I tell the kids it doesn't matter what he choose, which direction his princess lover led him to... whether she thought to grant him happiness or kill him off so that no woman could have him... what really matters, is what the story says about you.
Oh... they weren't having it! Not by a long shot. This story sent them upside down, these young 7th grade kids demanded to know... what did he choose.
I'm not budging either... imagination is much stronger than reality... and the classroom is the perfect magical place for this discussion.
Instead, I tell them how marvelous it is that someone wrote a short story, just put words down on the page, that were so powerful they actually had a physical effect on someone... that the kids were actually furious over this story, livid... that they felt punched in the face... and even more angry that I said it was good.
That's what art should do to us... it should hurt sometimes... and believe me, do you know how hard it is to convince this to thirteen year old kids who live off junk food and stay up all night playing video games...? Yeah, impossible.
But that's life, isn't it? There is never a clear answer, never a true path without some kind of pesky thorn patch to cut up our shins... but whatever you believe... hope or depravity... I wish you well in your choice.