What sort of a person is Norman Gortsby in "Dusk" by Saki? It has to be something like a character sketch of Norman Gortsby.

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Norman Gortsby is probably in his mid-twenties. Saki wanted him to be young because the moral of the story is conveyed by Gortsby's painful learning experience. He is not a wealthy gentleman of leisure. He probably has a good job in a bank or brokerage firm. He must not be too affluent because Saki wanted the loss of a sovereign to be painful. He probably wouldn't have parted with that much if he hadn't believed it was only a loan and that the young con artist would return the money by mail.

Dusk, to his mind, was the hour of the defeated. Men and women, who had fought and lost, who hid their fallen fortunes and dead hopes as far as possible from the srutiny of the curiouos, came forth in this hour of gloaming, when their shabby clothes and bowed shoulders and unhappy eyes might pass unnoticed, or, at any rate, unrecognised.

These observations tell many things about Gortsby. He is in the habit of sitting on park benches and watching people. Otherwise he could not have formed these opinions. He must be something of a loner. He must be a bachelor; otherwise he would have gone home to his wife. He does not feel sympathy for the defeated-looking people he observes. His notion that they "had fought and lost" indicates that he, like his creator Saki, is a Tory, a reactionary and probably a Social Darwinist who believes that the struggle for existence improves the human race by insuring the survival of the fittest.

Gortsby must have a fairly good education and a good mind. He not only observes people, but he thinks about them and draws all sorts of conclusions. He understands why they wait until dusk to come out of their dwellings, and he goes on to consider the socio-political implications of their existence and their fates.

Since Gortsby likes to sit on park benches watching people, he must have been approached innumerable times by people who hoped to get some money from him. He has developed a calloused attitude because he cannot be handing out money to all the poor people in London. He has heard many hard-luck stories and has probably been fooled by some of them, just as he is eventually fooled by the hard-luck story of the young man who claims he lost his hotel. As a result, Gortsby has become cynical, skeptical, unsympathetic, and street-wise.

He listens to the young man's hard-luck story with interest because he has become a connoisseur of such stories. He probably has no intention of trusting the young man even if he is telling the truth about having lost his hotel.

"Of course,' said Gortsby slowly, "the weak point of your story is that you can't produce the soap."

This shows that Gortsby is intelligent, experienced, skeptical and sophisticated. He undergoes a change when he finds the soap and believes it belongs to the young man who has just left in a huff. He now feels obliged to lend the con artist some money because he feels guilty and ashamed of himself, whereas he probably had no intention of lending him any money before.

The whole point of Saki's story is that Gortsby was right in the first place in being cynical and skeptical about his fellow man. When Gortsby vows to be more trusting and charitable in the future, he finds out that he was being played for a sucker. Even the elderly gentleman may have intended to play him for a sucker, using the "lost" soap as an excuse to come back and start a conversation.

People should look out for themselves in the battle of life. Those who do not are suckers. That is Saki's message.

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