• Kyna Hamill

    Kyna Hamill is the director of the College of Arts & Sciences Core Curriculum and a senior lecturer in the College of Fine Arts School of Theatre. She specializes in Baroque theatricality, theater and visual culture, and theater and war. Profile

    She can be reached at kyna@bu.edu.

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There is 1 comment on POV: What Makes for a Satisfying Ending?

  1. Trigger Warning: mentions of su*c*de

    I lie somewhere in between your students because although I’m the type of person that is obsessed with answers and information, my favorite book is Looking for Alaska. If you haven’t read Looking for Alaska yet, don’t read this comment. Please read the book first, this comment doesn’t come close to doing it justice.

    I first read this book when I was 11 and hated it. I had no idea what was going on, no idea what this elusive concept of the “labyrinth” was, and was frustrated because “Why couldn’t people just say what they meant instead of making it complicated?” I gave it another shot two summers ago and fell in love with it, but the ending bothered me to no end (pun intended).

    See, I still don’t know if Alaska killed herself on purpose or not. It was a car “accident,” but she did write that the only way out of the labyrinth was straight and fast, and she was definitely upset and drunk that night. I’ve thought about this long and hard, and this question will probably plague me for at least the next decade. I just want to know and I hate the fact that I don’t. I hate that I’m left in the dark and yet I love it.

    I love being able to shine a flashlight on whichever corner of the room I choose and being able to think about the endless reasons why she died. There’s also a feeling of helplessness that the ending evokes. I don’t know if she died on purpose and there’s nothing I can do to bring her back. Miles writes an essay on the labyrinth, Alaska, and the way out, which makes me feel even more helpless because if only Alaska was alive to know how much Miles cared.

    I do think that the ending was meant to stir up some of the same emotions we experience while mourning the loss of a loved one. There’s nothing we can do and we have to live with that. To answer the question of “What do we need in an ending?” I think it changes with every story and reader. Some of us want to know everything we possibly can and can’t bear the thought of leaving a character “behind,” and yet, somehow we have to. In other scenarios, such as Rapunzel, I probably would’ve been disappointed if I didn’t know what happened at the end and frankly, I don’t know if I could live with that.

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