Blog prompt 6: Monkey Beach

What was your response to the ending of Monkey Beach?  What happens to LisaMarie?  What makes it so ambiguous?  What do you think is the significance of the final passage, which clearly echoes one found on page 135?

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18 Responses to Blog prompt 6: Monkey Beach

  1. Rachael says:

    Although I do feel that the ending of Monkey Beach has a sense of mysteriousness, I don’t feel that it is ambiguous at all. I feel that there are dream like elements to this ending and the communication of events that take place. Instead of being told outright what is happening, the events are conveyed through a series of images which we must interpret in our own way. I feel pretty certain that LisaMarie is alive at the end and that Jimmy is not. We know she has a gift to communicate with the spirit world and I believe this is another instance where the veil has been lifted, where she has been accepted to pass through into that world but she cannot stay there forever. Having passed through and come back to her physical reality and still alive, she is able to accept the events that have taken place and return to her world with a better understanding of herself, her brother, and her purpose.

  2. C.J. F says:

    Although the ending of Monkey Beach is somewhat ambiguous in general, I believe Lisa is alive following the final scene. I believe that the experience that Lisa has at the end is describing her finally succeeding at contacting the dead. Lisa is incessantly confused by her gift throughout her childhood and teen years, several times speaking with Ma-ma-oo about tree spirits and being told how she has a gift derived from her mothers side of the family being great spiritual leaders. There is also constant narration of ‘contacting the dead lesson 1, 2 etc. Throughout the book, Lisa never achieves actually visiting the dead, but instead is frustrated by the subtle omens that she receives that foreshadow forthcoming tragic events such as her visions prior to Uncle Mick’s and Ma-ma-oo’s death and heart problems. She only begins to tap into her gift fully late in the book, discovering where Jimmy is on the side of the road with Karaoke after envisioning the location in a dream alongside Ma-ma-oo. Ma-ma-oo is always asserting how Lisa should never fool with spirits and the ‘other side’, warning that their thought process and motives differ greatly from the living world. In the end of the book, this is echoed when Ma-ma-oo urges her to go back and not to fool around with something so powerful as the spirit world while Uncle Mick encourages her behavior as usual. Ma-ma-oo makes yet another reference to the Oxasuli plant, saying Lisa’s gift can kill her just as easily if she fools around with it. In the end, she hears the sound of a speedboat once again, just as she had after Mick’s death. For me, the speed boat serves as representation of Lisa’s connection to the world of the living while she is constantly being contacted by the dead. I think it could potentially allude to the concept of continuity of life even after death, the same way a speedboat continues toward the seemingly endless horizon just as Lisa has experienced out on the water in her descriptions of the endless sea and channels all around her. Therefore, the speedboat can represent Lisa’s gift in terms of how she is constantly aware of life after death and how spirits go on living the same way Uncle Mick and Ma-ma-oo’s spirits have when they talk to Lisa in the end. The sound of the speedboat in the end also brings a degree of closure to the trauma Lisa experiences beginning with Mick’s death, leading to her alcohol, drug abuse and general reckless and carefree behavior. At the end of the book, she has finally achieved contact with the world of the dead, realizing their continued life and happiness as is described through them singing around a bonfire. The speedboat is Lisa’s wake-up call that will bring her back to the land of the living until it is her time to enter the spirit world.

  3. Shelley says:

    I, like Katie, am not a fan of ambiguous endings, but I found I found intriguing to think about what happens to Lisamarie. I have this sense that she has been on Monkey Beach for the entire novel; as if time has stopped and Lisamarie is somewhere in between the living world and the Land of the Dead. That being said, I believe that Lisamarie lives for the following reason: the presence of crows/ravens and a speedboat.

    Three times in the novel she hears them. On the very first page of the novel, Lisamarie is awakened by the crows calling her name in Haisla. On page two she notes that she hears a speedboat and says again that the sky is the color of faded denim. As mentioned in class, on page 135, a similar passage is found (about midway through the book.) “The sky was faded denim blue. Grumbling, a raven hopped between the branches of the tightly packed tree. In the distance, the sound of a speedboat.” (135) The third time that she hears crows/ravens and a speedboat is the very last paragraph. “The sky is faded denim blue. Somewhere above my head, a raven grumbles as it hops between the branches of the tightly packed trees…In the distance, I hear the sound of a speedboat.” (374) Someone or something has been with her all along her journey toward finding Jimmy and in the speedboat. Lisamarie hearing the speedboat implies to me that she will survived her ordeal on Monkey Beach and the crows/ravens symbolize the acceptance of her gift.

