He sat up. He smiled. Something heavy and winged took off from his chest.
Eleanor hadn’t written him a letter, it was a postcard.
Just three words long.
This quote, which occurs in Chapter 58 from Park’s perspective, are the last words in the book. Throughout the whole novel, Eleanor never says “I love you” to Park, even after he says it to her. She says that she wants him, and that she lives for him, but the word “love” doesn’t cross her lips. Eleanor trusts Park more than she trusts anyone else, and Park helps her open up and become vulnerable, but she is still not able to express love. Park has witnessed loving, trusting role models in his parents and grandparents for his whole life, but Eleanor has not grown up around adults in healthy, loving, consensual relationships. Even if she only recognizes the difficulty subconsciously, admitting love seems dangerous to Eleanor, because love could open her up to being betrayed or manipulated, as her mother has been by Eleanor’s dad and by Richie.
After Park drives Eleanor to Minnesota, he writes her letters and sends her packages, but Eleanor never responds to him. Eleanor can’t even bring herself to open the letters.
These “three words” at the end of the book aren’t necessarily “I love you.” The reader never gets to hear what they are. Like the Walkman or the comic books that Eleanor and Park share, the postcard becomes an intimate space where they can express themselves.
The postcard at the end of the book also demonstrates the importance of writing and literature throughout Eleanor & Park. Eleanor and Park first discuss love and romance in English class, where they debate Shakespeare’s sincerity in Romeo and Juliet. They read comics together and deepen their bond through the alternate reality that they find in these books. However, writing can also be hurtful. Anonymous lewd messages appear on Eleanor’s textbooks throughout the novel. When Eleanor discovers a threatening note from Richie, she realizes not only that he’s the one who’s been defacing her books all year long, but that she is no longer safe in her home. Writing has a great deal of power in Eleanor & Park, which also suggests that this novel itself can have a lot of power for its own readers.