In The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh, how does Dennis Barlow demonstrate the theme that death is artificial in America ?

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The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh is a satirical novel that targets what Waugh considers the inanity and superficiality of American life. The targets of his satire include Hollywood, the mortuary industry, and journalism. In each case, he shows that under a facade of moral seriousness lies corruption, acquisitiveness, or...

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The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh is a satirical novel that targets what Waugh considers the inanity and superficiality of American life. The targets of his satire include Hollywood, the mortuary industry, and journalism. In each case, he shows that under a facade of moral seriousness lies corruption, acquisitiveness, or stupidity. 

The most biting satire in the book is reserved for the operation of The Happier Hunting Ground, a pet cemetery that is seen through the eyes of Dennis Barlow, a cynical Englishman, whose poetry is just as much a facade as the ornate funerals given to the pampered pets of the Hollywood elite. 

The artificial nature of death is shown in the way corpses are made to look almost alive through the use of cosmetics, sanitizing the experience of death. Death is also sugar-coated through sentimentality and ritual. By blending pet and human deaths and refracting the experience of human mortuary services through animal ones which hold up a mirror to them, Waugh shows that death has been sugar-coated and made almost unreal and overly pretty in the American tradition. As a devout Catholic himself, Waugh is implicitly suggesting that the saccharine cliches of commercialized funerary homes have replaced a more profound religious understanding of death.

The most biting critique occurs when Dennis arranges for Joyboy to receive the following annual message:

Your little Aimee is wagging her tail in heaven tonight, thinking of you.

This sort of anodyne reminder of the anniversary of a death stands in opposition to the profound ritual of the All Souls' liturgy commemorating the faithful departed. 

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