Study Guide

Jacob Have I Loved What's Up With the Ending?

By Katherine Paterson

What's Up With the Ending?

In the last scene of the book, Louise assists at the birth of a set of twins. The first twin, a boy, is healthy and doing well. The second twin, a girl, is struggling. Louise sets to work to stop the baby from dying and in the process, forgets all about the healthy baby. Yes, this is the exact story that people tell about her and Caroline's birth. What are the odds?

Once Louise realizes this, she lets the family know not to forget about the firstborn and then goes back to saving the baby girl—she's the one who needs the help, after all. The firstborn can fend for himself. When she leaves, Louise has the following experience:

Hours later, walking home, my boots crunching on the snow, I bent my head backward to drink in the crystal stars. And clearly, as though the voice came from just behind me, I heard a melody so sweet and pure that I had to hold myself to keep from shattering:

I wonder as I wander out under the sky… (20.31-32)

In this moment, Louise finally forgives her sister. She understands it's not Caroline's fault that she was doted upon throughout their shared lives. In fact, she sees that Caroline is actually the more helpless of the two—Louise has always had the strength to make it on her own, while Caroline has always needed help from others. Caroline's gift might be her voice, but Louise will always have her strength. And that's pretty darn great.

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