all he knew—all he could hope to unravel of the story. The mute
lips on the pillow refused him more than this—unless indeed they
had told him the rest in the kiss they had left upon his forehead.
Yes, he could now read into that farewell all that his heart craved
to find there; he could even draw from it courage not to accuse
himself for having failed to reach the height of his opportunity.
The passage appears at the end of the
novel, when Selden finds Lily’s cold body after she has killed herself
by overdosing on sleeping medication. He has also found Lily’s check
to Trenor and is unsure of what to make of it. In his grief, Selden
reflects back to the last time he saw Lily, when she kissed him
on the forehead and said goodbye, presumably for a short while,
and finds in that moment that she had loved him too. He also finds
the courage to not blame himself for being too late in discovering
his own feelings for her. This bedside moment returns the reader’s
focus to romantic love. It also somewhat redeems Lily’s character
by both allowing for the possibility of her death being an accident
and bringing her love for Selden up again at the very end of the
novel. The reappearance of true love gives Lily’s tragic end a fated,
pitiable spin, instead of a desperate, money-hungry tone. Also,
it is appropriate that Selden, who opened the novel by observing
Lily from across the train station, finish the novel observing her
even more intimately, but with just as many questions in his mind.