As a whole, Graceland took place in the physical world, without much reference to the spiritual, which is why I was caught completely off-guard in the two scenes with Beatrice’s ghost interacting with Sunday. It was especially intriguing because the spiritual world did not seem to be any more profound than the physical world; the dynamic between Sunday and Beatrice remained exactly the same as when she was alive.
Beatrice attempts to provide sound advice to Sunday regarding his failed election, but the reader is never actually exposed to her side of the conversation. Normally, in interactions such as this, the deceased is revered and any messages relayed are taken with complete seriousness. However, Sunday responds to his advice from beyond the grave with, “Don’t interrupt me, Beatrice. Just because you are dead does not mean I can’t slap your face” (219). There are many curious aspects to this reaction. First is the fact that Sunday in fact cannot slap her face since she is not a living being. This may seem extremely irrelevant, but I found this statement bizarre because physical abuse is the last thing that would evoke a reaction out of a ghost. However, these are all just personal musings. The significance of this reaction is that the gender dynamic remains intact, even despite Beatrice’s elevated status as one of the spiritual world. This could simply demonstrate Sunday’s absolute arrogance. I also think it comments on Beatrice’s previous desire to be reincarnated as a boy. Her opinion was respected neither as a living or deceased being.
Nonetheless, Beatrice reappears to Sunday at the moment he decides to defy the Lagos officials in their attempt to destroy his home. Along with Sunday’s totem, the leopard, Beatrice tries to convince Sunday to leave the area for the sake of Elvis. During the conversation Sunday interjects, “You disappoint me, Beatrice” and resultantly “Beatrice’s ghost looked hurt, her lips trembling” (286). In both these cases, Sunday’s interaction with the spiritual world seems to have no profound effect on him. Even when the loss of his wife seemed to be such a tragic event in his life, Sunday continues to treat her without respect for her or her authority as a spirit. All these issues could have been easily dismissed as the mere hallucinations in Sunday’s mind, but it is confirmed as reality when later Sunday’s “paw [delivered] a fatal blow to the back of the policeman’s head” (287). If Sunday’s totem actually existed in that moment, then, for me, it’s safe to conclude that Beatrice’s ghost was indeed involved in the interaction.
Although there are more significant scenes to the development of the plot, I found these interactions with the spiritual world to be intriguing, especially that Abani chose Sunday to be the primary character for these interactions.