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Little Fires Everywhere Ending, Explained

April 22, 2020
4 min read

Hulu’s ‘Little Fires Everywhere‘ has maintained a compelling mystery at the heart of its suburban drama throughout the first seven episodes of the mini-series. In the series finale, the show manages to answer viewers’ questions satisfactorily. Moreover, the finale also turns out to be the most intense episode of the well-paced show as the drama literally reaches the highest decibel. ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ is an adaptation of Celeste Ng’s novel of the same name. It stars Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington in leading roles. SPOILERS AHEAD!

Little Fires Everywhere Plot Summary

Witherspoon plays the character of Elena, a suburban mother of four, with a seemingly perfect life. The central mystery of ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ revolves around Elena’s house catching fire and the person that was responsible for it.

Mia, a nomadic artist, moves into Elena’s town, Shaker Heights, with her daughter, Pearl. Elena allows them to rent an apartment of hers. Soon, the lives of Pearl and Mia start to get intertwined with those of Elena’s family members. Elena’s younger son, Moody, develops a crush for Pearl. However, Pearl is attracted to Elena’s eldest child, Trip, and the two start seeing each other soon.

Elena does not get along with her youngest child, Izzy. Soon, Izzy starts to form a connection with Mia. On the other hand, Mia finds out that her coworker, Bebe had to abandon her baby daughter some time ago as she couldn’t afford to buy her food. Soon, Mia realizes that the adopted daughter of one of Elena’s friends, Linda is Bebe’s abandoned daughter, Mirabelle. After that, Mia helps Bebe as she attempts to get custody of Mirabelle again. Unfortunately, this puts Mia and Elena against each other.

In the final episode of ‘Little Fires Everywhere,’ a verdict to the case between Bebe and Linda over Mirabelle’s custody is reached. The court grants Mirabelle’s custody to Linda. However, Bebe kidnaps Mirabelle from Linda’s home and goes to Canada with her.

Mia honestly tells Pearl why she did not tell her biological parents about her (Pearl). Pearl forgives Mia. Elena asks Mia to vacate the apartment. Izzy sees Pearl and Mia leave Shaker Heights and gets extremely angry. She tries to set fire to her clothes. Elena tells her that she never wanted her upon finding out that she wanted to set fire to her clothes. Izzy leaves the apartment. When Elena does not try to stop her, the other Richardson kids get angry at Elena and decide to light little fires in each of their rooms.

Pearl and Mia go to the house of the latter’s parents. Pearl writes a few words on the way and asks Mia to read them while she goes to meet her (Pearl’s) biological parents. Pearl writes how one can escape the cage they are in once they see it.

Elena, on the other hand, goes to Mia’s former apartment to look for Izzy. She does not find Izzy but finds a work of art that Mia left. The artwork is a model of Shaker Heights with various photos, and news articles hung on the wall. There is a cage with a bird’s feather in it. You can read the full recap of the final episode here.

The Ending Explained

Many viewers might have wondered what the ending of ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ signifies. Well, the bird feather that Elena sees in the cage is from 1991. Recall the flashback scene that is shown at the start of the finale. It depicts how Izzy had gotten an injured bird inside the house. When the bird was ushered outside, Izzy had found a feather. Now, the feather that Elena sees in the cage might not be the same feather that Izzy had seen in 1991.

However, it signifies how Elena is caged in her picture-perfect life, which is not so perfect after all, just like Shaker Heights. You can read more about the true story of Shaker Heights and why its integration policies are flawed here. 

For Elena, the feather signifies how she is obsessed with maintaining her seemingly perfect life. It shows how her obsession has cost her everything. It depicts how Izzy could see through Elena’s below-the-surface imperfection and “escaped.” This is also connected to Pearl’s words that Mia reads towards the end. The scene signifies how, according to Pearl, a person can be free if he/she is able to see the cage he/she is in.

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