Short Story #195: Beyond the Wall by Ambrose Bierce

Title: Beyond the Wall

Author: Ambrose Bierce


Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose BierceA man visits his strange friend when visiting in San Francisco.  They have dinner up in the tower within the house.  As they are eating, there is a knocking on the wall that disturbs the narrator.  The friend tells him to explore it and showing him that there is indeed only the outside behind the wall from which he had heard the hearing.  The friend explains that he has heard this knocking before and that he was happy the narrator also witnessed it.  He then goes into a tale about his earlier days.  He was exiting his apartment when we found a young beautiful woman.  He soon falls for this woman and finds reasons to visit her.  He also soon discovers that they share an adjacent wall.  However, he never entirely moves forward with pursuing the young woman because they are not of equal class.  However, he begins to knock on the wall and she reciprocates.  This continues for a time but then she stops knocking for some time.  He grows disappointed and event resentful for when he does hear a knocking some time later, he chooses to ignore it.  The next morning, he discovers that the woman had been bedridden with illness and in her last night on earth demanded to have her bed moved to the other side so she could knock on the wall.  The man finishes the story and the narrator wishes him good night, though he (the man) dies by the morning.  


There is something great about the title in the context of this story--so many things are "beyond the wall."  The romantic note of this story is interesting because you don't see as much with the other stories in this collection of stories.  You see a lot of comeuppance, which this story is to some degree, but also some elements of love and what's beyond the wall.  

Short Story #195 out of 365
Rating: 2  (out of 5 stars)
Date Read: 7/12/2014
Source:  The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce, compiled by Ernest Jerome Hopkins.  Bison Books, 1984.  The full works of Ambrose Bierce, including this story can be found here on

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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