A Christmas Story's Confusing Conclusion

So many of us remember the 1983 film A Christmas Story. It’s considered a classic by many, and for good reason. It has a lot of funny moments, and memorable quotes, and the whole idea of a kid wanting a BB gun for Christmas is pretty unique. I like the movie for all these reasons, and for a few more.

However, there is one thing about the movie that bugs me, and that’s the way the ending plays out. Like I said in the last paragraph, the plot revolves around a kid named Ralphie who wants a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas. He expresses his desires to his parents, and his teacher at school, and even a Santa Claus at the department store, but everyone tells him “You’ll shoot your eye out.” Despite their warnings, Ralphie ignores them and continues pining for his gun.

When Christmas Day arrives, Ralphie is disappointed to see that he hasn’t gotten his BB gun, but then his dad directs him to said gun, which was hidden from him. Ralphie is really happy about getting his gun, and he takes it outside for some target practice. And then the gun’s bullet bounces back and shoots his eye out.

Uh-oh.

Actually, it turns out that the gun had knocked Ralphie’s glasses off his face, and they broke. So Ralphie lies to his mom that a falling icicle broke them, and she believes him. And then the movie ends with Ralphie saying how happy he was that he got his gun.

Um…okay? I mean, I’m glad Ralphie didn’t get his dreams crushed, but what happened with him shooting his glasses off his face…doesn’t that prove that everyone was absolutely right? That a BB gun is a very dangerous thing for a nine-year-old kid to have? When Ralphie does “shoot his eye out,” he has a brief flashback to everyone telling him that he’d shoot his eye out, indicating that he could be having an “OMG they were totally right” realization. But then he realizes that his eyes are still intact, and it was his glasses that broke. And then he goes forward as if he’s still disregarding those warnings.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and the best conclusion I can come up with is that, on a meta level, the screenwriters may have wanted Ralphie to have a sort of “hitting rock bottom” point. The thing that’s been plaguing him for the entire movie comes back to bite him, but he finds a way to escape it. Which is fine, but the way the movie plays out, it’s like “Oh no, I shot my eye out! Wait, actually, I didn’t! I’ll just lie to my mom, and everything’s fine!”

On the other hand, the movie didn’t seem to be building toward any kind of revelation that Ralphie would realize that gifts aren’t what Christmas is all about and that it’s really about family, or anything like that. It was all about his desire to get a Red Ryder BB gun, along with the other misadventures he experienced in his life. So narratively, it does make sense for him to find some way to attain and keep the BB gun that he wanted so badly.

I dunno. I want to like the ending, but I’ve always been kinda conflicted on it.

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Well I mean that could’ve acted as a lesson on its own like he’s lucky he wore glasses to stop the bb.

The movie is set during a very different time that as long as it wasn’t bullets guns were fine. Similar to how megatron cannot be a gun anymore not even the classics nerf gun while in the 90s and earlier years we had flying Barbie buzzsaws, tiny flamethrowers, G1 megatron with his accurate gun mode, actual uranium, and so many other toys that could never return nowadays.
Back then there was so little standards or not enough proof of a bad thing for kids that a BB gun was normal.

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My man it’s supposed to be funny. It’s not supposed to be taken seriously.

“I want a BB gun”
“You’ll shoot your eye out”
“No No it’ll be fine!”
gets a BB gun
Shoots eye out

It’s ironic.

… not really. At all.

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Maybe he’ll learn to never shoot at a metal can again.

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As Khalsa said, the movie takes place during a different time. Sometime in the 1930’s or 40’s in fact, when BB guns and pop guns were a common thing to see children carrying around. I have pictures of my grandfather carrying one in a mall! It was seen as a normal thing for a boy to want.

As for Ralphie nearly shooting his eye out, yeah it’s supposed to be ironic. The movie is inherently a comedy, not something to teach us a moral lesson.

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Always wear eyepro when shooting anything, even unmodded Nerf

Yes this is coming from a Nerf modding and firearm enthusiast, so I tend to advise for safety when using such things

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What I never got about the ending was that, after the turkey gets ruined by those dogs that get into the house, the dad says to everyone, “All right, everyone get dressed. We’ll go out to eat.” Then they go to a fancy restaurant.

Except it’s supposed to still be morning, isn’t it? I’m assuming that turkey was for their Christmas dinner and not their lunch or anything. Why are they going to a fancy restaurant just after breakfast instead of waiting until the end of the day? Did people just normally have big turkey meals for lunch back in the day? :stuck_out_tongue:

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It kind of is, actually. Many kids would ask for a toy or a video game console for Christmas-not a weapon.

That makes sense, especially since Ralphie didn’t have any parental supervision when he was shooting with his gun outside. But another part of the problem is: if his parents felt that a BB gun was too dangerous for their nine-year-old son to have, then why did they still get him one for Christmas?

Sometimes parents will say something to keep their kids from guessing for Christmas. I know mine did.

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I thinks something worth noting as well is that it isn’t really the gun’s fault, nor the fact that he received one that is the problem. As Rukah said:

The kid put his target in front of a metal sign, either due to stupidity or because he was too eager to think about the ramifications of such an act. It was also the 1930s/40s, so maybe physics hadn’t been invented yet and he didn’t know better.

I think a better way to look at the ending is just to think things through better. It’s also a film about fuzzy childhood nostalgia and everything that comes with it involving Christmas time, and no matter what stupid things kids do with their presents, they’re always going to fondly remember when they got them.

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That’s a big thing to take into consideration when analyzing this movie.

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You clearly didn’t know many kids in the 40s.

Probably because you weren’t alive in the 40’s.

Also two Christmases ago I got a sword for Christmas…

This proves nothing, I just wanted to point it out.

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@Racie02 , you are very right. I was born DECADES after the 40s.

Wow, really? You must be on the younger spectrum of boards users, then.

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As was I, I was born in 1863, I never got to experience the 1840’s.

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This reminds me of when my brother ranted for 15 minutes about the moral failures of Home Alone

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Moral failures?

I mean, I find it really hard to look past how mean-spirited the opening sequence with Kevin’s family is, but the message it’s trying to get across is good.

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Kevin was merely protecting his home with Stand Your Ground laws, and sometimes that involves in engaging in cartoony slapstick humor to torture home invaders and robbers who were clearly stalking the child.

Joking aside on the first part… I am curious why Home Alone has moral failures? And from where exactly? Did your brother elaborate on that?

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And falsely impersonating a cop to scope out the family’s house. That on its own is enough to get them arrested.

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We’re joking here, right? Are we going to really talk about the realism of Home Alone … a movie that’s explicitly a comedy?

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