Sunday, September 21, 2014

Response to Alex (Happy Endings Analysis)

Alex, I agree with you. I think this story does serve as a life lesson to the reader. I first read this story in my form and theory class, and I considered it more of a tool for fiction writers than as literature. However, now that I am re reading it and analyzing it, I see it as both a commentary on the writing process, and a commentary on literature.

I found it interesting when you said, “There is no overarching traditionalist form like is seen in literature for centuries.”. “Happy Endings” is so wildly different than traditional stories because of it’s unique formula. There is no direct and visible climax in the story as whole, although one could argue that each individual section has a climax. The sections that make up the story also lack development. “Happy Endings” reads more as an outline for a short story than one itself, which I think is Atwood’s main point. Sarcasm is also something Atwood plays around with a lot. From the first paragraph “A” the readers know Atwood’s sarcastic tone. Section “A” is just way too good to be true. Because of the brevity and lack of development section “C” has a dramatic tone to me. The use of such generic names also add to the sarcasm. It’s like Atwood is poking fun at her characters and the various directions short stories usually go in.

I also like what you said about the story exposing parts of the human condition. I think Atwood does this for a reason. She shows her readers various emotions in each section to represent how humans are emotionally evolving. In “Happy Endings”, Atwood tells us that the beginnings of stories are much more important and exciting than endings. I don't know if I would have agreed with Atwood before reading, “Happy Endings”.  One of the things “Happy Endings” does is prove this. I also think it’s interesting to note the theme of happiness. The only section of the story that if completely happy is section “A”. Characters in the other sections are generally unhappy, however are happy at the end, thus the story’s title. Because of this, Atwell shows us how truly boring endings can be. She suggests that in a way, the readers already know the ending to a story- the characters die. “Happy Endings” show us that the ways in which we reach the ending are much more interesting than the endings themselves.

1 comment:

  1. I think that you are right on the money with your comments on Atwood’s sarcasm through the sections of the story. She is able to use it to poke fun at the traditional storytelling conventions as well as using it to further the plot itself. “B” and “C”, to me, show this sarcasm the best. When I read them I read them out-loud and my voice naturally took on a very plain monotone register. By doing this, the writing stood out for itself in a way devoid of feeling. In my head they were read by Aubrey Plaza as “April” from Parks and Recreation.

    This worked in two ways: it served to further her ideas of poking fun at writing styles, but it also provides an example of a way to tell these sort of generic plot stories that do not rely on extraneous details to tell the story. It is difficult to write in a concise fashion, and whether she realized it or not, Atwood proved that she is able to write something very interesting and socially in depth in just a few pages.

    I do not think that Atwood is saying that the beginnings of stories are more important than the endings. While it is true that she makes it obvious that all stories end the same (with death for all), which does not mean that death isn’t interesting, even crucial for the story. Mary’s suicide in “B” certainly is worth noting, as is the double murder/suicide of “C”. The stories would not have the same effect if they did not end in the ways that they do.