Non Resolution In Short Story

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If life is full of the unknown, should not the stories that represent and examine the human experience reflect that? The ambiguity of a story with a non-resolution is important in capturing the uncertainness of living, allowing a sense of intellectual satisfaction in knowing that the characters that represent us also face our inability to know the future. It also permits us to observe our own lives when reflecting on our own motivations for interpreting the incomplete ending in a certain way. Three short-stories that capture this practice nicely are John Updike’s “A&P”, Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”, and Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” By examining the non-resolution of these …show more content…
Unlike Sammy of “A&P”, Connie’s future in the end of “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” is a true matter of life and death. While Sammy faced insecurity, Connie was facing the possible end of her life when Arnold Friend comes to adduct her from her home while her family is out at a barbeque. The story ends with Connie stepping out of the screen door towards her abductor, because he has threatened to kill her family if she does not come willingly. The final line reads, “”My sweet little blue-eyed girl”, he said in a half-sung sigh that had nothing to do with her brown eyes but was taken up just the same by the vast sunlit reaches of the land behind him and on all sides of him – so much land that Connie had never seen before and did not recognize except to know that she was going to it” (Oates 663). Does this unknown land the Connie knows she will arrive at represent death or rape? It seems very likely that it represents both, however we as an audience are left without absolute confidence to know what happens. This is where the use of the unknown ending becomes significant because it represents the uncertainty family and friends face in real-life when a loved one is abducted or goes missing. The audience at least knows who Connie is leaving with, but her family will have no clues to go on because Arnold makes sure Connie hangs up …show more content…
In many instances, I think this statement is true of most authors who utilize non-resolution as a form of resolution in their stories. As we learned in “A&P”, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” and “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”, the unknown ending can help the reader experience what the characters are feeling, bringing a deeper level of meaning to a work. Also, analyzing the story’s open-ending further assists us understanding more about ourselves and our society. Overall, this internal involvement with the character along with our reflection helps prove that unknown ending is a noteworthy literary device that can be very effective when used correctly. In all, this makes the non-resolution a resolution because it represents the reality of life. The next time you write or read and are unsure of the use of the unknown ending, think about the experiences of your life if they were put into a story. Ask yourself would you rather the reader know your story on a superficial level by knowing the facts, or would you rather they relate to what you were feeling mentally and come out experiencing the moment as you would? If the work and your reader would be enhanced by the non-resolution, then your resolution is

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