Thoughts on Grave’s End by Elaine Mercado

While the program is in writing fiction, this book was non-fiction. I don’t have a problem with that because it showed how fiction mirrors life. There is something interesting that I have been noticing in the stories we’ve read for this course. It is the presence of anger and contention.

The first book of the semester was The Haunting of Hill House. While there wasn’t a whole lot of anger between each other, it was still present. The main character leaves her sister’s place under less that amiable circumstances and while at Hill House is filled with jealousy. Those aren’t good feelings and did lead to contention.

The second book was Hell House and there is all sorts of ill feelings towards each other and their methods of working. So again, anger and contention.

Next was Ghost Story. Grudges, arguments, resentment, etc were there as well.

Then, the Shining. Jack has anger issues.

The Lovely Bones. This is a different type of story from the previous. It’s a story from the dead watching their family.

The Others. Definitely resentment, anger, and contention in that one.

Amityville Horror. The first thing I noticed was how the father acts immediately after getting into the house. He’s angry and snapping at everyone and refusing to help settle the house.

So by the time we get to Grave’s End, I’m not at all surprised when she admits they are having problems with the marriage. In the stories listed above (with the exception of Lovely Bones) they all have differences in what happens in ghost story part of it, but they also all have anger and contention. Having not been a horror reader before this program, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you anything about horror other than it’s meant to scare you so you can’t sleep. But I find it interesting that in both actual and fictional accounts, the people involved are not the happiest of people going into the story nor do they “play well with others.” If I had to make a list of aspects required in a horror story involving the paranormal or ghosts, I’d have to list anger and contention at the top of the list.

3 thoughts on “Thoughts on Grave’s End by Elaine Mercado”

  1. One of the things I like about this post is that you are starting to look at a theme and how that relates to the books and ghost literature in general. Honestly, I never really thought about the thread of anger in the stories so far. I will definitely have to look back on other novels I read since I have a few that doesn’t seem to fit that thesis, but I could be wrong.

  2. Yeah, there’s definitely a running theme going here. In almost all of these cases, the supernatural entity antagonizes the characters through anxiety and frustration long before making any kind of physical threat (in Hill House, the mental influence wound up being the ONLY threat). I guess it kinda comes with the territory. A lot of haunting scenarios center around a place rather than an entity, and it’s hard to demonstrate the threat level of the ghost without also making it implausible that the characters would stick around. Injecting anger into their victims allows horror authors to kill two birds with one stone–they can up the omnipresence of the haunting entity AND create leeway for irrational decisions from their characters.

  3. There is a theme, I agree, but I personally think that Mercado’s story in this course is a bit of a tricky fit. Since it’s a real life story, it’s hard to say that the author really fudged any aspect of the story one way or another. For me? I think that the troubled marriage was a bit of a coincidence. Especially since the trouble was admittedly established by author before moving into the house and since it never really escalated (as far as we know from the text) to be anything other than the more typical result of 50% of marriages. Perhaps the friction between husband and wife added fuel to the supernatural phenomena. But I think it’s probably more likely that the odd/scary nature of the couple’s environment was a big reason for the dissolution of that marriage.

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