Open‐endedness is one of the most pervasive and enduring values in literary studies. Critics of all stripes have condemned teleology on both aesthetic and political grounds. This essay makes the paradoxical case that in an era of mass precarity, this insistence on openness has reached its limit. It is now blocking the kinds of political action that will be necessary to slowing the pace of climate change and building material conditions for collective flourishing. This is a moment for novel critics, then, to rethink our relationship to endings. The nineteenth‐century realist novel is particularly interesting in this respect, since it took the question of ongoing material survival especially seriously and used endings to mark a shift from narratable, unstable plotted action to stable routines that extend predictably into the future. In these plots of precarity, happy endings function not as closure or completion but as thresholds to sustainability. This essay ends with two twentieth‐century fictions—Bessie Head's 1974 A Question of Power and Leslie Feinberg's 1993 Stone Butch Blues—that conclude by combining the pleasures of material predictability and plenty with workable models of social relations that could help to guide political action in the climate crisis.

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