Analysis: What's Up With the Ending?
This is certainly one of Fitzgerald's more amazing endings. It's a bit of a shocker – the once quiet, sedate Bernice ends up running off in the dead of night, after brutally cutting off her wicked cousin Marjorie's beautiful braids of hair, then rather maniacally giggles, "Scalp the selfish thing!" (128). The ending manages to accomplish a lot in terms of our readerly satisfaction; after all, we want Bernice to vanquish Marjorie, who really does deserve to be punished. It also communicates Fitzgerald's ultimate purpose in this story clearly. Bernice's hilariously savage act shows us that society, for all its show of politeness and etiquette, is really a sham, and an unsustainable one, at that. Underneath her layers of social training and her fine clothes, Bernice is driven by instinct, rather than manners.