Departmental Bulletin Paper From Private Grief to Public Mourning : Roger Malvin’s Unaccomplished Burial


"Roger Malvin's Burial" (1832) is one of the Hawthorne's earliest tales, combining actual history and imagination, in a style later termed Romance. Although based on "Lovell's Fight" in 1725, the battle between the colonial farmers of Massachusetts and Pigwacket Indians, Hawthorne eliminates the bloody battle scene itself, and instead traces Reuben Bourne's subsequent life over eighteen years, focusing especially on his psychological aftermath of the Indian fight. Reuben's mental downfall is caused by his failure to fulfill his promise to bury Roger Malvin, Reuben’s comrade as well as father-in-law-to-be. This paper explores a parallel relation between the function and the meaning of "burial" not only in the fictional/private sphere, but also the real public/national space in the early period of America’s history.

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