View Full Version : Most Tragic Ending You've Ever Read (contains spoilers)

04-17-2009, 07:45 AM
Lots of stories have tragic endings. I've only read a few of them. For me, two stand out: "The Pearl" and "Lord Jim".

At the end of The Pearl, Kino and his wife have lost their own child who was shot dead by those wishing to steal the pearl, and they return to their home where Kino finally throws the pearl back into the sea. I liked how the author described their shadows as two towers of darkness ahead of them, symbolizing their darkest times are ahead while their brightest days are behind them.

The final chapter of "Lord Jim" continues on from the death of Jim's friend Dain Warris who is killed by the pirate Brown and his men as a result of Cornelius' betrayal. Brown who had been promised a safe escape path by Jim breaks his word by slaughtering Dain and his party, sealing Jim's fate. Now knowing he can never truely escape his past moment of failure on the Patna earlier in the book, Jim decides not to defend himself or flee. Ignoring his own wife's pleas, he goes to Doramin, Dain's father and allows the grieving father to shoot and kill him.

What was the most tragic endings you ever read?

04-17-2009, 07:58 AM
I doubt anybody's read it, but The Shrine at Altamira had a really dark and tragic but ultimately beautiful ending.

Barring that, I still maintain the end of LotR was one of the sadder things I've experienced.

04-17-2009, 08:02 AM
Sophie's Choice. There are many, but that book just killed me.

04-17-2009, 08:13 AM
Jude the Obscure.

04-17-2009, 08:15 AM
Atonement -- not only was it tragic, but it tied back to everything before it and the unfortunate nature of everything and how a single lie could change everything.

04-17-2009, 04:55 PM
Atonement -- not only was it tragic, but it tied back to everything before it and the unfortunate nature of everything and how a single lie could change everything.

Yah, that whole ending was pretty depressing and thought provoking for me.

04-17-2009, 04:56 PM
Before I Die, by Jenny Downham. Inevitable, tragic and tearjerking.

04-17-2009, 05:13 PM
Ethan Frome's pretty awful.

Cold Mountain is heartbreaking.

04-17-2009, 05:13 PM
At the risk of sounding trite- The Story of Egdar Sawtelle- Taken on its own without any comparisons to Hamlet- The ending was very sad- not to mention frustrating-

Barb D
04-17-2009, 05:41 PM
Most of Connie Willis' books have sad/tragic endings. Doomsday Book literally had me sobbing all night.

04-17-2009, 06:13 PM
I thought the twist at the end of Angels and Demons was very tragic. :cry:

(And I liked that book so much better than The DaVinci Code, even though that was the one that got everyone talking.)

04-17-2009, 10:00 PM
bridge to terebithia broke my heart the first time I read it. Still does and it's been 20 years or so.

04-17-2009, 10:13 PM
While not the end of the book, the trial and what follows in prison, in "To Kill A Mockingbird" hit me like a freight-train. It hung over the whole remainder of the book the first time I read it. Thoughts of, "This can't be right. There must have been a mistake here. This is just WRONG!" consumed me.

It had such an impact that I completely missed all the metaphorical elements that are layered in the book and didn't pick-up on until my second reading (though first time I was only 15).

04-17-2009, 10:33 PM
My answer's the same as the one I gave in the thread for most depressing novel I've ever read, over in the Book Club forum.


Oh, but I'll add Where the Red Fern Grows.

04-18-2009, 02:53 AM
Atonement -- not only was it tragic, but it tied back to everything before it and the unfortunate nature of everything and how a single lie could change everything.

I'll second this. Atonement was the first book that came to mind.

04-18-2009, 02:55 AM
Don Quixote. Dammit, I think I cried about 10 minutes straight with that one. Hell, I choke up every time I think about it.

04-18-2009, 03:27 AM
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.


04-18-2009, 03:29 AM
Tragic is my favourite kind of ending. I will go with almost anything by Naguib Mahfouz. Excellent at the tragic.

Also...The House of Sand and Fog.

04-18-2009, 10:17 PM
Lolita. The entire book is sad, tragic and brilliant. It also contains what is, for me, the most frightening sentence I have ever read in a book. It comes about a quarter of the way in when Lolita returns to Humbert's bed. He notes: "She had nowhere else to go." Dear god, when I read that I had to put the book down. I didn't pick it up again for almost three weeks.

I have re-read it too. It is truly a masterpiece of literature, but a disturbing one.

04-18-2009, 11:42 PM
If The Mist was a short story, or in print, then I nominate that. I'm only going by what the movie portrayed.

Is that a King story?


04-18-2009, 11:49 PM
Even though it's a kid's book,Where the Red Fern Grows. That's basically the saddest ending I've ever read.

Also, To Kill A Mockingbird was pretty heartbreaking.


04-18-2009, 11:55 PM
Mister God, This Is Anna.

I don't know quite what it is, but something about that ending really gets me. Also, Oliver Sacks: The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat. Ok, it's non-fiction, but his recollections were incredible.

04-19-2009, 12:08 AM
Ugh, I was already sniffling as I started reading everyone's picks. Mine were already mentioned so I won't bother except to say great picks everyone and please pass the tissue! *sniffle*

Small sidebar: Ever notice how Happy Endings seem to tick people off sometimes. You get a lot of comments like, "That was too easy" or "How cheesy" - human beings really are very cynical grumps by nature it seems. LOL!

04-19-2009, 12:08 AM
Jude the Obscure.

This is the first one that comes to mind for me too. I didn't see the ending coming the first time I read it, and it just crushed me.