What is an epilogue in a book?
Epilogos, which translates to "conclusion word," is the root of the word "epilogue." Epilogues are a helpful tool for the reader to put themselves in the proper perspective, along with prologues, chapters, sections, and POV headings. When a book jumps back and forth in time, these structural aspects of the novel help the reader understand the plot.
A novel's epilogue, which is a distinct but crucial aspect of the main plot, always comes at the conclusion. It nearly always involves a time jump (sometimes a few days later, sometimes decades later), reveals the reader's final destination for the characters, and might clarify any outstanding issues. If the book is a part of a series, the epilogue frequently refers to the next installment and may hint to future events.
As they may insinuate that the book's issue hasn't really been resolved, epilogues might purposefully make readers uneasy. In crime fiction and thrillers, this could imply that the murderer has escaped and the protagonist is no longer secure.
In ancient literature (think Shakespeare and Grecian masterpieces), epilogues frequently include a marriage or the birth of a child and tie together the primary teachings of the story with a clear and unified moral. Epilogues have an impact on the reader's view of the book and what they take away from it, whether they help the book end succinctly and bring closure or just make you want to read the next one.
An epilogue is not the same as an afterword, which is a crucial distinction to make. Due to their placement following the book's main body, the two are frequently confused. The epilogue is an element of the main narrative and serves as its conclusion. While the afterword introduces the author and their prior works while explaining the book's origins and inspiration. It is not a part of the main narrative. Even while afterwords are used in fiction, they are more frequently seen in non-fiction, particularly in recently updated editions that are published some time after the original publication.
The tone, subject matter, and goals of epilogues can all be very different. In order to understand how an epilogue functions, it can be beneficial to look at a few instances. Since epilogues can be controversial, these examples have gotten varying responses from their readers. Consider them for yourself and let us know what you think.
Handmaid's Tale Author: Margaret Atwood
Set 200 years after the main narrative, this epilogue is written from the viewpoint of a historian. The historian discovers June's collection of cassettes chronicling her time spent acting as "Offred," and he and his colleagues analyze them in a meeting. The emphasis on the major themes echoes in the epilogue without being overtly apparent or intrusive because it is written after the main story and from a different point of view. It encourages the reader to reflect on how these topics relate to their own life and to ponder the effects of the novel's events. Since June's absence and the specifics of her life following the main story's climax are left unresolved, the reader is free to conjure up many conclusions for June.
Elena Ferrante's The Story Of The Lost Child is one of the Neapolitan novels.
Elena and her childhood friend Lila thought they had lost the dolls they had once owned as youngsters, but in the epilogue of The Story Of The Lost Child, Elena receives them. Their connection throughout the years grew increasingly difficult, so this is a painful conclusion. The friendship and love themes that are important to the narrative are tied together in this epilogue. Additionally, it is circular since at the start of the first book in the series, the two girls play with the identical dolls. It's an uplifting addition to the novel that encourages readers to think about their own childhoods, friendships, and once-valuable possessions.
John Eyre Author: Charlotte Bronte
Scholars routinely examine Jane Eyre's epilogue, which is well-known. Some think it's overly sweet and out of place with Jane's experiences and morals in the novel's main sections, while others see it as a woman reclaiming her own joy and aspirations. Rochester is left blind and scarred after his home burns down. When he and Jane get back together, Jane believes that his estranged wife's passing means that they may now be married without her questioning her morals, so they get married. Due to the money she inherited, Jane is now independent financially, and Rochester is the one who is dependent on her today. She now enjoys the security and tranquility she has always desired, and the power dynamic between them is more balanced (and perhaps tilted slightly in her favour). This epilogue demonstrates Jane's character development and demonstrates to the reader that she is happy. It also mirrors the book's moral and independent themes (or the lack of it).
Hunger Games: Mockingjay Suzette Collins
There is a contentious epilogue in the final book of the Hunger Games trilogy. Katniss and Peeta are still together and have children after some time has gone. In addition to highlighting the themes of privilege and power, this gives the reader comfort in knowing that the characters they care about are healthy and happy. The reader is discreetly prompted to consider history and the lasting repercussions of terrible occurrences as a result of the anguish the duo faced.
By Ann Patchett, "Bel Canto"
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett features an epilogue that, like many epilogues, raises more questions than it does answers. Many believe that the story should not have ended with Roxane and Gen getting married because it was unexpected. Their precise motivations for getting married are rather obscure, and the story's uncertain conclusion makes the reader wonder about everything that occurred before and consider the motivations of each character. It serves as a helpful reminder that nothing is ever really cut and dry.