I noticed the following very interesting parallels between Beloved and Saunders’ “Sea Oak.”
Leaving 124, Stamp Paid thinks that “the undecipherable language clamoring around the house was the mumbling of the black and angry dead” (234).
Similarly, in “Sea Oak,” after Aunt Bernie’s second death, the narrator reflects on the story’s strange occurrences, saying “Maybe it happens all the time. Maybe there’s angry dead all over, hiding in rooms, covered with blankets, bossing around their scared, embarrassed relatives” (123-124).
This seems like a deliberate allusion on Saunders’ part, especially since his plot of the irate deceased “bossing around their scared, embarrassed relatives” is exactly what happens in Beloved.
The clincher for me, though, is that Aunt Bernie’s tombstone ultimately contains the phrase: BELOVED AUNT.
While Beloved is an intense examination of black slavery, Saunders uses the same template in a more postmodern and satirical way to open up an examination of another group of people enslaved, not this time by whites but rather by poverty (not that race and socioeconomic status are completely separate entities).