Monday, September 6, 2010

Just Read: Matheson's "The Funeral"

When loved ones lie upon that lonely couch of everlasting sleep, let Clooney draw the coverlet.” -Matheson, 262

Morton Silkline was a very interesting character to me, because it seems that his love of gold/money is of more importance to him than the fear that ripples throughout his body when he meets his peculiar clients. Very early on, it is easy to see that Silkline loves his job, and gets giddy with Asper wants to indulge in the finest of everything- from the largest room, to the most expensive casket with gold trimmings.  Matheson is mindful to used sensory descriptions when depicting him, such as a giddy smile spread across his face, etc. in order to show his extreme pleasure.  Yet, I think both mine, and Morton’s jaw dropped when we found of that Asper was coming to Clooney’s to set up his own funeral; in a way, this reminded me of Matheson’s short story The Near Departed when a husband comes to set up his wife’s funeral…and then goes home to promptly kill her.  Nevertheless, I was glad to see that Silkline’s fear for his next client didn’t stop him from taking his money and doing his job.  All he had to do was touch that shiny gold and he could probably look the Devil in the fact and be fine with his decision to help him as long as he would profit.

I do admit that I liked Asper quite a lot though, and I think it is because the man just wanted a nice funeral for himself, and him being dead shouldn’t stop that.  Thus speaking, he Eternal Rest Room make me wonder if is a pun on the fact that Asper was probably walking throughout purgatory, and is now finally making an attempt to put his soul to rest so he can move on - kind of like an unfinished business type of thing.  Then again, he could just be pissed off at the way he died and wants a new group of people to be present and for the whole thing just to be redone so he feels satisfied with his death.

***There is however, one aspect of the story that I cannot seem to shake though: Mirrors.  Why can’t ghosts, the dead, or any paranormal creatures for that matter, confront them?  Is it because they do not wish to see what they have become?  To see how they have aged?  To see the deaths and turmoil that they have caused or be victim to? 


  1. Matheson does a good job in humanizing not just Asper but most of the monsters. It's an interesting notion that he's upset about the way it went the first time, I just assumed he never had one at all.
    Mirrors show the truth, so that's why the undead can't bear them. It might also be a clue as to the nature of Asper and his group as well.

  2. I commented on this with your other blog, but here's the gist of what I said...
    The mirror thing: According to folklore, mirrors can trap the souls of ghosts. The reason vampires can't see themselves in mirrors is that they have no souls. That's why during old funerals, the custom was to turn the mirrors to face the wall or to cover them so the soul wouldn't get confused and not make it to the afterlife. There have even been cases of mirrors that were found with photographs of people reputed to be "bad" in life behind them to trap their souls for eternity.