  4. Peter Cullen says:

    I think the reader is definitely left with a sense of ambiguity regarding what happens at the end of the novel. There are numerous parts throughout the book that leave us unaware of the ending. We see her first interaction with Ba-ba-oo which is hard to explain but it definitely gives the reader a sense of doubt since we haven’t seen him in first person narration until here. She However, Lisa’s ability to speak with the dead explains her winning struggle against nature. After her struggles with drugs and alcohol in Vancouver it is apparent that the dead is helping her get through life. She explains how the presence of Uncle Mick and Ma-ma-oo help her deal with her problems. This is seen when Josh drops her off after being at the bar with Karaoke and Aunt Trudy. Josh feels compelled to make a comment about Ma-ma-oo being dead but she just changes the subject because she knows nobody understands. It is very similar to her reaction with her visit to the shrink. She simply tells the doctor exactly what she wants to hear; it is her imagination that is making her see these things. I believe she survives at the end because her dead family members give her that extra boost of energy, in this case Ma-ma-loo. She uses her gift to survive in this scenario as she hears this song Haisla about leaving and meeting again.

    I also think the presence of the raven signifies the trickster’s satisfaction with her battle. The creator of humanity boasts its presence and is proud of what it has accomplished. Throughout the novel, we continually see crows reacting to what’s going on in Lisa’s life; I think the crows’ disappearance at the end signifies the end of her struggles between life and death. There is also a short passage near the end of the book explaining how to fight through a near-death experience; it explains how to look past the pain of feeling lifeless and to give it one more fight. I do not think this passage would be necessary to add if she dies at the end. Ma-ma-loo’s presence during her fight allows Lisa to use the oxasuli correctly.

    I think the significance of the last passage is to explain to the reader how beautiful nature is and how great it is to be alive. I think humanity as a whole takes life for granted and sometimes we need to appreciate the little things in life. It also explains the power of nature and I think the speedboat explains the power of human beings

  5. Katie C. says:

    The end of Monkey Beach I found frustrating. I’m not the type of reader who appreciates ambiguous endings such as this and was a little disappointed when I was confronted with deciding on my own what the fate of the characters was.

    I firmly believe that Lisa is alive. I also believe that it is possible for humans to pass through the spirit world and come back to reality. The fact that the final paragraph parallels one on page 135 only confirms my idea that Lisa is alive. That paragraph to me shows Lisa’s safe return to the real world after passing through the land of the dead. Ma ma oo’s words of “Never mind about him now. Go back. You’ve come too far into this world. Go back” (372) gives me the feeling that it’s too late for Jimmy, that he has passed but that Lisa still has a strong chance to survive and her ancestors are aware of this, keeping her from traveling any farther into the land of the dead so she can return safely to the real world. Jimmy’s actions also give me a confirmation of Lisa’s ability to live, “He almost wrenches off my arm as he takes hold of my shoulders and shoves” (373) forcing her back up to the real world and away from fatality. The strength of her ancestors saved her. If she had not experienced what she had then no, I don’t believe should would have lived but because of the close relationship she had with Ma ma moo and Mick, I really believe that they are the ones that saved her. Had they not been dead at the time, Lisa might be so I like to think that they were sacrificed for this precise moment, to give Lisa the courage and the words to continue her life even though her brother may never be found.

  6. Susan T. says:

    I can see how some believe that she lives and how some believe that she dies; but I am going to have to go with that she lives on this one. I think that this is done on purpose though. I know that Eden said she likes it when stories end open-endedly, leave the reader to have some imagination about what happened, and in this case what would happen next depends on whether you believe Lisa Marie lives or dies. I think the significance of the final passage is to show that Lisa Marie came to accept her gifts and that she now knows what to do with them.

  7. Jeff S says:

    I did not think the ending of Monkey Beach was quite as ambiguous as it seems others have. It seemed quite clear to me that she lives, and it wasn’t until coming to class, and hearing Eden speak, that I realized not everyone interpreted it this way.

