“John and Mary meet. What happens next?” These are the beginning lines of the short story, Happy Endings, written by Margaret Atwood. Most stories have developed settings, characters and established plots. However, Happy Endings is structured in a unique way that makes it stand out among others. After reading Happy Endings several times, it is obvious the story was written to expose a heartfelt message that would encourage the reader to think about his or her life. The tone of voice in Happy Endings was different than what I was used to, but overall it was an excellent short story, from the powerful message, to the unique story structure. Happy Endings begins with the main characters, John and Mary, meeting. Atwood then asks, “What happens next?” and suggests that if the reader wants a happy ending, try reading “A”. Atwood sketched out six different plots, labeled A to F, to finish John and Mary’s love story. The six scenarios are described below:
In scenario A, John and Mary fall in love and get married. They buy a pleasant house and have two children. John and Mary’s love and lives are stimulating and challenging. Eventually they both die.
Scenario B starts with Mary loving John, but John does not love Mary. He merely uses her body for sexual pleasures and gratification. He comes over and Mary cooks him dinner. Then, he sleeps with her and he leaves. Eventually Mary finds out John is seeing another woman, Madge. She gathers all the sleeping pills she has and a bottle of sherry. She hopes John will come to find her and save her from overdoing, but he never does. Mary dies. The last line of the paragraph says, “John marries Madge and everything continues as in A”.
In scenario C, John is married to a woman, Madge, but is in love with Mary, another woman. Mary is much younger than John. Even though she does not love John, she sleeps with him. Mary is in love with a man named James. James has a motorcycle and is not ready to settle down yet. One day,...
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