Love Story Ending Explained: What Love Really Means

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Written By Sedoso Feb

Oliver is the bright, beautiful heir of an old-money East Coast family. He attends Harvard College and is a standout player for the school’s hockey team. He becomes smitten with Jenny (Ali MacGraw), the daughter of a blue-collar baker (John Marley). He’s destined for Harvard law school, while she is eager to put her Radcliffe College classical music degree to use as a teacher. Oliver is a glowing exemplar of New England privilege, but he’s sensitive. He leads with his heart, which infuriates his parents who want him to marry into more money. When Oliver announces he intends to wed Jenny, his family cuts him off financially.

Look, the movie works. We’re as smitten with these kids as they are with each other, and as we watch them struggle to make ends meet, we really want to do bad things to Ray Milland. Amazingly, they pull through, with Oliver landing a high-paying gig at a corporate law firm in New York City. Alas, just when it appears they’ve weathered the worst, despite Oliver’s family’s cruelly punitive efforts, Jenny is diagnosed with terminal cancer.

The rest of the film is a predetermined wallow, but O’Neal and MacGraw play their sad-sack parts with emotive zeal. Our abhorrence of Milland goes nuclear when he unwittingly agrees to pay for Jenny’s cancer treatment because Oliver lies to him about having knocked up another woman (something the patriarch clearly did during his backsliding days), but we know this is going south because Oliver’s kiss-off line to his father is the poster’s freaking tagline.

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