    Reading some of the other comments, particularly Andrew C’s, I realized there definitely are some reasons why Lisa might have died. Upon reflection however, I remain firm with the thought that she lives. I think the evidence is all in her interactions with the spirit world at the end. Ma-ma-oo tells her to go back, and perhaps it is naive to think that that makes good evidence, but I still think it. After meeting Eden, I can imagine a sort of ironic/unhappy ending where Ma-ma-oo tells Lisa it’s not her time, and Jimmy gives her some final information to tell Karaoke, but even after that she dies – but as a reader and a person, that is not how think it went.

    The way Lisa leaves the spirit world and comes back to Monkey Beach, with the images of the spirits fading away, is concrete evidence to me that she comes back. This scene is Lisa’s most intense contact with the spirit world. It represents a change in how she relates to her gifts, where before she was confused and lost, now the tides have changed and she surfaces from the confusion her abilities have given her. Certainly she is probably no master, but the spirits have given her real answers that she understands, direct language and easily interpretable events. Jimmy is dead, but she must press on, as the spirits tell her, “Take care of yourself, wherever you’re going” (373).

    I think the repetitive passage is one of the most important in the book. Monkey Beach is full of death, but it is also full of life. On page 135 the passage creates an energy around Uncle Mick’s death. On the final page, it creates a similar energy – and indeed, we’ve just found out Jimmy has died – yet something about it is more full of life and hope. The seal is not just ominously bobbing his head this time, he’s hunting for crabs, he’s surviving despite all the death in the world. As we hear the howls of the b’gwus, it finalizes one of the major themes of the novel, the blend between the human and spirit world. When Uncle Mick died, a deer bounded off into the forest, into an unknown and unseeable place, hidden by trees. In the last passage, Lisa returns to her senses, she feels the hard clamshells, and this time, the echoes of the b’gwus, a spiritual creature, come from the mountains. Yet there is still the sound of the speedboat. The speedboat is the real world, inescapable except by death. This passage creates a beautiful realization of the intermingling between the real world and the spirit world, it shows that though we may not see deep into the forest, we can hear the echoes, as real as the sound of the speedboat. Those who have passed on are not so much gone as changed – that’s what Lisa realizes now that she didn’t after Uncle Mick’s death.

  8. Kaleigh M says:

    Although I may be deemed a pessimist for my opinion, I believe that Lisa Marie dies at the conclusion of the novel. This did not strike me as a particularly sad or upsetting ending, either. After learning of Jimmy’s death, with the previous knowledge that Mick had also passed away, Lisa Marie’s death seemed appropriate. Also, the manner in which Eden Robinson describes her last few moments seem very peaceful, as opposed to her last hours of life with were wrought with stress and anxiety to find Jimmy. “Catch the rope, pull the boat towards me, but can’t quite manage to get in. Slip. Hand can’t grasp the side. Speedboat does enough of a spin to gently knock my head and push me underwater” (Page 37). The speedboat seems to have gently pushed Lisa Marie underwater as a priest would dunk a baby’s head underwater to officially Christian them. Her death is not violent or abrasive, but rather she seems to be physically inclined not to struggle against her fate.
    I believe that the ending is so ambiguous because of this non-violence. Opposed to the rest of the book, this is the least violent death that we have encountered and this makes it seem as though the act of the speedboat knocking Lisa Marie underwater is ineffectual. It is as though, after all that Lisa has struggled through, she cannot possibly allow this small slip into the bay to stop her life. However, I believe that she has had enough fighting for a lifetime and her death is a release and a relief.
    Similar to Thomas King, Eden Robinson also uses repetition to enforce a specific theme. In the last few pages, we are met with a passage very similar to one that appears almost 200 pages previously in the book. The similar mentioning of morning light, birds and nature serve to signify that, no matter the happenings of human life, the world continues in its organic, beautiful way. It seems that Eden wants to remind her readers that the larger form of life continues, even as smaller pieces of the world are constantly changing and disappearing.

  9. Joe A. says:

    I’m with Elizabeth on this one – Lisa lives! That’s my take on it, and the question is certainly open for interpretation.

