Dolores Driscoll seems to have gone on with her life only slightly affected by the occurrence. The demolition derby proved that her and Abbott are trying to continue the traditions they once held. The community views her in a different light and even neglect her presence. Billy Ansel was the only one able to communicate with her because he did not judge her like the rest of the town.
The Sweet Hereafter was concluded with an empty ending. The reader is left with an uncertain perspective on how the rest of life in Sam Dent was going to be. In the reaction the community gave Nichole at the end of the novel was suggestive of some life the town of Sam Dent still had in it. Yet, when Dolores Driscoll was chosen to be the last speaker, it was because she was the only narrator with a clear perspective from behind the public.
She used the title to conclude that the sweet hereafter was the time in Sam Dent after the accident. The sweet hereafter is left to represent basically a dead town and life without the children and sense of togetherness was going to tear the town apart. No longer would there be any small greetings or helping hands. This is what the reader is left to determine since the author left the plot with a conclusion that was not entirely conclusive.
Although the ending leaves room to imagine life in the aftermath, this does not make the novel at an artistic fault. It simply means that the lives of Billy Ansel, the Burnell?s, and the Driscoll?s will be left for the reader to ascertain and form one?s own conclusion. The only evidence the author truly leaves the reader is shown in this quote, ?And even if we weren?t dead, in an important way which no longer puzzled or frightened me and which I therefore no longer resisted, we were as good as dead? (Banks, 254). This shows the reader that the sweet hereafter is a way to show life is gone although people still live, and the rest is somewhat a mystery.