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This is a humorous story that deals with both mortality and human ingenuity - and how that ingenuity can get in the way. Twain was known for his belief that the human brain could be a dangerous object. In this story, the narrator and the expressman, Thompson, are intelligent enough to connect the smell of the cheese to the smell of the rotting corpse. Of course, that connection is inaccurate. They are intelligent enough to come up with ideas to battle the smell. Of course, each idea they have actually makes the smell worse. They are intelligent enough to know that staying out on the platform is unhealthy. Of course, they make a decision that it is better to stay out there than to suffer the smell of the cheese. The climax of the story is the decision to remain outside, because it is that decision that leads to their downfall. They have caused their own mortality in their conviction that they are better off cold than dealing with the smell. The falling action of the story is short and involves only the removal of the two men from the platform and the sickness that follows for the narrator. The resolution of the story is the death of the narrator - although he doesn't actually die before the end of the narration, he lets readers know that he is going home to die.
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