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"Dusk as the hour of the defeated in 'Dusk'"

Summary:

"Dusk" portrays dusk as the hour of the defeated by illustrating it as a time when those who have faced failures and disappointments come out, shrouded in shadows. The protagonist, Norman Gortsby, observes people during this time, reflecting on their apparent defeats and losses, which are metaphorically hidden by the dim light of dusk.

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Why is dusk referred to as the hour of the defeated in "Dusk"?

Let us remember that this interpretation only is in the mind of the protagonist, Gortsby, who enjoys dusk because of the way that he associates it with "the hour of the defeated." Note what he says about dusk and how it frees people to go out who would normally stay in their homes for fear of being noticed:

Men and women, who had fought and lost, who hid their fallen fortunes and dead hopes as far as possible from the scrutiny of the curious, 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.

Note the way in which, in Gortsby's mind, who classes himself as one of these men and women, dusk allows those who have experienced failure to go out without attracting attention. He sits next to an old man who has a "drooping air of defiance" and likewise the young man has supposedly come across bad luck. All the characters, apparently, are shown to be "defeated" through their bearing, character and situation, but this belief of Gortsby's perhaps only makes him more vulnerable to the trick of the young man.

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Why is dusk referred to as the hour of the defeated in "Dusk"?

The story "Dusk" by Saki illustrates the defeated. It is at this time where

many unconsidered figures moving silently through the half-light, or dotted unobtrusively on bench and chair, scarcely to be distinguished from the shadowed gloom in which they sat.

The story shows the figures around Gortsby as alienated and indistinguishable from the impending darkness which surrounds them.

The narrator presents Gortsby's feelings about dusk immaculately:

Men and women, who had fought and lost, who hid their fallen fortunes and dead hopes as far as possible from the scrutiny of the curious, 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.

Dusk brings out the defeated. Dusk brings out those who have no place in the light. Dusk is a place for those who have been shunned, been forgotten, been defeated. It was only in the dusk that defeated people could find "pleasure sadly in a pleasure-ground that had emptied of its rightful occupants." In essence, dusk is the only thing which embraces the defeated.

The most telling example of defeat happens in the following:

On the bench by his side sat an elderly gentleman with a drooping air of defiance that was probably the remaining vestige of self-respect in an individual who had ceased to defy successfully anybody or anything.

The depiction of the man shows the ultimate power of the dusk.

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Why is dusk referred to as the hour of the defeated in "Dusk"?

It is important to remember that the significance of dusk is given to the story by Norman Gortsby, who sees in this time of day a symbolism that he finds morosely pleasing to his own state of mind and what he is thinking and feeling. Note how the scene of "wide emptiness" and "unconsidered figures" appeals to Gortsby:

The scene pleased Gortsby and harmonised with his present mood. 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 scrutiny of the curious, 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.

Thus the significance of dusk is entirely created by Gortsby, who is naturally drawn to such a time of day, which he associates with being the "hour of the defeated." He looks at this time through his own eyes and out of his own situation, which, as the story tells us, finds an echo with his own failure as Gortsby as well counts himself among the "defeated." Dusk then, to Gortsby's mind, is a time when those who have failed in life in whatever way can be free to come out without being noticed and talked about by others. Dusk provides such people with an anonymity that it is suggested they crave.

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State how dusk is said to be the hour of the defeated.

What a great and sophisticated question! The best answer that I know of comes from Mary Douglas, the great cultural anthropologist. Her basic point is that dusk is between day and night. It is liminal. In other words, things that are liminal defy classifications. For this reason, often the human mind or people in general fear these liminal areas. So, if a movie or novel sends the defeated into the dusk, they are being sent into the unknown - outside of our classifications.

There is another side. The liminal areas can also be the areas of people who are extraordinary, such as heros. I highly suggest that you read some of Mary Douglas. She is wonderful. I will link a book review that I wrote of her, Natural Symbols.

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Why is dusk referred to as the hour of the defeated in "Dusk"?

The first part of this answer lies in the way that Gortsby imagines the people who come out at the hour of dusk, which, in his mind, is a time for those who have failed in life to emerge. Note how he describes such failures:

Men and women, who had fought and lost, who hid their fallen fortunes and dead hopes as far as possible from the scrutiny of the curious, 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.

