In THE LAST GHOST, the Death that comes to end a person's life depends on the nature of the cause of death. There are 16 deaths, called Fatalities, in the book. Over the next 16 days, we will meet one Fatality each day, and discuss which heartbreaking fictional character death belongs with each character.
Meet the Eleventh Fatality, Sudden, Unexpected, Late Death Commonly Referred to as Balthasar
"So, then there were the ten Fatalities, and the work load was still too much—you people and your population explosions. So, the expected and the unexpected deaths teamed up and created a second batch of deaths, but this time they did not divvy it up based on precise cause. They were worried that the humans of the future would be able to come up with causes we didn’t know about yet--that atomic bomb a surprise--and so they made the next deaths attribute based instead of cause based.”—The Last Ghost
Balthasar is sudden, unexpected, late death so would be the fatality of any one who would meet all three of those characteristics, which could be stroke, slips and falls, and heart attacks. Heart attack is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, and is responsible for one out of four deaths. This keeps Balthasar as very busy (maybe the most busy) in the real world.
In fiction, he is still really busy, but is mostly staved off.
However, one of the most heartbreaking deaths in literature would have received Balthasar.
I’m talking about Matthew Cuthbert’s heart attack in Anne of Green Gables.
“When the doctor came he said that death had been instantaneous and probably painless, caused in all likelihood by some sudden shock. The secret of the shock was discovered to be in the paper Matthew had held and which Martin had brought from the office that morning. It contained an account of the failure of the Abbey Bank.
The news spread quickly through Avonlea, and all day friends and neighbors thronged Green Gables and came and went on errands of kindness for the dead and living. For the first time shy, quiet Matthew Cuthbert was a person of central importance; the white majesty of death had fallen on him and set him apart as one crowned.”—Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery
Matthew’s death in Anne of Green Gables is so hard to take, because he is so kind to Anne and it is such an unpleasant surprise.
What other fictional characters do you think would have received Balthasar? Jack in This is Us? Mr. Hooper on Seasame Street?