Choose one ending from Magaret Atwood's "Happy Ending" and find a couple in literature /history that have lived according to that ending  Ask yourself, why did you choose that couple? your source...

Choose one ending from Magaret Atwood's "Happy Ending" and find a couple in literature /history that have lived according to that ending 

Ask yourself, why did you choose that couple? your source should include textbook, one outside book/ebook,and one credible website. 

(I am struggling with this question)

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For Atwood in "Happy Endings," all plots can be reduced the basic elements she outlines.  The endings are not that different from one another in exploring the narrative between two people with emotional ties to one another:

the endings are the same. . . . Don't be deluded by any other endings, they're all fake, either deliberately fake, with malicious intent to deceive, or just motivated by excessive optimism if not by downright sentimentality.

In this light, one can see specific couples in literature representing the basic plot lines that Atwood identifies.  For example, the pinnacle of happy couples in Greek Mythology would be Baucis and Philemon.  They are both humble and happy with one another, willing to share their lives together and with anyone else who enters their home.  Baucis and Philemon offer their home, hospitality, and lacking food to wayward travelers, who are actually Zeus and Hermes.  In the midst of the flood that wipes out so many, Baucis and Philemon simply wish to be with one another.  I think that this narrative parallels Atwood's "D" ending regarding Fred and Madge.  Their story is similar to Baucis and Philemon in that "the rest of the story is about what caused the tidal wave and how they escape from it. They do, though thousands drown, but Fred  and Madge are virtuous and grateful, and continue as in A."  Their generosity and virtue are elements that Baucis and Philemon share.

In contrast to this would be the narrative offered in the "B" ending in which John uses Mary to satisfy his own needs.  Mary believes that in allowing herself to be used by John, it will move him closer to marriage.  Little could be farther from the truth as she is used for his own pleasure, only to see him take sanctuary with Madge.  This is very similar to the narrative that F. Scott Fitzgerald offers in The Great Gatsby.  Tom uses Myrtle for his own means of gratification.  She believes that in allowing him such self- indulgence, it will enable him to make the move to leave Daisy. The same self- delusion that Mary uses to justify her presence in such a miserable relationship is what Myrtle to sustain her involvement in hers.  In the end, Myrtle dies and Tom leaves with Daisy.  Myrtle's death becomes the result of Tom's self- indulgence in much the same way that Mary kills herself because of John's manipulation of the situation to his benefit.  In this light, Fitzgerald's characterizations bear similarity to Atwood's "B" ending.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Margaret Atwood's "Happy Endings" is an example of metafiction, fiction in which the author draws attention to the artificiality of a literary work by parodying narrative conventions and traditional techniques. Atwood proposes a simple plot, then changes it several ways in order to demonstrate that no matter what happens, the two main characters die at the end. She does this in order to demonstrate that what happens in a plot is not as important as why it happens.

  • Ending D.

Using the ending D. there is a recent story of Stefan and Erika Svanstrom of Stockholm, who departed on 6 December 2013 on their four-month vacation with their baby girl. However, this honeymoon was interrupted by no less than six natural disasters:

  1. a snowstorm in Germany,
  2. in Australia, they experienced a cyclone in Cairns,
  3. flooding in Brisbane,and
  4. a brush fire in Perth, Australia.  
  5. Then, shortly before they arrived in New Zealand, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch.
  6. Following this, they arrived in Tokyo, where Japans largest tremor ever struck.

Nonetheless, the little family returned to Sweden unscathed after a calm visit to China. 

"I know marriages have to endure some trials, but I think we have been through most of them," Svanstrom said.

So "no matter what happens," the couple ends as they do in other choices, as Atwood states.

Read the study guide:
Happy Endings

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