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Undead Interactions with The Living in Literature

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The undead is becoming or some may say has become a huge subject. Many people are interested in the undead and creating stories with interactions between them and the living. Undead interactions with the living are always going to be a huge topic. Throughout these 4 stories, “The Wrong Grave” by Kelly Link, “The House and the Locket” by Chris Wooding, “Dracula” by Bram Stoker, “Sunbleached” by Nathan Ballingrud, we are able to see different views and interactions between the two. There are multiple themes in these stories but they all connect in a certain way. Both the living and undead are involved and a big theme would be change throughout all of them. All of these stories have their own individual themes but something they do have in common is change. Whether that be from human to ghost or even human to vampire. They all in a way can compare to one anther but also can really differ. They all have unique ways of portraying these characteristics/themes throughout the stories. This is something that makes the living and undead stories so interesting for the readers. Every author gives the reader a different understanding of the undead making each story different in their own way. Everyone goes through change in their life, from living to the undead is

In the story “The Wrong Grave” by Kelly Link there is quite a big change or transformation in Bethany. Bethany who is Miles ex girlfriend and has passed away and is now transformed into a ghost who he comes to see but does not recognize. Miles digs up Bethany’s grave to get back some of his poems he had given to her. Once dug up he doesn’t seem to recognize the girl and although it truly is the same person Miles doesn’t seem to see Bethany he now sees “Gloria”. With this being said it says a lot about their relationship and it makes you wonder if Miles truly did love her, you think if he did that he would recognize the girl he loved no matter if she was alive or dead. Bethany’s mother recognizes her no problem, “We don’t often get a chance to see our dead. Still less often do we know them when we see them. Mrs. Baldwin’s eyes opened. She looked up and saw the dead girl and smiled. She said, “Bethany.” So it really makes you think a little about the relationship between miles and her. Throughout the story we get to understand the theme of change and relationships after death. The interactions between Miles and Bethany or “Gloria” allow us to understand that death changes people and from that change may become unrecognizable to even the people they loved/love. “The wrong dead girl was lying there, smiling up at him, and her eyes were open. She was several years older than Bethany. She was taller and had a significantly more developed rack. She even had a tattoo.” The living and undead in this novel aren’t very different from one another. Although there are some parts with “Gloria’s” hair that wouldn’t happen with the living, you wouldn’t necessarily know the difference between the two.

Throughout “The House and the Locket” by Chris Wooding we are able to see the theme of chances and another big one is time. This story foreshadows a lot giving us lots of details into the future rather then into the past like a lot of ghostly stories do. The ending is a huge part of this story, it is where everything that you read in the story makes more sense and makes you think. The narrator and his best friend Henry go out into this house because they are being chased by a “wolf”. They begin to walk around the house and decide they will stay there for the night, this is when everything starts to go wrong for them. The narrator begins to see his wife haunting his thoughts but it isn’t actually his wife he is seeing/feeling, “Reader, what was in the bed next to me that night I dare not full consider. All I can say is that what my fingers touched then was not the face of my dear beloved. What lay beneath my hand had no skin; I felt wet flesh, teeth, and the moist orb of an eye.” From there on ghost sightings are seen multiple times. Not only from the narrator but from Henry as well, he sees a man who was hung by his neck and believes he has the face of the narrator. Another example would be when they are in the attic and find a journal from a little boy named Henry which is dated 12 years ahead. This is where the theme of time comes in because it is all foreshadowing to the end of the story. When waking up and returning home we then understand what exactly was happening in that house, “Above all else, I must ensure that what I was warned of on that night shall never come to pass. Not for me, not for Lizabeth, and not for my son, Henry.” You then realize at the end of the story how much foreshadowing was actually happening in the story. The interactions between the narrator and the “ghosts” allow us to understand that this was a look into the future rather then something that was happening right now.

