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Games at Twilight

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Lee Adi

on 3 June 2014

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Transcript of Games at Twilight

Games at Twilight
Analysis of Style and Language
Analysis of Characters
The characters of the “Games at Twilight” play an important role in achieving the author’s purpose and conveying the theme. Through characterization, images, and the feelings experienced by Ravi, one is able to fully understand and eventually sympathize for Ravi and get a good perception of Raghu.

The reader does not experience the same sympathy and relation towards Raghu as they do towards Ravi because his feelings are not revealed, nor does the author choose to focus the story on him. Raghu’s built, athletic appearance is revealed when the speaker discusses “Raghu’s long, hefty, hairy footballer legs.” When Raghu "charged after him with a blood curdling yell," his aggressive and competitive nature is depicted. In addition, his insensitive nature that is revealed when he tells Ravi, “Don’t be a fool!” contributes to Ravi’s feeling of insignificance and ignominy.



Analysis of Conflict/Plot
The “Games at Twilight” is a short story that follows the character of Ravi, a young boy learning his way through life each and every day, as he plays a game on a typical day that changes his view of life significantly. This story is meant to exemplify how a children’s game may teach important life lessons, in which a game of hide and seek begins. Ravi finds a tremendous hiding spot, in which Raghu, the one who is “it”, did not find him. Ravi feels victorious and quite proud of his huge accomplishment, and although he won the game, in reality, he truly did not win because no one desired to find him; the game was over. He is then faced with a hard realization that he is quite insignificant due to the fact that he was forgotten and his victory was not acknowledged. Instead of the congratulations from his siblings that he expects, they have begun a new funeral game concerning death. This symbolizes Ravi’s death of childhood when the children sing, “Remember me when I am dead, dead, dead, dead…” and Ravi soon stops crying like a child, realizing his insignificance and his adulthood approaching. The plot drives the story’s theme because even though only a game of hide and seek occurred, it was powerful enough to teach Ravi that his childish way of thinking that everything revolves around him is inaccurate, death of childhood and death in general is inevitable, and he is insignificant in the grand scheme of things. This therefore drives the story’s themes that death of childhood is inescapable, and one will realize their insignificance at some point in order to grow up.

Analysis of Setting and Its Contribution to the Theme
The setting in the “Games at Twilight” tells a great deal about her literary intent, and it evokes emotional details so that the reader can either relate to these details, or the reader can make connections between the setting and the values, behaviors, customs, etc. of the times.

Desai establishes the setting through her elaborate yet common use of imagery, in which the setting is created as the temperature, furniture, geography, etc. are slowly unraveled in the text. The setting of the story is set in tropical India, in the summer period, and it ranges throughout the day starting at the afternoon. This is unraveled and established by her use of imagery when the speaker states, “They faced the afternoon. It was too hot. Too bright. The white walls of the veranda glared stridently in the sun. The bougainvillea hung about it, purple and magenta, in livid balloons. The garden outside was like a tray made of beaten brass.” The role the setting plays in the story is that it determines at what point Ravi realizes his insignificance. An example of this is when Ravi realizes its twilight, which refers back to the title. This reference from the current setting to the title contributes to the theme because "twilight," refers to the death of the day, and "games" signifies rivalry and possible struggle, in which Ravi struggles at realizing that his childhood has reached death and that he is no longer the center of the world; he is insignificant, which is the main theme.
Summary of the "Games at Twilight"
Set in topical India, the “Games at Twilight” begins on a hot afternoon, in which the children of this large family have been confined in their home the entire morning and are eager to go outside and play. Once their mother allows them to do so with the restriction of staying on the porch, they all pour outside and decide on playing hide and seek. Raucous suddenly breaks out concerning who will be “it”, in which Mira, the motherly sibling, intervenes and declares they shall use a clapping method to settle who will be it. Raghu is then it, and as soon as he starts his protests, everyone begins to run and seek their hiding spot. All participants do so besides Manu who is quite aloof to the game, and when Raghu is done counting he chases Manu down, finds him, and makes Manu upset. The focus of the story suddenly switches to Ravi as he becomes panicked when he overhears this and begins to doubt his choice of hiding spot. After contemplating, he boldly decides to slip through a small gap of a shed, feels victorious when Raghu cannot find him, and stays in the shed for a long period of time: until twilight, or the death of the day. He then realizes that until he touches the den and yells “Den!” he will not be the winner, causing him to slip out of the crack, run across the yard, ragingly cry, and yell “Den!” He cries tears of misery and aggravation as he notices the children have already started a new game and have forgotten about him. Ravi is then called a baby and a fool, and no one acknowledges his victory, triggering Ravi to realize that he has been forgotten, and both his victory in the game and himself are no longer relevant. The other children proceed in playing a funeral game that Ravi refuses to participate in because all he wanted was “victory and triumph– not a funeral.” At this point, he understands his own insignificance in the world and is left with the feeling of the “ignominy of being forgotten.”
Anita Desai uses the components of language and style of diction, irony, and imagery to convey the main message of the story, to enhance its plot, and to kindle the reader’s senses.

