We do not learn why the narrator has been taken captive. When the story begins, he is in the midst of his trial, and while he sees his judges speaking, he is unable to hear them. He is overcome with horror. Later, he is so happy to have fallen on...
We do not learn why the narrator has been taken captive. When the story begins, he is in the midst of his trial, and while he sees his judges speaking, he is unable to hear them. He is overcome with horror. Later, he is so happy to have fallen on his face because, had he taken even one more step, he would have plummeted to his death in the pit in his pitch-black cell. He says,
my chin rested upon the floor of the prion, but my lips, and the upper portion of my head, although seemingly at a less elevation than the chin, touched nothing. At the same time, my forehead seemed bathed in a clammy vapor, and the peculiar smell of decayed fungus arose to my nostrils.
He realizes that he'd fallen just off the edge of a very deep and circular pit, and this fall has actually saved his life.
Later, the narrator escapes the pendulum by rubbing the oil and fat from the meat left for him onto the ligaments that bind him beneath the weapon and allowing the rats to come and gnaw on them until he is free. He sees that he
had not counted in vain upon their voracity. Observing that [he] remained without motion, one or two of the boldest leaped upon the framework, and smelt at the surcingle. This seemed the signal for a general rush.
After several minutes he realizes that the rats have freed him from his binds! The final danger he faces is the heating and movement of the walls that would seem to compel him to jump into the pit. He says that the room grew flatter and flatter" like a "lozenge" quite rapidly so that he barely has time to think. Just as he is about to fall, he is saved.