Why Doesn’t Clare Kill Carl E. at the End of The Stranger?

Veena Sud’s thriller film ‘The Stranger’ ends with Clare deciding not to kill Carl E., the stalker who harasses her all night. Even though she gets him at gunpoint, the cab driver picks up her dog Pebbles from his car and walks away rather than shooting him down. Despite Clare’s decision not to end his life, a pack of coyotes attacks the psychopathic killer, potentially killing him. Still, her sparing his life, especially considering his relentless and vicious pursuit of her, is expected to puzzle the viewers. Clare’s surprising decision is rooted in her wish to relish the unpredictable fate of her stalker! SPOILERS AHEAD.

Relishing the Fall of “God”

‘The Stranger’ ends with Clare pretending to be hopeless about her life’s future after being pursued by Carl E. for twelve hours. She hands Pebbles over to an animal shelter to make him believe that she is ready just to kill herself. Carl then abducts his target’s beloved pet to increase the misery she has been experiencing. He doesn’t know that a tracker in the dog leads Clare to his location so she can exact her vengeance on him. When he carelessly drives near a tunnel, Clare throws the tracking device at his car, which results in a crash.

After sustaining a severe injury, Carl is confronted by Clare, who points a gun at him. Instead of killing him, she walks away with Pebbles. As far as the cab driver is concerned, an instant death by gunshots is the least effective punishment she can give Carl in return for the atrocities he had been committing all night. He has made her eat fire for twelve hours. In addition, she has to deal with the death of J.J. and the distrust of the people around her, including her mother. She doesn’t want to grant him an easy exit from the cat-and-mouse game they have been playing against each other with a couple of gunshots.

By not killing Carl, Clare is relishing his psychological and physical fall. After running like a mouse for twelve hours, she has finally become a cat, and she doesn’t want to end the joy of the switch by killing him too quickly. “When she [Clare] shows up on that riverbank and picks up the gun, and she’s in full control of the situation, and she knows it, there is a truth to just how she’s standing there,” Veena Sud, who wrote and directed the film, told Entertainment Weekly. “Her body’s exhausted, she’s been through the wringer, she’s been running from this motherf—er [Carl] for 12 hours. And she’s done running, and she’s just going to stand there and relish it,” she added.

Clare is making Carl insignificant by not killing him. Throughout the film, he pursues her with a belief that he is omnipotent and omniscient as God. He predicts her moves and uses his skills to show up everywhere she ends up. Regardless of the help she receives, he finds a way to hurt her psychologically like an undefeatable force. He then displays his arrogance of being as untouchable as God. If Clare kills him, it would mean that she accepts him as a supreme being. By walking away from him, she establishes her victory over him and clarifies that she can survive and live without bothering to kill him.

Furthermore, Clare seemingly wants Carl to know what it means to be helpless. The cab driver causes the accident in a secluded location where her stalker cannot find help regardless of how long he cries for it. With a fractured bone, he is suffering a lot of pain, and Clare wants him to suffer the same without anyone rushing to him to help him, just like she has remained helpless for twelve hours. Without security cameras nearby where anyone can spot him, Carl’s cries for help are not expected to be answered. Clare is making him experience everything she has dealt with because of him and his actions.

Clare may have also known about the coyotes lurking behind the darkness in the tunnel since she encounters a pack while trying to escape from Carl with J.J. If that’s the case, she must be walking away from the murderer with the conviction that he is not going to remain alive for long even if she chooses not to end his life. She may have wanted his fall from a God-like figure to the feed of a pack of coyotes to sink into his mind to torment him psychologically. By sparing his life, Clare devalues Carl and reduces him to a big piece of meat, which is an appropriate punishment for him, considering his arrogance and viciousness.

Read More: Is Hulu’s The Stranger Inspired by a True Story?