"In the end" to signify continuation

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wesmoe

New Member
Norwegian
I'm working on Beckett's short story "The End" in a thesis, and am currently discussing the narrator's use of the phrase "In the end [...]" as a way to move on in his narration. What I'm curious about is this:
NN has English as his/her mother tongue, and is relating a story, including many minor details which may or may not be relevant to the story. Now, if NN somewhere in this story starts a sentence with "In the end", what does the listener expect with regards to continuation of the story? Is the phrase habitually used as a way to skip ahead, in order to continue with the story after having digressed about some minor details? Or is the story expected to near some kind of an end after that phrase?
 
  • cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Welcome to the forums, wesmoe. As you will soon learn, we are sticklers for specific context. Many, if not most, English terms can have a variety of meanings, and these are often specific to a particular context.

    "In the end..." in a narrative may have numerous functions. If may signal the end of a description of an episode. It may also be used to introduce one. Some authors begin to relate a story by starting with the outcome. That's a matter of literary style, which is generally outside of our scope here.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Actually, in the end is included in our dictionary. On the definition page, below the search box, you will see in context. Clicking on that link takes you to examples of "in the end" in news stories. If you look over those examples, you will see how it is commonly used in everyday contexts.

    Below the definition is a list of thread titles that include those words. (You can select out the titles that include only the words in that order by searching for the hyphenated in-the-end.) These threads discuss the phrase in various contexts, and some of them may interest you.
     

    wesmoe

    New Member
    Norwegian
    Welcome to the forums, wesmoe. As you will soon learn, we are sticklers for specific context. Many, if not most, English terms can have a variety of meanings, and these are often specific to a particular context.

    "In the end..." in a narrative may have numerous functions. If may signal the end of a description of an episode. It may also be used to introduce one. Some authors begin to relate a story by starting with the outcome. That's a matter of literary style, which is generally outside of our scope here.
    Thanks for the reply as well as for the welcome!
    I'll try to be more concise: I claim in my thesis that the narrator, through using "In the end" as a means of continuing his story - rather than ending it - subverts the meaning of the phrase, thus making it (more or less) meaningless. Sort of the like in the fable of the boy who cried wolf, if that makes any sense - the meaning of 'end' is defeated through the narrator using "In the end" without it actually introducing an end. Do you catch my drift? And can my claim be defended?
     

    wesmoe

    New Member
    Norwegian
    Below the definition is a list of thread titles that include those words. (You can select out the titles that include only the words in that order by searching for the hyphenated in-the-end.) These threads discuss the phrase in various contexts, and some of them may interest you.
    Alright, thanks! I'll have a look at those.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    This is Beckett: he constantly subverts language in slight ways. This is not quite normal English. His characters are often monologists; they find ways of continuing to talk. So a character makes a conclusion, a summary, 'in the end', and then finds a way of going on from that to something more. Having summarized it, they now have a new perspective. (I've got his plays, but not that story, so I can't check it.) If you like, he's using 'in the end' the way business jargon uses 'at the end of the day': it's a summary, not a closing down.
     

    wesmoe

    New Member
    Norwegian
    This is Beckett: he constantly subverts language in slight ways. This is not quite normal English. His characters are often monologists; they find ways of continuing to talk. So a character makes a conclusion, a summary, 'in the end', and then finds a way of going on from that to something more. Having summarized it, they now have a new perspective. (I've got his plays, but not that story, so I can't check it.) If you like, he's using 'in the end' the way business jargon uses 'at the end of the day': it's a summary, not a closing down.
    Ah, thanks for your post! "The End" is actually, in many ways, a lot like "Endgame", which I'm sure you've read. And most of what you say here makes perfect sense with regards to what I was wondering about in the first place, particularly about finding ways to continue to talk.
     
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