Thursday, May 24, 2007

And in the end...

I have recently been pondering the types of endings there are. Strange pastime, perhaps, but it is the time of year for season finales, series finales, and the like. And whether you're talking tv shows, movies, books, or plays, there are some similarities when it comes to types of endings.

Scenario one: everyone is happy, and usually everything is resolved.
Scenario two: some are happy; some are unhappy. But there is usually a bit of hope in the air for some characters, some situations.
Scenario three: everyone is unhappy. In fact, "unhappy" is too cheerful a word sometimes. Despair is resonating all around.

While I have often said that I don't require happy endings in books, I sometimes doubt my own expectations. I have determined that what matters most--either in happy or unhappy endings--isn't that initial emotion of joy or heartache--it is the presence or absence of hope. Scarlett was in despair, but she took a moment...found some hope...and found the strength to smile again. To make a plan. It isn't the unhappiness of an ending that depresses me or angers me, it's the finality of despair. The absence of hope. The rigid certainty that things will be no better a week from now, a year from now, ten years from now. A character can lose the love of his or her life. They could have suffered the loss of a friend or family member. They could have been diagnosed with a horrible disease. But it is how they face these situations that matters. Life isn't always happy. But to live without hope is beyond tragic. I may not need happily ever after to be satisfied with a story. But I do need hope. I need my characters to have the inner strength to face whatever is going wrong in their lives with the belief that one day it will be better.

What do you want in an ending? What satisfies you? What frustrates you?


Unknown 12:34 PM  

My gut reaction is happily ever after endings are the best, but after some thought, I think I'm with you: I can handle uncertainty as long as there is hope.

Renee 1:06 PM  

I like it when everything is resolved, it doesn't have to be happily resolved. Now if there's a sequel or something then there can be loose ends. Endings that make you think are good too. Endings that are barfy perfect I'm not a fan of either.

Erin 3:33 PM  

I like an ending where you know the character's in a good place. Where you know that there's good times ahead, but tough times too. And always hope.

Those endings are the ones that feel real.

Faith 7:55 AM  

I need endings where there is resolution at least to some extent. And, like you, there needs to be some hope. Because life can, to quote Buffy, "on occasion suck beyond the telling of it." You have to have at least some hope that through your efforts and your support system, some day, some way, it will get better.

Dewey 8:44 PM  

Endings are something I think about a lot, and could (maybe should) write my own post about. Endings so often ruin the book or movie for me. I hate when it's wrapped up in a predictable or cheesy way, but I also hate the current fad of just randomly ending books or novels in any old place (example -- Broken Flowers, a movie I abhorred). If a book or movie gets an ending right (American Beauty! PERFECT) then I'll love it for that reason alone, even if it's not that great otherwise.

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