Gravel, Pierre Bettez
M.A. (Master of Arts)
Department of Anthropology
Funeral rites and ceremonies--United States||Mourning customs--United States
The literature on funerary rites is relatively abundant, but little of it focuses on the funeral meal or "repast" as an integral part of the ritual. Yet, it has been observed that after funerals the participants often get together for a meal before dispersing. This essay is a functional analysis of the "repast." Because of the scarcity of information in the literature, material was gathered through interviews with informants in the Chicago area. The first hypothesis is that the "repast" component functions to refresh and nourish those who have participated in the ritual. Second, the "repast" serves to reaffirm the importance of continuing life. Third, the "repast" component shares the functional characteristics of the entire ritual, such as reinforcement of communal solidarity, and the public recognition of new roles within the family structure. Finally, perhaps, a new function of the "repast" (and the entire ritual) is to counteract alienation. The evidence reviewed supports these hypotheses.
Drozd, Joycelyn Therese Helen, "An investigation of the significance of the repast component in American funeral ritual" (1980). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 1398.
Northern Illinois University
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