Wedding Day

So why was he on the train?

I was very shocked by the ending of this short story and I’m not sure why; I mean every other WW1 book or poem is equally as blunt in its lack of a happy ending. I guess it was the amount of space and words in which the entire story was flipped on its head. That and the imagery of a black man in a gray suit that distracted me. But I still don’t understand why he was on the train or where he was going.

163 thoughts on “Wedding Day

  1. I was not shocked by the end of this story but I just felt strangely led on into the ending. Like Paul rises out of bed and gets dressed, so far so normal. But since we get a limited view point and missed quite a bit we as readers still think he is going to see Mary and then boom we get the train and him in the train station holding a ticket and it is like wait hold up, pause, rewind, did I miss something? I think he is on a train to escape the city and it is kinda of noted at how she is still living there in the hotel he can’t bring himself to visit after he got that letter from her or he went there to say “happy wedding day” and got the letter. I am still kind of confused by that part. The second option would be worse I think though.

    I think there are three interesting things about the way this ending was revealed and how I reacted to it. One we realize he is in a second class car with a first class ticket, odd as if is implying the America system during this time that if he had possibly bought this ticket when he was with Mary but now that he is not with her he is back to second class, reinforcing the image he has of himself, the place that the world and now she told him he belonged in. It also evokes the issue of segregation. I am aware France did not have the same issue as the United States as we discussed in class but it still gives me “back of the bus” ideology which maybe this is how we are meant to think? Secondly, I imagine Paul taking the train to go on the honeymoon he and Mary were meant to take together and that is why he is all dressed up because it was supposed to be his wedding day, cynical I know. Lastly, as much as the ending confused me I think that was the point. Perhaps we as readers can empathize more with Paul after thinking one thing and then being told another without any real context and having the world that was created for him, pulled out from underneath us. Love is the universal language. Everybody gets their heart broken, and love hurts as the band Nazareth preaches (that was the soundtrack playing in my head when I see him on the train) especially unrequited love so as much as he is a bad guy, he becomes a victim and you may not totally change your opinion of him but at least I hope you get how much that must suck.

  2. For me I think the ending came as a unsurprising surprise. A part of me was hoping for a happy ending, it would have been a nice change in pace compared to the other literature we’ve read this semester. But, deep down, I knew that wasn’t going to happen which is why the end wasn’t a total surprise. I think a part of what resulted in me having hope though, was how the text (technically) went from negative to positive to negative. When traditionally we’re used to at least slightly more positive beginnings. So when it seemed as is Paul, after all the troubles he had been through, was going to experience something positive, we were led as readers to believe that a happy ending could exist. But, not too surprisingly it didn’t due to the context and type of literature that it is.

  3. For me the ending was surprising. Although I feel like I should not have been surprised but the ending was so fast-paced! One thing after another happened so fast that I thought it was a dream. I thought at first that he was just having a dream and that none of this was real because for most of the story it was pretty normal but then all of a sudden everything went wrong. However, once we talked about it in class it made more sense to me but it upsets me a lot that Paul was treated the way he was. He helped her out so much and was in love with her yet she disregarded him because of his social class.

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