Structure

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Beginning

The beginning of the short story – the exposition – makes the readers familiar with the context of the story and with the main character. The action takes place in New York in 1963, during a spring evening:

On an early evening in May of 1963, a young man with his hand in his pocket walked briskly up New York's Third Avenue. The air was soft and beautiful, the sky was darkening by slow degrees …

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Middle

The middle of the short story comprises the rising action and the climax. The rising action follows the man during his walk through the city from other characters’ points of view.

At first, there seems to be no tension in the story: “The young man crossed Sixty-third Street, walking with a bounce in his step and that same half-smile on his lips” (ll. 21-22). However, the ‘half-smile’ on the man’s face is a hint that something is not quite right. Also, when presenting the flowers sold by an old vendor, the reference to carnations (p. 176, l. 3) can be another hint at the dark end of the story as this type of flowers is usually bought for funerals.

The most obvious foreshadowing element is the news broadcast on the flower vendor’s radio: “…a hammer murderer was still on the loose;[…]; an unidentified woman had been pulled from the East River…” By the end of the story, it becomes clear that the young man is the hammer murderer mentioned in the news.

A minor tension point is introduced when the young man passes the flower vendor: “…the sound of the bad news faded. He hesitated, looked over his shoulder, and thought it over. […] For a moment his face seemed puzzled, lonely, almost haunted...” (p. 176, ll. 17-20) In the same passage, there is a reference to the man reaching something …

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