    Eden Robinson writes an open-ended conclusion to her novel by blending the spirit world and the real world. Throughout the novel, Lisa struggles with her gift to move between the two worlds. For most of the story, she is uncomfortable with her gift, and she is scared of the little red man she sees- she is not sure what to make of it all. In the final scene, she travels deep into the spirit world, and in the end, as she is lying on the beach, we are not sure what world she inhabits- is she dead or alive? Maybe this ambiguity is meant to collapse the binary between the spirit world and the “real” world. In Indian mythology, animal spirits inhabit the world, and in times long past, animals could actually speak with humans. Maybe Eden’s ambiguous ending is supposed to challenge our idea of what is the “real” world and what is not. And maybe what Lisa learns is that even if her brother is dead, he is not that far from her. If the spirit and real world are less separate than we tend to think, then Jimmy is not as “gone” as Lisa feared. As she closes her eyes on the beach, she can still see his image. He is still with her.

    My reasons for thinking Lisa lives: When she washes ashore and sees her dead loved ones dancing and singing around a bonfire, we can be sure that she is witnessing a spirit world gathering. If she had died, I think she would have remained with those people around that bonfire, singing and dancing, united at last. However, in the final paragraphs, we see that she is alone on the beach. Immediately following her watching Mick and company dancing around the fire, Lisa says, “The beach is dark and empty. The voices are faint…” I think this is the moment we know that LisaMarie has come back from the spirit world and is alive.

    I think the repetition found in the last paragraph is significant because it gives the story a sense of continuity. The first time we see the passage, on page 135, Lisa has just discovered Mick’s body. The passage seems to indicate that live continues, even after this tragic turn. A raven hops, the water sparkles, a deer flicks its tail, and a speedboat motors on. I think we can say the same for the passage at the end: life continues. A raven hops, the water splashes, b’gwus howls, and a speedboat motors on. I think this passage also adds to the ambiguity of the ending, because it seems to indicate someone has died. But is it Lisa and Jimmy who have died, or just Jimmy? Maybe the point is that life continues and we should not be caught up in who dies and who lives. The final passage gives Monkey Beach a cyclical sense of continuity, and it is a satisfying ending, even if it is open for interpretation.

  10. Steven H says:

    At first, I thought the ending of monkey beach was a little confusing and a little inconclusive. However, after reading it a couple more times, I thought that it was a pretty good ending, which contributed to the overall ambiguity of the novel. Specifically, it helped reinforce the ambiguity surrounding spiritual contact and the after life.
    Throughout the novel, we follow Lisa Marie through countless encounters with “the little red haired man” and other spiritual figures. We see how these things frighten her, at first, until she begins to learn and understand their meanings. However, the ambiguity of the ending seems to bring us, and Lisa, back to the beginning of the novel, when spiritual contact was complex and confusing. Furthermore, it shows us that Mama-oo was only able to explain a small portion of the “rules” needed when contacting the spirit world. Subsequently, we see how the generation gap, between Lisa and Mama-oo, creates a knowledge gap between Lisa and her understanding of the spirit world.
    Finally, I thought that the echoed ending also contributed to the ambiguity surrounding spiritual contact. We see a number of things, such as “the little red haired man,” reappear throughout the novel. At the end, we see the reappearance of a paragraph describing the scenery after Mick’s death. This reappearance, ultimately reinforces the ambiguity surrounding Lisa’s connection with the spirit world.

  11. cwcollie says:

