What is the climax of the story "The Ambitious Guest"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Ambitious Guest," the climax, or the point of highest emotion, occurs some time after a young man appears at the door of the family who dwell in a cottage which is towered over by a mountain. While he talks with the family about his ambitions, and they are, in turn, inspired to volunteer their own desires, the family and their guest are so distracted that they do not hear the deep and terrible groan of "the slide." When they do become aware of the impending danger, they rush from their cottage to seek refuge in what they feel is a safer spot, but which tragically turns out not to be at all.

From their absorption in what their young guest tells them, these family members are inspired as a result of this effusive flow of emotion from the young man, who "...blushed at the ardor into which he had been betrayed."

Nevertheless, the family can only be moved by the youth's emotion and his enthusiasm. After the youth speaks, the listening family is motivated to speak of their own ambitions, ambitions about which others in the family have been unaware for years. As a result of the confidences exchanged, the family draw closer to each other and become more engaged with each other before their tragic ends.

reidalot eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The climax of the "Ambitious Guest" occurs after the family and Guest have disclosed all their "fancies" and the roaring sound of the Slide is upon them. They rush from the safety of their cottage to death.

Afterwards, it is ironically clear that once the family gave into their undisclosed fantasies and left the simpleness of their life behind, there was nothing left of them!