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Spoiler Alert: This blog post contains spoilers for the novel “Trust” by Hernan Diaz. If you haven’t read the book yet and wish to avoid spoilers, please proceed with caution.
Hernan Diaz’s novel “Trust” takes readers on a captivating journey through the world of New York City’s elite during the 1920s and the Great Depression. Released on May 3, 2022, this postmodern novel has received critical acclaim, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and being longlisted for the Booker Prize.
In this blog post, we will explore the intricate ending of “Trust” and shed light on the various narratives and themes presented in the book.
In this analysis, we will explore Anthony Doerr’s narrative decisions, examining their impact on readers’ perceptions and the characters’ fates. We’ll delve into the emotionally charged ending, its resonance with the novel’s themes, and the skilled use of literary devices and symbolism, enhancing its deeper meaning.
However, do note that there are spoilers ahead, so proceed only if you are fully prepared to continue reading and unveil the intricacies of the novel’s conclusion.
“Trust” revolves around the life of Andrew Bevel, a financier who becomes the richest man in the world by shorting the stock market crash of 1929. The novel is divided into four distinct books, each presenting conflicting accounts of Bevel and his wife, Mildred. Through these compounding narratives, the book delves into the power of wealth, the artifice of the financial system, and the gender politics inherent in both.
The first book within the novel, titled “Bonds,” is a best-selling roman à clef written by Harold Vanner. It follows the lives of Benjamin Rask and his wife, Helen, who are based on Andrew and Mildred Bevel. Rask is portrayed as an investing savant, while Helen comes from a depleted old-money New York family. The couple marries and experiences the fallout from the crash of 1929. Rask profits immensely from shorting the market, while Helen throws herself into philanthropy. However, her mental health deteriorates, and she eventually dies as a result of an experimental treatment.
The narrative then shifts to Andrew Bevel’s autobiography, ghostwritten by Ida Partenza. Bevel seeks to dispel the negative image created by Vanner’s novel and presents himself as a man dedicated to the common good. He portrays his wife, Mildred, as a childlike homemaker who dies young from cancer, leaving him devastated. However, Partenza discovers that Bevel has been erasing the real Mildred from history, and she fears his power.
In 1985, Partenza returns to the Bevel mansion and finds Mildred’s journal, titled “Futures.” The journal reveals that Mildred, not Bevel, was the investing savant in their collaboration. She shorted the stock market, propelling Bevel to fame and wealth. Mildred’s journal showcases her strength and intelligence, challenging the narrative Bevel constructed.
The ending of “Trust” is both revelatory and thought-provoking. It exposes the intricate web of deception and manipulation surrounding the characters, highlighting the complex dynamics between wealth, power, and personal relationships.
Through the competing narratives and multiple perspectives, the novel challenges the reader to question the reliability of historical accounts and the subjective nature of truth. Each book within the novel presents a different version of events, illustrating the malleability of narratives and the ease with which power can distort facts.
In the final book, Mildred’s journal becomes a catalyst for unraveling the truth. It reveals her role as the mastermind behind Bevel’s success and sheds light on the unequal collaboration between them. Mildred’s illness becomes a turning point, leading to a rift between her and Bevel as she seeks autonomy and independence. Ultimately, her death marks the end of their partnership, but her influence on Bevel’s career cannot be erased.
The ending also reveals that Bevel, the wealthy and powerful character, unexpectedly dies of a heart attack. After his death, Partenza, the protagonist, attempts to visit his house but finds it surrounded by journalists and onlookers. Instead, she receives a job offer from Mr. Shakespear, which she accepts to avoid moving back in with her father.
The book concludes with Partenza finding Mildred’s journal, titled “Futures,” in the museum library. Partenza, conflicted by her theft of the journal, feels both arrogant and excited about the possibility of understanding Mildred’s true voice. The journal represents a key to unlocking the enigma of Mildred’s personality and offers a deeper understanding of her relationship with Bevel.
In the final scenes of the story, Partenza, upon learning of Bevel’s death, becomes intrigued by the prospect of exploring his lavish mansion. She arrives at the house only to find it surrounded by a crowd of journalists and curious onlookers. This indicates that Bevel’s death has garnered significant attention due to his status and influence in society.
Disappointed by her inability to enter the mansion, Partenza leaves the scene and coincidentally encounters Mr. Shakespear, whom she had met during her job interview at the balloon factory. Mr. Shakespear, a representative of a mysterious organization, approaches Partenza and offers her a job opportunity, which she accepts. This decision stems from Partenza’s desire for financial stability and independence, as she wishes to avoid moving back in with her father.
As the story draws to a close, Partenza finds herself in the museum library, where she comes across a journal titled “Futures.” It is revealed that the journal belonged to Mildred, Bevel’s deceased wife. Partenza is captivated by the journal and makes the impulsive decision to steal it, feeling a mix of arrogance and excitement at the possibility of delving into Mildred’s enigmatic persona.
The ending of “The Golden Balloon” leaves several questions unanswered. It suggests that Bevel’s death has consequences that reach beyond the main characters, evidenced by the media attention surrounding his mansion. Partenza’s encounter with Mr. Shakespear and her acceptance of the job offer hint at a new chapter in her life, one that may involve secrecy and intrigue.
The discovery of Mildred’s journal serves as a turning point for Partenza. By stealing it, she exhibits her rebellious nature and desire to uncover the truth behind Mildred and Bevel’s relationship. The journal holds the promise of shedding light on Mildred’s innermost thoughts, dreams, and desires, potentially revealing the complexities of her life and marriage.
The open-ended nature of the ending leaves room for speculation and interpretation. It invites readers to ponder the consequences of Partenza’s actions and the potential revelations hidden within Mildred’s journal.
The novel’s ending leaves the reader contemplating the notion of trust itself. It exposes the fallibility of trust in personal relationships, as well as the ease with which trust can be manipulated and exploited in the pursuit of power and wealth. The characters’ intricate webs of deceit and the erasure of individuals from history highlight the precarious nature of trust and the challenge of discerning truth from fiction.
Hernan Diaz’s “Trust” is a captivating exploration of wealth, power, and the complex interplay between personal relationships and the financial system. Through its intricate narrative structure and multiple perspectives, the novel challenges the reader to question the reliability of historical accounts and the manipulation of truth.
The ending of “Trust” provides a poignant and thought-provoking conclusion, revealing the hidden layers of deception and the intricate dynamics at play. It serves as a reminder of the complexities of trust and the importance of critically examining the narratives presented to us.
Diaz’s skillful storytelling and nuanced character development make “Trust” a compelling and immersive read that will leave readers pondering the nature of trust and the power of capital long after they turn the final page.