Games at Twilight

by Anita Desai

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What is the relevance of the title "Games at Twilight"?

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The title of this story bugged me the first time that I read the story.  It bugged me because when I started reading the story, it was clear that the children were not playing any games at twilight.  

They faced the afternoon. It was too hot. Too bright. The white walls of the veranda glared stridently in the sun.

The story starts out during the early to mid afternoon.  It starts out at the hottest and brightest part of the day.  Despite the heat and brightness though, the kids beg to be let out to play in the garden.  The game that they choose to play is hide and seek.  As the game progresses, Ravi becomes more and more determined to win, so he hides himself very well.  Nobody can find him, but Ravi also isn't willing to risk revealing himself and make the run to the "den" in order to win. He sits and sits and sits until . . . twilight. 

Here is where the title makes sense, and it makes sense in two ways. First, Ravi is the only child still playing hide and seek at this time.  He is the only child playing the first game at twilight.  He's envisioning himself being victorious in a spectacular fashion.  In a way, he's playing games with himself.  If that explanation of the title sounds weak, I think I may know why.  Technically, Ravi is playing a game.  Singular.  So why would the title be plural?  

The title is "games" at twilight because as the day progresses and cools down, the other children play a bunch of different games.  

There had been a fight about who was to be It next. It had been so fierce that their mother had emerged from her bath and made them change to another game. Then they had played another and another.

All of the other children really are playing many games at twilight.  Only Ravi is left playing the first game all by himself.  

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