Ariana Juarez
Copy Editor

Tanner Sherlock
Staff Writer

Ah, look at all the lonely people. It’s Halloween and, though it may be difficult to get into the spirit with the whole ‘global pandemic’ thing going on, it’s still important to try! Celebrating Halloween is a good way to get one’s mind off of the state of the world. In order to do that, let’s uncover a story — a story of deception, loneliness, and murder. No, we’re not talking about a horror movie or a Steven King book; we’re talking about “Eleanor Rigby” by The Beatles!

Isn’t that song about loneliness? It is the most used word in the song, but we’re here to tell you that’s unequivocally wrong; “Eleanor Rigby” tells the story of a woman murdered by her local community leader, and this article will prove to you how it happened and, perhaps, even why it happened.

Father McKenzie, the lonely priest, is actually a murderous serial killer terrorizing his small town community. Perhaps you think this is a stretch? Think again! 

In the second line of the first verse, Eleanor Rigby is described to be “picking up the rice in the church where a wedding has been,” a line that references her obvious loneliness. We don’t learn a lot about Eleanor, but this line tells us that she’s a lonely person, which will be important to remember later. We also know that she’s in a church at some point in the song, which gives us a location.

Father McKenzie is described in the next verse as a religious recluse, likely a Catholic priest, who writes “the words of a sermon that no one will hear.” Another detail that the song provides is that “no one comes near” him. People don’t come around Father McKenzie, and although there’s no specified reason for this, it’s possible that McKenzie’s off-putting in some way; people might get a ‘weird feeling’ around him because of the aura he gives off and the personality he has. Perhaps there’s just something that seems ‘off’ about him.

The final line of the second verse might also be important. In referring to the fact that no one is in the church, the line reads: “What does he care?” McKenzie might hold some sort of resentment over the fact that people don’t come to the church. It bothers him, and he pretends not to care because that’s easier than facing the truth that people don’t like being around him. This gives us a vital piece of the puzzle: a motive.

In the third verse, Eleanor Rigby dies in a church, which is clue number one. Father McKenzie works in a church, after all. He’s the only character that we know in this story who works in a church, actually, so he’s really the only suspect. Eleanor Rigby’s character is shrouded in mystery, a lonely figure standing amongst lonely people—perhaps ghosts, or maybe she herself is a monster in her own right, as she keeps “a face in a jar by the window.” Her identity is not too clear, but what happened to her is. 

The latter half of the second line of verse three tells us that Eleanor “was buried along with her name,” a line that furthers the idea that Eleanor is lonely, for one, but, more importantly, that she might not be well-known around town, and did not have a lot of friends. She could be the sort of person who people might not notice if they were gone. This is reinforced when the song tells the audience that “nobody came” to her funeral. This is fair enough; it’s already been established that Eleanor didn’t really know anyone, but it’s weird that absolutely no one came. You’d figure at least a person or two, even if they just worked at the church (if the church even has other workers!) would attend a funeral. This would cement her role as the town recluse, her potential role as a ghost, or that her death was hidden. The “buried along with her name” line also suggests an unmarked grave; one that was dug quickly, without any identifying marks or objects placed around it. Eleanor’s grave was hidden as much as possible.

Fifth line, third verse: Father McKenzie wipes “the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave.” Since no one else is named, it’s made clear that Father McKenzie buried Eleanor on his own. According to Carolina Memorial Sanctuary, it takes a person about eight hours to dig a grave alone, five with a helper. Obviously, Father McKenzie is the only one digging; it’s odd that he doesn’t enlist any help in performing a task that would take him all day to do. That doesn’t make a lot of sense unless, of course, he dug it by himself because he didn’t want anyone else to know that he was digging the grave.

It’s important to note what’s not mentioned in this verse, either: Father McKenzie doesn’t seem particularly upset about digging Eleanor’s grave. Even if he didn’t know Eleanor, it’s odd that he isn’t more somber about this. The wording is very specific: “Wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave.” He doesn’t wash his hands. He doesn’t look back at the grave after he’s finished digging. He just walks away like it’s not a big deal to him. A priest should probably care more about the deceased, since it’s their job to act as a connection to a higher power, so, if he were doing his job, McKenzie would offer her a blessing of some sort, or at least a short prayer for her wellbeing in the afterlife, but he doesn’t.

And the final line of the verse, of course, sums it all up: “No one was saved.” Eleanor was murdered by Father McKenzie, a figure in the community that should have been actively working to ‘save’ her soul. McKenzie dug a grave alone, as if hiding her death, and left said grave without offering any prayer for Eleanor’s salvation. And “all the lonely people” mentioned throughout the song? If death is the ultimate loneliness, then perhaps these are McKenzie’s other victims, murdered by the priest in cold blood, just as Eleanor was.

Featured Photo: Courtesy of Videomuzic

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In collaboration by Quaker Campus staff members.

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