What is the characterization of the old man in "Dusk" and what is his role in the story?

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The elderly gentleman is described from Gortsby's point of view:

On the bench by his side sat an elderly gentleman with a drooping air of defiance that was probably the remaining vestige of self-respect in an individual who had ceased to defy successfully anybody or anything. His clothes could scarcely be called shabby, at least they passed muster in the half-light. . . . He belonged unmistakably to that forlorn orchestra to whose piping no one dances; he was one of the world's lamenters who induce no responsive weeping.

He is trying to maintain a respectable appearance, but he is obviously living on a limited income, like so many people in London.  A single person could survive on as little as twenty or thirty pounds a year. The best descriptions of living conditions for poor but "respectable" people are to be found in the novels of George Gissing (1857-1903), especially in his New Grub Street and The Odd Women.

Norman Gortsby enjoys watching people and considers himself a connoissuer of...

(The entire section contains 614 words.)

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