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The Climax of a Story

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I was talking to my Honors English 3 teacher about figures of speech and I asked her what classifies a climax. The way my 8th grade teacher, who actually was a really good literature teacher, taught me was that it was three things rising in degrees of intensity at the peak of the rising action. Or the anti-climax is the exact opposite with three things falling in degrees and at the bottom of the falling action. So my question is what exactly defines a climax of a story? That's what I'm a little confused on. I don't think it needs to be three things but it's just a question that my teacher and I would like answered.


Mar 2, 2008
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Your teacher was right. A rising force, a steady growth in intensity, whether it is in literature of music, is known as the crescendo (but this word is usually associated with music). And the climax is the highest point of intensity; the turning point in the plot of a narrative might be how you find a climax in a story.

Maybe you could suggest a book that you have read and one of us could direct you to the part where the climax is found (of course, if one of us has read the book!). A climatic event I can think of is in James Joyce's The Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man where the protaganist makes the vital decision to become and artist as opposed to becoming a priest.

ps. I hear commentators of sport and culture use the phrase, "and the "game' is building up to a crescendo" grrrggg...
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