This May Not End Well

As scholars and human beings, we know that all good things must come to an end. That end may be triumphant, exciting, and incredibly satisfying, or… Not. In her recent BU Today article, our very own Director of the Core Kyna Hamill ponders what makes for a satisfying ending, and why it may matter so much.

In the article, Professor Hamill works through the varied kinds of endings we find both inside and outside of the Core Curriculum, from the epic tale of Don Quixote to the colossus of Marvel’s Endgame. Whether the ending comes in a centuries-old tale or contemporary Oscar nominee, students seem to search for certain things to make for a satisfying ending:

What do we need in an ending? Resolution and closure? Happiness? What do the kinds of endings we like say about us? Death is a convenient ending, so is a wedding, a reconciliation, or new knowledge gained. A cliffhanger is more a means to an end rather than an ending, unless you have the guts to cut to black as David Chase did in the finale of The Sopranos.

While her students may seek out a safe conclusion with obvious meaning and results, Professor Hamill finds herself drawn to more abstract endings, saying that the “empty unanswered void of unknowing energizes me to theorize on all the possible conclusions.” As satisfying as it may be to know exactly what happens to your favorite characters, it’s a lot more fun to have to think of it on your own.

But does this mean it’s cheating to yearn for a convenient ending, or to give one to your reader? For those of us in the real world, we know that those convenient events such as weddings or reconciliations are really just the beginning of a whole new story. Or even if the story ends in death, the life and legacy of that person continues to impact the world. So why fixate on the best possible ending? All we know for certain is that this blog post won’t have a satisfying conclusion with a satisfying answer.

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