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An alternative ending may, perhaps, begin shortly after the departure of the devotee with her profound, final words on the mind of the narrator.
When composing from the text of any narrative it is important to make every attempt to retain the characterization and style which the author has already generated. With this in mind, then, the student may wish to find key passages that indicate the main characters' thoughts and feelings and their previous actions. Certainly, continuing the text in a manner that is in line with this prior characterization will produce a more authentic ending.
With a consideration of the final line of the Devotee--"Now I must have truth, and truth alone" the alternative ending can begin because it seems in character for the narrator to ponder such words as he has previously been moved by this ascetic; for instance, after one occasion on which she visited, he ponders deeply what she has said and remarks, "I understood her meaning." On another occasion, the narrator tells her that he does not give or receive "good words," but he opens his eyes (meaning his mind) and remain silent
"...and then I can at once both hear and see, even when no sound is uttered."
When the Devotee hears him, she becomes excited and exclaims,"God speaks to me, not only with His mouth, but with His whole body."
So, with these previous conversations in mind, the student can have the narrator remaining still after she departs as he ponders the Devotee's last line about the necessity of truth in her life. Then, he could reflect again that he has seen her and heard her profound message. Perhaps, then, the narrator can finally perceive what the devotee has known: He is doing nothing for his soul with his papers and pen. Therefore, the narrator may consider living in a different manner.
With these ideas in mind, here is an ending:
As I reflected upon her conviction for the truth, a conviction so strong that she has rejected her comfortable life and humble husband because there was falsehood in her heart and in the heart of her husband's friend, the guru, I prayed for the courage of her heart. She knows not what she will eat, I thought. For suspended moments I sat immobile. Then, I realized that I, too, "must have the truth, and the truth alone." I looked around the room, seeing for the first time, the encumbrances to my soul. I remember having told the devotee that I come away from Calcutta in order to hear the sound of life. What, then, are these sounds of life? The placid munching of the cow, the ring of the devotee's cymbals, the sound of the wind, the sound of my heart. Why should I return? I must listen.
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