G4: Riding the River is the end of a story arc. Jay has finished his tour through Sheridan, and next Chapter he’ll be back in LA. I’ve done my best handling loose story threads: the Chinese couple, Eva, and Lilly share a moment of closure, while Leo/’Henry’ will appear again; I’ve dangled him on purpose. Let’s examine this ending to see how I try to wrap things up and provide a satisfying conclusion.
First, ‘Craig,’ ‘Suzy,’ Eva, and Lilly share their last moments ‘on-screen.’ Conjoining the endings means I only needed to write one effective scene. If I wanted to address ‘Craig’ and ‘Suzy’ and Eva and Lilly separately, I’d have to write and balance multiple scenes and that sounds hard. It’s more expedient to roll these characters together and finish them all off at once.
Second, ‘Craig’ and ‘Suzy’ tell Eva and Lilly their real names, Zhang and Li Ying. This rounds out the message conveyed in sections E4 and F1. People associate themselves with names and symbols based on how they want to be perceived and how they interpret their surroundings; ‘Craig’ and ‘Suzy’ gave English names because ‘Henry’ kept asking Michael to translate their Chinese. Now that ‘Henry’ is gone, Zhang and Li Ying can reveal themselves.
Third, I use the bird statue to bring closure to Michael’s arc. In previous sections Jay was told the statue was a shrine, but Jango told him it was a mailbox. Jay tells Michael what he learned, and Michael admits he made up the shrine story years ago because tourists didn’t care about mailboxes. Even the locals started to believe it, and they lit incense and candles in the box. This means no mail gets to the monastery, so Michael needed Jay to deliver his letter. Michael’s lackadaisical treatment of religious icons separates him from his lost nieces and nephews. Maybe he doesn’t even realize this.
So that’s all our minor characters wrapped up. When Jay returns to LA, the reader won’t expect Zheng and Li Ying to reappear. Eva and Lilly have had their time to tell the reader a story, and now we move on.
To further signify the closing of an arc, the last imagery of the chapter suggests the end of a journey. Readers have followed Jay from island to island, over hills and up mountains, all the way to the monastery; now Jay reverses direction by riding down the river in an inner-tube. In comparison to the long hike up, the return is effortless. He speaks with the other tourists, but the river separates their inner-tubes and he finds himself alone for the first time since E3. Fish swim under him while he floats under bridges. The river becomes timeless, the ocean becomes infinite. For a little while, Jay is at peace with the universe.
Of course, Akayama DanJay isn’t over, so that peace must be short-lived. Next week Jay’s world must be shaken. Let’s hope the lessons he’s learned in Sheridan help him out in Los Angeles.
Keep eating your worms!