The Importance of Mystery

The story The Elephant Vanishes leaves the reader with more questions than answers. As a reader, when I finished this story I felt a sense of a sort of empty disappointment. I was reading through many details of a man’s life as well as his connection with this elephant. From the moment I read about how the elephant disappeared I was hungrily searching for an answer to my questions. Wheat happened to the elephant and the caretaker? Where did they both go? Why did the town move on so easily?

The story ended abruptly leaving me with more questions than answers. As a reader, I was judging the story too quickly. Waiting for what I believed to be a classic mystery, to be resolved. When it inevitably wasn’t I was left confused and upset for the main character. I think this was an important choice the author made. Using aspects of mystery, like the main character being suspicious about the disappearance of the elephant. And magical realism, like the elephant and caretaker changing size, put the reader in the shoes of the main character.

The main character ended his story feeling confused and empty, so the author made sure to end the reader’s story that way as well. The mystery not being solved was necessary to play on the reader’s feelings and leave them with the same emptiness the main character was feeling about the entire situation.

One thought on “The Importance of Mystery

  1. I agree with the fact that an unresolved mystery leaves the reader unsettled. Almost every book I have read before this class has followed the typical “triangle” structure of exposition, rising action, a primary conflict/climax, and then the satisfying falling action and resolution. I left frustrated with the same feelings you described above after being left on a cliffhanger with no sequel to look forward to putting my mind at ease and finish the “triangle” that has been ingrained in my mind since elementary school. After reading your contribution I feel a sense of resolvedness, not because the story has changed in any way, but I can grasp the idea of why the author choose to end the way they did.

    Liked by 1 person

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