Study Guide

Nothing What's Up With the Ending?

By Janne Teller

What's Up With the Ending?

At the end of Nothing, it's been eight years since Pierre Anthon's death in the sawmill fire. Class 7A has scattered to other, larger schools, as Danish kids do in 8th grade. Sofie was sent to a mental institution, and as far as we know, she's still there.

Agnes tells us that she sometimes takes out the matchbox full of ashes from the sawmill fire and thinks about meaning. She tells us how she and her classmates cried at Pierre Anthon's funeral, because they had both lost something and gained something. What they lost is apparent; it's all in the heap of meaning. But what they gained is harder to say. In fact, she never does say, exactly. But she's sure now that there is meaning in the world, and that meaning isn't something to fool around with.

Then, like the 7th grader she was back then, she says, "Is it, Pierre Anthon? Is it?" It's like there's a part of her that never grew up—a part still stuck in the "I know you are, but what am I?" mentality of a 12-year-old kid. Which leads us to wonder how much of an adult she actually is, even eight years later, and how much of her being an adult is, as Pierre Anthon predicted, just pretending.

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