In addition to the main characters, the story versions are connected by other characters, such as Madge and Fred. This helps give "Happy Endings" a sense of continuity, rather than the feeling that it is six separate stories. For example, at the end of story B, John marries Madge. In story C there is a bigger age difference between Mary and John. John is still married to Madge, and this time he has an affair with a younger Mary. In C, John and Madge are married in the beginning, but Madge ends up with Fred at the end. D is about Fred and Madge's life together. In this way, the story versions continue along an imaginary sort of time line.
In addition to the stories being connected through the characters, Atwood often refers back to story A. When she wants to show that the characters will live happily ever after until they die, she writes a line like, "everything continues as in A."(Story B) In fact, at the end of each story the characters, though not always the same characters, end up living out their lives like story A. In this way Atwood uses parallelism to call attention to the fact that the stories all end the same.
Ultimately, in all the versions of the story, the main characters die at the end. ...
So while in a way parts of "Happy Endings" seem fantastical, it is actually quite realistic and even a little dark. Atwood drives the point home that it doesn't really matter what happens in a person's life, the end is the same for everyone.
What happens before the end, then, is a person's life story. While it may not really matter how a person lives his life, this is the more interesting story to be told. Atwood must then truly consider love to be a driving force in one's life. Love is a theme that is prevalent throughout all of the stories. It seems to be at the root of whether or not a character can be happy, which leads one to believe that love is the basis for everything.
In story A, the "happy ending," Mary and John are in love. They get married, are successful in their jobs, have a healthy sex life, raise a nice family, and live happily together until they die. Story B, however, is quite different. Mary is in love with John, but John is not in love with her. Unbeknownst to Mary he is in love with Madge. This leads Mary to act in ways that she normally might not. She has sex with John not because she wants to necessarily, but because she believes that if she does he will eventually realize that he needs her. She cleans up after him, waits for him for days, and over time makes herself very unhappy. In a desperate attempt to win his affection, she finally kills herself. It is love that caused her to behave so irrationally. Unlike story A, where love was the source of great joy and success, love in this story was the cause of pain and suffering. So while love may be the basis for everything, it is not always necessarily a good thing, as people so often assume.
Story C shows an even darker side of love, and its inevitable connection with