Death With Dignity Analysis

Words: 864
Pages: 4

From Macbeth to Let the Great World Spin, from It’s A Wonderful Life to Forrest Gump, and from birth to death, the unfulfilled, torturous love of souls separated is a congenital plague of the human heart. Sufjan Stevens’ Death With Dignity explores a hyper-personal account of such a loss— his mother. Schizophrenic and estranged, his mother’s presence was lacking in life; however, in death, her absence—true absence—resonates in Stevens’ soul on a deeper level. Death With Dignity employs immense symbolism to balance the universal themes of mourning and unrequited love and their painfully personal relevance to the narrator. Immediately present in Death With Dignity is Stevens’ sense of utter confusion. The opening lines, “spirit of my silence …show more content…
Within the second verse, Stevens writes “somewhere in the desert there’s a forest / and an acre before us / but I don’t know where to begin.” The desert, a place of literal emptiness, is indicative of Stevens’ inability to find peace after the death of his mother. Just as the Jews roamed for forty years in the desert, Stevens is lost in search of peace, in search of comfort, and in search of love. The forest within the desert is indicative of the salvation Stevens desires—a refuge from the despair of his post-mortem desert. Furthermore, the “acre before [Stevens and his mother]” becomes the physical manifestation of love. An acre, a homestead, is a place on which one can build a life, a family, and relationships. Even if in death, Stevens is intent on finding and building his acre with his mother. Stevens’ use of geographic symbols allows him to physically represent the intangible experience of his mother’s death. Though only existing in his mind, the desert of his conscience consumes his live and leaves him lost in the despair of death, and, through symbolism, he is able to portray the widely vast, and extremely intimate, nature of his