Sad, Happy, But NOT Sappy.


* This is a post I wrote awhile back on an old blog and figured I’d share.

            I prefer a heart wrenching and tragic ending to a saccharine fairy tale. If that makes me “emo” as the middle school students that I counsel would say- so be it. My favorite color is black. I love the rain. And I heart sad endings. Ambiguous endings work too.

“Legends of the Fall” is one of my all time favorite movies. For those of you that haven’t seen it- SPOILER ALERT- Three brothers fall in love with the same woman (Susannah, played by Julia Ormond) The first brother is her fiance but dies during World War I, the second (Brad Pitt who’s name is Tristan in the movie) pulverizes her heart, and she kills herself while married to the third brother. Tristan writes her a letter from the sea which says “All we had is dead. As I am dead. Marry another.” When he finally returns, Susannah is married to Tristan’s eldest brother Alfred. She says to him “Forever turned out to be too long.”


            One of my favorite poems is “Lady Lazarus” by Sylvia Plath. An excerpt:


Is an art, like everything else,

I do it exceptionally well.”


            Fortunately my musician husband is a fellow “emo” when it comes to music. We chose to dance to “The Blower’s Daughter” by Damien Rice on our wedding day. Patrick made sure to ask the DJ to cut off the last part of the song- “I can’t take my mind off of you…’til I find somebody new.”


           The other day I stumbled upon an online survey- “The Three Types of Novel Endings.” Out of the 1,740 participants, 41% preferred happy endings but only 2.2% enjoyed sad endings. I assume that the rest favored cliff hangers.

Yesterday I asked 19 co-workers if they preferred a happy or a sad ending. Nine of them said “happy,” six said “both happy and sad” and four said “sad.” Several also added that they enjoy “cliffhangers.”

Kelly, a friend and co-worker, mentioned that she “likes endings that are a step up (for the character) from where they were.”

Another friend and co-worker, Kevin, explained that he prefers “ambiguous endings and enjoys discovering what happens to the minor characters based on the actions or inactions of the main characters.”


            Do you prefer happy, sad or ambiguous?


4 thoughts on “Sad, Happy, But NOT Sappy.

  1. I get a bit bothered by endings that are too happy. I’m generally feeling good about a book if there’s been pain, and if the character is still dealing with things at the end. So, as terrible as I made that sound, I would say sad, with you.

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