They eat silently until finally Nick breaks the tension. “There’s going to be a moon tonight,” but when Marjorie agrees Nick becomes angry as if he was waiting for anything to release the pent up emotions held inside. Marjorie tries to divert the conversation from an argument and begins to talk about the moon. As in “Little Things”, the weather and setting play a part in describing the mood of the piece. The moon could represent chastity, coldness or even the passing of time.
Silence follows and they do not touch each other until Marjorie ventures to ask Nick “What’s really the matter? ” Marjorie is desperately trying to make their evening enjoyable and romantic but Nick is making it extremely difficult. Nick tries to avoid the question until he starts to explain that it wasn’t fun any more and that he was mixed up inside. “I feel as though everything was gone to hell inside of me,” the use of the word ‘was’ instead of ‘is’ shows that he is confused and suffering a confidence crisis.
Marjorie is evidently shocked as she barely speaks except to say “isn’t love any fun? ” which is swiftly followed by an answer from Nick, “No. ” Unlike in “Little Things”, there is no major battle about to be released, instead Marjorie leaves calmly, dignity intact, in the boat. Nick offers to help push the boat out, which shows that he still cares for her, but is refused. When Marjorie leaves Nick lies on the blanket for a long time until mysteriously a new character named Bill emerges from the woods.
Bill is a curious character. Obviously he is related to Bill in some way and Hemingway makes his sexuality and Nick’s dubious when we read the line “Bill didn’t touch him either. ” Bill appears as insensitive when he barrages Nick with questions about his extremely recent breakup, provoking Nick to lash out and tell him to leave. This story again is left at a loose end. We are left questioning the sexuality of Bill and Nick. It is implied that Nick and Bill were in a homosexual relationship together.
This would explain Bill’s presence hiding in the wood and the fact that it states “Bill didn’t touch him either. ” The last line shows that Bill has replaced Marjorie because Bill walks over to check the fishing rods which was previously Marjorie’s job. However, Nick appears to be insecure about his choice to be gay, as we can see from the fact that he tells Bill to go away. Bill has clearly pressured Nick into breaking up with Marjorie, as we can see from the list of questions he asks and his quick appearance from the wood.
Both the short stories are about the breakup of relationships but under different circumstances. As always in a short story the reader is left thinking many things from one brief text. All short stories consist of and introduction, a main conflict, a resolution and a conclusion. In “Little Things” the conclusion was the questionable death of the child. In “The End of Something” the conclusion was the appearance of Bill and the question of Nick’s sexuality. Both short stories use the title as an ironic symbol of the issues that are discussed in the story.