In "The Cold Equations" what questions keep you turning the pages?

Asked on by jorjie10

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Your question relates to the role of suspense in the story and how it is created and sustained throughout to make us literally sit on the edge of our seats and want to keep on reading right up until the very end of the short story. What adds greatly to the suspense is the way that the opening of this futuristic short story makes it precisely clear what the pilot must do with the stowaway on his ship. The harshness of the situation is made clear by the narrator, who states:

The stowaway had signed his own death warrant when he concealed himself on the ship; he could not be permitted to take seven others with him.

The cold and precise equations of space travel mean that there is no other option but to jettison the stowaway. Yet what crucially changes the picture is the way in which this stowaway is shown to be a young girl who is completely ignorant of the seriousness of her predicament. This makes both us and the pilot begin to hope against hope that there might be someway in which the life of this girl can be saved and not ended so cruelly. This is the biggest question that keeps us turning the pages as we want there to be a way out.

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