The Wonder: Ending, Explained – “The Wonder,” which is set in 1862 Ireland, follows Nurse Lib Wright as she arrives in a village to check on a girl named Anna, who hasn’t eaten in four months but seems to be doing okay. To check how Anna is truly accomplishing this, a council of men—Dr. McBrearty, Sir Otway, Father Thaddeus, John Flynn, and Seán Ryan—put Lib and Sister Michael on eight-hour shifts. It is forbidden for Lib and Michael to discuss their conclusions with one another for their evaluation of the scenario to be as unbiased as possible.
Lib’s watch starts routine as she observes Anna and passively records all she sees. However, Lib is suspicious because of her parents’ close proximity to her and her regular appointments with guests who travel great distances to see her and donate to the cause. So, pretending to acquire a proper reading, she stops Anna’s appointments with her parents and other strangers. And that’s precisely when things begin to deteriorate.
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Netflix’s “The Wonder”: Plot Story
One of Anna’s teeth comes out very quickly after Lib separates her from her family. Lib informs Rosaleen and Malachy that Anna needs to eat because she is becoming thinner, paler, and more exhausted. Rosaleen claims everything was good up until Lib became involved, but Malachy maintains that he can’t return on his commitment never to ask Anna to eat at Lib’s whim. Lib attempts to put a feeding tube down Anna’s mouth during one of her watches in a desperate attempt to regain her vitality.
Lib pulls back when she notices Anna’s suffering and even offers an apology for trying to artificially feed her when Anna was so adamant about not having any. She soon succumbs to her tenacious determination while out on a stroll with Lib and Will (Lib’s love interest and a journalist), which proves to be catastrophic. Upon closer examination, it appears her lungs have failed, which has caused her persistent coughing.
Therefore, “The Wonder” is mainly based on the Victorian-era phenomenon known as “fasting girls,” in which pre-adolescent girls would “survive” for extended periods without any food. These girls would assert that they were the ones chosen by God or possessed magical abilities, similar to Anna, who says that she receives her sustenance as Manna from Heaven. Mollie Fancher reportedly went 14 years without eating. Sarah Jacob claimed she hadn’t eaten since she was 10 years old. For this amazing achievement, she received a lot of media attention and many gifts and money.
Lenora Eaton and Josephine Marie Bedard were two more examples of people who were alleged to have received assistance. And it soon became apparent that this was just a media gimmick to gain some cash and notoriety while feeding the girl covertly. Before there was such a thing as television, it was reality TV. And it’s obvious from the O’Donnells’ financial situation and the community’s dilapidated condition that they were pressuring Anna to do what she needed to do to put food on the table and bring a continuous stream of tourists to the village.
Why Did Anna keep the Fast?
Anna references her religious beliefs throughout the movie, and the O’Donnells’ entire home is decorated with pictures and symbols associated with Christianity. Then we learn that Pat, the son of Rosaleen and Malachy, had passed away. The presumption that Anna’s fast has something to do with mourning her brother’s passing is made when it is added to the discovery that Anna keeps a lock of her brother’s hair tucked away in the bust of St. Mary.
Anna makes a passing allusion to the fact that people in purgatory are made to burn for all eternity when speaking about Lib’s history when she cared for injured soldiers who had committed “terrible things” in battle. When Lib asserts that Pat is undoubtedly in heaven, Anna responds that no one can make such a claim with certainty. In order to force Anna to admit, Lib multiplies two and two together.
She finds out that Pat and Anna had an incestuous marriage, during which time Pat passed away due to illness. Rosaleen holds Anna accountable for Pat’s demise and forces her to perform this elaborate ritual to send Pat’s spirit from Hell and into Heaven.
According to Ireland’s “Punishment of Incest Act 1908,” incest is still illegal even if it is consensual. That indicates that, up until 1908, the practise of dating one’s relative was fairly widespread. Please feel free to vomit if that makes you want to. If not, my God, go see a doctor. Coming to “The Wonder,” it is very obvious that Rosaleen and Malachy approved of Pat and Anna’s relationship.
They frequently claim that because Lib is English, she cannot understand the O’Donnells, which effectively implies that Lib is too “modern” to allow incest. Additionally, Rosaleen appears to be using religion to deceive Anna into believing that she is acting morally upright when feeding her by chewing food and spitting into her mouth during their “goodnight kiss” in the manner of a bird (hence, the bird trapped in a cage allegory).
They are profiting off of Anna’s pain on the side because, as was already mentioned, it was popular at the time. That makes Rosaleen rather influential.
The Wonder: Ending Explained
It’s important to note that Lib gave birth to a child who lived for three weeks and two days, and that her husband quickly abandoned her. She performs this routine, drinking some sedative, while holding a pair of the child’s boots and playing with them. She is essentially always in anguish due to losing her child, and being close to Anna reawakens her maternal impulses. When that happens, she takes it upon herself to keep her safe and healthy, despite being instructed only to observe.
At her most vulnerable, she even asks Rosaleen to keep feeding Anna in the manner of a bird so that she can survive. When that fails, Lib employs a second round of brainwashing to persuade Anna that she will die and reincarnate as Nan. As soon as Anna accepts, Lib flees with her and performs a rite in which she briefly loses consciousness as Anna before regaining it as Nan.
Lib then makes her way to the O’Donnell home to set everything on fire, including her own pill bottle and a pair of baby boots. She sustains burns as a result. But it essentially destroys both Anna’s and her memories of the past. Typically, fire is associated with illumination, purification, annihilation, and suffering.
In Christianity, fire has been identified as both a symbol of God’s presence and a means of agony and punishment for transgressions. By claiming that she “accidentally” knocked over the lamp after learning that Anna had passed away and “unintentionally” reduced her to ashes, Lib even makes it appear as though it was an “act of God.”
So, in a way, she conceals the fact that she has rushed her away to safety with Will’s assistance by using the common interpretation of fire. We see the girl in London residing with Lib and Will as their adopted kid, Nan, and consuming food while the O’Donnells and the rest of the town grieve over Anna’s passing. Does she remember this horrible thing that happened? I don’t believe so, though. She most likely repressed it or thought of it as a terrifying nightmare.
Now, what’s up with the set-within-a-set antics and breaking of the fourth wall? We observe a film set where the first scene of “The Wonder” is being shot. The narrator presents it as a tale that demands our belief, just as the “characters” in the film do. We learn that the narrator is actually Kitty O’Donnell at the 25-minute mark, and she serves as a gentle reminder that without stories, we are nothing.
Nan or Anna breaks the fourth wall as she enters her name by staring directly into the camera, suggesting that she is aware that we are seeing her story develop. And in the movie’s climactic scenes, we see the camera disclose that the last eating scene is a set, and Kitty is standing there (dressed in contemporary attire) and saying, “In. Out. In. Out.” So far as my deductive abilities are concerned, “The Wonder” is essentially suggesting that these tales of girls being freed from various sorts of oppression are only imaginable in fiction.
Things are far more complicated in the actual world. But even if that involves repurposing the very tools and techniques that the system uses for abuse, we can take what we can from these experiences, stand by women who are in cages, and help assist their liberation.
Stream the “The Wonder” movie on Netflix.