What do we know about Gortsby's mood from lines 1-3 in "Dusk" by Saki? 

What do we know about Gortsby's mood from lines 1-3 in "Dusk" by Saki?


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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The scene depicted of Gortsby is that of a solitary figure in an almost deserted place. This scene suggests that Gortsby is, perhaps, despondent or embittered because he seems to desire no human company.

In the first lines of Saki's story, the reader finds Norman Gortsby sitting with his back to a "sward," which is an open area of short grass that is fenced off; before him is the street [Row, when capitalized, means street as in Church Row]. This is separated from Gortsby by a "wide stretch of carriage drive."

Apparently, then, Gortsby is feeling cynical about his fellow man and separate from them. He sits alone at dusk, a time when people who move about seem mere shadows of human beings, with outlines or form and possessing no distinguishable features. They are but silhouettes that glide past, static representatives of people without individuality or dimension. Since he feels himself a part of this tableau, Gortsby counts himself among "the defeated."

Certainly, Saki's subtle descriptions of setting create a mood to which the story returns at the end with Gortsby's failed attempt to rehabilitate his cynicism. For, when he sees the soap under his bench after the young man departs angrily because his tale was discredited, Gortsby scolds himself, "It's a lesson to me not to be too clever in judging by circumstances." But, then, when the old gentleman returns to retrieve the bar of soap which he dropped while sitting on the same bench, Gortsby realizes that he is yet among "the defeated," remaining with his back to a bush-planted sward and apart from the Row.