In "Dusk," did the young man show his temper just to attract Gortsby's attention?

Expert Answers
lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The young man was an extremely clever con artist. He shows his temper at being lost as a way to capture Gortsby's attention. When he sits down on the park bench next to Gortsby, he begins complaining about his situation:

He started grudging about everything with invective words with a justifiable expression. Understanding that the youth is trying to attract his attention, Gortsby said, “You seem to be in an annoying mood”. “Yes, I’m. You too were to be in the same mood, had you got into the situation I am in today. I have made the most stupid mistake today”, the young man said. Gortsby reacted by saying ‘yes, of course’. With little encouragement, the youth started narrating the days’ story.

Clearly, the young man is a clever scam artist. He is using his bad mood to capture Gortsby's attention. No doubt, it works. Gortsby is intrigued with the young man's story. Gortsby would have beleived the young man's story if the young man could have produced a bar of soap. 

When Gortsby asks the young man where is his bar of soap, the young man cannot produce a bar of soap. Now, Gortsby does not believe the young man. This truly angers the young man as he walks away.

No doubt, the young man began his story in an agitated tone of voice. He was trying to get Gortsby's attention. While the young man's attitude definitely got Gortsby's attention, the fact that the young man could not produce a bar of soap caused Gortsby to doubt his story.

When Gortsby finds a bar of soap near the park bench, he chases after the young man to give him the bar of soap and to loan him money to find a new hotel. Fortunately, the bar of soap just happened to be in the right place at the right time. 

Gortsby feels foolish when he walks past the park bench and finds the older gentleman looking for a bar of soap. 


William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It certainly seems apparent that the young man was showing his temper just to attract Gortsby's attention and get him to listen to a con artist's story about not being able to find his hotel and not having any money. But it is possible that he is really telling the truth. That doesn't mean that the bar of soap Gortsby finds is not the one the young man lost. That bar could have been planted there by the elderly gentleman who was the real con artist and who planned to come back for it and use it as proof of the story he would tell about not being able to find his hotel and having left all his money in his room. The young man could have lost his bar of soap anywhere. The elderly gentleman might not necessarily have targeted Gortsby but might have planned to tell his story to anyone who happened to be sitting there. The bar of soap he planted could have been a conversation-starter--but Gortsby had given it to the young man. Of course they both could have been con artists but the elderly gentleman more experienced and professional.