'The Man in the High Castle': How Book's Ending Explains the Season 4 Finale

The Amazon Prime Video series The Man in the High Castle was in a lot of ways very different from the Philip K. Dick novel it was based on, as the show expanded and diverged from the book. This meant that the ending of the series, which was released by Amazon on November 15, was very different from the end of the book.

However, the ending of the 1962 novel may provide some answers who found themselves perplexed by the final moments of the series. In the show, viewers saw people from another world start to go through the portal created by the Nazis. Many found themselves confused by this scene and were left wondering what these people were doing in the Greater Nazi Reich and how they would help bring the reign of the Nazis to an end.

In contrast, the book ended with Juliana Crain (played in the series by Alexa Davalos) discovering that The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, a forbidden book written by Hawthorne Abendsen (Stephen Root) that depicts a world where the Allies won World War II, is real and that the characters are living in a false reality.

Clearly, these two endings are very different and show some more differences between the show and book—for example, in the series, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy is a forbidden film reel rather than a novel. However, the themes that are revealed by the conclusion of the book match those of the series.

In the book, Hawthorne (also known as The Man in the High Castle) is called "an external frame of reference," whose work allows readers to realize that the reality they are living in is not the only possible reality. Each one of the people from another reality who comes through the portal, presumably from a place where the Allies won the war, provides their own living frame of reference which, once they intermingle with the population of the GNR, should help the latter also realize that the reality they are living in can be different.

man in the high castle book ending
"The Man in the High Castle" book's ending suggests an explanation for the Season 4 finale. Penguin

However, the series seems to suggest more dramatic change than the book does.

In the final moments of the novel, Crain tells Hawthorne that he has channeled the "true" reality through his writing, a reality where Germany and Japan lost the war. However, Hawthorne is unable to process the information that a world where the Nazis did not win the war is possible and grows angry that Crain revealed this information to him.

While this seems to suggest one person was unable to process the information, in the Amazon series, dozens or even hundreds of people make their way through the portal into the GNR from a timeline where the Allies won the war. This suggests that if enough of these people spread the knowledge about what they know, it could bring the Nazi reign to an end and change society.

The Man in the High Castle Season 4 is streaming now on Amazon Prime.