Games at Twilight

by Anita Desai

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Consider how Desai orders the events within the story "Games at Twilight." Does she use instances of flashforward or flashback?

Desai orders the events within "Games at Twilight" primarily in chronological order. After Ravi emerges from his hiding place, she explains the chronology of what the other children had been doing in his absence.

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The events of "Games at Twilight" are presented through a viewpoint narrative, focusing on the experience of Ravi during a game of hide and seek. Because the omniscient targets this one character, readers are privy to the way this game affects him.

The events are primarily structured in chronological order. As the game begins, Ravi first hides behind a flower pot and then decides to change locations; he hopes to prove himself capable and competent in comparison to the other children. The story progresses through Ravi's thoughts as he waits in hiding. He listens as he hears other children being found, and he crushes an insect that crawls on him. He considers heading back to the children before deciding to remain hidden, imagining the "victory" of being the last child to be found.

Ravi watches as the light gets darker and realizes that nighttime scents are emerging from the darkness. He stains to hear the other children's voices and is surprised when it sounds like they are involved in a different game. Ravi then realizes that the object of the game is not simply to remain hidden but to dash to the "den." He emerges from his hiding place, and the other children stare at him in amazement. Ravi sobs as he recognizes that the children have continued playing without him, not even noticing his absence.

The structure then switches the narrative focus, going back through the events of the day from everyone else's point of view. All of the other children had been found hours earlier, and then they had fought over who had to be "it" next. They had carried on with their games, unaware that Ravi wasn't there. He had simply "disappeared from their minds." This structure allows for the focus to remain on Ravi while he is hiding in order to demonstrate the emotional devastation he feels after realizing, along with the reader, that he is ultimately insignificant to this group of children.

An example of flashback occurs in these lines:

Ravi had once got locked into the linen cupboard and sat there weeping for half an hour before he was rescued. But at least that had been a familiar place, and even smelled pleasantly of starch, laundry and reassuringly, of his mother.

As Ravi waits, he recalls another time he was hidden from everyone and the emotional reaction he experienced during that time of being "locked" away.

An example of a flashforward occurs as Ravi considers the predictable end to the day that is soon coming as he waits in hiding:

It would be evening soon. Their games would become legitimate. The parents would sit out on the lawn on cane basket chairs and watch them as they tore around the garden or gathered in knots to share a loot of mulberries ... The gardener would fix the hosepipe to the water tap and water would fall lavishly through the air to the ground.

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