Games at Twilight

by Anita Desai

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Student Question

In Games at Twilight by Anita Desai, what life truth does Ravi discover?

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This question does not have a happy answer.  "Games at Twilight" is wonderful story.  It's too bad that it ends on such a depressing note.  The life lesson that Ravi learns is that people are mean, life is full of disappointment, and a person's actions might be viewed as completely insignificant by other people.  

Ravi works so hard in the story to win the game of hide and seek.  He is dedicated to obtaining a victory over the bully, Raghu.  Ravi hides in a shed that he himself describes as "creepy."  He has to fight down overwhelming urges to bolt out of there.  He gets through it by envisioning what it would be like to claim victory over everybody.  

To defeat Raghu—that hirsute, hoarse-voiced football champion—and to be the winner in a circle of older, bigger, luckier children—that would be thrilling beyond imagination. He hugged his knees together and smiled to himself almost shyly at the thought of so much victory, such laurels.

Ravi believes that by claiming victory, he will catapult his status upward.  He will be significant.  

Unfortunately, the other kids don't believe Ravi's victory.  They dismiss him completely and resort to name calling.  

Stop it, stop it, Ravi. Don’t be a baby . . . Don’t be a fool.

Nobody even remembers that he is still playing.  That's insignificance.    

All this time no one had remembered Ravi. Having disappeared from the scene, he had disappeared from their minds. Clean. . .  He lay down full length on the damp grass, crushing his face into it, no longer crying, silenced by a terrible sense of his insignificance.

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