    Every time a page was flipped in Monkey Beach, I could not help but wonder how Robinson was going to pull the two storylines together in the conclusion of her novel. On one page I would start thinking, “Lisa definitely is going to save her brother at monkey beach, that is why it’s the title of the book, right?” But on the next page I would find myself thinking, “No way. Jimmy’s a goner. Lisa is going to die at sea. Mick’s dead, her parents will probably end up dying, and everyone will be in the spirit world.” These two thoughts clearly resemble the “pessimistic” reader and “optimistic” reader Robinson discussed at her lecture, which she certainly played around with throughout this book. She certainly contains a great talent in that sense; in being able to continuously change the reader’s feel for what is going to happen as the story unfolds. As much as it seemed the ending would be either a tragedy or a triumph while reading, it never truly felt like either option would be the best way to bring Lisa’s past and present together. The sections Robinson dedicated to information about the human heart and different dream sequences undoubtedly left a sense of ambiguity and mystery throughout the novel. Because of these small interruptions that threw the reader off just for a moment, I felt Robinson made a great decision to leave the ending ambiguous. It simply just fit in with the entirety of the novel.
    As much as I call the ending “ambiguous”, Robinson does leave hints as to what exactly happens to Lisa, and I have to agree with Elizabeth’s breakdown of the final scenes. “I see the people around the bonfire… I can understand the words even though they are in Haisla” (373). This passage is symbolically suggesting that Lisa is in the spirit world, somehow interacting with all the dead we have learned about throughout the course of the story. As I read this, I simply assumed Lisa was in fact dead. Robinson then hints at Lisa coming back to reality out of the spirit world in the next passage. “The beach is dark and empty. The voices are faint, but when I close my eyes I can still see the pale after-image of Jimmy shaking his head” (373).
    We see Lisa struggle with her gift of foresight and connection to the spirit world essentially throughout her whole life up until the ending scene. She does not know how to control it, does not always know what the little man means, and is terrified of her gift due to the great power it holds. However, through symbolism and word play it seems that Robinson hints at the fact that Lisa is finally comfortable and knowledgeable of her gift at the end.
    Finally, the connection between the passage on page 135 and the passage at the conclusion is undeniable. Both passages follow deaths, the first being Mick and the second being Lisa’s vision of Jimmy among the dead. There is a feeling of completeness, as the word “morning” is used multiple times in the passage following Mick’s death, and the word “evening” in the ending passage. The speedboat was coming to get Mick’s dead body on p. 135, and I infer that the speedboat is coming to save Lisa at the end. It would simply not make sense if Lisa finally comes to terms with her gift and then proceeds to die immediately after.

  12. Chelsea G. says:

    I really enjoyed the end of Monkey Beach. I like it when a book leaves the reader with something to think about. My first reaction to the ending was to think that LisaMarie died because she used her own blood to enter the spirit world. In the last paragraph LisaMarie says in narration, “I am so light I could just drift away” (374). I thought she was so light because she had died and her spirit is leaving her body. Even as I came to this conclusion, though, I realized that the ending is ambiguous, so I reread the ending looking for other interpretations and realized that I had been too quick in assuming that LisaMarie had died. After Mick starts dancing, the ghosts disappear and their voices fade. This indicates that LisaMarie is moving away from the land of the dead, back to the land of the living.Comparing the final paragraph of the novel with the first paragraph on page 135 adds another layer to the ambiguity. The paragraph on page 135 comes right after the scene where LisaMarie and her father find Mick’s body. It could be that this paragraph indicates that a death has occurred, which might mean that LisaMarie is dead. I am no so comfortable making such a simple parallel between these two paragraphs. I believe that these paragraphs are about life. On page 135, even though Mick is dead, the sun rises, ravens grumble, seals bob, deer bound, and speedboats make a lot of noise. In short, life goes on. LisaMarie has lost someone who was important to her, but the world goes on. The same interpretation can be made of the book’s final paragraph. Jimmy is dead, the sun sets, ravens grumble, seals bob, the b’gwus howl, and speedboats make a lot of noise. I think the final paragraph is indicating that LisaMarie will live on after Jimmy’s death, just as she did after Mick’s death. I find it interesting that their was no paragraph with this structure after the death of Ma-ma-oo, the other important death in LisaMarie’s life. The difference between Mick’s death and Ma-ma-oo’s death was that LisaMarie was able to cope with Mick’s death, while she was unable to cope with Ma-ma-oo’s death. The inclusion of the final paragraph which mimics the paragraph that occurred after Mick’s death indicates that LisaMarie will be able to cope with Jimmy’s death, as she did with Mick’s, instead of falling apart as she did after Ma-ma-oo’s death.

