Last week I posted my favorite fantasy last lines, and, as promised, this week, I’m posting my favorite fiction last lines. Definitely let me know what some of yours are in the comments!
1) “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”
A Tale of Two Cities ~ Charles Dickens
At last he finds rest. Ah, Sydney.
1984 ~ George Orwell
I am not quoting it here, for fear of spoiling the story, and before you google it, know this: THE LAST LINE IS A MAJOR SPOILER, so if you plan on reading 1984 and haven’t yet, do not look it up.
Anyway, I love this last line, because 1) it’s so simple and therefore so powerful and memorable, and 2) it’s so bleak. That may not sound like a good thing, and true, the story isn’t really a pick-me-up, but there’s something so honest and so realistic about it. Something that makes you face reality and really ponder the book, comparing it to what’s going on today.
3) The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky – seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness.
Heart of Darkness ~ Joseph Conrad
What a great—and haunting—way to end such a great yet haunting book. It ends in the same location where it began, bringing this short, powerful tale full circle. I love how the title comes from the last line (just a personal preference of mine), and I love how powerfully the setting conveys the mood.
4) “In the morning I saw the sons of Unamis happy and strong; and yet, before the night has come, have I lived to see the last warrior of the wise race of the Mohicans!”
The Last of the Mohicans ~ James Fenimore Cooper
Once again, the last line provides the title. This line is rather depressing, but it’s a good summary of the book, and I like the sentimental feel of it.
5) But, in spite of these deficiencies , the wishes, the hopes, the confidence, the predictions of the small band of true friends who witnessed the ceremony, were full answered in the perfect happiness of the union.
Emma ~ Jane Austen
A good ol’ happy ending, and I love that phrase “in spite of these deficiencies”. Unlike many romance novels today, Austen recognized that people are human and flawed and that no person or relationship is perfect—but, not to be dismal, she also acknowledges that there can still be “perfect happiness”.
6) I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?
Till We Have Faces ~ C. S. Lewis
One of my favorite Lewis quotes, which is saying a lot. And what a great ending, a question that there is really only one answer to—no other answer will suffice.