To round out last week’s post 11 swoon-worthy first lines from novels I tried to hunt for fantastic last lines. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was much harder to find great last lines. It seems like people are always talking about how important a writer’s opening line is, but I find as a reader I am more often disappointed by the last line of a novel or short story and as a writer I find them much more difficult to craft. Also, it turns out that there aren’t that many lists on the internet, other than this one. Shocking!
Here are some of my favorites that I found. I don’t see as clear of a theme between this list as clearly as the last list. If I was going to categorize them, I’d say that about half sum up the whole narrative and the other half have a great sense of finality. Enjoy the list below and please share some of your favorites!
“Tomorrow, I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day.” Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind
“And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind from the sea.” Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca
“I saw them come out and I saw they were naked, unshy, beautiful, and fill of grace and I watched the naked women walk out of the sea” John Cheever, “Goodbye My Brother” (Full disclosure, this is a story not a novel.)
“I will never come back, and if I do there will be nothing left, there will be nothing left but the headstones to record what has happened; there will really be nothing at all.” John Cheever, The Wapshot Scandal
“He stayed that way for a long time and when he aroused himself and again looked out of the car window the town of Winesburg had disappeared and his life there had become but a background on which to paint the dreams of his manhood.” Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
“She was seventy-five and she was going to make some changes in her life.” Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections
“Oh, Jake,” Brett said, “we could have had such a damned good time together.” Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me. “Yes,” I said. “Isn’t it pretty to think so?” Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises
“I been away a long time.” Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” George Orwell, Animal Farm
“Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.” J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.” E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web