Games at Twilight

by Anita Desai

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What is the tone in "Games at Twilight" by Anita Desai?

The tone in the beginning of the story is desperate and serious, but when Ravi finds the shed it becomes triumphant. After he leaves the shed, the tone is one of humiliation and resignation.

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Tone is the author’s attitude toward a subject.  This short story is largely about childhood.  In the beginning of the story, the tone is both serious and desperate.  The children cannot wait to get out of the house.

[Everything] was still curtained and shuttered in a way that stifled the children, made them feel that their lungs were stuffed with cotton wool and their noses with dust and if they didn’t burst out into the light and see the sun and feel the air, they would choke.  (para 1)

When the children finally do get out of the house, the tone is fantastical delight, but still desperation.  They are thrilled to get to leave.

When Ravi is looking for a hiding place, the desperation heightens. When he finds the shed, the tone is triumphant. Inside the shed, the tone can best be described as analytical and reflective.

With a whimper he burst through the crack, fell on his knees, got up, and stumbled on stiff, benumbed legs across the shadowy yard, crying heartily by the time he reached the veranda so that when he flung himself at the white pillar and bawled, “Den! Den! Den!” his voice broke with rage and pity at the disgrace of it all, and he felt himself flooded with tears and misery. 

When Ravi leaves the shed, the tone is triumphant again, until he realizes that the game is over and everyone left him.  Then the tone is of humiliation, and finally resignation, as Ravi realizes that his fantasy has been crushed, leaving him alienated.

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