Plots, settings, and even characters fade from our memory in time, but endings can remain with us forever, if they are unforgettable…
(In no particular order.)
1. Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known. – (Sydney Carton’s unspoken thoughts before being guillotined.)
2. Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Lastly, she pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, in the after-time, be herself a grown woman; and how she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood; and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland of long ago; and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days.
3. George Orwell, Animal Farm
The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.
4. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther
At twelve o’clock Werther breathed his last. The presence of the steward, and the precautions he had adopted, prevented a disturbance; and that night, at the hour of eleven, he caused the body to be interred in the place which Werther had selected for himself. The steward and his sons followed the corpse to the grave. Albert was unable to accompany them. Charlotte’s life was despaired of. The body was carried by labourers. No priest attended.
5. Albert Camus, The Stranger
For all to be accomplished, for me to feel less lonely, all that remained to hope was that on the day of my execution there should be a huge crowd of spectators and that they should greet me with howls of execration.
6. Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
A LAST NOTE FROM YOUR NARRATOR. I am haunted by humans.
7. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
Before reaching the final line, however, he had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.
8. Bernhard Schlink, The Reader
As soon as I returned from New York, I donated Hanna’s money in her name to the Jewish League Against Illiteracy. I received a short, computer-generated letter in which the Jewish League thanked Ms. Hanna Schmitz for her donation. With the letter in my pocket, I drove to the cemetery, to Hanna’s grave. It was the first and only time I stood there.
9. F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
10. Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame
…The other skeleton, which held this [one] in so close an embrace, was that of a man. It was noticed that his spine was curved, his head close between his shoulder-blades, and one leg shorter than the other. Moreover, his neck was not broken, and it was evident that he had not been hanged. The man to whom these bones belonged must therefore have come hither himself and died here. When an attempt was made to loose him from the skeleton which he clasped, he crumbled into dust.
Which is your favorite?