Discussion 1

The Discussion page is where we can benefit from an open forum of shared ideas and comments. Discussion A is due Wednesday. Discussion B is due Sunday. Comment respectfully.

A. “Happy Endings’ is grouped in the textbook with humorous and satirical stories. Do you agree with that grouping? Explain your position.  Wednesday

B. Answer another student’s Question 1, or respond to another student’s Discussion A.  Sunday



48 thoughts on “Discussion 1

  1. As I read the first short version of the story i thought to myself this sounds like every woman’s fairy tale fantasy where everything they ever imagined turned out perfectly. As you continue to read the different versions of the story it becomes, sadly, more realistic. I believe the way the stories were grouped, some funny some not so funny, really tied all of the different versions together because no one life turns out exactly the way they want it to there are always obstacles to climb . Basically you could pick how you would want the story to go because either way you choose they all end with them dying at the end. Happy or not so happy no one lives forever.

    1. I think you really hit the main subject of what the writer was trying to show readers. I agree with you that life never turns out the way someone has planned it to. Things change, people die, and there is always an obstacle in the way!

      1. Great observations! How could you apply this idea of unexpected obstacles to how a writer makes a story, or how you make your own essays?

  2. No, I do not agree with the groupings. In the beginning, groups A, B, and C is all related to John and Mary.
    A. John and Mary having an easy life with a happy ending. This section does not have very much detail, just plots stated out one after the other.
    B. Mary is in love with John, but John doesn’t feel the same way and in the end Mary commits suicide. This section of the groups has details about how foolish both characters can be in the story. Mary falling for someone that isn’t thankful and respectful. John using Mary as a material and just playing with her mind, not committed to a relationship.
    C. John is in love with Mary, but Mary is in love with James. John is very jealous and kills Mary, James and himself in the end.
    Then in section D and E the story suddenly jumps to Fred and Madge. This should all be related to John and Mary, having satirical stories about Fred and Madge does not flow with the groupings and makes the whole story like “why did Atwood add these two sections?” When the beginning and end of this story mentions only the characters of John and Mary. Eventually in each section, John and Mary are both going to die in different circumstances. No one lives forever.

    1. I completely agree with your take on the groupings. While the stories are generally the same concepts, they do not all belong together. I think that they work together fairly well, however the author could have done a better job with the grouping and or making the stories correspond a little better.

      1. These observations about the groupings and the names do make you ask “what is Atwood doing?” One response is she doesn’t know what she is doing and should have done it better. A response like that would lead you into an essay in which you would need to show what “better” means. But what if you assume that she did exactly what she wanted for a reason? What is the effect of these groupings or this weird insertion of Fred and Madge?

    2. I agree with your idea on the groupings. I thought the last ones were sort of out of nowhere. When I read Part A and the beginning of Part B I thought the author was going to go through several different life scenarios of John and Mary that are similar to the society; I was wrong. I wonder if she kept the same few characters that she began with that her point of the story would be stronger. I think if she kept with John and Mary I would like it better.

    3. I disagree with that, if only because it seems to me that the point of stories appears to be that the ending is the unifying theme, not the people or situation that preceded it. The idea appears to be that in the end the two people had a relatively happy, or at least not terrible life and then died, so the characters that get you to that point don’t matter because the outcome is always the same.

    4. I agree that the groupings make this short story complicated, but have you considered looking at this author’s piece like a work of art? Maybe an abstract piece? The author obviously had her own agenda when writing it and although we can’t ask her to clarify what was up with the last two stories, we are at liberty to make up our own interpretations of her “art”. We can use our imagination to explain to ourselves why she brought the other couple into the piece. By writing each interaction so briefly, she has basically given us the “paint brush” to add details that will help us understand what she was trying to do.

  3. I enjoyed this short story. What I really liked was the satire of every story having that all american ending. It reminded me of children’s books. There are ups and downs but the story always ends with that happy ending. And we know life is not that way.

    1. I agree with you that life does not always end that way. Like in the story where Mary kills herself because of how unhappy she was, thus making her story come to an unhappy ending. John was able to continue his life, making it a happy ending with Madge.

        1. My definition of an all-American ending is basically what a commercial would lead you to believe is success and happiness. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, get married, buy a home, drive nice cars, have 2.5 children…

  4. I found the story funny, so I agree with the humorous part. I also agree that the story was a satire in that it made a mockery of normal living and people’s obsession with things that are out of control. I found it especially humorous that they described John and Mary’s sex life as “stimulating and challenging.” Those words to me better describe a crossword puzzle than a sex life.

    1. Do you mean people are obsessed with things that are out of control, or that their obsession is out of control? I also really like Atwood’s word choices because they make you think, as they say. I mean, I did try to imagine what those words meant as descriptions of sex. If the words were describing a crossword puzzle, I would hardly notice them.

  5. I think a happy ending is what someone wants it to be. For me, the fact that they all end in both Mary and John dead does not necessarily mean that it’s not a happy ending. If the two people lived a happy life together, then there death isn’t a sad one. The stories that had endings like where Mary killed herself makes it an unhappy ending for her, but apparently still a happy ending for John who got to have the “A” life with Madge.

      1. Yes, I do think that the main purpose of the stories are to show that they can all have a happy ending, no matter what it took to get there.

    1. Everyone get the “A” life if they live to be old! I think that is what all the characters really wanted in the end. I agree death isn’t sad if you end up dying with the one person you love. That sound pretty amazing to me. Live a good life and everything good has to come to a end sooner or later.

      1. I agree with you, that dying with the one you love sounds amazing and not at all a bad ending to life. As sappy, or chick flick-y, as it is, The Notebook is a great example. They died together, in each other’s arms. That was a happy, and beautiful, ending.

