What is the climax of Appointment in Samarra?

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jules-cordry eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The climax of the story takes place in chapter 6, on the night of Christmas at the Stage Coach. All the main characters in the story converge in this scene as if to enable, and also witness, Julian’s grandiose fall into ruin. In one area of the club we see Helene Holman, who is trying to free herself from Al Grecco’s control. Close to them we see Lute and Irma Fliegler’s party, a handful of slightly drunk friends who are joking, cheering, bantering, and getting a little edgy. In the midst of this, Julian’s party shows up, representing the arrival of the crème de la crème of the Country Club and paving the way to the action that will round off the lively night. Once readers find out that Julian has decided to get very drunk because he is upset that Caroline refused to go out in the car with him at intermission, they know a disaster is waiting to happen. The dramatic tension increases as Julian visits Helene’s table after greeting the Flieglers and gets into a deep conversation with Al Grecco on the topic of scotch. Julian rejects Carter Davis’s invitation to rejoin Caroline and gets more flirtatious with Helene. Once he goes out to the car with her, it is clear that the damage has been done. Regardless of whether readers believe he did or did not have sex with Helene in the time the two of them spent outside, three things clearly indicate that the story has reached its climax: Caroline has been humiliated in front of members of all the social groups in the town, which is to say, in front of the whole town; Ed Charney, Gibbsville’s one and only mobster, has been publicly challenged; additionally, Julian’s posh friends have officially been repulsed. O’Hara’s performance in achieving this climactic moment is that of a virtuoso.

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Appointment in Samarra

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