On World Book Day, a look at 10 most poignant closing lines in literature


On World Book Day, we come together to celebrate books, as books create bonds, initiate conversations and bring solace to our lives.

There are new worlds and far-away universes that readers visit, that those who do not read never get to know of. Readers make new friends in fictional characters, learn new words every day, and memorise sentences that they carry in their hearts forever.

April 23 marks the World Book Day, also known as the Word Book and Copyright Day. The original idea was of the Spanish writer Vicente Clavel Andrés as a way to honour the author Miguel de Cervantes, first on 7 October, his birth date, then on 23 April, his death date.

On this day, the world comes together to celebrate books, as books create bonds, initiate important conversations and bring solace to our lives.

Interestingly, English Language Day is also celebrated on April 23.

On World Book Day, let us take a look at ten of the most memorable closing lines of our favourite books: 

  • “After all, tomorrow is another day.” 

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel was published during the Great Depression. The closing line, said by the female protagonist Scarlett O’Hara, is a phrase that gives us hope, reminds us that no matter what, a new day brings new light.

  • “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald’s novel is considered one of the greatest of the 20th century. One of the most poetic novels ever written, The Great Gatsby is an all-time favourite of literature lovers. The narrator, Nick Carraway, laments that although our first dreams can never be realized, we still keep pinning for them.

  • “I been away a long time.”

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

The closing line is remarkable as it is both literal and figurative. Literally, it has been 20 years since Chief Bromden last visited the Gorge. Figuratively, it has been long since he felt like a free man, as the protagonist McMurphy helped Bromden return to his true self.

  • “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again: but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

Animal Farm by George Orwell

The closing line says that the pigs in the novel, who took over possession and control of Animal Farm, have abandoned the principles of Animalism. They have become like the previous oppressors of animals — human beings — that the animals cannot tell the difference between, any longer.

  • It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Sydney Carton, who believed that his life had been one of failure and disappointment, takes the place of Charles Darnay at the guillotine. In a final act of sacrifice, Carton seeks rest — the kind that can only come with death. The closing line is emotional, heartbreaking and a reminder that Carton can indeed be called the story’s hero.

  • “The eyes and faces all turned themselves towards me, and guiding myself by them, as by a magical thread, I stepped into the room.”

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar’s protagonist Esther Greenwood battles depression and attempt suicide. Towards the end, after having spent several months at a mental hospital, she is now ready to meet the psychiatrists. It will now be decided whether she will be allowed to leave. The closing line gives us hope and promises that things will be okay in the future. Esther will laugh again, read again and lead a normal life.

  • “I lingered round them, under that benign sky: watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.”

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

This is what Mr. Lockwood observes as he passes by the graves of Catherine, Heathcliff and Edgar. The words have a brooding quality, gives us a feeling of sorrow and raises the question: how much of what we have heard was fantasy and how much was real?

  • “He could feel his heart beating against the pine needle floor of the forest.”

For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemmingway

Robert Jordan, the protagonist, is in a forest, looking down at the bridge he destroyed. He is injured and separated from his lover, Maria. Lying on the pine needle, he faces death alone. The closing line is tragic and heart-wrenching.

  • “All was well.”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

After several years of engaging in a battle with an evil man, Harry finally tastes victory. He wins the war, reminding us that in a battle between the good and the evil, the good always wins. After years, Harry Potter is at peace.

  •  “He turned away to give them time to pull themselves together; and waited, allowing his eyes to rest on the trim cruiser in the distance.”

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Horrible events that a group of young boys get involved in have come to an end. Ralph, the protagonist, has escaped death. With death and devastation, the ending is not particularly happy, and the moment in which a naval officer comes to their rescue is not one of untainted joy.

What other closing lines would you add to the list?


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