Dusk by Saki: Summary, Characters & Analysis

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  • 0:04 'Dusk'
  • 0:27 Summary of 'Dusk'
  • 2:38 Analysis of 'Dusk'
  • 3:46 Characters in 'Dusk'
  • 4:24 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

If you're reading 'Dusk' by Saki, you might have noticed the abstract nature of the story. This can be a bit confusing. Don't worry; we've got your back. In this lesson, we offer a summary, analysis, and review of the characters.


'Dusk' is a short story written by Saki, otherwise known as Hector Hugh Munro. Saki was a British author who was known for ridiculing traditional thoughts and practices. No one knows why he chose the pen name Saki. 'Dusk' is one of his many successful short stories. Let's take a look at its summary and characters and get a brief analysis.

Summary of 'Dusk'

It's a March evening and a man named Norman Gortsby sits on a park bench observing the happenings around him. Gortsby enjoys watching the bustle of miserable looking people heading home and in traffic. He is feeling a bit sorry for himself but still enjoys the gloom and hopelessness that engulfs the general mood of the people on the streets. He describes it as ''the hour of the defeated.'' An older man sits next to him on the bench. He is a very well-dressed, respectable gentleman. On closer inspection, however, it becomes clearer that he's from the pitifully unpopular orchestra. He looks like a depressed old man who can barely afford where he lives.

When the old man walks away a, young man angrily sits down and complains to himself. Gortsby addresses his bad mood, and the man explains why he's so upset. As it turns out, he's traveled to Berkshire Square to stay at the Patagonian Hotel only to find out it has been demolished. The taxi driver takes him to a different hotel. He steps out with enough money to buy himself a drink and a bar of soap. Now he doesn't know where he's staying and cannot get back.

The young man is aware that his story sounds like a scam. Gortsby mentions the time he pulled the same scam in a foreign city once. The young man quickly points out that a foreign city would've made things easier for him as he could've gone to the consul. He mentions again that he'll be homeless for the night unless someone nice gives him money.

Gortsby's no fool; he doesn't believe the man. He asks him to produce this so-called soap he bought. The man searches his pockets but can't produce it. He claims he has lost it. Knowing that Gortsby doesn't believe him, he leaves.

Smugly, Gortsby stands up to walk away when he spots a bar of soap on the ground. The young man wasn't lying after all. It had fallen out of his pocket when he sat down on the bench. Gortsby starts to look for the young man and finds him on one of the busy streets. He apologizes for not believing him and offers to loan him a sovereign, a gold coin worth a pound. The man takes the coin and Gortsby's address. Gortsby lectures himself about how he should be less judgmental of people.

Just then, he spots the old man who'd been sitting next to him earlier. He's looking for something. Turns out, the old man has lost a bar of soap.

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