Happy Endings

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Ann Collias
Dan Burns
Post Modern American Fiction
19 November 2012
Margaret Atwood’s “Happy Endings”
Children universally grow-up with stories of “Once upon a time..” and “Happily ever after..” and with the conception that you will meet a partner, fall in love, and live happily ever after. Margaret Atwood challenges this conception in her short story “Happy Endings”. “Happy Endings” is satirical because it mocks the common misconception that love and life conclude perfectly with “Happily ever after”. It is through Atwood’s unusual structure, minimalistic diction and use of dramatic irony that the idea of inexplicable happiness is challenged. At first glance, “Happy Endings” does not even look like a story; rather it appears to be a set of notes or jumbled rough draft of a story. The story breaks down the walls of author/audience by presenting a “general” story which can be read more liberally by the reader because it forces the reader to get involved. The story within a story makes “Happy Endings” interactive by allowing the reader to choose. Atwood begins with ”If you want a happy ending, try A," alluding that the ones to follow have more ominous conclusions (1). In scenario A, John and Mary die after living a perfectly satisfying and devoted live to each other . The conclusion of A is the most simplistic or blunt as it lacks details and emotion. In the subplots of John and Mary, and then Fred and Madge, the characters are so underdeveloped where they become humorous. Atwood’s mockery of these “Happily Ever after..” scenarios highlight the fact that the characters lack in depth because their actions are so dreadfully stereotypical. The little information given about characters is not done so to enliven plot lines but merely have the reader infer what she actually means . For example, the line “She hope he’ll discover and get her to the hospital in time and repent and they can get married, but this fails and she dies” lacks a plot line and...
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