Favorite Last Lines

I was talking to Deacon a few nights ago about Paper Towns and how although I didn’t much care for the last 1/4 of that book, I really liked the last paragraph. Then we started talking about books with fabulous last lines, so naturally I thought I’d make a list of my favorites. Also I just finished reading 1984 which had a really great last line.

I know some readers read the last lines first, but in case you’re not one of those people, all last lines have been hidden, as well as the reason why I like it, so as to avoid spoilers. Click “Show” only if you dare. If not, you can just scroll through the titles, but be sure to let me know your favorite last line in the comments!
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The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
Last line(s):

Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.

Why I like it:

There is so much truth in these words, but it’s especially striking for this book because it helps explain Holden’s character. He isn’t some emotionless shell. He’s been through so much, but he keeps it tucked away for fear of missing everyone he’s lost.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Last line(s):

I do, Augustus. I do.

Why I like it: 

There are so few words here, but they say so much. First off, the rest of the book is in past-tense. These words are in present-tense. What does that tell us? It tells us that Hazel is still alive. She still remembers Augustus and their time together. And the last line, “I do,” symbolizes a wedding vow, meaning that she still loves him and will never forget him as she continues on through life. He will always be present with her.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Last line(s): 

I don’t have anything else to add. I just wanted to make sure I had the last word. I think I’ve earned that.

Why I like it: 

Throughout the book, each chapter alternates between Nick and Amy’s perspective. The whole time, I was wondering who would have the last chapter. It’s Amy, of course. In these last few lines, she’s reflecting on something Nick said that did not sit will with her. “I just wanted to make sure I had the last word” is chilling because it means that she will never back down. She always gets her way. She always wins. In a way, this means that there is no resolution to this story. It isn’t over yet–Amy is still Amy. It’s also chilling that she says she “earned” it, after seeing everything she has done. She still views herself as Amazing Amy, and her actions, in her mind, are admirable.
1984 by George Orwell
Last line:

He loved Big Brother.

Why I like it:

Winston was pretty much the last man who had not been brainwashed by Big Brother, but in the end, his efforts do not make a difference. He is defeated. He has become just like everyone else, and there is no hope of recovery.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Last line: 

I just waited a bit, then turned back to the car, to drive off to wherever it was I was supposed to be.

Why I like it: 

This is chilling not because of what it says, but because of what it doesn’t say. You’ve heard Kathy’s story. You know what she has gone through. You know she has a car and can easily escape. You want her to escape. You are screaming at her to get in the car and run far away. But that thought doesn’t even cross her mind. After everything that has happened to her, she doesn’t even think about getting away, because throughout her entire life she was taught that she was special and had a duty to society. So instead of getting into the car and escaping, she drives to “wherever it was I was supposed to be.” It’s sad and frustrating and heartbreaking all in one.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Last line:

I am haunted by humans.

Why I like it:

It’s so ironic because DEATH IS THE NARRATOR and most people are haunted by death or ghosts, but Death is haunted by humans. But not in the sense that he’s afraid of humans–in the sense that some stories, the Liesel’s story, haunts him. It stays with him.
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson 
Last line:

I am legend.

Why I like it:

Even though this is the title, you don’t know what it means until you get to the very end. And when that last line hits you, it’s intense. The last man on Earth is no more. Humanity as we know it is vanquished. It has become only a legend.


The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Last line:

Are there any questions?

Why I like it:

This line is my favorite ever and it’s so clever because THERE ARE SO MANY QUESTIONS. Did she survive? Did she get caught? YOU DON’T KNOW. It’s like Margaret Atwood is teasing us. Oh, did you get all that? Anything that needs clarified? And of course, it’s a book, so we can’t really ask. We are left with the questions unanswered. We are left wondering what exactly happened.

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So, tell me: What book has your favorite last line? What about book with the best overall ending? Has the last line of a book ever completely changed your opinion about it? Has any of them haunted you for days after you finished reading it? Let me know!

–Emily
currently listening to: Drops of Jupiter by Train

2 Comments

  1. Lulu
    July 5, 2015

    The last line of 1984 is chilling. That has always stuck with me as one of the best.

    Reply
  2. Emily Seals
    July 7, 2015

    I know! It was so…ooooh. Different from what I'm used to. Haunting. I hated it and loved it all at once.

    Reply

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