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Not So Happy Endings Essay

1407 words - 6 pages

“Not So Happy Endings”
In the unusually written short story, “Happy Endings” by Margaret Atwood, Atwood gives the reader six very different possible storylines using many stereotypes and a good deal of cliché to propel a few main themes of the story. Atwood’s story is not only unusually written, it is also funny, thought provoking, and interesting despite the lack of detail and odd structure. After she has presented the six different storylines Atwood suddenly moves to the ending, which ironically, does not provoke any happy feelings as the title would indicate. The following literary analysis presented will discuss Atwood’s use of short scenarios, point of view, lack of detail, flat ...view middle of the document...

By presenting the widely diverse scenarios Atwood demonstrates that stories can have the same endings, but what differentiates them are the points leading up to the ending, the middle.
The entire story of “Happy Endings” is told in omniscient third person, which also gives effect to the story. The narrator is all knowing and only describes the facts of each characters scenario. When Atwood describes John and Mary falling in love she states, “John and Mary fall in love and get married” (395) which is a very blunt, straightforward statement that gives the reader the facts. In the next scenario Atwood states, “Mary falls in love with John but John doesn’t fall in love with Mary.” (395) Again, this sentence is able to tell the reader a lot about the characters with no detail because the narrator is all knowing. Atwood continues to provide facts in the omniscient third person point of view. “One evening John complains about the food. He never complained about the food before. Mary is hurt.” (395) Using the omniscient third person, Atwood is able to use these very short and choppy sentences to give the facts and tell the reader about each character while keeping the character flat and the story without detail.
Although the reader learns a lot about each storyline, almost everything learned is purely just stated with almost no adjectives throughout the story. Atwood writes the story with no details, again creating the disconnected feeling between the reader and story. In storyline C Atwood is able to state so much about John and Mary in just four short sentences. So much is learned but with no detail. “John, who is an older man, falls in love with Mary, and Mary, who is only twenty-two, feels sorry for him because he’s worried about his fair falling out. She sleeps with him even though she’s not in love with him. She met him at work. She’s in love with someone called James, who is twenty-two also and not yet ready to settle down” (396). It seems as though Atwood does not want the reader to be immersed into the story with imagery and detail typically seen in non-fiction stories with an abundance of adjectives. Atwood is simply stating scenarios that differ from one another, and by doing this, Atwood is able to show the reader that even though the events of a person’s life can be dramatically different from one story to the next, the ending is always the same. Atwood explains at the end of the story that she included no detail on purpose to show how much of a difference it really does make. “True connoisseurs are known to favor the stretch in between, since it’s the hardest to do anything with” (Atwood 397). With that statement Atwood is explaining that only good writers enjoy and are able to write the middle of the story with all the detail.
Throughout the story Atwood uses flat characters with no depth to speak of in the various scenarios to drive home her theme that all endings are the same. Two of the main...

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