In the story "Dusk," what impression do you form about the young man in the story?

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lsumner's profile pic

lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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In the story "Dusk," the young man is a scam artist. He comes out at dusk because he lives a defeated life. This is not the first time this young man has tried to scam someone. The young man is good at what he does. He tells stories that are believable. He uses his stories to cause people to feel sorry for him. 

Gortsby, who is a good judge of character, gets scammed by the young man. At first, Gortsby did not believe his story. He tells the young man that his story would have been believable if he had had a bar of soap. 

Ironically, Gortsby finds a bar of soap under the park bench. He chases after the young man and gives him his bar of soap. Gortsby also lends him some money. Again, the young man has scammed another poor soul.

The young man most likely has scammed many people before. He probably makes his living off of other people. He is a con artist in every sense of the word. He lives off other people. Gortsby was smart enough to recognize it until he found the bar of soap. A bar of soap changed Gortsby's mind. Gortsby loaned money to the young man, money he will never see again.

billdelaney's profile pic

William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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My impression of the young man in Saki's "Dusk" is that as a con artist he is a novice. Gortsby may be his very first prospective victim. This apprentice con artist has invented a very good story. He is a stranger in London. He had to go to a strange hotel because he found that the one he expected to stay at had been torn down. He went out to buy a cake of soap and left most of his money in his room. Then he got turned around--which is easy to do in London--and couldn't find the hotel where he was registered. He couldn't remember the name of the establishment. However, he had written to his family in the country alerting them to the fact that he was staying at a different address, and he could get the name and address of his hotel by wiring the next day. It seems as if he is trying the story out on Gortsby for perhaps the first time, just to see if it would be possible to make a living without working. He does not appear to have any confederates or instructors. A more experienced con man, or grifter, or trickster, or diddler, would have advised him to buy a cake of soap in order to be prepared to show it if asked.

One reason I think of the young man as being a novice is that he becomes angry when Gortsby fails to fall for his scam. An experienced con artist would have learned that any scam only works with a certain percentage of the prospects, or "marks." The young man in Saki's story is also unprepared for Gortsby chasing after him. He is not as self-confident as he tries to appear. What if he ran into a cop? No doubt this young man will become smoother if he keeps at it. On the other hand, he might decide to get a steady job if he received a higher percentages of rejections, or even insults, than he had anticipated. 

Stories about grifters are popular. Recent motion pictures about these shady people include House of Games (1987), The Grifters (1990), and Glengarry Glen Ross (1992). In all of these excellent films the grifters or con artists have mentors or partners. The young grifter's worst mistake in Saki's "Dusk" was going it alone, without experience and without someone to advise him how to expect the unexpected. He seems as much a solitary individual as Gortsby himself. 

The film The Grifters was based on a novel by Jim Thompson. You can read a lot about the talented Jim Thompson and his works in eNotes study guides. See reference link below.

sweetgiggles's profile pic

sweetgiggles | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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the young man in the story dusk is a confident manand shows intimate knowledge of a gentlemans life .. he does not like to work, he prefers to con other people to earn money rather than to put in an honest days effort into earning his daily bread.  this is a kind of man who has not  seen a good family life. people who spend more time with their families,, learn a lot from their experiences. this shows that the young man has has spent his life in the wrong kind of company.young man is a small time con man , a sharp trickster who will one day pay for his deeds.....

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