Games at Twilight

by Anita Desai

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Themes and Meanings

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Last Updated March 3, 2023.

Anita Desai's short story "Games at Twilight" is a poignant tale about childhood, exploring themes of innocence, disappointment, and the harsh realities of growing up. The story centers around a group of siblings playing a game of hide and seek during a hot summer afternoon, with the focus on the youngest, a boy named Ravi, who becomes trapped in a storage shed, prompting him to confront his own insignificance and mortality.

One of the main themes in "Games at Twilight" is the loss of innocence. Throughout the story, Desai creates a contrast between the idyllic world of childhood and the harsh realities of the adult world. The children's game of hide and seek is a perfect example of this. To the children, the game is a carefree activity, a momentary escape from the stifling heat of the afternoon. They are lost in the moment, with no concern for the world outside their game.

However, as the story progresses, the children's innocence is stripped away. Ravi, the youngest of the group, becomes trapped in the storage shed, separated from his friends and family. The moment of realization that Ravi is trapped marks the beginning of the end of their idyllic childhood world.

Another important theme in "Games at Twilight" is disappointment. This theme is highlighted by Ravi's experience. Throughout the story, Ravi is searching for a way to stand out from his siblings and make a name for himself. He is desperate for recognition, for someone to notice him and acknowledge his worth. When he becomes trapped in the storage shed, he sees it as an opportunity to finally prove his worth. He imagines his siblings frantically searching for him, and the satisfaction of their relief when he is finally found.

However, this is not the case. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Ravi's siblings are not concerned about him at all. They are only concerned about winning the game of hide and seek. When Ravi is finally discovered, he is greeted with disappointment and scorn. The disappointment that Ravi experiences highlights the harsh realities of the world. Ravi's experience shows that the world is not always fair, and that hard work and effort are not always rewarded.

Finally, the theme of mortality is central to "Games at Twilight." As Ravi sits trapped in the storage shed, he becomes acutely aware of his own mortality. He realizes that he is nothing more than a small, insignificant creature, with no power over the world around him. This realization is a turning point for Ravi. It forces him to confront the harsh realities of the world and the fleeting nature of life.

Throughout the story, Desai uses vivid imagery to create a sense of isolation and loneliness. As Ravi becomes trapped in the storage shed, Desai describes the world around him in vivid detail. The darkness of the shed, the dust and cobwebs that cling to his clothes, and the oppressive heat all serve to create a sense of isolation and claustrophobia. This sense of isolation and loneliness is further reinforced by Ravi's inner thoughts and reflections. As he sits alone in the shed, he begins to reflect on his own mortality and the insignificance of his life. This sense of isolation and loneliness highlights the theme of mortality and the fleeting nature of life.

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