7 Literary Relationships That Ended With The Grave

7 Literary Relationships That Ended With The Grave

Love lasts forever, or at least until we’re dead. And let’s face it, we’re all going to die. Some of us swiftly and tragically, some slowly over a gruelingly long period of time. Either way, we all face the same fate – that long black corridor of eternity. Our literary characters are no different. They’ll meet their fate at some point during the narrative, or maybe long after the final pages have turned, careening forever toward their destiny, entertaining us along the way.

When a character is taken from us, plucked from the narrative in some dramatic way, it hurts. It truly hurts. Their demise, though completely made up, haunts us. As in real life, we’re often left thinking about what could have been – if only they wouldn’t have made that stupid choice, got on that plane, lit that fire, etc. But, much to the author’s devilish delight, we must live with their deaths. And it’s even more heart wrenching when the characters are in love. Because what doesn’t make your eyes fill like water reservoirs more than a tragic love and death?

Here are seven of literature’s most brutal relationship ends. Some are tragedies, others happen out of necessity, and some you’re almost glad to see them go in a reign of blood and guts and gore. Judge for yourselves,  but be warned; if love doesn’t tear them apart, the knives, guns or suffocation will.

MAJOR SPOILERS are revealed in this post.


Downtown Owl

Vance Druid and Julia Rabia
Downtown Owl
(by Chuck Klosterman)

This is the relationship that almost was. I’m not going to give away plot points, but this one is a bit of a gut punch. Two young people meet at some sad bar in the middle of nowhere. Their courtship, or lack thereof, is teased out with great detail and repetition, a series of almosts and never was. The moment we begin to realize that those instances are never going to come to fruition, you feel this deep sense of sadness. The world is a cruel and shitty place sometimes.


For Whom the Bell Tolls novel-8x6

Robert Jordan and María
For Whom the Bell Tolls

(by Ernest Hemingway)

Jesus Christ, why does this one have to end in such a tragic and forlorn way? There is nothing but hope and desire here, a future that holds the greater good. The young lovers come together in war town Spain, the side of a treacherous mountain with all odds against them. You think for many pages that this will end well. Then it doesn’t. This is classic literature at its best, love fulfillment at its worst.


Of Mice And Men

George Milton and Lennie Small
Of Mice and Men
(by John Steinbeck)

This isn’t a romantic relationship, but it’s a tragic loss of love all the same. George is fiercely protective over Lennie, the literal idiot he must bear for reasons he guards close. Poor Lennie is too innocent for this world, a giant goof who lays unintentional waste to everything he encounters. Everything except George. The final moments between the two are absolutely brutal. Look away.

The Devil All the Time

Carl and Sandy
The Devil All the Time
(by Donald Ray Pollock)

The two slovenly individuals truly get what’s coming to them, and their whole love/hate story is a mess. First of all, they’re murderers. Second of all, they’re disgusting. But what makes their death so tragic is not the loss of these two, but the loss of the countless lives it took to reach their end. It’s truly a twisted, grim tale.

Exquisite Corpse

Andrew Compton and Jay Byrne
Exquisite Corpse
(by Poppy Z. Brite)

These two sick bastards are something to behold. I won’t delve into into the truly gruesome nature of their love, or their existence for that matter, because it is not for the squeamish. This is what happens when serial killers fall in love. When these two finally meet, it is truly a match made in hell. There’s not much like this out there, and if you’re in the mood for an appalling, heartbreakingly revolting romance like you’ve never experienced, go here. I dare you.

Stephen King's Carrie

Carrie White and Tommy Ross
(by Stephen King)

Plug it up! Plug it up! Carrie White is many things, but a romantic is not one of them. That is, until she meets the hunky and popular Tommy Ross. When he invites her to prom, things may be looking up for dear Carrie, but what follows is the the worst night of their lives. No one said love was easy, but apparently it’s deadly, too.

Brokeback Mountain

Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist
Brokeback Mountain
(by Annie Proulx)

God damn Annie Proulx for writing this absolutely heart-ruining tale of forbidden, and ultimately doomed, love. Where Jack finds solace, Ennis finds conflict, and that is their ultimate undoing. I hope they found each other in the afterlife. Never has a story hit me so hard, so unexpectedly. Read it and weep.


Ah, ain’t life grand?
*puts gun to head*

One comment on “7 Literary Relationships That Ended With The Grave

  1. Pingback: What are your favorite literary relationship tragedies? | Inko

Comments are closed.