Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Fictional Deaths



This one from THE GREEN MILE just kills me. Especially the part about using no hood since he's afraid of the dark. In terms of novels, I will never get over the death of Beth in LITTLE WOMEN. What child didn't weep after reading that?

What fictional death took you by surprise or made you especially sad?

31 comments:

George said...

I had tears in my eyes when Little Nell dies in Dicken's THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP. I confess: I'm sentimental.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I don't want to mention the book so as not to spoil it for others but in one of John Harvey's early Charlie Resnick books there is a death just before the end that really took me by surprise. I definitely did not see it coming.

Jeff M.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Another was a shocking death in THE DRAMATIST (Bruen)

Al Tucher said...

The plane crash in HOTEL NEW HAMPSHIRE crushed me.

RT said...

Even though the title is sufficient foreshadowing even for the most inattentive reader, Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop features the one death the affects me most; it is the natural consequence of a well-lived life in the complete and humble service of God (and not many people -- real or fictional -- can lay claim to that kind of success). The novel, by the way, is not so much a religious novel as it is a novel of human capacity for compassion and decency. To my mind, it is the most perfect rendering of life and death in fiction.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Oh, my God, yes.

Charles Gramlich said...

By far, Spock's death in The Wrath of Khan

Graham Powell said...

A couple of examples from film - the death of Ralph Fiennes' character from THE ENGLISH PATIENT was pretty wrenching, as was that of Nicholas Cage's character in LEAVING LAS VEGAS.

Neither one was exactly a surprise, but it didn't make them any easier to take.

RT said...

Patti et al . . . let me throw a different kind of question out there: Are there fictions in which the narrator tells of his or her own death?

I suspect there are some (e.g., we have Emily Dickinson in poetry whose personae often speak about their deaths), but I cannot think of any off the top of my head.

pattinase (abbott) said...

SUNSET BOULEVARD and THE LOVELY BONES for too.

George said...

Watching TERMS OF ENDEARMENT always ends up with me crying my eyes out.

Deb said...

When Bonnie dies in Gone With the Wind. I was about 13 at the time and was reading the book as if it were a romance. I couldn't believe Margaret Mitchell would "let" Scarlett's daughter die.

My mom always says the death of Janet Leigh's character in Psycho was the most shocking that she can remember. So unexpected.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes, PSYCHO was shocking but not sad. And even though i had read GWTW many times before I saw the movie it still stung. A death of a child is the worst.
Although I am not a Cage fan that movie worked well and we did feel for him.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Terms of Endearment was a good choice. The whole "GIVE MY DAUGHTER THE SHOT!"scene was difficult to watch.

Jeff M.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Terms of Endearment was a good choice. The whole "GIVE MY DAUGHTER THE SHOT!"scene was difficult to watch.

Jeff M.

Anonymous said...

Major characters die in Joseph Wambaugh's novels The New Centurions, The Blue Knight, and The Choirboys, but they all seemed so inevitable that they weren't really shocking.

Janet Leigh in Psycho and Steven Seagal in Executive Decision were surprising, not because the characters were killed, but because it happened so early in the movie.

Colonel Blake's death on the M*A*S*H TV series upset some people at the time, but I always thought it was in keeping with the show's anti-war message.

I think when a series character is killed, it is usually more upsetting than a death in a stand-alone novel or movie. The event is "real" to the audience in that the character will no longer appear in the series.

I quit watching Charmed when they killed off Prue, I quit watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer when they killed off Tara, I quit watching Xena when they killed off Ephiny, and if I had watched Beauty & the Beast, I would have quit watching when they killed off Catherine.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

I'll go with Ali MacGraw in LOVE STORY and Jon Voigt in THE CHAMP, and in books, I can't quite get over Jude Fawley's needless death in Hardy's JUDE THE OBSCURE.

Cap'n Bob said...

Jim Brown in The Dirty Dozen. I was inconsolable.

Todd Mason said...

Marion Crane's murder in PSYCHO the novel by Robert Bloch is pretty sad, and in the film as well, given how it makes everything about her crime and flight moot.

The one that shocks the most as I recall is the most important murder in CONJURE WIFE, by Bloch's old pal Fritz Leiber. I was reading the novel too quickly, came to the end of that chapter, hurtled into the next one, and then it hit me...Wait. What? Oh, My. And that is an example of a novel where a character describes her own death.

Other fictions include Edgar Lee Masters's SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY, R. A. Lafferty's "Fog in My Throat" and Poe's "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar"...

RT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Todd Mason said...

"The Meeting" by C. M. Kornbluth and Frederik Pohl, is pretty wrenching in this wise, w/o anyone actually dying over the course of the story. Orson Scott Card's similar attempt, "Lost Boys," was the kind of tone-deaf exercise that put me off his work well before his campaigns against marriage rights.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have always found that strange too, Todd. Why give her such a back story if she is going to die. Why not an anonymous woman. SPOON RIVER-amazing, wasn't it?

Todd Mason said...

That was part of what's so ingenious about Bloch's PSYCHO...that this fundamentally decent woman is moved by resentment of the roadblock to her more happy life, impulsively does something about it, thinks better of it...and it's all for naught, because she makes a very bad choice of stopping-over place. Part of Bloch's point being, I believe, that the same sort of impulsive behavior that led Crane to steal also, in its more extreme form, drives Bates to murder. You know that sort of parallel also drew Hitchcock's eye.

I like the concept of SPOON RIVER a little better than I do the execution (so to write)...as I mentioned to Bill in his write-up of the book a while back, particularly the cheapness of the shot at "The Village Atheist" did little to endear Masters to me when I was first reading it. But it's a pretty great, dour idea for a poetry cycle, no argument from me...

Todd Mason said...

I admit I wasn't previously aware of the degree of Jim Brown's jackassery, to put it gently.

Anonymous said...

I overstated the Jim Brown record. He did not kill the woman. He simply tried to kill her.

Todd Mason said...

Several different women, and at least one man. A *lot* of dropped charges. One notable prison sentence.

pattinase (abbott) said...

How do you feel about WINESBERG, OHI

James Reasoner said...

I can't think of any fictional death that bothered me more than that of Old Yeller. Seriously.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I doubt any kid took that one well. Again the shock of it!

Todd Mason said...

WINESBURG seems a bit more sophisticated in its understanding of character, if not quite as groundbreaking in format...I don't know how much Anderson was influenced by Masters's example. Probably no little.

Deb said...

I forgot when the dogs die in WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS. It was one of my husband 'a favorite childhood books, but I'd never read it; so when he read it to our kids, I also listened in. When he read the last chapter, all of us were crying.