by Jonathan Franzen
Analysis: What's Up With the Ending?
Well, it's your classic Jane Austin ending, folks: everyone gets married! OK, no, that's not exactly true. The modern variation looks like something more like this: Walter and Patty get back together, after a viciously bitter separation. (So not so much of a wedding as an un-separation.) Walter and Richard are friends again, which is really nice to know. (Joey and Connie are happily married, yes, but they've been married for half the book, and that started off on a pretty weird note, as you'll surely agree.)
No, but seriously, for a book with so much strife and dissolution of relationships, this ending is sort of unbelievably happy. Still, somehow it works – or at least we think it does. Walter and Patty see that, despite their difficulties, after everything they've been through they are truly a well-matched couple. Each brings the other back from the brink of despair. They move to New York to be closer to their friends and family, leaving behind a memorial to Walter's lost love. To be honest, we have a hard time reading this ending without choking up a little.