The story is actually composed of six stories in one. Labeled A-F, Atwood offered six different possible scenarios depicted in the marriage, life, and death of a couple.
Story A is a concise recounting of John and Mary’s happy life; Story B is pitiful; Story C is messy; Story D is catastrophic; and while Story E meant to be painful, Atwood left Story F for the readers to reconstruct whichever way they want. In each story, Atwood concluded that however elaborated or detailed the reconstruction of the story is, death will be the inevitable ending, and choosing another is mere falsehood.
“The only authentic ending is the one provided here: John and Mary die. John and Mary die. John and Mary die.”
HAPPY ENDINGS could be interpreted in two ways. It could be that Atwood wants us to examine our lives, in which our beginnings and endings don’t count; it is “the stretch in between” that makes us who we are. Seeing as we are all writers of our own story, let us not delude ourselves that a happy life, or a sad one, warrant different endings other than death. So, why not live our lives to the fullest and be the best person we can be?
Or, we could also interpret this simply by how it was told, that legit stories offer legit endings, which is death. As a reader, do we readily accept this idea because it was sagaciously from Margaret Atwood? Isn’t plot just what it is, “one thing after another”, that brings the reader to follow the characters up to their endings? In view of fiction, is it not the delusion and falseness of them that we pay attention to -an alternate truth we laugh with, cry with, or marvel at?
All stories after all is a long unfolding of how, answering the whys, which all began with a what.
Collected in, Murder in the Dark
Rating: 3 stars