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This article is taken from PN Review 78, Volume 17 Number 4, March - April 1991.

The Only Possible Ending Laura (Riding) Jackson
If everything is taken into account, in the following of a course of circumstances, and the calculation made of the close to which it is most likely to come, the story of it all will be a medley of stories, and its ending a blotched affair, whether of happy or unhappy story-ending color. No story of a course of circumstances will have a good ending unless it is an ending calculatable, the gist of the circumstances being fore-comprehended, as the only possible ending. This standard for the good, in the culminating effect of a course of circumstances or the story formed by the narration of them, eliminates the happy - or unhappy - ending alternatives posed by standards of narrative invention. The good ending is the perfectly acceptable ending of a story. It leaves nothing to be desired of other, or more. It settles all the problems raised in the story it closes. It makes all who have been interested in the story ready to turn in peace to whatever may come next, whether another interest-attracting narrative invention or a course of circumstances opening itself to living view.

We need good endings for good anticipations; and we need good anticipations for good immediate existence, life free of unlove of life, and hope with which to make futures welcome. I am writing here in this vein because there came to mind to me, within the tight reach of a few days, a story having an ending so simply, so patently, ...


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