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What is a summary of "Dusk" by H. Munro, or Saki, and also what are elements of...

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manojshri | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 21, 2010 at 2:57 PM via web

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What is a summary of "Dusk" by H. Munro, or Saki, and also what are elements of humour in this story?

Special reference to element of humour in this story...if possible, kindly try to give a reply today.

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 21, 2010 at 4:17 PM (Answer #1)

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Norman Gortsby sits on a park bench at dusk, a time when, in his estimation, individuals who have experienced defeat in their lives can sojourn unrecognized. An elderly gentleman sits nexts to Gortsby, and Gortsby judges him to be a lonely person of no consequence. After a short time, the old man  leaves, and his place is taken by a younger man, better dressed than his predecessor but equally downcast.

The man tells Gortsby a sad story of having gone out to buy some soap, then not having been able to find his hotel. Gortsby responds that he had once done the same thing, only in a foreign country, to which the man rejoins that in a foreign land, one could go to the Consul for help, but here at home, there is no help to be had, unless "some decent chap" would believe his story and lend him some money. Gortsby says he will lend the man some money if he can produce the soap as proof that his story is true, but the man cannot, and walks away. Looking on the ground, Gortsby spies a new bar of soap, goes after the man, and lends him the money. When he returns to the park bench, however, the elderly gentleman who was sitting next to him originally is searching the ground for a lost bar of soap.

Two elements of humor that the author uses in this story are comic irony and satire. Comic irony occurs when the reader knows something that a character does not, and in this story is evidenced when the young man drolly ends his sad tale with a veiled request for mone. The man obviously has told his story to make Gortsby feel sorry for him and lend him some money, but Gortsby does not know for sure that his story is a lie. Satire is the use of humor to expose a human frailty. Gortsby's inability to judge his counterparts correctly is comically pointed out in his unstated chagrin when he discovers that, through his own miscalculation, he has allowed the young man to outwit him with his sad story of woe.

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mj200 | Student , Grade 9 | Honors

Posted May 5, 2011 at 7:04 PM (Answer #2)

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The story begins on a cynical note with the thoughts of a man in a very pessimistic mindset by the name of Norman Gortsby who is seated on a bench just as dusk had set. The cause behind Gortsby’s current mindset is because he is a man who has been unsuccessful in love. It is with this motive that he came out only in the dusk, the time which he regarded as the time of defeatists and disheartened men. This is why he preferred to be among the defeated, impecunious and the heartbroken instead of with the successful society which explains why he avoids the light and Hyde Park corner, which is where the successful dwell.

Beside Gortsby sat an impoverished elderly gentleman who looked dejected and despondent. As the gentleman rose to go, the seat was immediately shared with a moderately well dressed youth. He seemed disgruntled and did not bother to hide his discontent as he hurled himself into the seat with a loud invective. Gortsby, knowing that he was expected to acknowledge the youth’s discontent, inquired on his bad temper. The appealing bluntness of the youth as he turned aroused to Gortsby’s mind, the suspicion that the man was a trickster. In response, the youth told him the reason for his frustration. Being that he was an outsider, coming to stay in a hotel in Berkshire Square till he received the nasty surprise that the hotel had been pulled down recently and was replaced by a theatre. On being recommended to another hotel, he went there and sent a letter which enclosed his address to his folks. On realizing that he had completely forgotten to pack any soap, saying that he despised hotel soap, he had gone to buy some soap. He then had a drink and strolled around a bit when he realized that he had completely forgotten the address of his hotel. He proceeded by saying that he would be forced to spend the night on the streets unless a supportive person would lend him some money.

Gortsby responds that he had once done the same thing, only in a foreign country, to which the man rejoins that in a foreign land, one could go to the Consul for help, but here at home, there is no help to be had, unless "some decent chap" would believe his story and lend him some money. Gortsby says he will lend the man some money if he can produce the soap as proof that his story is true, but the man cannot, and walks away.

The youth, sensed defeat and briskly strode away. No sooner did the youth leave than Gortsby noticed a cake of soap under the bench. Seeing reality, he ran after the youth and not only returned the soap but also lent him money for the night. After retracing a few steps, Gortsby saw an elderly gentleman scrounging for something under the bench. On asking him what he had lost, he replied that he had lost a cake of soap.

This experience on the already heartbroken Gortsby would have disabled his capability to trust anyone. It would have shaped him into a distrustful and suspicious individual for the rest of his life.

 

 

 

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readingisawesome123 | Student , Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 4, 2012 at 10:51 AM (Answer #4)

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The story Dusk, by H.H. Munro, better known by the pen name Saki, begins in a very cynical manner. The story begins with young and old, men and women who have been defeated and come out at dusk. But the rest of the story, has very little to do about the anguish as it shifts to a young trickster who sets out to get some money from a very gullible man.

A rather arrogant man, Norman Gortsby, sat on a bench in Hyde Park amongst "the defeated" and yet he did not consider himself the same since he was without money problems. His failure, one "in a more subtle ambition.”

 

A young man complaining about a very foolish story, sat down as an elder gentleman left. Gortsby, as gullible as he is, pointed out the flaws in the man’s story. Angered, the youth leaves, but Grotsby mistakenly thinks he finds evidence to support the youth's story. So, he runs after the young man and loans him money. But as he returns to his bench, Grotsby sees the old gentleman looking for something; it is the supposed evidence for the youth. Now he truly belonged amongst the “defeated”.

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