For the past week or so in my Culture Clash class, we have been reading the critically acclaimed graphic novel, American Born Chinese, a story of a second generation immigrant finding himself and becoming comfortable with his racial identity.
Overall, I loved it. Great book, great story, enjoyed the comical aspects with the underlying message. But when the main character Jin “finds himself,” the book is basically over. We see no growth from Jin or his best friend or anyone, other than the Monkey King, who denied their true selves and made their way to true acceptance. Frankly, an ending with two friends in a coffee shop just being like, “Yeah, I accept my Chinese heritage,” isn’t an ending. Frankly, it’s lazy, and after an amazing story, I would expect a stelar ending.
I understand the symbolism of the ending, but frankly, I want to see a little more. How does Jin accept his heritage? How does Wei Chen go back on the right path? It doesn’t feel like a real ending, but at the same time it doesn’t set up for a sequel for those questions to be answered.
This happens a lot in modern literature and films, sometimes intentional to be left for the viewers to decide, and sometimes to set up a sequel, but when a story comes to a close, I expect at least something of an explanation.
Perhaps the most famous of a complete lack of explanation is the show The Sopranos, which is well known for simply a black screen as a battle is about to occur.
I’m sure that it was done intentionally, so that people could theorize or what have you, but it’s just lazy on the writer’s part. People want an ending, which I don’t think is too much to ask.
Then there’s the horror film The Devil Inside, which is infamous for the ending simply being a link to “read up on the case,” making it known as perhaps the worst ending in history.
Is it really that hard to make a decent ending? I get it, sometimes the villain dies and there’s not much else to tell, but I feel like many want to know the rest of the story. What was their life like after the story told? How did they change? What was their personal closure in the long run (I’m looking at you The Shining)?
Every story has a beginning, middle, and end, so to all writers, don’t forget the end.