  13. Lauren K. says:

    I found the ending of this book really confusing the first time I read this. I had to read the ending over a couple more times in order to even get some understanding of the ending. The ending really does leave you hanging though and gives you the opportunity to interpret the ending the way you wish to interpret it. I feel that Lisamarie is still alive, but is just seeing people in her life that have pasted away. Ma-ma-oo tells her “You have a dangerous gift…It’s like oxasuli. Unless you know how to use it, it will kill you.” Lisamarie has always had this unique gift, but has not be so certain as to how to use it. At the ending I feel that Lisamarie wandered into the valley of the dead because of her gift and her ability not to be able to control it yet. Ma-ma-oo also tells her in the ending “Go back. You’ve come too far into this world. Go back.” I think that Lisamarie wandered into this world because of her strong determination to find Jimmy. I feel that Jimmy is dead and that’s why she was able to wander so far into that world. She really wanted to find Jimmy. The end of the book talks about a struggle that occurred between Josh and Jimmy. I feel even though the book doesn’t come right out and say it, but I feel that Josh and Jimmy are both dead. Jimmy wanted to kill Josh for what he did to Karaoke, but Josh fought back and killed Jimmy. Josh might be dead as well though. The ending of this book is so ambiguous just because it never really comes out as says what really happened. It just eluded to different situations, like the fight between Josh and Jimmy. The ending is just so uncertain because you don’t even know if Jimmy or Lisamarie is alive. I feel she is alive though.
    I think the significance of the finally passage represents the cycle of the book. The book kind of seems to jump all around and doesn’t really seem to have a conclusive ending. Monkey beach is something that ties the whole story together though. This place has really strong meanings for all the characters in the book. I feel that this ending passage that is similar to another passage earlier in the book is added just for that reason. Both times Lisamarie was at Monkey Beach and this place holds many memories of her and Jimmy here. This passage is put in again to show how meaningful this place is for them. This is the last place her brother was and this is the place she knew he loved.

  14. Xinh Xinh N. says:

    I have to read this book several times in order to understand what the meaning of it. At first, I did not really understand the ending because I was not sure where Lisamarie was. I felt like I missed important information throughout the novel which explained about Lisamarie’s situation. However, as Eden Robinson said, she purposely let the readers decide what happened to Lisamarie because she wanted her readers to get involved. Despite the fact the book will not have a happy ending; I have decided that Lisamarie died at the end even though Mama-oo told her to go back since it was not time for her to die. I know it is unfair that Lisamarie had to die but because of her stubbornness, she chose not to go back. I think that Lisamarie chose death instead of coming back because she was selfish. She did not think of her parents and how they would react to the news. Lisamarie might not want to face the reality because of what happened to Jimmy and she was afraid of being lonely and she did not know what to do since of her beloved ones die. Of course people might not agree with me with what I think, but I still think that Lisamarie died at the end. For Lisamarie, death is the only that could help her be free of the spirit world and be with her beloved family.

    I think the significance of the final passage regarding to the passage on page 135 is “the sound of the speedboat in the distance” that Lisamarie heard. Plus “the howl echoes off the mountains” implied that Lisamarie is unaware of what was surrounding her. Everything seems to fade away and Lisamarie was leaving the living world. At this point, there is no way of turning back for Lisamarie despite what Mamo-oo had warned her. Lisamarie chose to come to the land of the death. This part is really confusing because it forced the readers to think about Lisamarie’s world and where she belonged. It seemed that Lisamarie is caught between the two worlds and she had to learn how to deal with spirit world and the living world.

    I enjoy reading Monkey Beach because the story of Lisa’s life reminded me how every teenager has to go through. Every teenager has a moment that they are confused about their life or not interested in what has been set for them. They just want a moment for themselves so that they can think about their life and what they want to do. Lisa, she didn’t know what to do with her life after Mick and Mama-oo passed away. She just took off to Vancouver where she experienced her life until she came back home. I also like the way the author arrange all the details and her way of writing. As her story went on, she added more details along the story line which made us readers get affected whether we believe her story or not.

