The Poetry Question

Discovering the Relevance of Words

QOTD – February 13th – Finifugal



I am a person who thrives on prolonging everything. I tempt the fates of bad relationships, caustic friendships, and seemingly endless amounts of drama and anxiety that really doesn’t have any true worth. When something ends, I tend to act like Eeyore, and mope my way into a dark corner until something better comes along. Even if that “something” isn’t really the healthiest decision.

In theory, I am a realist. In practice, I’m typically an idiot when it comes to moving on and letting go. I know that things end, and need to come to an end, but I take way too long to get there. I don’t like conflict. I don’t like feeling guilty. I don’t like clicking the “unfriend” button on Facebook, because I wonder how the other person will react. I don’t like telling people that something is over, and frankly, if I can get someone else to say it, I’m more than happy to respond in kind. Luckily, I’m actually in a really great place these days, with a great relationship, a solid base of friends, and no real “endings” in sight. Phew.

All that said, bad endings, or endings in general, make for creativity.

I find that when it comes to literature, some of the best endings leave me angry, and wanting more from the character. It’s when I know the author has done their job. They’ve understood that not everything has to have a happy ending; because, after all, we are real, and not everything is full of butterflies and rainbows. I think the angriest I’ve ever been at the ending of a book was JM Coetzee’s Disgrace. I was so upset at how the character was left, that I actually threw the book against a wall, and threw a mini temper tantrum. I didn’t feel it was fair, and I wasn’t prepared for it to go in that direction. I felt unfulfilled, even though everything about the end made sense. I don’t want to give anything away, so please go read the book, and let me know if I’m crazy.

Endings are difficult. If they weren’t, we’d miss out on great lyrics, literature, and film.

What are some of your favorite endings? How did you handle them? Think life, literature, film, and whatever else you can think of for this topic.




About Christopher Margolin

Chris Margolin spent more than a decade in Education as a high school English teacher, and is now an Instructional Coach for the Longview School District. He is also the founder of The Poetry Question, an online journal which focuses on reviews of small press poetry publications, and runs a regular series called "The Power of Poetry," where notable poets share their personal stories of how poetry has affected their lives. Margolin resides in Vancouver, Washington with his wife, and daughter.

3 comments on “QOTD – February 13th – Finifugal

  1. Robert Long
    February 13, 2014

    I thought the ending to Halo Reach was, while predictable, was still a good ending. Endings that lazily kill off the main character or end it in some rather convenient way without a lot if action are a pep peeve of mine. If you’re going to end a story, put some effort into it and make it something worth reading or watching.

    And people will pay most attention to the ending and their whole experience will be judged on that. People freaked out over Mass Effect 3 when it came of because it had a bad ending.

    An ending shouldn’t run an experience. You had fun reading/watching/playing up to that point.

  2. Hunter
    February 16, 2014

    I’m writing this at 4:00 AM after having just finished reading a story of sorts, the ending reminded me of this QOTD and made me ponder what type of ending it is i look for. This is a spur of the moment response and all thought is un-distilled (too tired to even attempt to clean it up).

    Some stories have everyone dying, or will sometimes have it twisted where only one man survives and the antagonist joining the fallen, others have sugar coated fantasy endings where everyone “live happily ever after”.

    But the story I had finished only a few minutes ago was neither of those two; and it fit the type of ending I prefer almost exactly. It had a happy ending of sorts, the antagonist was buried along with his most faithfuls, but many of the main characters joined him in the afterlife; in the end only 7 of the main group were still alive, and none of them unscathed. Each one of the deaths had a fitting end though, there was no sense of the characters being depraved of what should have been, they knew they were going to die and embraced the end.

    A tidier follow up comment may follow later when I’ve had time to sleep and think of the subject more. I feel somethings missing.

    • Hunter
      February 16, 2014

      Now that i’m a bit more rested i can clarify what i meant in this mess of a post.

      The type of ending I prefer is a more realistic one, it doesn’t try to fit either of the two stereotype endings specified above but neither does it try to hard to be different. The story i had read last night (earlier today?) made it clear that yes, there was a happy ending but the cost was exorbitantly high.

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