Discussion Topic

The significance and appropriateness of the title "Dusk."

Summary:

The title "Dusk" is significant and appropriate because it symbolizes the time of day when individuals who wish to remain unnoticed come out, reflecting the theme of anonymity and the hidden struggles of people. The setting at dusk underscores the story's exploration of human nature and the tendency to judge others based on appearances.

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What is the significance of the title "Dusk"?

The title of course refers to the particular time in which this ironic story takes place, as it occurs at "thirty minutes past six on an early March evening" with dusk having fallen "heavily" over the scene. Of course, the importance of the title is not just physical, as it also corresponds to the mood of its protagonist, who attaches a special significance to this particular time:

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 curioius, 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 that dusk is attached to human failure and discontent. Dusk then seems to be, in the narrator's mind, a time when humans can walk around in the encroching darkness and not have to hide their failures. There is an intense irony in this, as Gortsby feels he is able to judge by circumstances as he looks at others and imagines their situations, yet clearly he makes a massive mistake when he finds the bar of soap and mistakenly believes the young man, giving him money, when the young man had been trying to deceive him all along. Dusk seems to have only masked Gortsby's own abilities to discern the truth.

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What is the significance of the title "Dusk"?

The title is a double entendre.  On the one hand, the story takes place at dusk as Norman Grotsby sits "heartsore and disillusioned" in the twilight where others cannot discern the woe upon his face.  On the other hand, Grotsby, who cynically regards others, passing judgment upon them as they pass, ironically becomes the victim of his own judgments in the "dusk" of his complacency in his ability. Thus, there is the physical dusk of the environment as well as the psychological dusk of Grotsby's character.

Both circumstances of dusk--the real and the psychological--are essential to Saki's story.  For, the effective irony of his story depends upon the setting as well as the interior judgments of Norman Grotsby.  Indeed, the title is very significant as proven by the narrative and the authorial techniques, not just by opinion.

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What is the significance of the title "Dusk"?

In my opinion, the significance of this title is mainly a figurative one -- the title emphasizes one of the major themes that the author is trying to convey.

I think that a major theme of this story is that we human beings really do not have a good way to know other people.  We think we can tell who is honest and who is not, but we are really not able to do this.  If this is the case, we can compare our perceptions of other people to dusk.  Dusk is a time when you can still kind of see the world around you, but it is not very clear.  You might think you see things, but you might be wrong.

So the author is using this title, in my opinion, to show that we cannot understand other people any more clearly than we can see in the dusk.

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What is the significance of the title "Dusk"?

What a great question. I believe the short story "Dusk," by Saki has its title for a two-fold reason. The setting is around 6:30 on a March evening in Hyde Park: dusk. But more importantly, I believe Saki is commenting on our inability to actually see others.

The protagonist, Norman Gortsby, is a cynical man who reckons himself perceptive, aware of the plight and motives of other people. He enjoys sitting in Hyde Park at dusk watching the people go and come. He presumes those who leave have places to go while those who come are defeated in some way.

He immediately thinks an old man sitting near him one of these defeated people, yet the old man gets up and leaves. When a young man sits next to him, indeed sounding defeated, Norman asks him what is wrong, and the young man tells him that he has forgotten which hotel he was staying in when he left to buy soap and that now he is stuck in a strange city with nowhere to sleep. He hopes some kind stranger will help him out so that he can sleep in a safer place.

Though the story sounds convincing, Norman, cynical as usual, is convinced that the young man is a clever panhandler trying to trick strangers into giving him money that he will never repay. When the young man cannot produce his bar of soap, Norman feels justified in his judgment and the young man leaves. But when Norman notices a small cake of soap on the ground near the bench, he feels terrible for having not seen the truth about this young man's honesty, tracks him down, and loans him some money. Feeling good about this faith-restoring encounter, Norman returns to his bench only to find the old man whom he had earlier presumed was defeated searching for his lost cake of soap. Ironically, Norman's enlightenment has only served to darken his outlook.

Dusk can represent a number of things symbolically, but in this case I think it represents not only Norman's inability to fully see the truth in either of the men, but also his dim, cynical outlook on life, which is only reinforced by the young panhandler's swindle that left Norman defeated. Saki is telling us to be careful whom we trust, but he's also telling us that trusting can give us a kind of joy that cynicism cannot. We are faced with a choice. Either we darken our hearts a little as we learn through experience not to trust other people, or we choose not to see so that we can believe in others. Either way, the outlook is dim, and we are always in the dusk.

