Special Sub-Topic: The Pit and the Pendulum
|What is the famous first line of this story?|
I was sick-sick unto death with that long agony.... The prisoner at the beginning of "The Pit and the Pendulum" is bound and taken to a prison where he later receives "the sentence-the dread sentence of death."
|What phenomenon does the narrator discuss in great detail?|
swooning. The narrator faints, but is amazed that he has remained semi-conscious of his surroundings.
|What object does the narrator believe he is enclosed in after he recovers from his faint?|
a tomb. The narrator begins to believe he is dead and locked in a tomb. He searches the cold, damp floor and is certain that he is right.
|What object does the narrator attempt to retrieve from his clothing?|
a knife. " I therefore sought the knife which had been in my pocket..." The narrator is dismayed to discover his clothes had been replaced by
"a wrapper of coarse serge".
|When the narrator awoke from his first nap in the chamber, what did he find beside him?|
loaf of bread and a pitcher of water. The narrators finds this gift by groping the floor nearest him.
|When the narrator explores his prison chamber, he believes it to be a rectangle of 100 yards in circuit.|
f. The narrator's journey around his cell reveal a circuit of 50 yards. The narrator explains that there are too many angles and niches in the wall to determine the chamber's shape.
|Daring to walk across the chamber, the narrator trips on the torn hem of his robe and falls. He then makes a discovery that:|
his chin touches the floor, but his lips and upper head didn't touch solid surface. "At the same time my forehead seemed bathed in a clammy vapor and the peculiar smell of decayed fungus arose to my nostrils." The narrator soon comes to the conclusion that he has fallen at the brink of a large circular pit.
|After the narrator's initial discovery, he becomes convinced there are deep wells throughout the chamber.|
t. The narrator is terrified and decides to stay close to the walls from then on out.
|Why does a deep sleep overcome the narrator?|
drugged water. "It must have been drugged; for I scarcely had I drunk, before I became irresistibly drowsy."
|The prison cell was constructed out of which material?|
iron. The cell was made of huge iron plates.
|The narrator is placed upon a wooden framework and bound tightly except for which two body parts?|
head and left arm. There was an earthen dish of seasoned meat placed beside the narrator's left arm.
|A noise coming from the pit attracts the narrator's attention. What animal began to issue from the hole?|
rats. The rats are drawn by the stench of the seasoned meat and crawl around the narrator as he tries to scare them away.
|The narrator suddenly becomes aware of a swinging pendulum descending very slowly from the ceiling.|
t. The swinging pendulum disturbs the narrator as he listens to it gain speed.
|The pendulum was meant to cross which part of the body?|
heart. " I saw that the crescent was designed to cross the region of the heart. It would fray the serge of my robe." The narrator is headed for a slow and painful death.
|Within sweeps of the deadly device, the narrator states that he did what for the first time in days?|
thought. He begins to believe in escape by using his garment.
|The narrator believes that he can be freed from his bondage by letting the pendulum sweep across and cut the cords off of him. Is this how he is freed?|
n. The narrator has gone half crazy with fear, but sees his opportunity of freedom in the split second between swings of the pendulum. However, the band is positioned so that it is not in the path of the pendulum. Instead, he smears food on the bandage, which entices the rats to chew it, freeing him.
|How soon after the narrator frees himself do his captors imprison him once more?|
less than 1 minute. He had scarcely stepped from the machine when the pendulum ceased and a smell of heated iron came through the cracks in the prison walls.
|The chamber walls begin to shift from the original form of a rectangle to what new shape?|
diamond. Two of the rooms original angles were acute and two were obtuse. The angles shift closer together to form a diamond shape.
|The narrator's fate at the end of "The Pit and the Pendulum":
the French Army arrives and sets the prisioners free. The French Army under General Lasalle comes just in time. The narrator had just fainted and was about to fall into the pit when a hand reaches out to save him.
|This story takes place in Toledo.|
t. The story does take place in Toledo (last paragraph of the story).
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