Everyman

by: Philip Roth

Sections 29-31

The everyman’s last-minute, almost thoughtless visit to the cemetery represents his desire to ‘catch up’ with the dead that he has known. His parents are buried in a tumble-down cemetery, and its state of disrepair and air of danger presented by the vandalism and reported robberies invoke the sense that the living have forgotten the dead. Cemeteries, like dreams, are a liminal (in-between) space, neither concretely one thing nor another. The cemetery is where the bones of the everyman’s parents lie, the only concrete remnants of the past life they enjoyed and the world of oblivion into which they have gone. The bones endure, and even though the everyman does not believe in an afterlife, he can believe in the materiality of the bones and visit his parents by standing close proximity to their remains. In this way, the material transcends the absence of a spiritual afterlife. He manages to find so much consolation in the bones that he can imagine his mother and father speaking with him, offering him kind words. This, at this stage of the everyman’s life, is the most meaningful connection he can secure.