Analysis: What's Up With the Ending?
It's no secret that we don't get a happy ending with this one. At least not an obviously happy ending, that is.
After Papa's funeral, Rob feels compelled to go and visit the grave to "give a goodnight to Papa, and be alone with him" (15.48). He tells us:
The bugs were out and their singing was all around me. Almost like a choir. I got to the fresh grave, all neatly mounded and pounded. Somewhere down under all that Vermont clay was my father, Haven Peck. Buried deep in the land he sweated so hard on and longed to own so much. And now it owned him. (15.48)
Pretty moving stuff, right? But what do we make of it?
On the one hand, it's pretty sad that Papa never did realize his dream of owning the farm, and had to pass the dream on to Rob to (we hope) fulfill someday. At the same time, though, there's something really fitting about the fact that now, at the end of all that longing and sweating, he and the land are finally at peace together. Honestly, Shmoop isn't really sure if being owned by the land is a good thing or a bad thing here. What do you think?
As Rob walks away from Papa's grave, we're definitely sad, but Shmoop at least has the feeling that Rob is going to be okay. After everything he's been through, and what with turning his beloved sow into chow (yeah, we said it), he's made the transition to manhood. What that means, for Rob, is that he's ready to face up to whatever comes next. And with that kind of attitude, while times may be tough, he's sure to get through.
P.S. If you really want to know what happens next, you can read A Part of the Sky, a sequel written and published by Robert Newton Peck in 1997, nearly twenty-five years after A Day No Pigs Would Die first came out.