The Funeral by Richard Matheson

The Funeral by Richard Matheson was a complete 180 degrees from his story I am Legend. I am Legend is a sad story about a man who is the last human on Earth after a germ changes everyone around him. The main character Robert Neville fights a losing battle to stay who he is against a world that now fears him. Then you read The Funeral, and the tone is rather comical.

The story starts out with a man, Ludwig Asper, hiring a Clooney’s Cut-Rate Catafalque for a funeral. As we read the story, we discover that it’s actually for him. I started to wonder if he knew he was dying and that was the reason for scheduling the funeral. But by the time Ludwig leaves we learn that he’s a vampire, and it’s really for him because he never really got the proper sendoff he wanted. I sat there and wondered who in their right mind would really want to through themselves a funeral.

I could not help but laugh at the reaction of the funeral director, Morton Silkline. At first, he gets angry at Ludwig in thinking that he is playing a joke on him and rightly so. I know I would be upset if someone came to me like that and I thought they were trying to play a trick on me. What made me start to enjoy this story was when Morton sees Ludwig fly out the window in the form of a bat he hits the floor. How many people would react this way? I don’t know if I would, but plenty just might do the same.

The comedy of the story continues on the day of the funeral. I about died with even more laughter when Ludwig gets in the coffin, and everyone says how great he looks in it. Even Ygor starts to cry about how wonderful his master looks. The only person in the room who seems to be out of sorts is the Morton, and he endures someone saying tasty to him, and he worries that they are talking about eating him.

Matheson gives us these descriptions of the characters that are supposed to say they are scary but the only person who is scared or frightened is Morton. A prime example of this is the character Jenny the Crone. She is described as a peak-hatted crone upon whose ceremented shoulder a black cat on her shoulder. She takes a liking to Morton and almost drags him to sit next to her. The real fun of the ceremony begins when Ludwig’s friend gives his speech about how great Ludwig was. Some of the monsters interrupt the service because they have other appointments. It’s supposed to be a funeral, and there is no sense of decorum through the whole process. In the end, it’s a complete flop, but Ludwig was rather pleased and even referred more of his friends to Morton.

I am not sure the intent of this story by Matheson, but I think he blended humor and horror well. The creatures he used were meant to bring imagines to minds of monsters we have read in other stories, but the premise for the story left it open for him to add humor to his story. The humor overall felt natural, and it flowed seamlessly into the story.

I am Legend

I am Legend pulled me in from the beginning. It was well written and gave us an in-depth view of what it could be like to lose everyone you loved to something so small.  It felt like I was right there with Robert Neville walking beside him and experiencing everything he did. At times I felt like I could lose control because we are lead on this deep internal journey through Neville’s mind.

 

There were a few of things in the book that drove me nuts. When Neville first met Ruth, I understood the mistrust. It seemed odd that anyone would cross an open field in broad daylight unarmed. In the world they lived in being armed at all times is a must. At that moment, Neville show’s us that no matter how used you become to your surrounds you will always crave and want what you used to have. I could feel the desperation he had when he was trying to reach her. It was worse than when he tried to tame the dog so he could have someone with him.

 

That night Ruth and Neville held each other was one of the most touching scenes in the book to me. We get a glimpse at his former life but nothing as up close and personal as the embrace they shared. I felt there was more feeling and emotion at that moment with Ruth than his memories of Virginia and Kathy. With his wife and daughter, he held back because the pain was too much. I wanted him to have someone to be with so he wasn’t alone, but in the end, I knew that wouldn’t be the case.

 

 

Neville resigned himself to stay after he had been warned by Ruth to leave. I sat there screaming at him to go and hoping Ruth would be able to convince her people to leave him alone. I knew that wouldn’t happen, but still, I hoped. Throughout this entire novel, there is this glimmer of hope that you try to hold on too. First the dog and then Ruth. In the end, it’s taken all away. How naïve could Neville had been when he decided to wait for them. It was the anomaly the minority. They feared what he was but funny enough he is what they all were. Neville stood as a reminder of what they used to be and had to forget.

 

I completely hated the end of the novel and not because it was poorly written or anything like that. I hated the ending because at that moment with Ruth came in there was that last glimmer of hope. That maybe she had come to her senses and saw that what her kind was doing was wrong. You sit there and hope she will help him escape but instead she gives him a pill to dull the pain. Worse yet Neville doesn’t even try to escape or convince her to help him run. There are so many more things he could have done to save himself, but in the end, I feel like he was tired. It was hard to sit there and see that his only way out was death. He would be forever alone in a world of people who used to be just like him.