Homework Help

What is the irony of the story "Dusk" ?

user profile pic

rmadrid07 | Student, Grade 11 | eNoter

Posted May 26, 2012 at 2:31 PM via web

dislike 1 like

What is the irony of the story "Dusk" ?

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted May 26, 2012 at 4:35 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 2 like

In the story "Dusk" there is irony. It is ironic that the main character, who believes himself to be a good judge of character, gets deceived by the young man who shared the park bench with him. Gortsby believes that the time of day known as dusk brings out defeated and shady characters. Those who are depressed or rejected by society come out at dusk to the park. Since it is almost dark, the defeated or shady characters feel they won't be recognized by society:

 “Dusk” opens on Norman Gortsby, the character from whose perspective all the story’s events are seen. Gortsby is sitting on a bench in Hyde Park in London as the sun sets around 6:30 on an evening in March. He notices other people who are barely visible in the gathering gloom as they walk in the park or sit on benches.

While Gortsby is feeling confident in his philosophy, an old man sits down first. Gortsby imagines that he receives no respect at home. In fact, he lives in a depressed state, according to Gorstby.

Gortsby believes people like the old man live defeated lives:

In any case, Gortsby enjoys sitting on a bench and passing sardonic judgment on the other people in the park at dusk.

The first old man who sat next to Gortsby leaves. A younger man comes and sits down. The younger man tells an incredible story. He is lost and cannot find his way back to his hotel. He had gone out to buy a bar of soap. Gortsby tells him his story would have been credible if he had had a bar of soap with him. Gortsby perceives that the younger man is lying and is trying to get money from Gortsby.

After the younger man walks away, Gortsby finds a bar of soap under the park bench. Immediately, Gortsby runs after the younger man to give him his soap and a loan of money. 

As Gortsby returns to his park bench, he sees the older man looking for something:

He notices the old man who had also been sitting there earlier. The old man is now searching for something. When Gortsby asks if the old man has lost anything, the man replies, “Yes, sir, a cake of soap.”

The irony of this story is that Gortsby who is skilled in his perceptions of defeated people actually falls for the younger man's story. Gortsby loans the younger man money he will never see again. Ironically, Gortsby falls for the younger man's trap. It goes to show that human nature is gullible. Gortsby is not wiser in all his experiences of dealing with defeated people at dusk. 

Sources:

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes