Friday, September 19, 2014

Happy Endings?

Happy Endings by Margaret Atwood really spoke to me. It's kind of morbid and existential when taken as an actual story rather than a story about plots, and as a super senior in college about to go out into the real world and create my own "happy ending" it reaches out to me on a reader response level. Not to mention, it's short and in a bullet format making it very easy to read.

As an English major, reader response is the technique I initially use in a first reading of a piece. Emotion and connections to oneself are one of the strongest aspects of literature to me. If a piece of literature can make you think about your life and the world with the words on the page it has done its job. You may miss the allusions, the literary devices, the references in a piece of literature, but if it makes you feel something those things don't matter. The first read of Happy Endings I did was sitting alone at the end of the bar in an empty pub. Maybe that's why reader response was the technique I applied first- it's the natural response and analysis.

It wasn't until the end of section F that I realized Atwood had been talking about plots all along. Even when Atwood said that, I still took the story as a commentary on life, not a commentary on stories. The only true ending is that John and Mary die. You live, and then you die. There is a beginning and an end. The plot, the things in between life and death are what matter. But those things happen. Birth. Event. Event. Event. Death. That is going to be the same for every person in this world. But Atwood is correct- the how and the way are important and they are what makes every individuals life different. B and C are great examples. Motivation, reasoning and how things are done is what makes you and I different. The plots of various lives may be the same, but the how and the why very rarely are. John and Mary are gonna die. But what they do in between, and how and why they do it- now that is what really matters.

How did you read the story?
Why did you read it that way?
What does that say about you?
You were born. Some day you're gonna die. Don't pick A. A is boring. You can still have your happy ending, but but ya gotta live in between. What is going to be the how and why to the plot of your life?

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