Diction is used to reveal the ranging feelings of Ravi throughout the story and to help visualize the certain instance and what is explicitly occurring as described in the text. Examples of when word choice, or diction, reveals the ranging feelings of Ravi through his actions are when he goes from feeling “relief and jubilation” when he is not picked it, “picked his nose in panic” when he heard Raghu approach, “shivered with delight, with self congratulation” when Raghu did not locate him, and lastly, when Ravi “felt his heart go heavy and ache inside him unbearably” when he realizes that he had been forgotten. By understanding the feelings of Ravi, the main character, through this word choice, one can easily locate the theme that everyone is insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and death in general and of childhood is inevitable. This also allows us to sympathize with Ravi because we are both in his point of view, and experiencing the emotions that he is feeling.

Desai uses irony in several places throughout the “Games at Twilight” to provide a certain twist in the plot of the story. This “twist” allows the reader to understand the truth/insight the Desai is trying to convey about being forgotten and the hard moment it is when you realize your own insignificance. “They had quite forgotten him. // Ragu had found all the others long ago.” This is an example of irony because Ravi has won the game, but in reality, he has lost, in which he was forgotten about by his fellow participants. This allows the reader to understand the truth that Desai is trying to convey because as this occurs, the reader is also faced with a realization that it is disgraceful, yet inevitable to be forgotten after death, in which Ravi was left feeling insignificant after twilight or the death-of-the-day. As the reader is faced with the truth behind the story as it is brought to Ravi through his personal experience, Desai achieves her ultimate purpose of emotionally presenting an inevitable component of life.

Imagery is a key element of Desai’s writing that she uses to stimulate the senses of the reader and to convey crucial scenery that is necessary to understand the plot of the story. By doing so, we get to experience the described situation even more and envision a scene more clearly. An example of imagery that is used to stimulate our senses is when the speaker describes, “Everything was still curtained and shuttered in a way that stifled the children, made them feel that their lungs were stuffed with cotton wool and their noses with dust and if they didn’t burst out into the light and see the sun and feel the air, they would choke.” This segment of the text provides one with a clear vision of the appearance of the children and kindles our senses/provokes feelings and sympathies while reading.


Analysis of Tone
Desai’s tone is both didactic and aggressive. These tones both reveal her feelings towards the particular lesson she is trying to convey about insignificance and death. These feelings shape the reader’s understanding and perception of the story because Desai ultimately shaped and created the story with a pertinent tone so interpretation would be quite limited to the truth/insight she desired to convey. Desai’s didactic tone is used to attempt to educate the reader and inform the reader of the truth behind the life lesson that Ravi is faced with. This tone is exhibited when the speaker describes, “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.” By using this tone, Desai achieves her ultimate purpose in conveying the insight about life that she believes to be true. Her aggressive tone is used to instill a harsh reality into the reader and to truly understand the difficult internal struggle that Ravi experiences towards the end of the story. This is illustrated when the speaker says, “The ignominy of being forgotten-how could he face it?” This serves as a metaphoric slap to reality that this a major life-lesson that we, the readers, will eventually learn if we haven’t already learned at same point in our life.