Dusk then fits Gortsby's mood as he contemplates the way that others have failed in life and then moves on to reflect on his own failure in his "subtle ambition." Of course, there is an irony in this, as during the course of the story, Gortsby himself is shown to fail in beign taken in by the young man and his story, and giving him some money, when at the end the young man turns out to be a confidence trickster after all. It is therefore appropriate that Gortsby should feel such an affinity with dusk. He has failed before, and during the course of the story, he fails again.

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How does the story of Dusk signify dusk as the hour of the defeated?

Saki's short story Dusk signifies that dusk is the hour of the defeated in a couple different ways.

First, Norman Gortsby (the protagonist) of the story states very blatantly the fact that only those who are defeated come out at dusk:

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 scrutiny of the curious, 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.

Indirectly, by Norman being out at dusk, Norman is being characterized as being defeated. By the end of the text, Norman is defeated by the young man through the fact that the young man is able to swindle Norman out of money. As hard as Norman tried to prove that the young man was insincere, in the end, the young man is able to get what he wants out of Norman. This fact defeats Norman.

Another example of how the story proves that dusk is the hour of the defeated is the story of the old man. The old man (seen at the end of the text) loses the soap he had bought. The soap represents both the success and the failure of the three main characters in the story. For both Norman and the old man, the soap represents loss. Only for the young man does the soap represent success.

Therefore, in the end, Norman (the one character who seems to have his life together) is the one who comes to be the most defeated in the story. By the end of the story, Norman is not seen as being the only person who is not defeated and out at dusk. Instead, Norman becomes the one most defeated.

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Can you explain how "Dusk" represents the hour of defeated people?

In "Dusk," Gortsby feels that the time of day known as dusk is the hour of defeated people. People who live defeated lives come out at dusk. It is a time of day when they will not be recognized because it is almost dark. It is the time of day when they can wander about without feeling as noticeable to society.

At dusk, Gortsby sits on a park bench and analyzes all the people who have come out of hiding. The first gentleman who sits down appears frustrated and down and out. Gortsby imagines that he gets no respect at home. No doubt, the older gentleman is defeated in life. 

After the older gentleman leaves, a younger gentleman sits down and begins telling his sad story. Gortsby at once recognizes that the younger man is making up his tale as he speaks. The younger man cannot find his way back to his hotel. He will have to sleep outside tonight. 

Gortsby would have considered believing his story if he could have produced a bar of soap, the bar of soap he claimed he had wandered out to buy. 

The younger man appears to be a con artist. His story is a scam. As the young man leaves, Gortsby finds a bar of soap under the park bench. It appears that the young man was telling the truth. 

Gortsby chases after the young man to give him his soap and to loan him some money. On his way back, Gortsby sees the older gentleman looking for something under the park bench:

As Gortsby walks back, he passes the bench where he had been sitting. He notices the old man who had also been sitting there earlier. The old man is now searching for something. When Gortsby asks if the old man has lost anything, the man replies, “Yes, sir, a cake of soap.”

As it turns out, Gortsby's philosophy is right. The young man was deceitful. He meandered out at dusk to try and con someone out of money. Ironically, Gortsby who is wiser on such scams fell for the story and all because he found a bar of soap. Gortsby is just as defeated as the young man who told such a fantastic tale. 

It is true that the defeated come out at dusk. The young man is proof. He lives a defeated life. He is lucky on this evening. He walks away with Gortsby money. Who is more defeated on this evening? Gortsby has parted with his money that he will never see again. 

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"Dusk, to his mind, was the hour of defeated." Explain?

To understand what the author is saying, go a little past the line that you mention.  There, you will see him explain the meaning of this line.

What the author is saying is that dusk is a time when the poor people, the people who have "lost" in the competition of life come out.  They come out at this time because they can conceal how bad off they are.  They can come out in the soft light and hope that people will not notice how poor they are or, at least, people might not recognize them.

So the darkness at the dusk is camouflage for people who are embarassed about their lives and do not want people to notice them.  Here is the important line:

Men and women, who had fought and lost, who hid their fallen fortunes and dead hopes as far as possible from the scrutiny of the curious, 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.

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