“Sunbleached” by Nathan Ballingrud has a pretty big theme of desire. The vampire for example shows the theme of human desire, what vampires are known to have. While Joshua and Michael show another side of desire as Joshua wants to become a vampire and is making deals with the vampire to do so, “Invite me in,” it said. “Later,” Joshua said. “Not yet. After you finish changing me”. Joshua has the desire to become a vampire and understand them more which is why he is making deals with the vampire to do so. The interaction between the two helps to understand the relationships between everyone in the story. Joshua is offering the vampire Tyler who is his mother’s boyfriend and someone he isn’t entirely a fan of, as long as he turns him. The vampires desire to change Joshua is very strong as he needs to feed. We get to see that all the vampire wanted was to feed on the family as Joshua woke up one day to find his family no longer living because of the vampire, “Thank you for your family,” it said. It sank its teeth into Joshua’s neck and drew from him one more time. A gorgeous heat seeped through his body, and he found himself being lowered gently to the top of the stair.” Another theme would be change. Throughout the story there’s quite a bit of change not only regarding Joshua turning into a vampire. The family seems to be going through some issues regarding not having their dad at home as well as the hurricane that had ruined the town. Micheal the younger brother was as well interacting with the vampire which he believed he was actually talking to his dad. From that as well we get to see the desire that this vampire really did have in feeding off of this family, “Michael?” His brother’s body jerked in alarm, and he sat up quickly, staring guiltily back. Joshua flipped the light switch on. “What are you doing?” Something cold was growing inside him. Michael shrugged. “Tell me!” “Talking to Daddy” “No.” “He’s living under the house. He wants us to let him back in. I was afraid to because Mom might get mad at me.” “Oh, Mikey.” His voice quavered. “That’s not Dad. That’s not Dad.” As vampires do tend to have the desire to feed off of humans we get to see that characteristic throughout the story.

“Dracula” by Bram Stoker is told in a different way from the rest of these stories, it told by many different journal entries and letters from various people. All of the characters throughout the story help to understand the theme of life and death. As Dracula continues to turn people into vampires we get to see how they change and what differs from being alive to being undead. Lucy for example gets bit by Dracula eventually turning into a vampire and then has the desire to do the same to others which also includes the theme of change. “Then you are wrong. Oh, would it were so! But alas! No. It is worse, far, far worse.” “In God’s name, Professor Van Helsing, what do you mean?” I cried. He threw himself with a despairing gesture into a chair, and placed his elbows on the table, covering his face with his hands as he spoke:—“They were made by Miss Lucy!” Going back to the theme of life and death Dracula is an interesting example for that. He isn’t able to die because of his soul being trapped and the only way to release it is by cutting off his head or putting a wooden stake through his heart. Doing that releases his soul somewhat allowing him to live on. Early on in the story we get to see how the difference in the living and undead characters. The interactions between Jonathan and Dracula help us realize that Jonathan sees him as strange right away and knows that there is something different about him.”I turned to the glass again to see how I had been mistaken. This time there could be no error, for the man was close to me, and I could see him over my shoulder. But there was no reflection of him in the mirror!”. Jonathan is startled and cuts himself Dracula then lunges for his throat making him wonder even more. From then on he knows there is something different about Dracula. Which we all know, he’s a vampire. This story has so many themes and different views it makes it interesting for the reader to go through it all and understand it in their own way.

All of these stories allow the reader to think about the transformation from living to dead and how they differ, but also on how the two are similar as well. There are huge changes from the living to the undead. Most stories are told with the undead seen as scary or monsters but they aren’t all like that. Some are human like, you wouldn’t even be able to tell them apart which we are able to see in some of these stories. The interactions the undead have with the living are always going to be interesting and different in their own ways. But they will always allow the reader to understand the meaning and impact of the story. Not all ghostly or vampire readings need to be seen as haunting or scary because they aren’t. Although most stories do have a haunting to them there are also other sides we get to see of these creatures and its very interesting to read. In all the four stories we have gone through they have both scary but a sort of loving view to them. Being able to see the person you once loved for example but not entirely recognizing them is a scary but also a really cool adventure. Stories are always going to be seen different by everyone and especially in these undead stories. There are many different details in these stories that everyone can interpret into there own theme which makes these stories interesting and filled with so many.

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Undead Interactions With The Living In Literature. (2019, July 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 1, 2023, from
“Undead Interactions With The Living In Literature.” GradesFixer, 10 Jul. 2019,
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