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.

~ by benmones on April 14, 2008.

One Response to “THE END (spoiler, don’t read…)”

  1. One aspect of the blog that caught my attention was the comment that Archie might have jumped in front of the bullet so that 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.” Granted I do not have a definite and impenetrable reason for Archie jumping in front of the bullet, but I would think that Samad more than Archie would use his heroics as a reason to jump in front of the buller.

    Samad is the character that constantly harps upon his brave and rebellious lineage and the family history of instigating the Indian revolution against the British. I would imagine that Samad would have dreams of glory and heroic acts and forever being remembered as the man that selflessly took a bullet – from his own son, no less- and receive national attention for his act of bravery. Which I am sure he would attribute to his family’s history of revolution.


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