What is unusual about the signal-man's behavior?

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The narrator for some reason calls down to a railroad signal-man as the story opens. The narrator finds it odd that instead of looking up in the direction from which his voice is coming, the signal-man looks down the empty track. It seems very unlikely that someone would be walking up the middle of the tracks. A little later, after a train passes, the signal-man still looks down the track expectantly, as if waiting for someone, which causes the narrator to say

I stopped a moment, wondering at it.

As the narrator talks with the signal-man, he learns that the man's strange behavior arises from his conviction that he has seen a "spectre" on the railway tracks and also emerging from the railway tunnel. The signal-man tells the narrator that each time the spectre, or ghost, appears, it means a terrible train accident will follow.

This explains the signal-man's strange behavior in looking down the railway tracks rather than upwards when the narrator called to him. The signal-man was very worried that the ghost was about to appear again.

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From the earliest moments of their meeting, the narrator finds some aspects of the signalman's manner and behaviour to be extremely unusual. The first of these occurs in the opening paragraph when the narrator shouts down to announce his presence. The signalman's response is to look down the train line, not directly above, a move which the narrator finds "remarkable."

Similarly, when the narrator makes his way down to the signal box, he interprets the signalman's attitude as one of "watchfulness" and "expectation." The narrator is unable to explain the reasoning behind this, though he stops for a moment to observe it.

Once the narrator has reached the signal box, he tries to engage the signalman in conversation, but, once again, his efforts are met with an unusual response. Instead of responding, the signalman looks back to the red light, "as if something were missing from it," and then asks if he has seen the narrator before.

The narrator is baffled by the actions and words of the signalman and begins to wonder if he might have a disease of the mind. At one point, he also wonders if the signalman is, in fact, a ghost:

The monstrous thought came into my mind, as I perused the fixed eyes and the saturnine face, that this was a spirit, not a man.

In truth, the signalman is neither supernatural nor mad. As the narrator is about to learn, the signalman is plagued by a ghost who, for reasons unknown, is able to predict future accidents on the line. Tragically, and unbeknownst to the signalman, the ghost has appeared for a third time to warn him of his own impending demise.

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What suspicions does the narrator have about the signal-man and why?

In this crafted critique of technology, Charles Dickens writes a ghost tale entitled "The Signal-Man." For some unknown reason, the narrator is on "a steep cutting," and he calls out to the railroad signalman far below. Instead of looking up from where the sound comes, the signalman turns and looks down the tracks in a "remarkable manner." Because there is something about this man in such a "dismal place" that makes the narrator apprehensive, he wonders if the strange creature is a spirit, rather than a man. Then, when he asks the signalman if "that light was part of his charge," the man answers, "Don't you know it is?" This reply causes the narrator to wonder if the man is a ghost. The narrator has also "speculated" that the man may not be mentally well, as he seems to have "a latent fear of [the narrator]."

The solitary signalman, assigned to signal that the tunnel is cleared for approaching trains, is cloistered in damp tunnels, amid cliffs, and imprisoned by a lonely and rugged landscape. The signalman sees a figure that warns him, "Look out! Look out!" but he does not understand the significance of this warning. "I have never made a mistake as yet," he tells the narrator. Still, he fears some calamity.

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What suspicions does the narrator have about the signal-man and why?

Early in "The Signal-Man," the narrator suspects that the signalman might be suffering from mental illness, as he comments in the text:

"I have speculated since, whether there may have been infection in his mind."

In addition, he also wonders if the signalman might, in fact, be a ghost:

"The monstrous thought came into my mind, as I perused the fixed eyes and the saturnine face, that this was a spirit, not a man."

The narrator suspects these things because of the signalman's unusual demeanour. When he first arrives at the signal box, for example, he notices something "remarkable" in the signalman's manner which has no obvious explanation. Moreover, when the pair come face-to-face, the narrator is struck by the signalman's attitude of "expectation" and "watchfulness." Once again, the narrator is unable to account for such an attitude. Finally, when the signalman directs a "most curious look" towards the red light before looking at the narrator, the narrator's suspicions reach their peak: ghost or patient, the narrator cannot decipher his new friend. 

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What does the narrator find unusual about the signal-man?

A lot of what the signalman does strikes the narrator as being a bit strange.  This strange behavior starts at the very beginning of the story.

At the start of the story, the narrator calls out to the signalman.  It is obvious that the voice must have come from up where the narrator is, but instead of looking up, the signalman looks "down the Line."  Later on, the signalman does not even move until the narrator is on him.  Soon after that, he gives the red light a really strange look.

All of this will make more sense later in the story, but for now, it seems unusual.

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