Study Guide

The Danish Girl What's Up With the Ending?

By David Ebershoff

What's Up With the Ending?

Lili of the Valley of the Shadow of Death

Einar successfully transitions into Lili. Yay.

Lili gets one last procedure and dies. Whoa… Where are our tissues?

The ending to The Danish Girl is actually very vague. We're not told flat-out "Lili dies, y'all" but all the signs of her demise are there. Greta warns her so many times against having the final procedure that she might as well be waving a giant foreshadowing flag.

It's also seems that when women at the Municipal Clinic are sick and dying, they don't know they're dying. "She doesn't know" (22.125), Professor Bolk says about the girl who will die and donate her uterus to Lili. Because of this, we can assume that no one would tell Lili she's living out her final days, either, though in her morphine-induced haze, Lili hears Carlisle and Anna talk about her infection and it doesn't sound good.

Here's the real kicker, though: Lili is attacked by a kite on the final page, and we all know that kites are harbingers of death and destruction. Oh, you don't know about that? Hop on over to the "Symbols" section to bring yourself up to speed. You may never choose to fly a kite again.