The Signal-Man Questions and Answers
by Charles Dickens

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Describe the signal man and the signal box.

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In Dickens' story, the signalman is described from the perspective of his male visitor. Physically, he is a "dark, sallow" man, with a "saturnine" (gloomy) face, a dark beard and full eyebrows. He is a relatively well-educated person, having been a student of natural philosophy in this youth. But, he had wasted this opportunity and "run wild," and thus ended up working on the railway. The narrator makes it clear that he does not hate his work: on the contrary, he has developed his own routine and appears to be satisfied with his life, despite the long hours and solitude. 

The signalman's place of work is his signal box. The descent to this box and its surroundings are described in very dark and gloomy terms by the narrator:

His post was in as solitary and dismal a place as ever I saw. ...there was a barbarous, depressing, and forbidding air. So little sunlight ever found its way to this spot, that it had an earthy, dead smell. 

But, inside, the box is not as dark as its surrounding. It contains the equipment necessary for the fulfillment of the signalman's duties: a fire, a desk and official book for making entries, telegraph machine, and a bell. 

But, when the signalman first encounters the ghost, his life undergoes profound changes. He is deeply affected by the rail disasters on the line and mentally tortured by the ghost who warns him of another incident to follow. Little does he realise, he is being forewarned of his own impending death. 

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