The Accidental Tourist

by Anne Tyler

Start Free Trial

Discuss the ending of Tyler's work The Accidental Tourist.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The ending is subtle, but highly effective.  The moment that Macon tells the cab to pull over and pick up Muriel represents a couple of things.  The first is that he is willing to put aside the self- destruction and emotional emptiness of his past and embrace the insecurity and passion of the future.  Macon's relationship with Sarah was stable only its penchant for his destruction and his self- hatred.  In a sense, Macon had become used to living his life in a suitcase of self- loathing and emotional frigidity.  There was a comfort, a cadence to it that was appealing, on some level, to Macon because of its familiarity.  With Muriel, there is unpredictability and intensity, and this is a reflection of the irrepressible nature of emotional contact.  It is here where Macon has to make his fundamental choice.  There is guidebook for this world with Muriel.  There is only feeling and learning with each day being different from the previous one.  It is here where there is a certain level of challenge for the pattern driven Macon.  When he breaks free of this by telling the cab to pull over, instead of following its directed path, Macon indicates that he is willing to embrace this new and unpredictable world. From the isolated and passive world of emotional frigidity, Macon proves that emotions are important.  While they are unpredictable, they prove to be the only element that prove one's vitality and capacity to accept life.  It is here where Macon is at the end of the novel, and why he presumably gets back together with Muriel.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team