Death, Duty, and Faith: Stewart O’Nan’s “A Prayer for the Dying” in the Age of Coronavirus

“I’m doing the best I can,” he says, “but there are just too many of them. And even if it was just one or two, there’s not much I can do for them. Do you understand me?”

“I understand,” you say….

“I know you know, Jacob,” he says, and yawns hard, rubs his face with both hands so it goes red. “It’s just hard to watch it happen.”

Portrait of Man Wearing Uniform and Badge, 1860–1890. (Carte-de-visite from the Collections of The Henry Ford.)
View of a Small Town, circa 1875. (Cabinet photograph from the Collections of The Henry Ford.)
Postmortem Portrait of a Child, circa 1870. (Cabinet photograph from the Collections of The Henry Ford.)
Cynthia Coryell Howard Holding Her Daughter, Letitia, 1865–1866. (Photograph from the Collections of The Henry Ford.)
A Couple in a Buggy on a Town Street, circa 1875 (Cabinet photograph from the Collections of The Henry Ford.)
Portrait of Private John Litogot, 24th Michigan Volunteer Infantry, Company K, August 1862. (Ambrotype from the Collections of The Henry Ford.)

I work with collections data and content in a large history museum. I also have other interests.

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