Saturday, September 20, 2014

Response to Skylar's post: Happy Ending of My Life

Before I start to read a certain story, fist I ALWAYS check the title. Thinking about a title before reading might be expected from most people, but not a lot of people do that. Especially, if those are assignments, most students might focus on “finishing” their homework. Happy Ending by Margaret Atwood drags my attention even from the title.  

Happy Ending?

Then, will that story be a happy ending?
I start to read this story focus on the word happy.

The story starts like this: if I want to read a happy story, should try A. However, A is not an ideal future that we might have dreamed. John and Mary have “stimulating and challenging” jobs, sex life and hobbies. But, it seems to be boring and simple. At the same time, we all know this future is hard to get.

Then, what is happy? How can I be happy?

Except A, John and Mary cannot be together happily: “Everything continues as in A, but under different names.” Atwood intentionally dehumanized characters’ lives. All stories somehow are concluded to A as if a fairy tale ends they lived happily ever after. While I was reading the story, I cannot but think about myself. I identified other dehumanized characters and myself to think about this happy ending. Our life is same. We are born and we will die at some point like John and Mary do. Also, Fred is going to die for heart disease, and Madge might die for cancer. Some people might pass away with other diseases. Yes, it sounds bitter.
If Atwood ends her story at this point, I might be depressed forever. However, Atwood asks "now try How and Why" at the end of F to readers and give a chance to think about how to get over this boring life. This interesting format also represents different and various worlds that people live.

I want to tell this story to Korean high school students who do not decide what they really want to do. Koreans' passion for their children's education is excessive. People, who believe their futures will be decided depending on which college you go, lock their children up into the prison (so-called school) to make them enter a certain college (those people are called this process as “study”). When I was in high school, I had to stay there from 7am until midnight. School systems in America and Korea are very different. Most students go to college even though they do not know what they want to do. Also, because it is very hard to change their majors in college, most students just keep doing what they currently do. But, most of them do not even think that they can change it because they grow up like that way. I do not want to say this system is just bad. Of course, it has a good side, too. However, this is the thing. Most students do not know what they want to do. And they will meet common spouses to marry and have two children to become another John and Mary. Moreover, they will pretend they are happy.
Or they really believe that is happy.

How did I read Happy Ending?
Why did I read it that way?
What does that say about me?

I would say this was a great chance to think about myself. I chose to become an English major student in the American college. I am not hundred percent sure what I will be in the future. But, I can tell you that I do not regret what I am doing right now (even though sometimes it is hard to understand some words in the class).

If I keep considering about how to be happy of my life, maybe 10 years later, I can be a protagonist of my happy ending story.


  1. This is exactly what I was talking about. We are English majors. We major in humanities and the arts. If we aren't applying our readings to ourselves because we are trying to take more formal approaches we're missing the point. I really like how you applied this story to your experiences with your Korean education and others who are looking for their "happy endings". I strongly believe that this story goes far beyond the analysis of plot. I think it is meant to create more protagonists in the stories in search of happy endings, and I know you'll be the protagonist in your story sooner rather than later!

  2. I really like your voice in this--it manages to be serious and breezy at the same time, which charms and compels the reader. You have a real style, and I hope you continue writing, whatever else you do. I'm also interested in your potential comparisons between American (or Canadian in the case of this particular story) and Korean definitions of happiness, because you are in a unique position to discuss that. Finally, you do a very nice job here of responding to Skylar, recognizing how the story works as a kind of structural satire about stories but also how it works on a human level. Very well done!