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Let us remember that the climax of a work of literature is the moment of heighest emotional intensity, which is what the rising action leads up to. If we think about the plot of this novel, then, we can see that the climax is actually after Mattie loses her grandfather and finds Nell, and begins to look after her. The conflict of man against disease reaches its climax when Nell gets sick with the fever, and Mattie is trying to save another loved person from the fever that has robbed Mattie of her youth and so many people who are around her. As Nell's life hangs in the balance, it is Mattie and Eliza's choice to adopt an alternative course of treatment that helps Nell survive, as they treat Nell according to the French approach, with lots of fresh air, drink and rest. Nell in the novel symbolises hope for a future that is full of possibilities and potential, and this important conflict is the climax in the novel because of the way that it points towards a plague-free future and the development of Mattie from a child to an adult.

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