What is resolution?
RESOLUTION does not imply any solution to conflict.
Resolution is just the bit of the story that comes after the climax.
A character’s part in the resolution allows for plenty of characterization — we can still learn a lot.
What is a denouement?
DENOUEMENT is a special kind of ending.
The fate of the character is known.
Initial order is restored.
Denouement is closure. Closure can imply either empowerment or dis-empowerment for the main character.
There are two types of closure.
Structural versus Psychological Closure
1. STRUCTURAL CLOSURE is a satisfactory round-up of plot.
2. PSYCHOLOGICAL CLOSURE brings the main character’s personal conflicts into balance. For characterization, this type of closure is normally more interesting.
In children’s stories, these two types of closure normally coincide.
Sometimes, in an especially masterful story, children and adults get a different ending. Toy Story 3 is the standout example. If you watch a live audience of Toy Story 3, adults bawl their eyes out but children do not. That’s because the children have had a happy ending so far as they are concerned: The toys are all together. That’s what children can relate to. Adults, on the other hand, can relate to the ending of childhood. We know that we’ll never get our childhood back, so when Andy plays with Woody for the last time, before handing Woody over to someone else, adults know that this moment marks the end of Andy’s childhood and he’s never getting it back. None of us are ever getting our childhood back.
For Toy Story 3, children get their structural closure, but adults also get psychological closure. It is not easy to write so successfully for a dual audience, creating a sad story for adults but a happy story for children, but the screenwriters of Toy Story 3 managed it.
‘Aperture’ Endings In Children’s Literature
Many people associate children’s stories with happy endings, but in contemporary works, there is not always a happy ending. Instead, we may see an APERTURE.
An aperture is a new opening, indicating further possibility for character development.
An aperture plot allows for many possible endings.
Readers might expect a sequel from such an ending, but this sort of ending would in fact be ruined by a sequel since readers are robbed of the chance to envision an ending for themselves.
Aperture has become very common in modern children’s literature. Some even say that it is now banal.
To counteract the banality, some modern stories now return to a happy ending, but with an ironic undertone.
— The Rhetoric of Character In Children’s Literature by Maria Nikolajeva
Do Unhappy Endings In Children’s Stories Endure?
We love heroes and heroines from Peter Rabbit to Harry Potter because we know that no matter how bad things get, they will return stronger and happier through what they’ve learnt, and that their experiences will enable them to restore justice. Every work of fiction that we take to our hearts, up to and including Jane Eyre, The Odyssey or Pride and Prejudice, follows this template. A great work of tragic fiction brings about catharsis, but on the whole, we need the consolations of children’s fiction far more.
Not every classic has what you might call a conventional happy ending: the boy in Roald Dahl’s The Witches gets turned into a mouse, and never returns; at the finale of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, Will and Lyra must be parted for ever; the hero of John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas chooses to die in the gas chambers with his imprisoned friend. Though all have been made into successful films, my guess is that none of these novels will continue to be read with enthusiasm by future generations because of the way they end.
Moral Lessons And Endings In Children’s Literature
Morals have long been the conclusion of fables and fairy tales aimed at kids. And today’s TV shows and movies are no different — they often weave lessons for the younger generation into their narratives. But do children actually absorb these messages, or do these endings just help parents feel better about the media their kids consume?