Happy Endings Questions and Answers
by Margaret Atwood

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In terms of the relationship between form and content in "Happy Endings" by Margaret Atwood,  how does the work draw attention to itself as fiction? To what end?

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Octavia Cordell eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The story is all about the artificiality of “story” as a way of organizing experience. Atwood‘s comment at the end is that the only “real” ending is that “John and Mary die,” suggesting that the different plot permutations (A, B, C, etc.) are simply different means of arriving at the same end. The extent to which the reader is “fooled” into empathizing with Mary (as with her suicide in option B or with John’s murder/suicide in option C) highlights the kind of narrative trickery Atwood wishes to expose. As readers, we may think that Atwood’s point is to show different points of view, but in fact her object is to show that any point of view is fundamentally false. When we get to the end of the story, there is no resolution, and we find that perhaps we have not been reading a story at all. Instead, we have been given a lesson in fiction writing: every plot is simply ”one thing after another,” where the real challenge is “the How and Why.”

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In "Happy Endings,"

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