Ana wakes up suddenly and realizes that both Maya and the shotgun are missing. In panic, she races through the woods. When she gets to the jogging track and takes in the scene, she hugs Maya, and they go home. The next morning, Ana goes back and recovers the dropped cartridge. If anybody ever asks her about what happened that night, she just says, “Sorry, I didn’t see that incident.”
Ana’s closing remark is an ironic reference back to the neutral “no comment” offered by Kevin to a sports reporter. There, it was an indication of Beartown’s culture of silence. Here, it’s a marker of the two friends’ enduring loyalty to each other.
Benji limps into the Beartown rink on his crutches and finds Peter. He tells Peter that his foot should be healed in time for the first A-team game, as long as Sune agrees that he’s ready to play. Peter admits to Benji that they might not be able to pay the A-team any wages next season; and, anyway, Benji would have much better opportunities in Hed. Benji just shrugs and answers, “But I’m from Beartown.”
Beartown is attempting to rebuild its A-team, and loyal Benji, despite his talent, is happier to play for free than to join the Hed team. Here, the positive side of the town’s deep commitment to loyalty outshines the negative side.
Later that year, four teenagers are teaching a kids’ skating class: Amat, Zacharias, Bobo, and Benji. Ten years from now, two of them will be professional hockey players, one will be a father, and one of them will be dead.
Backman doesn’t reveal the individual destinies of the four players. Significantly, though, the “outsiders” have stuck around Beartown together, while others have sought more substantial fortunes elsewhere. Because of the way Beartown has shifted in the wake of the town meeting, even lower-ranked players like Zach get more opportunity to shine. Plus, the revelation that two of the players become professionals shows that sticking with Beartown didn’t actually limit their careers in the way some people feared.
The last child onto the ice is four years old, scrawny, and covered bruises. Although the boys at center ice will build a new Beartown A-team, nobody will remember that 10 years from now. They’ll be talking about the girl “who will become the most talented player this club has ever seen.” Everybody will claim they knew it all along, “because people recognize the bear around here,” and “cherry trees always smell of cherry trees.”
The little girl discovered by Adri and Sune starts playing hockey—again reminiscent of the young, bruised Peter Andersson. She, too, “the bear” in her, but now it’s a symbol of complex progress as well as simple power. Though no one realizes it at the time, she symbolizes Beartown’s future—both the ways it’s changing as well as its long legacy of fierce, promising hockey players.