The characters in the short story "The Ambitious Guest" are a father, a mother named Esther, an eldest daughter who is 17 years old, various younger brothers and sisters, an elderly grandmother and a young man who is described as a wanderer. The short story was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne and first published in The New England Magazine in June 1835.
The plot of the story revolves around a family living in a secluded cabin in the White Hills of New England. It is a windy night, and the family is huddled around the fireplace when a young stranger appears at their door seeking shelter for the night. The family welcomes him, and the young man takes a seat at the fire with them.
As the night goes on, the young man eventually divulges how he hopes to leave a lasting legacy and achieve his destiny before he dies. The young man does not want to be die in obscurity. The rest of the family members reflect on the young man's ambitions and unanimously seem to decide that the humble, quiet life is much more appealing.
Then, everyone in the cabin hears a giant roar as a landslide comes careening down the mountainside straight for the cabin. The family and the young man try to escape and flee to "their safer spot" outside of the cabin, but they run right into the path of the landslide and are killed. The sadness of the story stems from the fact that no one knew of the young man's presence at the cabin that night, so his memory was lost in obscurity, just as he feared.