Narrative closure is not necessarily the same as thematic or ideational closure.

— Per Winther, The Art of Brevity, Closure and Preclosure as Narrative Grid in Short Story Analysis

  • This holds true even though for certain stories the two types of closure will seem inseparable.
  • Modern stories (20th C rather than 19th C) tend to bring the story line to a logical end point but point beyond the text itself to further developments, forcing the reader back into the text to ponder the meaning. In other words, modern short stories reward re-reading.
  • We might call the closure of plot a ‘narrative closure’.
  • We might call the other kind of closure ‘hermeneutic closure’. (Hermeneutic basically = interpretive.)
  • Susan Lohafer came up with a similar set of terms: Physical Closure, Immediate Cognitive Closure and Deferred Cognitive Closure. Physical Closure refers to the end of a sentence, a paragraph, a story itself. Immediate Cognitive Closure refers to that feeling you get as reader when you understand the surface meaning of a text. Deferred Cognitive Closure happens some time later when you realise more fully what the story was really about.
  • Hermeneutic closure tends to be deferred/delayed.


See also: Short Story Endings