  15. Ali V. says:

    I found the end of Monkey Beach to be frustrating at first because I did not appreciate the fact that Eden Robinson concluded the story in an ambiguous way. At first, I felt as though I had missed something in the text that would explain what had actually happened to LisaMarie but then I realized that Robinson had left this fate up for interpretation by the reader. After thinking more about the ending, I thought that this was actually a really clever and interesting way of concluding Monkey Beach and I liked the fact that Robinson allowed for the reader to interpret the ending in their own way. I have chosen to believe that LisaMarie lives at the end of this narrative (aside from the fact that I am an eternal optimist) because the spirits of Mick and Mama-oo fade away from her at the very end and it appears as though Jimmy is asking her to relay information to Karaoke. It is because I have interpreted the ending in this way that I believe LisaMarie returns from the spirit world to the world of the living.
    The end of the story is very ambiguous because Robinson never actually says whether or not LisaMarie lives and there is evidence supporting cases that she lives and that she dies. However, I feel as though this ambiguity is fitting for the end of this particular novel. Because the novel is so heavily based on the reflection of LisaMarie and of native traditions, I feel as though it was fitting that Robinson wanted to give the reader a chance of taking what they wanted from the end of the book. By concluding Monkey Beach in such an ambiguous way, Robinson was allowing the reader to decide whether or not LisaMarie learns how to balance her life in the living with her ability to contact those people who have already passed, which was a central theme throughout the book’s entirety.
    The final passage is significant because it serves as a final realization in LisaMarie’s development as a character. It is at this point in the story that LisaMarie is finally able to confront the fact that she holds a place in both the spirit world and the world of the living. Also, it is at this part of the novel that the reader is really exposed to this blurring of lines that exists between these two worlds and how LisaMarie fits into each one. Because this section echoes one that is found on page 135, it shows how much emphasis Robinson was placing on this idea of LisaMarie’s relationship to the spirit world. This passage is also significant because it shows that despite the change in LisaMarie’s viewpoint of the two worlds, the natural world still remains the same and everything that goes on around her has not changed even though she has undergone so many changes. And it is through this reoccurring passage that Robinson gives the reader comfort in this constant when the rest of the conclusion of the narrative was so ambiguous.

  16. Andrew C. says:

    All throughout the novel I, for some odd reason, anticipated Monkey Beach to be the kind of book that was going to end unhappily. I am sure Eden would tell me that I was just being one of the pessimistic readers (that she looks forward to meeting) and anticipating the worst possible ending, while her optimistic readers would encourage and anticipate a happy ending, where Lisamarie finds her brother, resembling a fairy tale like Cinderella. Unlike the people that expected Lisamarie traveling to Monkey Beach and finding her brother I expected the novel to end with Lisamarie stumbling across her dead brother’s corpse. My response to the ending of the book was similar to the ending and response that I had anticipated. While I was unhappy that Eden left her book open-ended, I found it helpful to hear her describe her novel and tell us that she actually wrote the ending like she did intentionally, so she would hear the different perspectives of everyone who read it. Initially, my reaction to the end of the book, was me being upset about the open-ended manner in which it ends, until Eden vouched for her ending.
    I think what happens to Lisamarie is about to speculation; exactly what Eden told us when we met with her during class. Eden had several ending, I am sure there were at least two, one with a happy ending, and one with a sad one. Eden, instead of making us know what happened to Lisamarie, left it open for us to believe what we wanted. So what do I think happened to Lisamarie? I think she finally faced her ‘demons:’ the ghosts she saw of Uncle Mick and Ma-ma-oo, and the little ‘leprechaun’ man. I think she came to terms with herself and her family. On coming to terms with these things, I think Lisamarie was finally able to move on and spend her time with these ghosts. I honestly believe that Lisamarie, at the end of Monkey Beach, was killed by the ocean, finally able to spend time with the people that made her happy.
    I think the significance of the final passage is to reiterate what was found, not only on page 135 of the novel, “La’sda, she says. Go into the water. La’sda. La’sda.” (135) but what can also be found at the beginning of the novel, “La’es– Go down to the bottom of the ocean.” (1) I think an important thing to note as a kind of foreshadowing is that the animal that is saying these things to Lisamarie is a crow. In one situation it is a group of crows, in another, it is one, Spotty. Crows are said to resemble death. The significance of the final passage states, “The crows fly in circles above my head. They are silent as they swoop and dive and turn and, finally, I realize they are dancing.” (372) The crows are rejoicing. Their messages to Lisamarie of ‘go down to the bottom of the water’ and ‘go down into the water’ have finally come true. Lisamarie, in my own personal opinion, has met her death at the bottom of the ocean. The ending of Monkey Beach is ambiguous, and with reason, Eden Robinson wanted us to be a part of her book. We can define, as readers, what happens to Lisamarie. We are able to participate in the novel as Eden hopes we would, whether we are pessimists, or optimists.

