What happened to the teacher Mr. Oliver in Ruskin Bond’s short story “A Face in the Dark”?
Ruskin Bond’s story ends when Mr. Oliver sees in the light of the lantern that the watchman too has no eyes, no ears, no features at all — not even the eyebrows. Then the wind blew the lamp out.
The author leaves it to the readers to imagine further. Mr. Oliver might have gone senseless after those horrible scenes he had seen. Again, one may argue that he was a man with a strong heart, since he used to walk alone through the narrow forest path and he did not faint after seeing the boy with no eyes and no ears. In that case, Mr. Oliver would start running again in the opposite direction. The readers have the freedom to think it the way they like.
It is not only about the ending, but also the essential theme of the story which the author does not clarify. Readers are caught in the middle of a riddle whether it is just another horror story, or it has some deeper meaning referring to the psychological sphere of human beings. And this undecidedness is the characteristic feature of postmodern literature.
Some textbooks have two ends:
- One says that Mr. Oliver ran in the hostel in his room and when he looked in the mirror he saw that he had no eyes ears or a nose.
- The other says that Mr. Oliver had a severe heart attack on that spot on seeing the watchman and he died on that spot
It was given that when the torch fell down from his hand he scrambled down the path running blindly so how could he reach the school building as when he was coming from shimla bazzar he was going to the school building he saw a boy sitting in the path then he ran by turning around how could he reach school building????
At first, let me eliminate all the other point of views:
- As mentioned by the author, Mr Oliver “ was not a nervous or imaginative man ”, so it was not his fear of walking in the pine forests which made him imagine those strange things.
- You may say that the light of Mr Oliver’s torch was flickering and as the pine forest was completely dark therefore his eyes might have fallen into illusion and for that, he could only see the smooth face of the boy (without any feature) and the watchman but if it was so then when Mr Oliver told the watchman about that boy, why did the watchman told him that- if the boy’s face was like his face and raised the lamp to his face which was too featureless. It means that the watchman knew that his face was too featureless and it was not an illusion which Mr Oliver might have seen due to sickness or a disease or some kind of that thing.
- And at last, you can say that as Mr Oliver was a school teacher, therefore, any of his students can play a prank with Mr Oliver to shock him but no student can play such a horrible prank that his teacher almost gets a heart attack and if we take that the students wanted to kill Mr Oliver, then from where did the watchman came and if the watchman was too involved then he would have murdered Mr Oliver before only.
So after all these justifications, the final ending can only either of two things:
- The watchman and the boy were both stricken by some serious face ebbing disease, for which both of them were concerned, which is less probable.
- The most probable ending, of which the reader wants us to have a clear confession that the boy and the watchman were both ghosts which wanted to scare(somewhat kill) Mr.Oliver for coming regularly in their homeland or the pine forest during the night.
The ending can be like:
- Mr. Oliver got to know that it was a prank
- The watchman took out Mr. Oliver’s eyes, ears, nose and mouth and then Oliver started teaching the students with a round smooth head.