Narratologists often profess a distaste for stories that end unambiguously. The emphatic ending is thought simplistic, politically retrograde, and more common in traditional and commercial narrative forms (the folk tale, the realist novel, the feature film) and accordingly less common in modernist and experimental fiction. None of these claims survives scrutiny. A rereading of Roland Barthes’s S/Z (1970) should reveal the many shortcuts a narratologist has to take to celebrate open endings as liberating and should also disclose some of the ideological purposes to which this celebration has been put.

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