Was Mr. Oliver really experiencing the situations or was it just a figment of his imagination?
Or, In Ruskin Bond’s story “A Face in the Dark”, Mr Oliver’s encounter with the boy and the watchman could either be real or figment of imagination. Give views.
Or, Was it actually a ghost in “A Face in the Dark”? Can it be that it was a prank of the school boys? What actually happened?
Ruskin Bond’s story “A Face in the Dark” ends abruptly after Mr. Oliver, an English school teacher at Simla encounters two paranormal figures on his way back to school one night and leaves us wondering whether it was real or a figment of the protagonist’s imagination. Now, that is up to the readers how they would like to take it. Most probably it is the author’s fascination with the supernatural world that is expressed in the story. As far as the story itself is concerned, I’d say Mr. Oliver was really experiencing the situation. At least, it was the author’s motif, I feel.
On the other hand, Mr. Oliver’s encounter with the faceless boy and the watchman could be seen as a creation of his imagination. But this school of thought is apparently less convincing as the narrator mentions “Oliver was not a nervous or imaginative man”. Moreover, he was courageous enough not to faint there at the sight of the boy’s face with no eyes, mouth or nose, and rather started running towards the school building.
But one would argue that Oliver’s courage was definitely not enough to stare at that smooth face for long and investigate what the matter actually was without getting frightened, as it could even be a prank played on him. Though he is outwardly practical and unimaginative, there is a soft spot in his heart, no doubt. That is why another interpretation suggests that Mr. Oliver Might be going through a psychological disturbance living a lonely life for a long time. He is a bachelor and seemingly has no such companion even among his colleagues to accompany him to the Simla Bazaar where he goes all alone. Moreover, his monotonous activity of teaching the students for many years might have made his work dull and he might not find any distinctiveness or individuality in his students as they all look just the same to him. Thus, the faces without features may suggest lack of individuality on a symbolic level to further indicate that the public school where he teaches does not encourage individuality and produces students who are all the same. This sameness is haunting Mr. Oliver according to this interpretation.
So, you see, no concrete conclusion can be reached here as to whether it was Mr. Oliver’s fancy, real paranormal things were happening or it was a prank played upon him. But this openness to interpretation is the hallmark of Bond’s short story “A Face in the Dark”.