Last Words


How do we end things? For the answer to this question I looked where I look for answers to most questions, for better or worse: whatever book is nearest. How do we as humans end our books? With despair? With relief? With issues? Any differently than we begin or middle them? Let’s take a look at a random sampling... I encourage you to try this with your nearest books as well. I only found a couple books that gave away an ending, and I resisted the temptation to include them here. I am giving Studs Terkel more than just the final sentence... because I feel like it.


With the extraordinary control you exercise over your life when you are your own boss, you are finally truly free to be your own woman.
The Self- Employed Woman, Jeannette Scollard, 1985


The knife came down, missing him by inches, and he took off.
Catch 22, Joseph Heller, 1961 (2004 paperback edition)


Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?
Invisible Man, 1947 (1994 edition)


The Jungle, Upton Sinclair, 1995 Barnes & Noble edition


And there was a small number of people who felt the system was lousy. You have to change it. The kids come along and they want to change it, too. But they don't seem to know what to put in its place. I'm not so sure I know, either. I do think it has to be responsive to peoples' needs. And it has to be done by democratic means, if possible. Whether it's possible or not - the power of money is such today, I just don't know. Some of the kids call me a relic of the thirties. Well, I am.
Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression, Studs Terkel


...would I say yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.
Ulysses, James Joyce, 1914 (1961 edition) *note: this is only the last few lines of the last sentence, which spans the entire final chapter


He raised his hand and over the desolate earth he traced in space the sign of the dollar.
Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, 1957 (undated paperback edition)


Without doubt, in the darkness, some great angel with outspread wings stood waiting for his soul.
Les Miserables, Victor Hugo, 1987 edition


It is only because of its (WWII's) potential size that it may, alas, prove to be civilization's ruin.
Paris Was Yesterday, Janet Flanner, September 3, 1939


I lit a cigarette and walked off into the skyline.
The Sophie Horowitz Story, Sarah Schulman, 1984


"But when I imagine myself as a character in a novel... well, I think I'm pretty interesting, kind of offbeat, intriguing, entertaining."
Fat Man (short story included in Queen of Puerto Rico), Joe Frank, 1993


You may just find some images of fires...storms...waves...lifesavers... and vessels gone by.
Stormy Disasters: Great lakes Shipwrecks, Wes Oleszewski, 2001


My hope is that, in this quickly changing world with its rapid advance in knowledge, I have done more good than harm to an important part of our cultural heritage.
Recollections: A life in bookbinding, Bernard Middleton, 2000


"Oh, my girls, however long you may live, I can never wish you a greater happiness than this!"
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott


"And here is Toto, too. And oh, Aunt Em! I'm so glad to be at home again."
The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum


The Krewe of Proteus parades Monday night, setting the stage for Mardi Gras day which has been graphically described in the preceding pages.
Mardi Gras Day, 1948


They moved him into a brick house, gave him ample food, clothes to wear, whiskey to drink, and all the tobacco he could use.
Mysterious Marie Laveau, Voodoo Queen and Folk Tales Along the Mississippi


When the rest of the solar system is dead, and the descendants of humans long ago emigrated or extinct, the comets will still be here.
Comet, Carl Sagan


Be gay. Do your part. Don't be a gloom.
Tiffany's Table Manners for Teenagers


Not by combining together, to protect the injustice and cruelty, and making a common capital of sin, is this Union to be saved,-- but by repentance, justice, and mercy; for not surer is the eternal law by which the millstone sinks in the ocean, than that stronger law, by which injustice and cruelty shall bring on nations the wrath of Almighty God!
Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe


The weight of this sad time we must obey; Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest hath borne most:
We that are young shall never see so much, nor live so long.
King Lear, William Shakespeare


The traveler who visits Cleves will still find a tombstone in its church with a knight carved on it, and a swan sitting at its feet.
Finest Legends of the Rhine, Wilhelm Ruland


I been there before.
Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain


In addition to the features and resources already described in this appendix, other products, services, and resources are available from Microsoft and other organizations.
Getting Results with Microsoft Word 97


Thus held they funeral for Hector, Tamer of Horses.
The Iliad


One can't help feeling that Webb would have been a happier man and a greater architect if he had helped himself to more strawberries and cream.
The Victorian Country House, Mark Girouard


Lastly, she pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, in the ater-time, be herself a grown woman, and how she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood; and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland of long ago; and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child- life, and the happy summer days.
Alice's Adventures in Wonder-Land, Lewis Carroll


I can't keep that up: if I'm being watched to that extent, I start by getting snappy, then unhappy, and finally I twist my heart round again, so that the bad is on the outside and the good is on the inside and keep on trying to find a way of becoming what I would so like to be, and what I could be if... there weren't any other people living in the world.
Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank



- Juliayn Coleman