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Monday, 5 November 2018

Comment on Anita Desai's treatment of child psychology in her short story " Games at Twilight"

"Games at Twilight" is a wonderful creation by the great living Indian writer Anita Desai. The story has an Indian setting and children are at the centre of it. Ravi, though cannot be regarded as the protagonist of the story', is at the centre. The events of the story centre around him. Though apparently the story deals with some Indian children's game, it explores the psychology of a child's world. Ravi's participation in a simple game of hide-and-seek leaves him feeling isolated and abandoned at the end of the story. In her story, "Games at Twilight," a peaceful game of hide seek turns into an unforgettable nightmare for the little boy, Ravi. The story deals with child psychology. The theme of the story deals with children's play - a popular game of hide and seek. This is a very simple theme. Raghu is the seeker and Ravi was one of the hiders. He takes the trouble of hiding in a dark shed. Hiding in it, he rejoices at the thought of tasting victory. Though he is scared of crawling creatures, he continues to sit there, determined to be declared the 'Champion'.But he stays in the shed for a fairly long period with the result that his friends forget about him. He is given a cold treatment when he appears before them. When the thrill of being a record breaker is denied to him, he starts crying and howling. No one is willing to acknowledge his victory. This hurts him and makes him feel cheated. At this point, the writer makes a deep study of child psychology and a child's powerful reaction when he feels cheated of his victory and honour. Ravi feels hurt when his playmates rob him of his well-earned glory and victory. Ravi feels crest fallen and his heart is heavy and sad with the disgrace of being forgotten.In the story the author explores different aspects of child psychology at different stages of the game. Every child loves winning and he is highly elated when he sees a possible victory in prospect. Ravi, the little protagonist of the story, feels endless sensation as he dupes Raghu, the antagonist, in the game of hide and seek. He even congratulates his own self on his success. "Ravi shook, then shivered with delight, with self-congratulation." Ravi becomes delighted beyond expression and he starts dreaming of being hailed as the champion in the game.Ravi's dream is also children. He has never tasted the sensation of victory. Now, at the prospect of a great victory, he for the first time feels the sensation. But his imagination does not go beyond the boundary of a child. He starts comparing his possible success with getting a whole lump of chocolate or riding a soda man's pony. The author vividly records the sensation of the little child: "What fun if they were all found and caught - he alone left unconquered! He had never known that sensation. Nothing more wonderful had ever happened to him than being taken out by an uncle and bought a whole slab of chocolate all to himself, or being flung into the soda-man's pony cart and driven up to the gate by the friendly driver with the red beard and pointed ears. To defeat Raghu - that hirsute, hoarse-voiced football champion - and to be the winner in a circle of older, bigger, luckier children - that would be thrilling beyond imagination. He hugged his knees together and smiled to himself almost shyly at the thought of so much victory, such laurels." The author shows how a child feels when he sees a victory in prospect and how he reacts to that unknown sensation.The end is very painful for the little boy Ravi. He is not recognised as the winner; rather he receives intolerable humiliation for all. At this point the author records how a child, to whom victory matters utmost, reacts when his dream is shattered. Ravi goes crazy for his victory and he starts howling to gain his ground. Though he is silenced by the imposing Raghu, he cannot stop feeling bad and frustrated. Ravi feels so wretched and upset that he loses the mental strength of joining another game. The ending of the story quite vividly delves into the heart of the little protagonist: " And the are of thin arms trembled in the twilight, and the heads were bowed so sadly, and their feet tramped to that melancholy refrain so mournfully, so helplessly, that Ravi could not bear it. He would not follow them, he would not be included in this funereal game. He had wanted victory and triumph - not a funeral. But he had been forgotten, left out and he would not join them now. The ignominy of being forgotten - how could he face it? He felt his heart go heavy and ache inside him unbearably. 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."The psychological aspects of a child's heart are unearthed through the simple game of hide and seek. The simple game of hide and seek turns out to be a nightmare for the little boy Ravi. Through the game and the inner feelings of the little child after the game the writer has dexterously explored the inner world of a child, how he feels when he sees a great honour, in his eyes, in prospect and how he fells when his dream is shattered and is deprived of the recognition he deserves. The narrative of the story dives deep into the inner unexplored recesses of Ravi's heart and brings into light the pangs and frustration that are created there from the 'terrible sense of insignificance'. It is this treatment of child psychology that renders the story a unique flavour of its own.
Anita Desai's treatment of child psychology

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