Games at Twilight

by Anita Desai

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In "Games at Twilight" by Anita Desai, explain the character of Ravi.

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Ravi is a typical little boy, who likes to play games with his friends, and dreams of coming out triumphant in a game of hide 'n' seek.  He displays a lot of typical little boy attributes:  he loves playing games, he is excited, he braves the scary and dark garage in order to show his bravery and increase his odds of winning, he has a good nose-picking while hiding and thinking, and also gets distracted with daydreaming, like many little boys do.  Then, at the end, when he realizes that they have all moved on with their games and completely forgotten him, he shows a very dramatic reaction:

"He felt his heart go heavy and ache inside him unbearably. He lay down full length on the damp grass, crushing his face into it, no longer crying, silenced by a terrible sense of his insignificance."

This reaction has traits of typical childlike behavior:  it is dramatic, a bit overly emotional, and centered on a limited perspective based on their ideas of the world.  However, Ravi displays an unusual sensitivity and introversion here.  Instead of lashing out and bragging about his potential conquest in the garage, he quietly lies down and lets the weight of his own insignificance crush him.  He bears the brunt alone, mourning quietly, on his own.  He turns the pain inward, and abandons himself to it completely.  So, Ravi is also a very inward and sensitive boy, with a tendency to feel emotions heavily and fully.  I hope that those thoughts help a bit; good luck!

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Comment on the character of Ravi in "Games at Twilight."

Ravi is the character who, as the story progresses, we see more and more of the action from his point of view. When we start he is just one of many children eager to go outside and play. He seems to be unhappy with his size and age, as he fights with his elder brother, Raghu, over who should be "It" in the game they are to play. He likewise recognises the advantages of age, as he reflects on Raghu's stronger legs for running compared to his own legs. We can understand therefore why Raghu is so fixated on winning the game. When he finds his hiding place, although he is initally afraid fo whatis in the shed, he swiftly begins to imagine the kind of status and glory he will attain by winning the game:

What fun if they were all found and caught--he alone left unconquered! He had never known that sensation. Nothing more wonderful had ever happened to him than being taken out by an uncle and bought a whole slab of chocolate all to himself, or being flung into the soda man's pony cart and driven up to the gate by the friendly driver with the red beard and pointed ears. To defeat Raghu--that hirsute, hoarse-voiced football champion--and to be the winner in a circle of older, bigger, luckier children--that would be thrilling beyond imagination. He hugged his knees together and smiled to himself almost shyly at the thought of so much victory, such laurels.

This obsession with the idea of the glory he will achieve of course only serves to increase the irony of the ending of the story, when Ravi does win the game, but only to find that he and the game has been forgotten. Instead of glory, he is ignored, and he experiences a terrible sense of his own insignificance.

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