Happy Endings Themes

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The "happy" couple in "Happy Endings," whether comprised of John and Mary, John and Madge, or Madge and Fred, enjoys the trappings of middle-class values and represents this element of society. The husband and wife hold professional jobs, earn good money, and make sound investments that afford them some of life's luxuries, such as nice vacations and a relaxing retirement. Even in the more troublesome aspects of these stories, the couples manifest their middle-class values. In version C, John's marital crisis is brought on by the fact that he feels his life is settled and dull. This mid-life angst drives him to attempt to boost his self-esteem through an affair with a much-younger woman.

Despite the middle-class values that permeate the piece, only in version F does Atwood frankly address them. "If you think this is all too bourgeois, make John a revolutionary and Mary a counterespionage...

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This section contains 664 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Happy Endings Study Guide
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Short Stories for Students
Happy Endings from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.