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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the short story "The Knife Thrower," the last candidate is a young girl named Laura. During the night, Hensch performed a series of impressive knife throwing acts that left his audience in awe of his prowess. During the last segment of his performance, he inflicts the artful wound on three volunteers: his assistant, a high schooler named Susan, and a fifteen-year-old boy named Thomas. However, it is Hensch’s final performance that baffles his audience.

After the assistant invites a brave volunteer to come on stage for the "ultimate sacrifice," a mark that could be received only once in a person’s lifetime, the crowd is hesitant. Nevertheless, Laura raises her hand and makes her way to the front. The narrator states that after this, things happened so fast that they neither had time to protest nor stop what was about to happen. Soon after, Hensch released his knife and Laura’s body fell to the floor.

According to the narrator, it is unclear whether or not the last candidate died. The people believed that Hensch was so hell-bent on securing his reputation as the greatest knife thrower that he would be willing to stage the Laura act. However, the narrator also recounts numerous rumors involving the police and charges as well as countercharges that arose after Hensch’s performance. The narrator also asserts that even though they acknowledge that it is necessary for Hensch to develop new acts in order to stay relevant in a highly competitive environment, they agree that he crossed the line by endangering people’s lives.

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The Knife Thrower

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