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Happy Endings: A Warning To Women

821 words - 4 pages

In Margaret Atwood’s short story, “Happy Endings” she establishes a meeting between a man named John and woman named Mary. She lets the reader choose between six hypothetical situations that could occur after their initial meeting, but she notes that that option A is the one to try if you prefer a happy ending. In Option A John and Mary are the “perfect couple”. They both have good jobs, they marry and then have kids when they can afford it, they retire and both find meaningful hobbies and then they die. The other five options are paralleled to option A however Atwood’s portrayal of the women in the options provides an alternate meaning of the story.
Option B strays away from the perfect happy ending and sets up a relationship of unrequited love between Mary and John. John uses Mary “for selfish pleasure and ego gratification of a tepid kind.”(Atwood 549) His uncaring nature is revealed to Mary but that doesn’t stop her from treasuring their twice a week meeting arrangement in which she cooks dinner and then has sex with him. Mary doesn’t necessarily enjoy the constant sex she has with John but she feels that “if they do it often enough surely he’ll get used to her,” (Atwood 549) .John shows no interest, however Mary holds on to shreds of optimism thinking that John will come around. Mary’s friend reveals that John was on a date with a woman. The fact that John cares enough about the other woman to take her on date to a restaurant gets to Mary. Mary then “collects all the pills and aspirins she can find and takes them with a half a bottle of sherry.”(Atwood 550) She commits suicide with the hopes that John will come find her before the lethal combination of alcohol and medicine kills her but of course he doesn’t.
Options C-F provide other options of what could happen between Mary and John. In C it’s John who is in love Mary even though he is a married man. Mary is a young woman who is love with a young man named James who is “not yet ready settle down.” but “has a motorcycle and a fabulous record collection.”(Atwood550). Mary sleeps with John because she feels bad for him but one day John finds James and Mary together and kills them both and himself.” Options D and E describe what...

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