Another one of Saki’s dark tales, Dusk reveals the author’s ironic view of man’s infinite capacity for misunderstanding one another. Along the duration of the story, the protagonist, Gortsby, watches and observes people scurrying about at dusk, sitting at a park bench. Inwardly, he believes the people whom he observes looked defeated, and reciprocates dusk as a representation of the time of defeat for humans. The short story features an objective limited point of view, most of the characterization of Gortsby occurs through Saki’s pen on Gortsby’s thoughts.
The character possesses a cynical view of the human state and has probably experienced some sort of defeat of his own – Saki never mentioned what sort of failure Gortsby was facing, the only information given was that he had no financial troubles. The story emphasizes on the misjudgement of character by Gortsby of the young male; the theme of the dysfunctions of a subjective mind is a rather importunate throughout.
Saki shows this through a shift in Gortsby’s trust in the young lad.
He was reluctant to believe in a stranger whose story seemed so plentiful at the beginning, but later surrenders to the boy’s mischief in trying to cheat Gortsby for money. Our protagonist not only gave the young boy money, but had also been transformed by the lie woven. He apologizes, “excuse my disbelief, but appearances were really rather against you… ” This shows how easily the human mind is swayed by external forces (in this case, Gortsby was influenced by the young lad’s lie), and the failures of Gortsby’s original claims of being an excellent judge of character when he was obviously unable to see through the young man’s lie.
It was only moments later, the first old man returns to the bench, informing Gortsby that he was looking for his bar of soap; the soap of which Gortsby thought was the young man’s. The truth is finally appealed. However, Saki’s left a twist in the ending for readers to guess Gortsby’s reaction, an element of surprise is apparent. From the “cliff”, readers can presume to guess Gortsby had realized his misjudgement of character and would therefore recognize the dysfunctions of his overtly confident, self-assured judgmental mind.