Today on a 2 hour train ride, I finished In Free State by VS Naipaul. It ended on a sad note, as the progtagonist had to shed his initial belief in seeing good of the people of the country he is living in. In a country with people that would kill him in a whim.
This has been the fourth book in a row that had an ambivalent and sad ending. The Shanghai lady’s stories ended with death of a lover and pregnant with the father of the baby in question (ok I admit it sounds trashy, but there are probably glimpse of the writer’s brilliance here and there!), and The Reader by Bernhard Schlink is also definitely not sanguine. Pure coincidence, I say.
The general consensus is that people love a happy ending. Movies, books, “You want to walk out of the cinema, or finish reading a book feeling good”, they say. It makes us believe in hope, have faith that matter / problem will turn out well in life. Or is it that the world is fraught with so many teething problems and issues, both collective and in individual basis, that we seek the movies and books for escapism from our real lives, and we get really upset with bad endings? instead prefer a good one?
Not me. When I was younger perhaps I feel the same way as the masses. But now that I am older, I believe we don’t always get happy endings. An ambivalent and sad ending just add to the realism of the story and draws out more authentic emotions within us (at least for me). I even tend to remember the sad endings better than the happy ones. Most of the time, we remember all the memorable part of the story and couldn’t quite pin down the ending of the movie that we watched or the story that we read more than 5 years ago. Well, what a waste of time for not remembering the ending after spending so much time reading a book, you’ll say! Then again, life is about the journey, not about the destination, isn’t it? Perhaps it reflects our natural disposition (or God’s intention) to live and make each day memorable, because you will never know when it would end.
Let me know what you feel about an ending of a story. 🙂