A Funeral by E.V. Lucas
In A Funeral by E.V. Lucas we have the theme of friendship, respect, generosity, acceptance and loss. Taken from his A Little of Everything collection the reader realises after reading the essay that Lucas may be exploring the theme of friendship. Lucas speaks highly of his friend (who is unnamed) and there is a sense that there will be a gap in Lucas’ life now that his friend has died. There is also a degree of respect among those who have attended the funeral. Though the numbers are limited all have fond memories of the deceased. Something that is noticeable at the end of the essay when the procession attends a hostelry. Perhaps to talk about the topic of their friend or having a more general discussion on the subject of death. The fact that the boys continue to play football may also be important as they might be showing the ultimate respect for the deceased who would have wished for them to continue playing football. If anything this is a sign of the deceased nobility. Putting others before himself. Something that he has done on previous occasions in his life. Not only when defending Lucas but also on the bus when defending the old woman. Who the deceased felt was being treated badly by the conductor.
What is also interesting about the essay is the fact that no one is able to decipher the deceased’s writing. The years he toiled over his work may have come to nothing. Which may be the point that Lucas is attempting to make. He may be suggesting that regardless of what a person does in life the reality is they may leave nothing behind and they certainly can’t take anything with them. All that remains for those left behind is memories and Lucas’ memories of his friend are full of fondness. He liked the deceased and he liked his company. Even if at times he may not have been as well read or educated as the deceased. This did not stop Lucas from enjoying his company or his whisky punch. If anything Lucas may have felt enlightened when in the deceased’s company as too were others who attended the funeral. Regardless of how small the attendance might have been. On the subject of attendance Lucas could also be suggesting that in life you will have few true friends though your life may be full of acquaintances. Something that seems to be very much the case for the deceased funeral.
It might also be important that Lucas does not have any bad memories about the deceased as this would highlight the esteem that the deceased was held in by Lucas. Also Lucas feels it is better that his friend died rather than have to live the remainder of his life as an invalid and dependent on others. Which may leave some readers to suggest that the quality of an individual’s life is important to Lucas. It is better to be able than to live and be unable. Which was the only option available to the deceased. It is for this reason that there is no real sadness attached to the deceased funeral. All concerned are able to celebrate his life with fondness even if he may have had a temper. Though it is noticeable that the deceased used his temper in order to help others who may not necessarily be able to help themselves. If anything the deceased was there for people when he saw an injustice or when he perceived that an injustice may have occurred.
In general Lucas appears to accept what has happened and rather than grieve with tears of sadness prefers instead to remember all the good points that his friend had. He knows that his academic skills will be missed as they are not matched by anyone else and that may be the true loss in the essay. When a person dies they leave everything behind without being able to give a full explanation to others of their affairs. Many people who die have work left undone that is like the deceased’s work, undecipherable. Leaving others at a loss as to what the work could mean. The work like some people’s memory of the deceased will be long forgotten with the passing of time but for others. They will continue to try and honour their friend and decipher his intentions. As to whether they will succeed is another thing as thy have no real template to work off and cannot ask the deceased what he may have written. Probably the best thing that Lucas can do for the deceased is to continue to talk respectfully of him and to hold onto each particular memory he has of him. By doing so the deceased will have lived on in some way.