Solemnity is, in its way, a love story. It is a vehicle for its narrator to understand the collapse of his relationship and his sanity, an attempt to answer the three questions Abraham Lincoln posed in his first inaugural address: IS IT POSSIBLE, THEN, TO MAKE THAT INTERCOURSE MORE ADVANTAGEOUS OR MORE SATISFACTORY AFTER SEPARATION THAN BEFORE? (yes) CAN ALIENS MAKE TREATIES EASIER THAN FRIENDS CAN MAKE LAWS? (no) CAN TREATIES BE MORE FAITHFULLY ENFORCED BETWEEN ALIENS THAN LAWS CAN AMONG FRIENDS? (yes and no) The narrator, a small-town Arkansas grocery store manager, begins researching those answers after his wife leaves him, and his history of the failed relationship, told through an engagement of Lincoln's questions about intercourse and aliens. The story begins with the couple's childhood, then progresses through their marriage, their happiness, and the narrator's mental declension, which ultimately unravels his marriage. He soon begins hallucinating both aliens and Abraham Lincoln, and his investigation soon turns to the reasons for their appearance, leading to a stay in a mental hospital. He is, ultimately, crafting a history of his life's meaning, and thus the story is told with the accoutrements of history writing, footnoted, bibliographied, and illustrated. While the story is ultimately a tragedy and uses some academic language and an academic format to structure its narrative, it is still a comedy. It is tale of the South. And it is a love story.