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What is the significance and role of the title "Dusk"?

In the short story "Dusk," the title is significant in that the setting takes place at dusk, the time between sunset and dark. The main character, Norman Gortsby, is sitting on a park bench at dusk. He is a cynical character and feels that dusk is the hour of man's defeat. In other words, people of lesser character come out at dusk.

Gortsby is right to be cynical. The second man who sits with him on the park bench in a con artist. He is trying to get money out of Gortsby. Most likely, this is the time of day when this young man comes out, all in hopes of conning someone out of his money.

When Gortsby finds the bar of soap, he finds himself embarrassed that he did not trust the young man. After learning that the bar of soap belongs to the first man who sat on the park bench, Gortsby is justified in his cynicism. He was absolutely right about the second man. Sadly enough, he has already given him money--money he will never see again.

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Comment on the appropriateness of the title "Dusk."

The title of Saki's short story "Dusk" can be looked at as appropriate to the movement and setting of the story. Given that the story takes place at six o'clock on a March night, light is fleeting. The setting is only illuminated by a few lamp lights and a partial moon.

The third-person narrator gives some insight into the mind of the protagonist, Norman Gortsby, when it is stated how he feels about the dusk.

Dusk, to his mind, was the hour of the defeated.

There are two main reasons as to why the title of the story is appropriate. First, and most obviously, is the setting of the text. The story takes place during a time of day where it is not quite dark and not quite light either. Therefore, the streets are shadowed by the things around Norman and causes him to question the types of people who emerge at this time of the night.

This leads into the second reason the title of the story is appropriate. The people who Norman come across are described as the ones who are defeated and

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.

Therefore, the people who come out at night are described as people who may have shadows in their lives. The people, therefore, only come out at dusk so that they can hide from the light.

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Comment on the appropriateness of the title "Dusk."

The setting must have been very important to Saki for this particular story. He wanted the reader to feel the mood of a city at that particular time, when the day's activities were at an end and the activities of the night were prevailing. Dusk, of course, makes it harder to see people's faces. They are shadowy figures and can be good or bad, honest or dishonest, harmless or dangerous. Among the people who only come out in the evening are predators. They want to remain as inconspicuous as possible because they themselves are in danger. The London streets were patrolled by uniformed policemen on foot. These "bobbies" were familiar with their particular beats and were on the watch for strangers and suspicious behavior.

It was some thirty minutes past six on an early March evening, and dusk had fallen heavily over the scene, dusk mitigated by some faint moonlight and many street lamps.

The young man tells Gortsby that he may be forced to sleep on the Thames embankment for the whole night unless he can find "some decent chap" to lend him enough money to rent a room. It will not only be very cold at night in early March, but it will also be dangerous, Anyone "fairly well dressed" who tried sleeping in some isolated spot by the river could get murdered. So Gortsby is being asked to save a man's life; and he isn't even being ask to give any money away but only to make a short-term loan. The young con artist says he only has a couple of pennies in his pocket, so he can't very well sit up in some all-night eatery or saloon.

Saki's story, and his story within a story, are more about the creatures of the night than about the experience of one man on one particular night. Saki is interested in depicting the shadowy demi-monde. Gortsby is a creature of the day. He shouldn't be sitting there in the gathering gloom. He is much too conspicuous to all the supplicants and predators. He will soon be going home to a warm fireplace and the security of a locked door. He must be lonely. Otherwise he wouldn't be sitting there, seeming by his relaxed, unguarded body language to invite people to sit beside him and listening to fabricated hard-luck stories.

Gortsby feels no sympathy for the night people, but like a lot of other upright citizens, he finds them interesting. He is watching all of them and speculating about them, passing judgment on them. He doesn't realize that some of them may be watching him and passing judgment on him as well. The elderly gentleman sitting beside him on the park bench may have been attracted there because he is another con man and considers Gortsby a good mark. Gortsby is well dressed, alone, young--how many such prospects could a con man find at that hour and at that time of year?

It would be hard for con men to operate at any other time than around dusk. After dark there would be no respectable citizens sitting on park benches. In the daytime most men would be at work, and that would include Saturdays when the story takes place. On Sundays there would be too many people around. The con men need anonymity, which is probably why Saki does not give them names but only calls one a young man and the other (assuming he is also a con man) an elderly gentleman. These "short-con" specialists have to operate in the dusk, just as Roald Dahl's trickster in "The Umbrella Man" has to operate only in the daytime and in the rain. Dusk helps to characterize these con men as predators, part of the night world, like jaguars and hyenas.

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