On the other hand, Ravi, the main character of the story, is both the protagonist and the character that which we experience the story by following him and understanding his feelings at each given time. By focusing on Ravi and his personal experience throughout the day, we are informed that he is the smallest and youngest of his family because of his childish actions, such as “trying to find comfort by burrowing the finger deep-deep into that soft tunnel,” and his petit size as described when the speaker mentions, “Ravi had wished he were tall enough, big enough to reach the key on the nail.” By understanding the feelings of Ravi, it may also be concluded that he has wild emotions, is a sensitive boy altogether, and can be quite dramatic at times. His wild, ranging emotions are shown when he goes from feeling “relief and jubilation” when he is not picked it, “picked his nose in panic” when he heard Raghu approach, for example. His sensitivity and dramatic nature are both illustrated when “he felt his heart go heavy and ache inside him unbearably” at the recognition of his insignificance, which caused him to feel “ the ignominy of being forgotten.”


Quotes! (Part 1)
“Also with fear. It was dark, spooky in the shed.”
The time Ravi spends in the shed symbolizes his transition to adulthood, in which this change can be both “dark” and “spooky.” This illustrates the theme of the “Games at Twilight” because it addresses that the death of childhood is inevitable, and that this change can be tough and scary, but one will get through it, just as Ravi escapes the shed.

“But what about the game? What had happened? Could it be over? How could it when he was still not found?”
This quote illustrates the theme of the “Games at Twilight” because it refers to the time that Ravi first questions whether there was a possibility that someone could forget about him. This relates to the theme that people will always go through a time like Ravi where we will understand our own insignificance in the world, in which before we reach this realization we question where something of this sort is possible, like in the quote above.

“Raghu didn’t find me. I won, I won––”
This quote illustrates the theme of the “Games at Twilight” because it reveals the irony that Desai uses to further enhance the theme. The irony conveyed is that Ravi has won the game, but in reality, he has lost, in which he was forgotten about by his fellow participants. This spurs the reader to be faced with a realization that it is disgraceful, yet inevitable to be forgotten after death, just as Ravi was left feeling.


“He had wanted victory and triumph—not a funeral. “
This quote illustrates the theme of this story because it signifies the unavoidable nature of the death of childhood. Ravi realizes that in no way can he avoid his “funeral of his childhood” in which it refers to the theme that death of childhood is inevitable when one realizes their own insignificance.

“The ignominy of being forgotten–how could he face it? “
This quote illustrates the theme of the story because it signifies the difficulty that one may go through when facing the transition from childhood to adulthood. This therefore illustrates the theme because it follows the belief that no matter who you are, you will have a point in life where, like Ravi, you will understand your own insignificance in the world.

“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.”
This quote directly illustrates the theme that everyone is insignificant in the grand scheme of things because Ravi realizes that he is insignificant at this point in the story, in which he feels a great disgrace that he is not the center of the world, as opposed to his prior belief. In addition, this also addresses his end of childhood and his childish train of thought.
Quotes! (Part 2)
Original Poem
"7 Billion"

There are approximately 7.04 billion people currently living on this earth.
This makes me often question my birth.
What is my significance? I am only one.
And this train of thought is what made my childhood done.
No longer did everything revolve around me.
This realization helped me see,
That I am only one.
At this point in life, our lives have just begun,
Death of childhood is inescapable and avoided, it cannot be,
In which we are all trivial in this world, even though it may be hard for some of us to see.
This death is an inevitable and sometimes bittersweet component of life,
like paying taxes, but this causes a strife.
The day this concept is understood,
One may be left feeling anything but good.
But to hear the truth is often hard,
And it is something I cannot disregard.
There are 7 billion people in this world; that is a stun.
And I am only one.
Literary Criticism
(Part One)
“Although some commentators have charged that Desai's fiction depends too heavily on the mundane and trivial, others have defended her attention to detail, arguing that this feature breathes life into her fiction and contributes to its often humorous tone. Critics have equally extolled Desai's short stories, tracing the thematic similarities between her short fiction and novels.” ("Uma Parameswaran (review date winter 1997)")

