Structure

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Beginning

The story begins with an exposition that introduces the setting and the main character. In line with the title, this also gives the reader false expectations. The setting is peaceful, and the main character is a child who is throwing stones into a river:

The cool green water slipped along the streambed, bubbling around smooth brown stones, reflecting the melancholy willows that lined the bank. Marnie sat on the grass, tossing stones into a deep pool, watching ripples spread in ever-widening circles and lap at the muddy banks. (p. 420, ll. 1-5)

This description ho…

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Middle

In the rising action, we are presented with another flashback and we are given more information about Marnie. We know that she started school last September, that she enjoys Christmas, and that her mother gave birth to twins in March. The fact that she does not see her siblings as being people like her could be a foreshadowing element that she might be psychologically disturbed. We also know that Pinkie has recently had six kittens, and that Marnie is very happy about that, although she is also afraid she might lose them again. “What if God was watching again like last year?” (p. 421, ll. 28-29). This fear causes tension to increase.

When her father…

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Ending

The ending of the story presents events from the point of view of Marnie’s father, who, for the first time is referred to by the name “Walter Caufield”. He returns home to find his wife lying at the foot of the stairs next to an overturned table. She seems to try to tell him that the twins have been drowned in the bathtub. This could be considered the climax of the story: “She looked up at him out of eyes t…

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