If on a winter's night a traveler
What’s Up With the Ending?
Now you are man and wife, Reader and Reader. A great double bed receives your parallel readings.
Ludmilla closes her book, turns off her light, puts her head back against the pillow, and says, "Turn off your light, too. Aren't you tired of reading?"
And you say, "Just a moment, I've almost finished If on a winter's night a traveler by Italo Calvino." (22.1-22.3)
At the end of the text, you (the character) find yourself married to Ludmilla and lying next to her in bed. It's a scene that you've fantasized about earlier in the book, but now it seems to have come true. Congratulations!
Throughout the book, the narrator has referred to Ludmilla as the "Other Reader," but in this scene, he refers to her as "Reader" for the first time. We're guessing this is because you have become intimate with and respectful of Ludmilla to the extent that she becomes an equal "Reader" with you. You've finally conquered her, for lack of a better word, in the same way that you've finally conquered If on a winter's night a traveler.
The scene is also refreshingly platonic, considering all of the sexual escapades you've either read about or engaged in throughout the book—you little devil, you. You might even breathe a sigh of relief to find that things have settled down in this brief final scene. Calvino has more or less openly told you that the story is ending this way because "a story could only end in two ways: having passed all the tests, the hero and heroine married, or else they died" (21.25). Since you're the main character, you should be happy that it's the former.
But even though you know that Calvino is throwing us the bone we've wanted throughout the entire novel, we can't help but find some comfort in it. In this closing scene, Calvino finally gives us some sense of satisfaction, and you (Shmooper) finish reading If on a winter's night a traveler at the exact same moment as the Reader inside the book.