What event signifies the climax of the story "The Lost Beautifulness" by Anzia Yezierska?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Yezierska's short story "The Lost Beautifulness," the climax occurs when Hanneh destroys the beauty she has created in the kitchen.

The story revolves around the kitchen she has painted for her son's return home. Hanneh has saved her pennies over the years by doing laundry for Mrs. Preston. Mrs. Preston has a beautiful home of great beauty, and it is from her employer's home that Hanneh gets the idea to paint the kitchen.

Her husband complains about the waste of money, but Hanneh is overwhelmed by what she has created. Even her friends and neighbors praise the wonderful work she has done. And every time she looks at it, she is reminded again of the gift she has received in being able to create such a thing of beauty.

When the landlord sees what she has done, he raises her rent twice. Ultimately, he takes her to court, where Hanneh is told that if she cannot pay the new rent, she must leave her apartment.

Returning home, Hanneh is devastated. She shares her despair with the butcher. His advice is that if she must leave, she should not leave the beautiful kitchen for the landlord to use to make more money. If it happened to him, he swears he would destroy it.

That evening, in a moment of pure rage, this is exactly what Hanneh does: she takes an axe to the walls and burns the gas high enough to scorch the ceiling black. This is the climax of the story.

However, after she has done this, she is amazed at what wildness must have possessed her to do such a thing; she has indeed destroyed the kitchen, but in doing so, she has destroyed the beauty she created, and she feels as if she has destroyed her very soul.

It is in this condition her son finds her, evicted from her apartment, and sitting on the curb, with her worldly goods on the ground around her.