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What is the falling action in the story "The Tell-tale Heart"?

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bails27 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 24, 2011 at 10:56 AM via web

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What is the falling action in the story "The Tell-tale Heart"?

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted February 24, 2011 at 11:48 AM (Answer #1)

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In this classic short story by Edgar Allan Poe, the falling action starts with the man's dismembering the old man's body and burying it under the floor boards and continues through the arrival and questioning by the investigators and his imagining being able to hear the still beating heart of the man he killed.  Falling action is typically the event or series of events that immediately follow the climax and lead to the ultimate resolution of the story.  In this case, the resolution is the man spilling out the truth that he is the murderer.  He is driven to this final reveal by his guilt over his what he has done. 

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friedch1cken | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted October 18, 2011 at 3:16 AM (Answer #2)

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"The Tell-Tale Heart" is an unusual story because it ends at the climax; it has no falling action. Edgar Allan Poe wanted to create the most memorable effect on the reader that he possibly could, so he ends the story at the climax, the moment of highest action in the story. He does not include any fallen action because falling action might soften the effect of the story. 
Poe sought to create a memorable impression, and ending a story at the climax is like ending with an exclamation point; ending with a falling action is like ending with a period. Unlike stories that contain a section of falling action, this story provides no answers to the reader's questions. The story leaves the reader wondering.

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