THE AMBITIOUS GUEST By: Nathaniel Hawthorne First Published: 1835 Type of Plot: Domestic realism Time of Work: The early 1800's Setting: Notch of the White Hills, Massachusetts Characters: The Ambitious Guest, Mother, Father, Eldest daughter, Aged grandmother, Younger children Genres: Short fiction, Domestic realism Subjects: Family or family life, Death or dying, Storms, Ambition, Disasters, Natural disasters Locales: Massachusetts What is the plot in the story the ambitious guest? In: Plot and Setting EXPOSITION A young traveler stops for the night with a family that lives in a "notch" next to a mountain. They make friendly conversation, interrupted once by the sound of a wagon carrying other travelers (who pause but do not go inside, continuing on with their journey) and then by the sound of rocks falling from the slope. The father reassures the visitor that rockfalls happen regularly without causing harm, but that the family has a "safe place" to go in the event of a serious collapse. ~~~~~~~~~~ COMPLICATION The group carries on with their friendly conversation. The visitor acknowledges that he is young and has no accomplishments of note, but hopes he will have "achieved my destiny" before he dies and then "I shall have built my monument!" The father expresses the wish for a more humble legacy, and the aged grandmother makes a request for her dying day. ~~~~~~~~~~ CLIMAX Suddenly, they are alarmed by the sound of a much larger avalanche. They scream in fear of "The Slide!" and bolt outside for their safe place. But they are all caught up in the rockslide and killed, while the house is completely undamaged. Their bodies are swept away and never found. The narrator notes that some who see the house later think there is evidence of a visitor that night, but others disagree - the young man has in fact died without leaving any trace of his life. VOCABULARY DESPONDENCY: ( adj ) extremely unhappy and without hope: Gill had been out of work for a year and was getting very despondent. PRECIPICE: ( noun ) a very steep side of a high rock, mountain or cliff: A loose rock tumbled over the precipice. INCLEMENCY: ( adj ) bad weather ( rough, or harsh, stormy ) The inclemency of the weather didn’t permit us to continue our journey. RUMBLE: ( verb ) to make a series of long low sounds, especially a long distance away from you: We could hear thunder rumbling in the distance. MIRTH: ( noun ) happiness and laughter: Her body began to shake with mirth. LAMENTATION: ( noun ) deep sadness or something that expresses it: There was lamentation throughout the land at news of the defeat. SOLITUDE: ( noun ) when you are alone, especially when this is what you enjoy: Carl spent the morning in solitude. PRIMITIVE: ( adj ) characteristic of early ages or of an early state of human development: Show me those primitive books you have. YEARNING: ( noun ) a strong desire for something: He had a deep yearning to return to his home town. PERTINACIOUS: ( adj ) continuing to believe something or to do something in a very determined way: The pertinacious rain caused the flood.