódź, Madame Maroszek shows Eduardo the city, including a Jewish cemetery and a former ghetto. She eventually helps him locate the address his grandfather gave him years prior on a small piece of paper.

When they arrive at the apartment, the current owner is initially reluctant to allow them inside. Once she finally grants them entrance, she inquires about Eduardo's journey. He tells her he does not know the exact reason he wanted to visit Poland, but calls it a pilgrimage of sorts. She tells him that while his family may have once lived in the same apartment, the space has been entirely redone since the time of the war. Before Madame Maroszek and Eduardo part, the woman give him three books as a gift. The books are a series of letters and journals written by Jews while in the concentration camps. The gift makes Eduardo realize how much Madame Maroszek believes in the value of recording one's personal history. He begins to understand that the page is a place for reconciliation and change.

In the third and final section of the novel, "Mourning," Eduardo returns to his grandparents' former lake house in Guatemala where he spent much of his time as a child. While there he reconnects with his family's caretaker Don Isidoro. Their conversations inspire a series of childhood memories which punctuate and fragment the narrative structure. Through these memories and his dialogue with Don Isidoro, Eduardo attempts to uncover the truth of his Uncle Salomón's mysterious death. All of his memories, the accounts he has heard, and Don Isidoro's confusion, however, are conflicting, and further complicate Eduardo's search. Later on at a bar in town, a man suggests Eduardo visit the local healer Doña Ermalinda. While at her home, she performs a ceremony for Eduardo, and recites the stories of all the boys who have drowned in the lake, none of which were Salomón, as Eduardo once believed. She then gives him a potion which she tells him will help him see the truth. The elixir of sorts induces a trance- or dreamlike state for Eduardo. His memories become more coherent and clarifying. When he awakens he feels a new reconciliation with his past, his heritage, and the unknown.

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