chapter  6
14 Pages

The Resiliency of Suspense

WithRichard J . Gerrig

What does it mean to say that suspense is resilient? According to Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary (1977), to be resilient is to be “capable of withstanding shock without permanent deformation or rupture” or “tending to recover or adjust easily to misfortune or change” (p. 985). To fit suspense to this schema, we must believe it to be an emotion that survives under conditions in which we might expect it readily to be destroyed. In this chapter, I argue that suspense is exactly such an emotion. To begin, I make some general observations about the narrative circumstances that encourage suspense. In that context, I examine the situations in which suspense endures in the face of adversity.