Margaret Atwoods Happy Endings

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Margaret Atwood's "Happy Endings" is told in a fashion different from other short stories. Atwood tells the story as if she were a teacher showing the reader how to write a story. She directs the reader to choose a version of the story based on what kind of ending she wants the story to have…

Introduction

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. ...
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