‘End Of The Rope’ Ending Explained & Movie Recap: Does The Mob Lynch Charles Bannon?

Based on a true story from North Dakota, on the last known lynching in the state, End of the Rope by Charlie Griak is a cruel showcase of pent-up anger in a large number of people. Adapted from Dennis Edward Johnson’s novel of the same title, Griak does a wonderful job at portraying McKenzie County and what unfolded there in 1931. Barring the extended length of the film, this historical drama is a captivating insight into the events that took place.


Spoilers Ahead

What happens in the movie?

CA Jacobson, the sheriff of the small town of Schafer, North Dakota, loses his two daughters when his house catches fire. The townsfolk believe that the only person present there at that time, the farmhand Charles Bannon, set the fire. CA drowned in the grief and decided to step down from his Sheriff duties to start a secluded life as a farmer alongside his wife Sara. Three years have passed, and CA finds himself unable to pay his bills. The state attorney, Sam Taylor, insists that CA take his old job back, but he’s too broken to accept it. When CA’s longtime friend and Council member Albert Haven and his family go missing, CA takes it upon himself to find out what happened to them. 


What did Lulia tell CA a month before their disappearance?

Struggling to financially sustain themselves, CA met Albert and his wife Lulia. Albert is a jolly man with a big heart, and he understands CA’s problems. His wife, Lulia, is a close friend of his and Sara’s, and she is worried about their condition. Lulia hesitantly tells CA that Albert has hired Charles Bannon to look after his farm. Albert tries to justify his decision as he can’t watch someone starving to death, and the drought is harsh on the population. He also helps CA with the money he needs to keep his farm and house. Before CA leaves the house, Lulia tells him that if anything happens to her, it’s Bannon who did it. A month later, CA finds out that the family has vanished into thin air. He gets to know that Bannon is supposedly looking after the farm and carrying around an agreement that states that the Haven family has put him in charge of the farm. 

How does Jarvis conspire to start a riot?

Jarvis is an alcoholic who lives in the town, and he’s furious over the fact that Bannon is involved in the Haven family’s disappearance. CA and Sam find evidence that Bannon had a hand here, and CA presumes that the family is dead. Jarvis riles up the people of the town, saying that Bannon didn’t stop after killing CA’s daughters, and now he’s murdered the whole family. The town folk give into his propaganda and plan to deliver justice by their own means, and Jarvis suggests that Bannon should be hanged. Since North Dakota doesn’t have a death penalty, Jarvis successfully gets the people behind him to kill Bannon. 


What does Bannon’s mother do to save him?

Bannon’s mother is pretty much an unstable woman and known as an abusive mother who used to hit Charles most of his life. When CA and Sam go to her to find out where Charles is, she only criticizes the elite for always pinning the blame on her son. With no help from her, CA asks Charles’ little brother if he knows anything. The boy points out a small cabin, where CA finds that Charles is escaping and is about to catch a train. CA takes the help of Jarvis and his men to catch up to him, and Jarvis does get him by the river, brutally beating him up. After he’s taken into custody, Charles still doesn’t confess. The next morning, his mother comes with a lawyer, who makes him write a confession. According to the statement, Lulia was mentally ill, and that was affecting the marriage. There was a mysterious man who used to come visit her whenever she had these phases of insanity, and he calmed her down while Albert and Charles waited outside. One day Charles found out that Lulia had killed her baby, and then she shot the rest of her kids and Albert one by one. Then Lulia ran off with the man and left Charles in charge. He also gives a map of where to find the bodies, and the sheriff and his team do find them. They couldn’t find Lulia’s corpse, and Sam thinks it’s now impossible to pin Charles for the murder since his story lines up. CA decides to dig up the entire farm by himself if that’s what it takes to find Lulia’s body, and Jarvis gathers the townsfolk in the church to execute Charles Bannon. 

How does CA try to save Charles?

Jarvis creates a hostile environment in the church to provoke the people of the town into killing Bannon. Jarvis’ fiancé, Iris, tries to warn CA while he keeps digging to find Lulia. Sara sees Sam moving the bodies into a truck, and she doesn’t handle it well. In the still of night, she leaves the house. The next morning, CA comes back to town to see the people preparing to establish justice. He tries to talk with Jarvis, but he won’t listen to CA. Sam thinks it’s best to leave and let the mob do their thing, but CA takes Bannon into Sam’s car, and they drive away. Jarvis and his men follow Sam, only to see that there’s nobody else in the car except him. CA takes Bannon to the old jail, which has been shut down for years. Seeing CA trying so much to save him, Bannon reads a poem he wrote for him. The poem is about CA’s life, which is full of sorrow, but doesn’t stop him from carrying on. CA stops him, and Bannon breaks out in tears, telling him that the fire was an accident. Bannon has always been tossed around, and CA’s daughters are the only two people who love him. CA asks him if he killed the Havens, and he finally confesses. He draws a map to find Lulia’s body and writes his statement down. CA locks up the cell and gives the key to Bannon, hoping that the mob won’t be able to take the cell down so easily. 


How does the mob lynch Charles Bannon?

Jarvis brings all of the town together to execute Bannon, and all of them are wearing masks to hide their identities. They take the door down and start to beat CA up, asking him to give up the keys to the cell. CA refuses to back down and takes the beating, but Charles asks them to stop. He agrees to give them the keys in exchange for CA’s life, and the mob locks CA up after taking Charles away. They take Charles to a bridge and give him the noose, and Jarvis asks if he has any last wishes. Charles simply says that it’s them who started this, and it should be them who end it. They make him stand up on the bridge while the rope is around his neck and give him a choice: he’s to jump himself or one of them should push him. Charles begs for mercy and asks somebody to help him, but nobody comes forward. A woman in a mask, possibly Sara, pushes him off the bridge, snapping his neck effectively. The next morning, CA is supposed to tell the higher authorities who killed Charles, as he was the only one present there. Despite Sam telling him to confess the truth, Charles chooses not to send the entire town to jail. He loses his Sheriff’s badge for not telling the truth, but he goes back to his old life with a broken hand. Sara comes back to him, and the couple starts their lives again. 

Nobody in that town was ever put on trial for having a part in lynching Charles Bannon, and that’s only because of the righteous Sheriff who didn’t turn his back on them. This remains one of the darkest chapters of North Dakota’s history, and you can’t justify a lynching, no matter how guilty a person is. The people of Schafer ignored law and order to punish a teenager who they thought was a danger to them, but we have to ask ourselves one question. What’s scarier, a sociopath or a raging mob out for blood? 


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Aniket Mukherjee
Aniket Mukherjee
Aniket is a literature student pursuing his master's degree while trying to comprehend Joyce and Pound. When his head is not shoved in books, he finds solace in cinema and his heart beats for poetry, football, and Adam Sandler in times.

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