The Tiger in the Tunnel

by Ruskin Bond

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How does the author describe the night in your own words?

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Bond's description of the night in "The Tiger in the Tunnel" opens with images of predation and continues throughout the narrative.  The exposition describes the night as one that "swallows" life, foreshadowing both the experiences Baldeo and the tiger:

There was no moon that night, and the deathly stillness of the surrounding jungle was broken only occasionally by the shrill cry of a cicada. Sometimes from far off came the hollow hammering of a woodpecker, carried along on the faint breeze. Or the grunt of a wild boar could be heard as he dug up a favourite root. But these sounds were rare, and the silence of the forest always returned to swallow them up.

There is an "eeriness" to the night.  It is a description that reflects the danger inherent in the night and the danger in Baldeo's commitment to his family.  For Baldeo, the job of signal man in the night carried with it occupational risks that few knew and even fewer would dare to embrace.

It is in this light where I would describe the night as "menacing."  It carries with it "hollow hammering" and a silence that "swallowed" all life that emerged.  It is a setting where human beings realize their own insignificance to something larger and something overwhelming to human beings.  The author's description of the night is one that foreshadows the challenges that Baldeo faces and what Tembu must honor at the end of the narrative. It is in this setting where both the most challenging and honorable aspects of human character are revealed.  The night serves as a backdrop to this condition of the human predicament. It is filled with uncertain and overwhelming elements where the most challenge is provided, but also a potential for the best in human beings is to be revealed.

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