How would you justify the title of the story “A Face in the Dark” by Ruskin Bond?
Ruskin Bond’s short story “A Face in the Dark” is a horror story. In this story Bond explores the humanity’s collective imagination with the paranormal.
The protagonist Mr. Oliver is a teacher in an English school at Simla. One night on his way to school from the Simla bazaar Mr. Oliver stumbled upon a boy sitting alone on a rock and crying silently. When the boy lifted his head to look at the teacher, Oliver found that the boy had no mouth, nose, eyes or ears on his face. It was just a round smooth head. Oliver started running blindly towards the school building calling for help and met the watchman in the middle of the path. But moments later he discovered to his horror that the watchman too did not have any feature on his face. And here ends the story.
This simple and ordinary plot has been made look intriguing and extraordinary by creating an atmosphere of suspense, mystery and surprise through the description of the surroundings and clever presentation of the events. Understandably, the prime interest of the author is to make this a great supernatural story. And he has been quite successful in doing so.
In this connection, the very title of the story “A Face in the Dark” plays a great role in creating the atmosphere of suspense and eeriness even before the story begins. Just reading the title of the story without knowing what’s inside, the readers get a feeling that the story has something to do with darkness, mystery and suspense. An image of a face in the dark is always going to arouse a sense of horror in our minds. That is why Bond chooses such a fitting title for the story.
From another interpretation, the title “A Face in the Dark” may well indicate that a face in darkness will always be blurry. On a metaphorical level that would mean if you don’t get closer to a person, you can never understand them. The expression of mind is seen of the face, as they say. So, if you see a person in the dark, i.e. without shedding enough light on them, you will always see the face to be featureless, i.e., you’ll never see their individuality. From this symbolic approach too the title is well-justified.
So, to conclude, on a literal level the title “A Face in the Dark” serves the purpose of creating the eerie atmosphere right from the word ‘go’ while on a metaphorical level this may suggest the need for closeness, fellow-feeling and appreciating others’ individuality. From both angles the title is just and apt.
The title of the story ‘A Face in the Dark’ is appropriate because the story revolves around Mr Oliver and the face of the boy in the dark. Mr Oliver has a strange experience while he is passing through a pine Forest at night. He sees a figure of a boy sitting alone on a rock. He goes closer to recognize the face of the boy. The boy appears to be crying. Mr Oliver asked him to look up, and is surprised to find that the boy has no eyes, ears, nose or mouth. It is just a round smooth head — with a school cap on top of it. He gets frightened and the torch falls from his trembling hand. He runs towards the school building and cries for help. He is gripped with fear. So it is the face of the boy that frightens Mr Oliver. So the title ‘The Face in the Dark’ is appropriate.