The ending in the novel Hetty Dorval written by Ethel Wilson the ending that is created appears to have little narrative closure to the reader. However, there is the idea that the ending could be symbolic and relate to other aspects of the novel. Upon a first reading the ending is not entirely satisfying, yet once one looks at the minute details that are present in the ending a sense of reflection and realization of the truth in this novel takes place.
The ending in Hetty Dorval when first read is not entirely satisfying since there is little closure created for the reader. The reader does not put down the book and think about the brilliant or tragic ending of the characters, but rather, is left to think about what happens in the lives of the characters. Since Hetty and Frankie are present throughout the entire story, and they are constantly interacting with the reader, one does wonder when the novel comes to a close about their fate. All that is left for Wilson?s audience to understand about the two characters is the idea that Hetty and Frankie go their separate ways, and a war begins in Vienna. When such an intimate view into the life of two characters is created, this idea of the two just going their separate ways is not satisfying. There is still the urge to want to know about what happens to them in their separation, and in their new lives. Although Wilson?s intent was obviously to end the story in this manner, and by her adding on to the novel would dramatically increase the length of this short book, something more is still needed in order for the reader to have complete closure with the two main characters.
Although the ending does not allow closure for the reader, it is possible for the reader to interpret the novel with some of the ideas that are present in the ending. Throughout the novel the close ties of Hetty and Frankie are present, even when Frankie does not want Hetty in her life, she is there. A perfect example of this is when Frankie has traveled to Vancouver and she is in a jewelry shop looking at some necklaces. She looks up and across the counter is Hetty examining an expensive pearl necklace.
?As we leaned across the counter, I looked up, and there,
across the large jewelry store was Hetty?.I looked away
from her in something like panic. I did not want, now,
to be enthralled by or involved with Hetty again.?(Wilson, pg. 52)
This idea of the constant reunions between the two women could be considered symbolically to show how the two women do need each other as friends, and how they are more similar than either one knows. Even in the ending when Frankie makes it clear that she does not want Hetty in her life any longer, Hetty still shows up at Frankie?s apartment looking for a place to stay. There is a connection between the two, although both characters do not seem to want to admit it, and by Hetty running to Frankie it can be seen symbolically that Hetty has now become the child in the relationship. At the end of the novel when the two do separate on a more permanent basis, it can be concluded that the two are apart for good and can no longer relate to each other or be apart of the other?s life.
By analyzing word use in the final chapter of Hetty Dorval one can also interpret different meanings of how the ending could be considered significant. By examining the final sentence in the novel some words present there create a new meaning to the reader.
?There arose a silence around the city, through which only
faint, confused sounds were sometimes heard.?(Wilson, pg. 104)
The use of the word confusion in the end of the book could easily relate to the beginning of the novel, bringing the readers thoughts back to when they first began to read this lovely tale. Confusion could remind one of the literal confusion that took place within the town of Lytton when Hetty arrived. There was the confusion between the town?s people since they could not find a past for this women of ?no reputation?, they did not know where she came from and were confused by her independence and wealth. Frankie herself was also met with confusion when it came to Hetty. It was quite clear that she could not understand why her parents were so quick to forbid her from ever seeing Hetty again, and why they referred to her as being a woman of ?no reputation?. It is evident that when Hetty first takes her place in the novel, what she brings with her and creates for everyone is confusion, however, Hetty herself gets her share of confusion. Hetty finds her own confusion when her beloved ?servant? Mouse confesses to the arrogant and haughty Hetty that she is not her nanny, but her mother. This sends Hetty down a spiral of confusing emotions that she seems unable to deal with, and covers up quite well, masking her feelings.
The use of the world ?silence? could also be interpreted symbolically to have meaning in the ending of the novel. Throughout the book, Hetty made it clear that she did not want people interfering in her life and that she was happier alone.
?But I don?t want a call!? said Mrs. Dorval with a surprised
air, but still in her unhurried way. ?I don?t want any calls.?(Wilson, pg. 27)
At the ending of the story when Hetty leaves for Vienna and nothing more is mentioned of her could signify the idea that she was finally able to maintain the idea of being out of the public?s eye and has found her solitude. By taking the language used into consideration, a new understanding of what the ending of the novel could actually signify is presented.
Throughout the story the idea of what is foreign threatens the social norm and should not be tolerated or accepted is presented to the reader. Although the novel does lack closure in it?s ending, other areas of significance do arise for the reader to understand and use in their interpretation of the story. Although Hetty is removed from the lives of those who did not accept her, another foreign threat which carries the same ideals that the town?s people of Lytton carried, and that being the idea that those who are not the social norm should not be tolerated, is mentioned. This new threat, which is not automatically seen as being dangerous right away, is the German army.
The novel Hetty Dorval does lack narrative closure to the reader, there is always a desire to continue on with the life of a character after you have traveled so far with them in a piece of writing. However, the ending does open up new levels of interpretation for the reader to take into consideration and does create new meaning for the reader to understand, therefore creating an effective ending.