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The Return of Chorb

The Return of Chorb


by Vladimir Nabokov

Analysis: What’s Up With the Ending?

All of "Chorb" builds towards one moment: Chorb having to confront the Kellers and tell them of their daughter’s death. The suspense gets even worse when we know that 1) Chorb is in a seedy hotel room with a prostitute and 2) the Kellers are headed in his direction. Awkward! We cannot WAIT to see this confrontation go down. And then…the story ends. We don’t get to see it.

This ending is keeping with the spectral, eerie tone set in the rest of the story. To see everything explained and reconciled between Chorb and the Kellers would be to end in a very realistic and sensible way. This confrontation is the logical conclusion, but "Chorb" doesn’t take place in a familiar reality. In this world of ghosts, delusions, memories, and fear, we think the creepy lackey putting his finger to his lips and whispering, "They don’t speak" is far more appropriate.

Now about that last line – we’re going to have to go back to the myth of Orpheus (AGAIN). Think about sounds, both in "Chorb" and in the myth of Orpheus (which we narrate for you in true Shmoop style in Symbols, Imagery, and Allegory). Orpheus was famous for his music, so what does it mean for an Orpheus-based character to be silent? How about, you read your text again and look for mentions of music and sound, and then come back and we’ll talk.

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