“I work hard for a sufficient living, and therefore yes, I do well” comes at the close of Dickens’ “Great Expectations”, and reveals a latent redemption of Pip’s previous condemnation that “the universal struggle” had caused him to be unashamedly “disgusted with his calling and his life”. This feature of Dickens’ novel’s ending allies with the consolidation of the trains of imagery that he seeks to define, alongside the question of the original ending and how it varies the tone of the novel.
Roy’s “The God of Small Things” features an ending that paradoxically falls into the line of a non-linear perspective, creating a “sicksweet” atmosphere which she seeks to both personalise and universalise- allowing her to use ending to also extend along trains of imagery. Finally Hardy’s own endings both take on a literal quality with the diminuendo nature of both “The Voice” and “At An Inn”, but the concept of ending as a metaphorical representation of death also comes across, “Your Last Drive” being a prevalent example.
Hardy’s use of ending in his work takes on a multi-dimensional significance in a literal and figurative sense, as he addresses both the close of a poem, and the closing of life. “The Voice” closes with the image of “wind oozing from norward” and the bitter indictment of, “And the woman, calling”. This is in great contrast to the opening of the poem, with its lyrical effervescence of “Woman much missed how you call to me, call to me/Saying that now you are not as you were”, as the structurally rich lines of enjambment and romanticised passion contrast with the impersonal, antagonised end.
This reveals the idea of the poem having a diminuendo quality, as Hardy uses his ending, and its contrast to the opening, to successfully reflect the depreciation in his relationship that he saw, the depreciation of the colourful “air blue gown” to the neologistically bleak “wan wistlessness”. This diminuendo idea also features in “At An Inn”, as it flows from an opening of promise, of “bliss like theirs/That would flush our day”, as enjambment highlights the depth of bliss that is crucially perceived, rather than physical.
This is highlighted through Hardy’s ending, of what he sees as the charade of “love-light”, to the point that he equates this lack of love with that of death, appealing to the omnipotent “laws of men” that so often pervade his work to “once let us stand/As we did then”, as if reality is in fact worse than the awful past. This superlative of negativity highlights how Hardy uses ending to exemplify his own reality.
However, the concept of ending with Hardy can also take on a much wider significance, and the endings of these wider explorations of “the end” in death and time seek to define Hardy’s views on these wider subjects. “Your Last Drive” sees him attempting to demystify his own role, or lack of it, in Emma’s death, and it closes with the monosyllabic “You are past love, praise, indifference, blame”, with this ambiguous ending leading to varied interpretations on Hardy’s opinion of death.
It could be a simple dismissal of death, that he sees these words that he writes for her “praises” and her “countenance” as now worthless, but this is not the only plausible interpretation. It could represent a latent resentment of the dead, as if they are fortunate to be granted a blissful release from the emotion, from the “praises” and from the “countenance” that Hardy must still talk and write of, as if to be “Past love, praise, indifference, blame” is in fact a form of literary and metaphorical redemption, rather than the cursed end that it is traditionally seen to be.
Therefore Hardy can also be seen to use ending to explore greater issues, to not merely close the boundaries of his poems and conventions but to extend them, to discuss universal ideas of “the end” and to thereby present his own interpretations. The idea of both personal and universal closure is one that is also seen in Roy’s novel “The God of Small Things”, also leaving ideas open to interpretation, unlike a traditional “end”. The close of the novel falls upon Ammu, as “she turned to say it again. Naaley”. Tomorrow”. This reveals how Roy attempts to first personalise the close through the use of Malayalam, by consolidating Ammu and Velutha’s love that is shared amongst the “mangosteen tree”, “the jet streaks on a church blue sky” and “the love laws”, and then to universalise the message of the novel to the reader with the English “Tomorrow”, just as she did at the end of the opening, referencing both “when the love laws were laid down” and also the “hopelessly practical world” of 1969.
This idea of consolidating on a personal and universal scale is also made relevant through Roy’s use of the trains of imagery that are relevant throughout the book. For example “Ammu’s Road” now has “a small sunny meadow”, unlike its previous emptiness, its “wilder sort of walk”. She also references the all encompassing nature of “The Terror”, showing how even at the end of a narrative, pervading images can still hold a powerful sway, even in this case, against an unconventionally non-linear narrative.
This could represent the power of these images over “the scurry of small lives” that the novel represents, or possibly that these images are in fact “the small things” that seep into the novel, just as for example the death of Sophie Mol “hid in books and food”. The fact that the narrative of “The God of Small Things” is non-linear possesses great significance to the ending in other aspects as well- it leads to the ideas of where the ending truly is, how the use of placement of ending affects the tone of the novel.
