Games at Twilight

by Anita Desai

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How does "Games at Twilight" by Anita Desai explore death?

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One of the ways that this story is so fascinating is through how Desai presents an apparently innocent scene of children playing in the Indian heat, only to reveal a far more sinister and depressing tone at the end, where these twilight games are explicitly linked with death and the passing of life. This is achieved through the funereal game that the children play after Ravi's re-emergence. As these children play this death-game, Ravi himself experiences a kind of death as he experiences an epiphany:

He felt his heart go heavy and ache inside him unbearably. 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.

Ravi realises that he is not important and he is not the centre of the universe. This is of course a vital realisation that all children have to go through as they pass into adulthood. However, Desai emphasises this epiphany through its timing: it occurs at twilight, the end of the day, that is reminiscent of death, and this highlights the "death" that Ravi experiences as he realises his own insignificance.

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