(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Because “Fitting Ends” is about a man trying to fit all the loose ends of his life together into a coherent story, it does not have a chronological plot structure. Instead it revolves around various stories the narrator, Stewart, recalls from his childhood. The first such story, about his brother Del, which appears in a book titled More Tales of the Weird and Supernatural, recounts three different appearances of a ghostly figure walking on the railroad tracks near the nearly deserted village of Pyramid, Nebraska, and then falling on his knees in front of a train. A few years after these supposed sightings began, Del, who was seventeen at the time, was killed by a train while walking along the tracks.

About a year before he died, Del saved Stewart’s life. The two brothers had gone to the top of the grain elevator to fix a hole. While Stewart was clowning around dancing and singing, he slipped, but Del caught his arm and pulled him back up. However, when the boys’ father grabbed Stewart to punish him for his foolishness, Stewart said that Del had pushed him. The boys’ father believed the lie because Del had a history of violence against his brother; he had just returned from a special program for juvenile delinquents after trying to strangle Stewart. When they were younger, Del had thrown a can of motor oil at Stewart’s head and pushed him out of a moving pickup truck. The boys’ parents never find out about Stewart’s lie.


(The entire section is 433 words.)