What is the theme in the short story "Games at Twilight"?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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The main theme of "Games at Twilight" is two-fold. Desai has written "Games at Twilight" as a Fruedian exploration of a child's play and unconscious reality. Twilight symbolizes the unconscious mind where things aren't in the direct light of thought as they are in the conscious mind. In the midst of a child's game, a fantasy of mind, the connection or the difference between reality and fantasy are explored as Ravi switiches from an external, controlled fantasy (a game) to the inner, rampant fantasies of his mind. It turns out that, once liberated from his fear of his merciless older brother, Ravi fantasizes about having power and control over his life circumstances, including his older brother, Raghu.

Then fantasy meets reality when he comes dashing out of hiding to claim his victory only to find that he has been utterly forgotten and overlooked by his family and no one is in the least interested in his presence or his victory in stumping the "finder" in hide and seek. Now is introduced the other arm of the theme and that is the alienation of the individual. Ravi suddenly perceives the undercurrent of the separateness--of alienation--of individuals who don't perform according to expectations. He discovers what he sees as his valulessness and powerlessness. Whether Ravi perceives this alienation, valuelessness and powerlessness to be universal is not readily apparent from his reactions.

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