Why does Chris Cleave leave his readers guessing about Little Bee's fate at the end of his novel by the same name?
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Several motives are possible for Chris Cleave's decision to end the novel without closure in regards to Little Bee's fate. First, Little Bee is a novel grounded in reality; perhaps Cleave did not want to stray from the very real harshness of immigrants' choices. A neat, happy conclusion could distract from the social issues Cleave illuminates in Little Bee.
Cleave's ending also allows for readers to make their own predictions for Little Bee's future. For those longing for closure and a happy ending, they might imagine that the Nigerian soldiers would not dare harm Little Bee and Sarah because of the publicity associated with them. Alternately, some may predict that Little Bee's mission is complete. She has seen Charlie happy and seems resigned to whatever happens to her. In the novel's final paragraph, she narrates,
"I watched all of those children smiling and dancing and splashing one another . . . and I laughed and laughed and laughed" (266).
At last, Little Bee sees hope for the innocent, hope that they will not endure a lost childhood.
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