Theme Of Happy Endings By Margaret Atwood

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Happy Endings
“If you want a happy ending, try A” (445) is how Margaret Atwood begins her short story “Happy Endings.” Atwood amazed many by the unfamiliar assembly of her short story by creating her own trademark structure. “Happy Endings” uses an intricate structure that is a combination of six diverse scenarios to grab one’s attention. In this short story, Atwood compares our life to the structure of a short story. She does this to show that since “the endings are the same however you slice it” (447) you should life to its fullest.
The structure Atwood used is distinctive because instead of following the traditional arrangement of beginning, middle, and end, she creates six different parts entitled A, B, C, D, E and F. Each part contains an individual plot and a very frank and emotional tale of love. She states what happens in a stoic and emotionless tone without offering any “fillers” or details. She utilizes short sentences such as “They go on fun vacations together. They retire.” (445) that are blunt and straightforward to drive her point home. What point is she driving home? She is trying to show us that no matter what we do in life, death is always the end.
Each of the six plots portrayed revolve around two main characters, John and Mary. These characters and their personalities are not developed or portrayed through a conflict or plot, but just stated in short precise statements with no mystery involved: “John goes out the door with hardly so much as a good-night” (446), “Madge devotes herself to charity work…” (447). In this way, she directs the attention away from the characters, and towards the common theme of death portrayed in the different scenarios.
The story begins with “John and Mary meet. What happens next...

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...a beginning, a middle and an end. Atwood says “so much for endings,” since they “are the same however you slice it.” (447) She asserts that “true connoisseurs” (447) favor the stretch between ending and the beginning” since it’s the hardest to do anything with.” (447) Atwood issues a challenge in the last two sentences for us to focus on the “how and why” (447) instead of the ending since this can help us create our own happy ending.

Overall, the short story “Happy Endings” is too complex to be tailored into a traditional short story structure because it is a combination of six diverse scenarios that are tied together by one common ending, death. Atwood wants life to be lived to its fullest, with each day being treasured no matter the situation. So although death is a common destination for all, why not make the journey worthwhile by cherishing each day? n
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