Ascending A Repairway In Dante's Inferno

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The story ends with Phoenix going down the stairs. Ascending a stairway is associated in folklore and religion with entering a new level of life, with achieving one's destination. Descending a stairway has the opposite implication and has, since Dante's Inferno, often been associated with a descent into hell. When Phoenix ascends the stairs she knows she has reached her destination when she sees hanging on the wall the gold seal in the gold frame, “which matched the dream that was hung up in her head.” After she gets the medicine from the nurse and the nickel from the attendant, she talks briefly about a paper windmill for her grandson, but then the story ends abruptly with her going down the stairs, a fact that suggests the end of her hope,
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