    2. I think your thought process on the topic. I agree with your statements about Part A and that it is considered a happy ending in a sense. I can’t see a life situation ending much better then Part A.

  6. I didn’t find “Happy Endings” to be very humorous at all. I felt like the stories were completely messed up, only story A gave me faith in humanity. All of the other stories were horrible up on a moral level. The characters acted selfish, only thinking about their own current desires, treating others like disposable trash. When the characters have some moral stability they are killed by a tidal wave! I guess the stories could be classified as a satire because they are so ridiculous with large extremes, but I would personally make place them under drama.

    1. I’d be curious to have you and Adam talk about your totally different opinion then. Your focus on the ethical content of the stories makes me wonder what you think the point could be of depicting such despicable characters. And I also wonder, if you filled in the blanks (the how and why), could these selfish actions be explained sufficiently to give you sympathy for the characters?

  7. This short story was very depressing but true. The first part (Part A) was of course, the ideal happy life. But that one is not always true, and the other ending options were more realistic to the world we live in. The endings seemed to be happy for at least one of the two people in the stories, either the female or the male would move on to the next ending. In any of the endings that the reader could choose there is not one perfect life story. All stories come to a sad ending, that is just the way life goes.

    1. I would be curious to know what you would consider a happy ending to life or a story. Your comment also makes me kind of curious about the term “perfect life story” and what that might look like.

  8. After reading “Happy Endings” I definitely agree with the grouping. There is a morbid type of humor in the different endings. When the author goes from the happy fairytale ending to unintentional suicide and then on to adultery and trysts there is a sense of irony in the endings. Adding the Canadian humor and blatant truth that Mary and John will both die at the end just reenforced the sick humor that the author has.

      1. Under F, “Remember, this is Canada. You’ll still end up with an A, though between you may get a lustful brawling saga of passionate involvement, a chronicle of our times, sort of.” Canadians tend to say A a lot.

  9. I found this story very amusing and loved the layout. The author seemed a bit, towards the end, like a smart ass and this made me want to read more. As for whether or not this short story should be grouped in Humorous and Satirical, I agree. Miriam-Webster defines Satirical as, “A way of using humor to show that someone or something is foolish…” It goes on to say, “…humor that shows the weaknesses or bad qualities of a person…” (Miriam-Webster.com) In that case, I can definitely relate this story to satirical. The author exposes extremely bad qualities in John and Mary, over and over again. The irony of the story is that it always ends the same, “John and Mary die” (447).

    Work Cited
    “Satire.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2014. .
    Atwood, Margaret. “Happy Endings.” Literature and the Writing Process. Ed. Elizabeth McMahan, Susan X Day, Robert Funk and Linda Coleman. 10th Edition. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, Inc, 2014. 445-447. Print.

    1. Diligent citing! But you don’t have to go so far as Works Cited in this discussion section. 🙂
      I like how the definition highlights the weakness/bad aspect of satirical. But I also feel like questioning that definition. Does satire always point to the bad? Hm.

    2. I really like your assessment of the story. Smart ass is the best way to put it and you’re right, it makes you want to read more. In order to find the humor in it I think it requires just a little bit of dark humor and mild ornery. I am personally filled to the brim with ornery. Good post!

    3. I also thought this story sounded very satirical in the way it was laid out. The author does indeed sound like an interesting sort, one that must have an interesting and realistic sense of humor.

  10. I greatly enjoyed this reading, given the basic plot was unbelievably simple; john dies, Mary dies. It is a completely human and realistic ending, it’s the point that was made in the text; any other ending is fake and defies the mortality of humanity. I liked how they tied into one another, until the end. I think the author placed that last rather outlandish story in the text to show how every ending is the same; John dies, Mary dies. It doesn’t matter the name, character, or life that they live while they are together, every ending is the same because we all are given the same ending, John dies, Mary dies. Sadly this is everyones fate, which I think was the authors point, to show the mortality we are all sentenced to.

    1. If it is the author’s point to show the mortality we are all sentenced to, what is the purpose of the last sentence? What if the story is less about real life and more about stories themselves?

  11. I thouroughly enjoyed “Happy Endings” and completely agree with the groupings that Atwood did because it shows that life isn’t always about the happy endings and in the end no matter what the ending or who was with who, simply put, John dies and Mary dies. Part A is what you would expect from a fairy tale or a television show which is very unrealistic. The rest of the parts are more realistic and believable.

  12. “Happy Endings” was an interesting group of short stories. I thought Part A was a fairytale type of life that two people would dream to live. It wasn’t until the end of the story when I realized the same thing that the author did, everyone dies. Endings aren’t so happy when everyone is dead but sometimes the beginning of a story is the most interesting part. I didn’t necessarily like the different groupings other then the fact that they were all realistic. No matter what your own life story is, we all end up dead.

    1. I totally agree with you, the beginnings are more interesting. I noticed that in the end of each section, someone will have a happy ending which is entitled to “everything continues as in A,” but A isn’t realistic in today’s life of living. The other parts were so intense to read, but with the way society is right now, people may do that to others. In the end, we all end up dead is correct.

  13. “Happy Endings” by Margaret Artwood sees to fit just fine in the grouping of humorous and satirical stories. Humorous is an interesting word because what usually comes to mind is a joke or funny story. But in the story of life, humor is not always so obvious. You have to learn how to find humor in all situations no matter how difficult they seem. Real life is more complicated than a funny story or joke.

    1. I completely agree. Real life is greatly more difficult and if you can find humor in the little things, then that’s all that matters. After all, if you can’t find some small part of humor in the crazy thing we call life, then after all what is the point of living it?

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