By Andrew Maunder
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Additional info for The Facts on File Companion to the British Short Story (Companion to Literature Series) by Andrew Maunder (2007-03-30)
London: Doubleday, 2002. Muireann O’Cinneide “AT THE END OF THE PASSAGE” RUDYARD KIPLING (1890) “At the End of the Passage,” one of RUDYARD KIPLING’s Indian tales, was first serialized in 1890 and appeared in the 1891 collection Life’s Handicap. It deals with themes familiar to Kipling’s Indian fiction: the grueling day-to-day work involved in the running of British India and the incursion, or apparent incursion, of the supernatural. The story opens with four friends, Hummil, Spurstow, Mortram, and Lowndes, spending an evening at Hummil’s bungalow.
Other writers, working under the strict guidelines imposed by the editors, would compose pieces especially for the annuals. Often, however, these writers would be commissioned to compose a short story or poem to complement an engraving that had already been secured. As a consequence, the selections would occasionally appear stilted or unnatural, and their relationship to the accompanying embellishment would seem forced. Mary Shelley is just one writer who acknowledged the pressure of these conditions, and a number of the 19 stories she contributed to The Keepsake involved some literary concessions on her part.
Finally however, the boys both understand themselves to be bound together in a relationship that is deeper than liking, or being alike, and “closer than brothers” (320). At the close of the story the boys have won an agreement from Macintosh to send them both to university: “The victory was entirely theirs, but now they had to begin again, in the long and difficult struggle to understand what they had won and how they would use it” (349). Joining Tommy and Dirk together in the plural “they,” this ending is merely a beginning for the boys.