The chosen ending could be said to give the novel a tone that it reinforces itself- it is “sicksweet”. This is backed up by the superficial perceived positivity of “tomorrow”, as although the ending would seem to possess hope for the future, the non-linear narrative shatters this hope, as the reader knows that Ammu and Velutha’s tomorrow will be one of “smashed smiles” and “a lucky leaf that wasn’t lucky enough”.
This relates to Roy using her ending to create a desired tone, as well as using the concept of foreshadowing to a greater extent than it is conventionally employed- it creates an atmosphere of the “sicksweet” closing chapter is not the true end, that in reality the end is Rahel and Estha’s prior “consummation of hideous grief”, and that Roy’s physical ending is not the physical ending to the story.
This however is challenged by the chapter’s title, “The Cost of Living”, as “the smashed smiles that lay ahead of them” are almost taken out of their narrative context, that the ending is more a personal ending for Ammu and Velutha as their own closure and that the final universalisation is actually seeking to challenge the shattered hope, just as Ammu and Velutha challenge the love laws.
Therefore Roy also uses ending to tie up her thematic influences, and to embellish the structure and tone of the novel in a way that is multi-faceted, addressing personal and universal issues. Dicken’s “Great Expectations” also has an ending that addresses characters’ personal issues and also thematic questions. He uses his ending to seemingly resolve Pip’s issues with Estella, “I saw no shadow of another parting from her”, but this also resolves a thematic issue of Pip’s continued naivety over the subject of Estella.
This naivety extends back through his knowledge that his “star” is in fact born to the lowest of the low, a murderess and a convict, and that despite his vow “never to cry for her again” after an early encounter at Satis House, the interior ending of the narrative, his perspective aided by hindsight that closes childlike aspersions as they come, states that “never was a bigger lie ever told”.
This leads to the close of the novel almost forcing the reader to take on the role of this secondary perspective for Pip, and realising for them self but not for him, as there is no longer the boundary between the two perspectives- Dickens consolidates these ideas through a consistent narrative trend, as Roy does with imagery in “The God Of Small Things”.
However, the ending also challenges consistency- Estella is seen to progress from the influential desire of Miss Havisham to “break their hearts” to “understand what (Pip’s) heart used to be”, and that Pip has progressed from knowing “I was ashamed of (Joe)” and being “disgusted with (his) calling and (his) life” to knowing that it is not a crime to say “I work hard for a sufficient living and therefore yes, I do well”.
This opposition in partial knowledge leads to the ending being used as a sort of catharsis for Pip, as “the mists rise” once again they do so for him, in his own mind, positively, despite the ironic knowledge of the reader that this is in fact a nai??ve trend- similar once again to Roy’s use of ending in “The God of Small Things”.
Therefore Dickens uses ending to consolidate theme, but also to include uncertainty that both remains consistent with and challenges previous narrative events, deepening the final meaning of the narrative. However, Dickens’ ending and its use are questionable in a similar way to Roy’s due to the presence of alternate perspective. However, unlike in Roy’s ending it is not who the ending involves but its construction, as “Great Expectations” has its own, alternative ending.
The original ending speaks of Estella and Pip merely “looking upon each other sadly”, as opposed to the imagery laden ending that was eventually published. In the original there is no “casting off of the wretched years” that Pip achieves in the published ending. This choice leads to a similar perspective to the one placed upon Roy’s use of ending in choice- although Dickens’ ending was a publisher’s decision, why he chose to write the ending as he did is still questionable.
The original ending is more in line with the tone of disappointment that pervades the novel’s “universal struggle”, but the language of the published ending, the glorified “broad expanse of tranquil light” that can be seen to both illuminate Estella but also to shroud true realisation from Pip can also be seen to be appropriate, as it reflects the aforementioned ideas of consistent naivety, and also runs in line with the idea of all other redemption being latent and inherently unfulfilled- Miss Havisham and Magwitch as examples.
Therefore, Dickens also uses ending to exemplify character, and tone individual to certain aspects of the narrative, in both a consistent and opposing manner. In conclusion, the three writers use endings in multi-faceted ways, across individual and contexts. Hardy uses ending as not just a method of defining validity of feeling and exclusivity of emotional experience, but also to discuss the concept of “the end”, and how a change of tone or style in his literary endings can reflect heavily on these wider interpretations.
Roy also achieves this, but alongside Dickens also uses ending to both consolidate and challenge thematic and tonal issues, allowing them to both utilise ending to embellish their narratives further than would normally be possible, provoking intrigue over not just their own texts, but as with all three of the writers, intrigue over what the concept of the ending is really about.
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