Study Guide

Having Our Say What's Up With the Ending?

By Sarah and A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth

What's Up With the Ending?

Because Having Our Say is structured as a loose memoir rather than a novel, there is no giant climactic event that sews everything up—no crazy action scene or self-revelation or pizza party or anything.

On the surface, it ends the same way it began—with Sadie and Bessie Delany, now old women, living a simple life in the suburbs of Mount Vernon, NY. What a rollicking good time. But this surface-level analysis misses all the good stuff under the surface, as if you ordered a piece of chocolate pie but only ate the crust. Like, are you insane?

You see, the final two chapters show that Sadie and Bessie are becoming a bit more like each other. First we see Sadie stand up to a bunch of gang-affiliated kids who are loitering outside their house, which is usually a task for Bodacious Bessie. Similarly, we see Bessie changing too, softening a tad and bringing her a bit closer to her sister's live-and-let-live mentality.

This reaffirms the fact that each sister is the other's "reason to keep living" (7.32.4). We can talk about the book's take on racism, classism, politics, and American history until the cows come home (and take a little nap, and then hit up Starbucks, and then go back to work, and then…) but the core of the book is the bond between these two maiden ladies. It's only fitting, then, that we close this epic-sized family history with an ode to two sisters who were always there for each other.