  17. Anne H. says:

    I was surprised by my reaction to the ending of Monkey Beach. At first I was disappointed that I didn’t know exactly what happened to every character. It was a little while after it sunk in that I was actually quite pleased with the ending. At the conclusion of In Search of April Raintree I was really annoyed with the fact that everything came to light. There just happens to be a journal of Cheryl’s telling April everything she needs to know that was missing from her absence in Cheryl’s life. There was no mystery and I was not satisfied with how the author left me. I now love the conclusion of Monkey Beach and the open-ended-ness Robinson crafted. I like being able to participate in the book, since I felt so attached to the work throughout my reading of it.
    I believe that Lisa Marie lives, being saved by the ghost of her dead brother Jimmy, as he saved her once before when she went swimming in the ocean. Lisa Marie is pushed underwater by her boat and the late Ma-ma-oo appears to tell Lisa Marie that the dead are , ” ‘Where we belong, but you have to go back. Do you hear me?…Go back. You’ve come too far in this world. Go Back’ ” (372). Ma-ma-oo is telling Lisa Marie to get the hell out of the water and back on to Monkey Beach because she needs to survive and not be swept up into this dreamlike drowning state. Lisa Marie needs to live the rest of her days, for she has come too far to succumb to her dangerous gift now. The ending is incredibly ambiguous because whether or not she lives is never said. Whether or not Jimmy is actually there, or just a ghost himself is also not clear. The interpretation is up to the reader. The final sentence, “In the distance, I hear the sound of a speedboat” (374), could honestly be anybody. It could be her parents, Jimmy, the Coastguard, or nobody important. The ambiguity keeps the reader thinking and wondering long after the conclusion of the novel.
    The significance of the final passage in regard to the passage on 135 is that last line where she hears a speedboat in the distance. The speedboat could be interpreted as a means of someone coming to collect the dead. The speedboat was “coming to collect” Mick on page 135 to take him to the World of the Dead and the speedboat is coming at the end of the novel to collect all the ghosts that Lisa Marie is conversing with. It is moving and understood that Lisa Marie must leave the World of the Dead and come back to the living world, where she still has work to do.

  18. Elizabeth C says:

    Lisa Marie lives. Eden Robinson, when asked to talk about Monkey Beach in terms of a coming of age story, said that she developed Lisa’s character to a point where Lisa was able to manage her gifts; it was at that moment when the story felt ended. I think that this statement supports the idea that Lisa lives on.

    But there is more from the text to support this ending. On page 373, Lisa enters the spirit world and sees her dead family members dancing and singing by a bonfire on the beach.

    “[…] I see the people around the bonfire make their way to the shoreline and watch me struggle to stay upright against the waves. […] They are blurry, dark figures against the firelight. For a moment, the singing becomes clear. I can understand the words even though they are in Haisla[…]”

    But then we see the transition as Lisa fades from the spirit world and reenters the land of the living.

    “The beach is dark and empty. The voices are faint, but when I close my eyes I can still see the pale after-image of Jimmy shaking his head. “Tell her.”
    Aux’gwalas, the others are singing. Take care of yourself, wherever you’re going.”

    The last time we heard Jimmy say “Tell her” was on page 363: “Josh honked his horn to collect Jimmy. He gave me a quick hug and whispered, “Tell her I love her.” “Tell her yourself,” I said.” This repetitio suggests that Jimmy, having died, is repeating his request to tell Karaoke that he loves her.

    Finally, the similarity between the final paragraph and the paragraph on page 135. Supposing the final paragraph is meant to throw us back to paragraph on page 135, which is immediately followed by the line, “I woke up from a dream about monkey beach” does not logically suggest that the entire second section of the book was a dream. This is parallel structure, not circular. The paragraph on page 135 immediately follows Mick’s death; the paragraph on the final page immediately follows Lisa’s vision of Jimmy among the dead. On page 135, the paragraph starts out “morning light,” on the final page, morning light is replaced by “evening light.” Lisa’s struggles with her gift began “in the morning,” with Mick’s death; they ended “in the evening” with Jimmy’s. On page 135, she woke from a dream about Monkey Beach. What has Lisa just done in the final paragraphs of the book, but woken from another “dream” about Monkey Beach in which she left this world and entered the world of the dead.

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