Inference is a term that may be employed in logic and literature equally often. It implies a process or an event of reaching a certain assumption based on logical premises, assumed consequences, and available information. Inference, being a rather comprehensive device, is oftentimes considered to be more rational rather than simply logical. In such a case, it signifies discovering new perspectives and interpretations based on the observation of the given facts that are presented in a particular pattern. Therefore, the major role of inference is not only to simply help the reader form certain conclusions but also to open new ways and possibilities for inquiry and wonder.

The term derives from the Latin word “inferre”, which may be translated as “to carry”, “to bear”. It was first mentioned at the end of 16th century (approximately in 1594). The translation of the original word implies bearing the information and deducing an opinion, which directly reflects the meaning of the term in the modern-day language and literary works.

Because a language can be incredibly versatile, the term inference may be confused with other related words. For instance, assuming something and inferring are not the same things. While inferences are built on given facts and information and are reached by establishing a logical or rational observation, assumptions are made even when there’s no evidence available.
Syllogism, being another logical literary tool, implies a logically complete statement, which may actually contain an inference but isn’t one in particular. Thus, syllogism is more logical than inferences since it doesn’t omit any evidence and doesn’t involve making assumptions. So, while an inference might be not 100% accurate and might be based on a series of assumptions (as long as they are logical and backed up by the given information), syllogism is always logically complete.

There are also literary tools that might involve using inferences. For instance, authors oftentimes employ red herrings in order to confuse the reader and add an unexpected twist to the narration. A red herring is typically built on possible inferences that readers may form based on the clues given in the narrative. The author typically tries to predict those inferences and then leads the readers to a logically different path in order to surprise or amuse them. In such a case, inference is a part of another linguistic tool.

Inference is an inseparable part of literature. Without inferences, we as readers would not understand and comprehend literary works completely. Inferences allow the reader to grasp and comprehend metaphors, symbolism, themes, and hidden meanings in the narration.

Authors rely on the readers’ inferences when using various literary tools and figurative language in order to challenge them and provoke the thinking process in them. By relying on inferences, writers assume that readers will reach their conclusions independently and therefore don’t provide too many dry facts, which helps them make the narration less boring or dull. 
Inferences also help the reader understand the author and his or her underlying ideas by figuring out and comprehending the subtle meanings in the narration. Thus, readers not only study the depths of the story but also explore the author’s perspective and opinions concerning the matter presented in his or her work. Again, this provokes an intense thinking process and makes the whole reading experience more interesting and pleasurable.

Oftentimes, authors play with the possible readers’ inferences in order to create suspense or add an unexpected change in the plot. This is prevalent in thrillers, detective literary pieces, mysteries, etc. Such a literary phenomenon is called red herring (it was mentioned above). In such a case, inferences serve as a base, on which the author builds the red herring. He or she may distract the reader from the main narration idea using their false inferences.

Finally, the most basic role of inferences allows authors avoid explaining each and every small detail. They can use figurative speech or omit some facts, relying on the readers and their ability to reach certain conclusions themselves. Thanks to inferences, writers don’t have to be too obvious in their works and may have some creative space to experiment with.
Examples of inference and its implementation may be found in numerous literary pieces. One of the brightest ones is the Hemingway’s work called “Hills Like White Elephants”. Here, the author doesn’t provide too much detail. The narration is based on the conversation between two unknown characters. Readers have to reach their own inferences based on the information provided, and that’s the beauty and the genius of the story. Without giving a detailed description or explanation of the plot, the author still sends a message and expresses his ideas based on the inferences that the readers are supposed to make in order to understand the narrative.

F. Scott Fitzgerald uses a lot of figurative speech and symbolism in his work “The Great Gatsby”, relying on the readers’ ability to reach an inference. One of the examples lies in the scene of the main character’s murder. While the event wasn’t described directly, drily, or simply by using dull facts, the author employs figurative descriptions and states that “the holocaust was complete”, allowing the readers to draw logical conclusions on their own.

The Summary
Inference implies reaching a certain conclusion based on logically assumed consequences and information provided in the narration. The term derives from the Latin “inferre”, which translates as “to bear”, “to carry”. It was first used around 1594.
Inferences, being an inseparable component of almost every literary work, allow readers to understand symbols, figurative speech, and other subtle details of the narrative. As a literary tool, inferences allow authors to use creative space and express their ideas in a more artistic manner, without the need to explain every detail and fact in a dry, samely way. Inferences may also serve as a base for red herring, giving authors a chance to surprise readers after they’ve made false assumptions.