|“Sedibus ut saltem placidis
in morte quiescam.”|
Jervas Dudley is a dreamer who prefers the company of written works and coffins instead of spending time with other boys. He tells his story on how he found himself in his present predicament of being confined in a room for being mad.
As a young boy, Jervas loved to visit graveyards. In one of his visits, he finds a tomb of a very old, rich family whose home burnt down years ago. Jarves becomes fascinated with the tomb and tries to find a way to get inside it, but it is sealed shut with age. Every night, Jervas visits the vault and sleeps outside in hopes that he will find a way inside.
When Jarves becomes a young man, he notices a change with the vault and quickly decides that he must open it. He finds the key to open it and goes inside. There he finds the coffins of the Hyde family. What astounds him even more is when he finds an empty coffin with his name on it. Instead of being frightened to find his coffin already there, Jarves becomes obsess with the idea that he must sleep in his coffin and make it his new home.
In the meantime, Jarves' parents become very worried about him and hire a man to spy on their only son. The spy follows Jarves to the cemetery every night. He soon reveals to the parents that Jarves has never really gone into the vault but instead only sleeps outside of it.
The reader than starts to wonder the reality of the story. Was Jarves imagining everything? Did he really see a coffin with his name on it? Has he really gone mad? These questions are the central themes of the short story.
Though it was not scary, I did quite enjoy reading the novella. This is the first short story that H.P. Lovecraft wrote as an adult and I really like how this short story starts to show what Lovecraft has become famous for.
Lovecraft is well know for question the dream world versus the real world. Jarves story was quite predictable but I loved the fact how it had me scratching my head and wondering what was real or not. It has excited me to keep going with Lovecraft's stories and read about more of the strange worlds he created.