Sunday, November 27, 2016

Endings: Why They are Frustrating and How I Deal with Them

It's Grace again today!  This post has spoilers!  Lots of them!


Why?  Why do they exist?  Why do they torture us by closing a story which we wanted to continue?  Why do they happen badly and suddenly?  Why do they happen so well and leave me satisfied but really really sad because I want more of the story but the story is over?  Why do some endings end up being sad with destruction and no hope for the future?

As you can tell, endings frustrate me.  When they're done well, I love them.  But the simple fact that it is the end of the story and there is no more rips at my soul and completely erases all the love I had for the well done closing of the book.

A few books that frustrated me because of their endings:

1. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams  
I loved this series!  It was fantastic!  But as we approached the ending of the last book, I became increasingly frustrated as I realized that this story was not going to be resolved.  I wanted closure!  What was the question that "42" answers?  Why can't you tell me?  I felt like breaking something after this book.  I loved it!  And then it ended and I felt like doing this:

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Now I admit, it wasn't something that was particularly easy to end.  I mean, it was basically the reason for life the universe and everything, and it would be very hard to find a question that properly sums that up and is answered by "42".  Maybe "Why do cupcakes exist?" or "If the moon is shaped like a rubber duck how many marshmallows live in a purple-sized Cheerio?"  

Anyway, something that really gets to me is lack of closure, and this one certainly left me hanging.  If you don't want me to break something, tie up all the loose ends or give me a sequel!  

2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This one felt very sudden to me.  Just as Scout was finally realizing what was actually going on in her world, just as she meets the man who's been a mystery to her for years, and just as she begins to grow up...POOF!  The story is over and you're done.  It ended well, don't get me wrong, but it's the kind of ending that makes you put down the book and think for a minute about what just happened, because you're not quite certain and you need a moment and some cookies.  You have to wait for a moment before going on with your normal life because you're not absolutely sure what your normal life is supposed to look like.

3. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
This is a very disturbing book and I never want to read it again.  I'm glad I did read it, and I recommend that you read it at least once, but once is more than enough.  That being said, this book had an ending that really shocked and surprised me.  The entire book is a bunch of boys turning into cannibalistic, savage, island people, and yet the grown-ups arrive and suddenly everything is back to normal and they're proper and good boys again.  The transition from the rest of the book to the ending is so incredibly sudden that I didn't actually realize it was happening.  I'm not kidding.  I had to look up the ending to this book because it was so crazy that it completely missed my long term memory.  All I could remember was the terrible things that happened right before the adults showed up.  Then I read the ending and my brain just stopped.

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It was a fantastic ending that displayed the boys' mental condition and how they'd been affected by the world around them, but I really had to process it.  

4. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
This ending was very sad to me, not because of the nature of the end, but because of the rest of the book.  I'd gotten so attached to the characters, even the ones who were a little rough around the edges, that when the book was over I was upset for at least a few days because I missed them.  I can honestly say that's the first time I'd ever felt that sensation (at least consciously) with a book.  This wasn't the kind of ending that I didn't like because of how it was done, this was the kind that I didn't like purely because it was an ending, and I didn't want the story to be over.  

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5. Animal Farm by George Orwell
I didn't like this ending because it didn't end well.  There was no hopeful gleam of light at the end of the tunnel anywhere in this book.  Heck, I don't even think it was a tunnel.  It was more of a massive bottomless pit that the characters plummeted slowly down and never thought to look behind them.  And then the ending came and you were hoping for something good.  Maybe a realization that they should bring back the humans.  But no.  The animals simply couldn't see how things had changed, and took everything the pigs said as the whole truth.  The only ones who doubted them were the animals who had been alive for a long time before the change, and they died off before the ending, leaving you with this bleak and terrible book to close and study and laugh maniacally at until you've remembered that it is indeed set in a fictional universe and you happen to be just fine.  

And there you have it.  Five examples of endings that stressed me out, and reasons why.  The books, of course, were fine.  I just didn't like how they ended.  

I think most of my problem is that once you've finished a book, you have to return to reality.  But you're not really sure how to function after being so involved in a fictional world.  You basically just sit in a chair and think for a while.  I know I do.  And after you've done that you have to remember how their world is different from your's.  What is society?  How do I function?  Will I get arrested for holding the Mockingjay symbol up in the air?  What is an acceptable hat?  

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1 comment:

  1. I think the reason Hitchhiker's Guide ends w/out answering any questions is because the point of the series is that there ARE no answers. So it's nihilistic in a rip-roaring fun way.