When It’s OK Not to Know the Ending

After recently watching the spy thriller, The Debt, I wondered what happened to the characters’ lives next – after the story ended.  With George Clooney’s The Ides of March, the follow-up from the abrupt plot ending is predictable, given the intrigue of politics, but who knows.  Those loose ends reminded me of  books that end without neatly pulling in the loose threads: did the heroine die or walk off into the sunset?  did that rotten guy get his due?  will the boy/girl grow up to find the cure, change the universe, fall off a cliff?

Without a firm ending, the story goes on in my mind – changing outcomes and possibilities…

A few classic ambiguous endings that come to mind:

  • The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles
  • The Dead by James Joyce
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry

Can you think of any?

The Ides of March

The fifteenth of March wasn’t always prefaced with Beware. “Until 44 B.C., the Ides of March were best known as a springtime frolic, an occasion fit for serious drinking, like so many others on the Roman calendar.  A celebration of the ancient goddess of ends and beginnings, the Ides amounted to a sort of raucous, reeling New Year’s.  Bands of revelers picnicked into the night along the banks of the Tiber, where they camped in makeshift huts under a full moon. It was a festival often indelibly recalled nine months later.

In 44 the day dawned overcast; toward the end of the cloudy morning,  Caesar set off by litter for the Senate, to finalize arrangements for his absence. The young and distinguished Publius Cornelius Dolabella hoped to be named consul in his place, as did Mark Antony…”

…from page 124 of Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra

And March 15th was changed forever…

For Thornton Wilder’s historic fiction of this famous day, check out the review for The Ides of March

For the review on Schiff’s biography of Cleopatra: A Life, check here