" towards the end of a story
that suddenly gives it not only a happy ending
, but a meaning for all that has gone before, however terrible the events before. The eucatastrophe is the point at which your heart skips and you start to cry tears of joy
= 'good, well'; it's the good turning around.
The term was coined by J.R.R. Tolkien in his 1937 lecture On Fairy-Stories, in contrast with the catastrophe of tragedy. He regarded it as an especially salient part of the fairy-stories and other such great primal works of imagination: those that give Consolation. He says the "eucatastophic tale is the true form of fairy-tale, and its highest function."
Tolkien, as a Christian, regarded human sub-creation of worlds in stories as a reflection of God's creation of the Primary World, and the Incarnation as the eucatastrophe of this world's story.
He ended his essay quoting from a fairy tale, "The Black Bull of Norroway". The strongest example I've ever known of a eucatatrophe was in The Railway Children, and if you don't know it, you should, and if you do know it you know exactly what's coming: on the second-last page,
"Oh! my Daddy! my Daddy!'