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La Salle's perfect timing and arrival to save the hero in "The Pit and the Pendulum" is frequently referred to as a literary device known as "deus ex machina," which translates as 'god from the machine' which may sound a little confusing. Simply put, 'deus ex machina' occurs in a story when some unexpected object, event, or character swoops in to save the hero at the last minute, usually from a circumstance in which he would have ordinarily been facing certain doom. "The Pit and the Pendulum" is a perfect example of this; the narrator nearly died from a tragic fall into the pit, only to be saved by the outstretched arm of the French General La Salle. While the last minute rescue of La Salle does temporarily relieve the reader that the narrator is no longer in mortal peril, such endings often prove less satisfactory than if the hero would have been able to extricate himself from the conflict based on his own wit, strength, merit, or ingenuity.
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