"The Bet" Plot Diagram

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  • Exposition
  • "...The death penalty is more moral and more humane than imprisonment for life."
  • "To live anyhow is better than not at all."
  • Conflict
  • "I'll bet two millions that you wouldn't stay in solitary confinement for 5 years!"
  • "I'll take your bet, but I would stay not five but fifteen years."
  • Rising Action
  • A wealthy banker reflects on a party that he held fifteen years, recalling the conversation he had with a young lawyer about their thoughts on the death sentence vs. life imprisonment.
  • Climax
  • They decide to make a bet: if they lawyer can stay in solitary confinement for 5 years, the banker would pay him 2 millions. The lawyer decides to take on 15 years instead to further prove his point.
  • Falling Action
  • At first, the odds of the lawyer winning didn’t look good. During the first few years, he becomes depressed, doing nothing but listening to music and feeling sorry for himself. He decides to make things better, turning to studying to get pull him out of sadness. He studies for years, learning new languages, and his time in isolation is coming to an end.
  • Resolution
  • After losing his fortune, the banker decides that he cannot lose the rest of his money to the lawyer. He goes to the guest house to murder him, only to find a letter explaining that his captivity has taught him that money doesn’t matter, calling off the bet.
  • Crying with joy, the banker was pleased that he didn’t have to take another man’s life yet he was still able to keep his money. The next morning, the warden announces that the lawyer left the guest house five minutes early, voiding the bet.
  • The relieved banker goes to the little guest house to grab the letter that the lawyer wrote, keeping it and locking it away as proof of the rejected money.
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