In Ruskin Bond's short story "The Tiger in the Tunnel," the author writes, "No, it is cold tonight. Do not get up." How are these words ominous?

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In Ruskin Bond's short story "The Tiger in the Tunnel," Baldeo and his son Tembu have gone together to the barren hut where Baldeo is the watchman for the railroad near a jungle in India. Tembu does not always accompany his father because he has work at home for which he is responsible. 

On this occasion, Baldeo (with small axe in hand) prepares to go into the tunnel to make sure the way is clear and the signal lamp is lit so the mail train can travel through unimpeded. It is nighttime and Tembu is tired. As his father prepares to leave, the boy stirs:

“Shall I come too, Father?” asked Tembu sleepily, still lying in a huddle in a corner of the hut.

Baldeo tells his son:

No, it is cold tonight. Do not get up.

The tone of Baldeo's statement is ominous, but the reader does not recognize that it is a literary warning—an indication of things to come. This is called foreshadowing:

When the writer clues the reader in to something that will eventually occur in the story; it may be explicit (obvious) or implied (disguised).

Generally we do not recognize foreshadowing until after we have read farther into the story to see that the unnoticed hint was alluding to something of importance that would follow later.

"Cold" may well provide a sense of the ominous because it is so often connected to death. In this statement, one might suspect that something bad is going to happen, perhaps even that Baldeo will not be returning for his son. After the story is finished, we might also recognize the author's foreshadowing as a reminder that for that moment, Tembu is still a child. His father can take care of the business at hand while his son slumbers innocently. However, by the end of the story, Tembu's entire world has changed.

In order for the family to survive, the twelve-year old Tembu takes up his father's post, armed with the same small axe. Tembu's time of sleeping—of innocence—is over.

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