Ans: The story begins with Norman Gortsby sitting on a bench in a park located near the Hyde Park corner in London. It was some thirty minutes past six on an early March evening. The roads were empty and many unnoticed people moved silently. It was the time of dusk, which according to Gortsby was the hour of the defeated. He believed that those who are dejected and disappointed in life walk about in this gloomy hour of life as they want to escape the bitter and harsh realities of life. The market area and the roads behind the fence were full of light and traffic noise and Gortsby believed that this haunted those who had been defeated in life.
Q: How does the atmosphere in the park match harmonize with the mood of Gortsby? Ans: Norman Gortsby was not in a good mood that evening and was heartbroken. He had no financial problems but had failed in a more subtle ambition for which he was disappointed. He considered dusk to be the hour of the defeated and believed that those who are dejected and disappointed in life walk about in this gloomy hour of life as they want to escape the bitter and harsh realities of life and hence ranked himself among those people.
Q: Describe the old man who comes and sits on a bench close to Gortsby. How did his appearance match the description of defeated people in the extract? Ans: The old man who came and sat beside Gortsby appeared to be a person who had admitted defeat to himself and to life. Although he wore neat clothes, he didn’t look like a person who could afford to buy a box of chocolates or flowers to put on the lapel of his coat. He appeared to be a person belonging to the forlorn orchestra to whose tune nobody danced. The appearance of the old man matched that of the defeated people.
He was one of those people who had accepted defeat willingly and wanted to escape from the harsh realities of life. Q: Why did the young man not look very cheerful? Ans: The young man who came and sat beside Gortsby after the elderly gentlemen left did not look very cheerful and started take out his temper. When Gortsby asked the young man why he was so angry, the young said that he had done the silliest thing in his life and explained to Gortsby his story. The young man had come this afternoon to stay at a hotel in Berkshire square only to know that it had demolished and a cinema theatre had been established instead.
The taxi driver recommended him to another hotel and he went there. On reaching the hotel, he sent a letter to his family giving them the address and went out to buy some soap as he had forgotten to bring any and hated hotel soap. After buying soap, he strolled about a bit and drank at the bar and when he was about to go back, he realized that he had forgotten the name and location of the hotel. He couldn’t sell a telegram to his family as they wouldn’t get the letter before tomorrow and on top of that he had only two pence left and had nowhere to go that night.
This was the main reason why the young man was annoyed. Q: What made Gortsby believe that the young man’s story was not at all improbable? Ans: Gortsby told the young man that his story wasn’t improbable as he remembered doing almost the same thing along with his friend in a foreign country. He explained that he and his friend were lucky enough to remember that the hotel was on a sort of canal and were able to find their way back to the hotel. Hence Gortsby believed that the young man’s story wasn’t outrageously untrue.
Q: What according to Gortsby was the weak point in the young man’s story? How was Gortsby later convinced that he had made an error of judgment? Ans: According to Gortsby the weak point in the young man’s story was the cake of soap he had bought from a store. The young man couldn’t produce it as evidence to his story and simply muttered that he had lost it. This convinced Gortsby that the young man had weaved a fake story and he walked away. However while walking back; Gortsby saw the cake of soap lying besides the bench.
He assumed that the cake of soap had fallen from the young man’s pocket when he flung himself down on the seat. This convinced Gortsby that he had made an error of judgment. Q: What did Gortsby do after he was convinced that the young man’s story was true? What happened in the end? Ans: After seeing the soap lying besides the bench, Gortsby was convinced that he made an error of judgment and hence ran in search of the young man. The young man turned towards Gortsby with defensive hostility to protect himself from Gortsby’s anger.
However, he was surprised when Gortsby admitted that he had made an error of judgment. Gortsby then offered the young man the loan of a sovereign and gave him his card and his address. The young man thanked Gortsby and rushed away in the direction of Knightsbridge. On his way back, Gortsby saw the elderly gentlemen who had sat beside him earlier searching for something. When Gortsby asked whether the old man had lost anything, the old man replied that he had lost the cake of soap. It was then that Gortsby realized that he had been tricked by the young man.