Structure

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Beginning

The exposition introduces the setting and characters of the short story as the narrator describes the place where she used to live as a child. Her mother draws attention to the gravel pit, making it an important element of the setting. The way she talks about the pit is essential: “she’d tell people, and laugh, because she was so happy to have shed everything connected…

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Middle

The rising action is set off by a backstory. The narrator recalls the time when the summer theater was established in their town. She remembers her father, who was an insurance agent and travelled a lot, and her mother who volunteered at the theater as an usher.

The changes in the mother’s behavior foreshadow her affair and decision to leave her husband. However, the narrator does not understand these changes at first, as she is too young to notice them.

A tension point is created when the mother announces her pregnancy and reveals that the baby is Neal’s. This triggers her decision…

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Ending

In the falling action, the narrator reveals that she created a dream version in which the event plays out differently. Caro is “swimming strongly”, and she has a “proud successful face”. By coming up with this version of events, the narrator tries to erase her guilt. In the dream, she is running towards Caro and has no responsibility: “All I have to do is watch and be happy—nothing required of me, after all”.

The narrator also reveals through a backstory that she sought medical h…

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