What kind of a place are Ben and Gus in at the beginning, and what feeling does the setting create for the audience? What can we learn from the opening?

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ben and Gus are in a basement with a kitchen and bathroom.  The setting creates a sense of claustrophobia.  There's just not a lot of room there, and it's being filled with two mysterious men.  Their conversation is businesslike with a little smalltalk.  That seems to indicate that they don't know each other that well, or they have other stuff on their minds.  They keep talking about a job.  The pacing and suspicious glances heighten the sense of closeness and add a sort of mystery and apprehension to the setting.  The audience is slowly being pulled into the story and is left wondering exactly what the two men are all about.  Why are these two men here? And what is this job they keep referring to?  

Gus finds matches and cigarettes in his shoes.  It's significant because it is the first time Gus will check for matches and realize he is out.  There is a lot of repetition built into this piece, and this is the start of it. 

Both news stories are about death. He thinks it is horrible, and it is ironic because the men are killers. 

Ben seems to be in charge.  The strongest indicator of this is that he continually orders Gus to do things like make tea. 

Read the study guide:
The Dumb Waiter

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