THE END (spoiler, don’t read…)
I thoroughly disliked the end of the novel. Not only did I think the end was a bit contrived, but it seemed like Smith had to have a story book ending. As much as I would love to spend a (maybe 6) blog(s) ranting about the inadequate ending, I want to talk about something else. I am about to spoil the rest of the novel. So if you still haven't read it, go back to your homepage, dear reader. I didn't fully understand why Archie jumps in front of the bullet at the FutureMouse conference at the end of the book. The entire story our protagonist had incredible problems making decisions. He flipped coins his whole life to decide his fate, and at some points the coins didn't even land heads or tails (the pinball machine). Suddenly, it seems that Archie is able to make a concrete decision which would effectively end his life. I find it interesting that he had trouble with such insignificant problems as what to eat for lunch, yet is immediately sure in an instant that he wants to die for someone else. It made me question what type of value that Archie has placed on his life. Are his every day actions more important to him than his own life? After finishing the book, I felt like I could finally paint an accurate picture of Archie's personality. It was as if he lived one moment at a time; he could see the trees in the forest but not the forest in the trees. This also invokes the theme of the past that is ever present throughout the work. Coming to this realization partly helped me understand why he took the bullet for Dr. Sick, a man he tried to kill earlier in the work. Maybe in taking a bullet, he could make a new name for himself, shedding away all the embarrassment of his past. His quick and heroic action would make people forget about his 13th place finish in the Olympics decades before. I still didn't really buy my own reasoning. It does not follow a consistent narrative path at all. Out of nowhere, a major part of his friendship with Samad becomes unraveled. The man who's murder brought the longtime pals together was illegitimate. It seemed logical that Archie might have to shoot Dr. Sick, putting him out for good. After all, he was a Nazi scientist who seemingly escaped from the allies. I was speaking to a friend outside of the class who had read the book, who loved the ending. He said that it was logical that Archie jumped in front of a bullet, completely off a whim. He wanted to protect Millat and Samad; without Archie not pressing charges, Millat would be in a lot of trouble. It would ruin Samad's life, both of his sons would become failures in his eyes. I don't buy that; I don't see how Archie could make a snap judgment so quickly in a life full of confusion. In my humble opinion, Archie had no idea what he was doing. Once again being the bumbling idiot, he took a bullet when he shouldn't have. It was just another example of him messing up, lucky for him it worked out for the positive this time.