“Over a span of two decades and ten novels, Anita Desai has built up a solid repertoire and a reputation for sensitive insights into human behavior and finesse of language appropriate for expressing them.” ("Introduction")



Literary Criticism
(Part 2)
“Her short stories bring into sharp relief the difference between epiphany as an underlying structural principle in the short story-provided for by what Hanson has called the "elisions and gaps" in the short stories-and epiphany as a thematic concern. For while the stories in Games at Twilight' show a common thematic concern with a moment of truth or insight,their textual construction works towards questioning the value of these insights.” (Salgado)

“Illumination is the key theme of Anita Desai's short stories. Its real and metaphorical manifestations not only structure individual stories, but also serve to provide the collection's overall pattern-that element of fiction which Desai has claimed is of most concern to her.” (Salgado)

“Desai repeatedly draws attention to a character's failure to find a link between spiritual and material worlds, exposing the fragmentation of experience that is the very antithesis of epiphanic awareness.” (Salgado)

“The depiction of spiritual awareness in Desai's short stories, then, is destabilized through a combination of plot-focusing on the failed attempts of an individual to permeate the boundaries between material and spiritual worlds-and disruptive formal techniques.This combination works to take the reader out of the text and dissipates the potential for creating the single, reunifying effect of epiphany.” (Salgado)




Works Cited
Beers, Kylene. "Games at Twilight." Holt Elements of Literature. South Carolina ed. Orlando: Holt, Rinehart and WInston, 2010. . Print.

"Introduction" Contemporary Literary Criticism Ed. Janet Witalec. Vol. 175. Gale Cengage 2003 eNotes.com 22 May, 2014 <http://www.enotes.com>

Salgado, Minoli . "When Seeing Is Not Believing: Epiphany in Anita Desai's "Games at Twilight"." Journal of Modern Literature Vol. 20: 103-108.Web. 22 May 2014. <http://www.jstor.org.login.library.coastal.edu:2048/stable/4619301>

"Uma Parameswaran (review date winter 1997)" Contemporary Literary Criticism Ed. Janet Witalec. Vol. 175. Gale Cengage 2003eNotes.com 22 May, 2014 <http://www.enotes.com>
Visual Presentation Explanation
My visual presentation depicts a heavily populated globe with a central focus on one of the figures, whom understands that the world does not revolve around him. This heavily illustrates to the central theme of the “Games at Twilight” because it conveys the inevitable factor that at one point or another, one is bound to realize that they are insignificant in the grand scheme of things. The minute one does so, a notion of death occurs on their childhood. The theme, that one will ultimately realize they are insignificant, is conveyed in the story through the use of imagery, irony, and other literary elements, in which at twilight, the death of the day, Ravi wins the game, but he actually loses when he grasps that he has been forgotten and is therefore insignificant. I incorporated this theme In my visual presentation by placing the main stick figure facing the earth with his hands held above in disbelief and ignominy, just as Ravi feels when the speaker reveals, “The ignominy of being forgotton-how could he face it?” This therefore illustrates the theme that one will realize their insignificance at some point in order to grow up.
By: Anita Desai
Presentation By: Lee Adi

Desai’s purpose in writing the “Games at Twilight” was to inform. She ultimately has the goal in informing/educating the reader about the truth and insight that death of childhood is inevitable; no one is the center of the earth, in which we are all insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Desai does so by using different literary elements along with the plot to enhance the central theme of this story, which is the fact that we, the readers, will all experience a time where, like Ravi, we understand our own insignificance in the world, which spurs us to undergo a “death” concerning many hopes and perceptions that we only possess during childhood. Desai’s works surround a notion of adapting to change, in which in this short story her purpose addresses the change of a child facing his end of childhood, something we all have or will go through in life.
Analysis of Author's Purpose
Full transcript