What is the Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, and Falling Action of "One Thousand Dollars"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator
  • Exposition

A "decidedly amused" Bobby Gillian leaves the offices of Tolman & Sharp where he is given an envelope containing $1000.00, a sum willed to him by his uncle. He has been told that he must render an account for how he spends this sum as soon as he disposes of it. Gillian finds this "a confoundedly awkward amount"; so, he sets out to ask advice on how to spend this money at the men's club.

  • Rising Action

After arriving at the men's club, Gillian talks to the cynical Old Bryson, who has himself sequestered in a corner with a book in the hope of being left alone. His cryptic reply to Gillian's request for suggestions on how to spend this inherited $1000.00 is for the young man to give his chorus girl friend a diamond necklace. Or, he adds sardonically, Gillian could move to Idaho: "I advise a sheep ranch, as I have a particular dislike for sheep."

Realizing that his conversation with Bryson is a waste of time, Gillian phones for a cab and goes to the Columbine Theatre where he offers Miss Lotta Lauriere "a little thing in the pendant line," but she rejects his offer because her friend received a more expensive necklace from Tiffany's the other night. So, Gillian departs, asking the cab driver what he would do with a thousand dollars. But, he is dissatisfied with the driver's answer, so Gillian gets out of the cab and talks with a blind man. This man's response is nothing that Gillian accepts, either. Next, Gillian has the cab take him to the law office where he asks lawyer Tolman if Miss Hayden, the ward of his late uncle, was left anything other $10 and a ring as have the others. "Nothing," replies Mr. Tolman.

Gillian returns to his uncle's house where he finds Miss Hayden. He tells her that he has just come from Tolman & Sharp's where he has been given another thousand for Miss Hayden because of an "amendment or postscript or something." Gillian also tells her, "...you know I love you." But, Miss Hayden gathers the money and replies, "I am sorry."

Disappointed, Gillian asks if he may write a note before leaving. On the paper he writes his account of the money he has received,

Paid by the black sheep, Robert Gillian, $1000 in account of the eternal happiness, owed by Heaven to the best and dearest woman on earth.

Then, Gillian returns to the law offices.

  • Climax

Gillian returns to the law offices where the two old lawyers pull from a safe a codicil to his uncle's will which bequeaths to Gillian $50,000.00 if he has spent the first sum unselfishly; if he has not, the sum is to go to Miss Hayden.

  • Falling Action

When Gillian hears this, he quickly snatches from Mr. Tolman's hand the envelope with his record of how he has spent the $1000.00, and he tears it into pieces. He tells the lawyers,

"I lost the thousand dollars on the races. Good-day to you, gentlemen."   

  • Resolution

When they hear Gillian, lawyers Tolman and Sharp mournfully shake their heads as they feel that Gillian has continued what his uncle termed "reprehensible dissipation."

Whistling as he departs, Gillian feels good about his act of love for Miss Hayden.

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