A Face in the Dark Summary by Ruskin Bond
A Face in the Dark Summary About the Author
Ruskin Bond (19 May 1934 – Present), is a famous Indian author of British descent. He is an icon among Indian writers. His wide array of short stories, novels, essays, poems, travelogues and articles in newspapers and magazines have inspired many aspiring writers. He has presented a variety in his writing, ranging from ‘ghost stories’ to ‘odes to nature’ to ‘love stories’. He wrote his first novel, ‘The Room on the Roof’, at the age of seventeen. His other very famous novel being ‘The Blue Umbrella’. In 1992 he received the Sahitya Akademi award for his short stories collection, ‘Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra’. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1999 for his contributions to Children’s Literature and Padma Bhushan in 2014. He now lives with his adopted family, near Mussoorie.
A Face in the Dark Summary
In the story, Mr. Oliver, the protagonist, is an Anglo Indian teacher in the English Public School at Shimla, which is three miles distance from the Shimla Bazaar. The school is often referred as ‘Eton of the East’, because its name is synonymous with quality elite education. Mr. Oliver is a rational and mentally strong person. He does not easily give away to nervousness and imagination. He usually goes out after school to the Shimla market and returns back in the evening.
One day while, Mr. Oliver was returning from Shimla, it got quite late and he decides to take a short cut through the pine forests. Carrying his torch he moves on briskly. Suddenly he comes across a weeping boy who was sitting with his hands covering his face. As per his duty as a teacher, he asked the child the reason for crying. Getting closer, he repeats the question. The boy lifted his face and the teacher fills with horror to find that the boy had no features, no eyes, no mouth. Terror-stricken, Mr. Oliver runs towards his school. On the way he encounters a watchman swinging a lantern.
On seeing him running, the watchman asks him what the reason was. Mr. Oliver tells him that he saw a boy with no face. The watchman then asks him if the boy looked like his and he raises his lantern to his face. To Mr. Oliver’s horror, the watchman too had no face, no eyes, no ears and no features. That moment the wind blew and the lamp went out. The story ends with a sense of ambiguity, leaving the readers to think whether it were actually ghosts or some prank played upon the teacher by his students.
A Face in the Dark Summary Word Meanings :
1. Outskirts : Border of a city or town
2. Eerie : Strange and mysterious
3. Strolled : To walk slowly and relaxingly
4. Imaginative : Having the ability to think of new and interesting ideas
5. Fitfully : Not regular or steady
6. Flickering : To burn or glow unsteadily
7. Miscreant : A person who does something illegal or morally wrong
8. Convulsively : . Fitfully; causing the entire body to shake
9. Distinctly : Noticeably
10. Scrambled : Moved with urgency or panic
11. Stumbled : To trip in walking or running
12. Gasping : Breathing with difficulty
A Face in the Dark Summary Questions and Answers
What according to you would have happened to Mr. Oliver after his encounter with the faceless boy and the Watchman?
The writer leaves the readers in an ambiguity as to what might have happened to Mr. Oliver after he encounters with the faceless watchman and the lamp blows out. One assumption could be that he must have fainted after the horrible scenes he had seen. In the morning, he would have reached back to his school and told everyone about his experience. There are chances that many would have considered it his imagination. On the second- thought, Mr. Oliver, being a daring man with a strong heart, may have not fainted and would have started running towards his school and reached there somehow.
Describe the encounter of Mr. Oliver with the ‘Faces in the Dark’. What is your opinion?
Mr. Oliver, the protagonist of the story the ‘Face in the Dark’, is a teacher in a public school in Shimla. He seems to be a daring and adventurous person who is not scared to pass through the pine forest in the dark of the night while returning from Shimla Bazaar. That particular night, as usual, he takes the path across the pine forests. Though it grew quite dark he had his torch and he made his way to his school.
When he saw a boy sitting and crying, he thought that he was one of the students of his school and reminded him about the rule that the boys were not supposed to come out at this time. Then he saw that the boy was sobbing and his anger changed into concern. He wanted to know the reason for his crying. But as soon as the boy lifted his face, Mr. Oliver was aghast ‘ looking at his face. He had no eyes, no ears, no mouth, and no features at all. The torch fell from his trembling ‘ hands.
Furthering his way to his residence, he saw a watchman with a lantern and he shares his experience with him. Listening about the boy’s face, the watchman lifts his lantern up to his face and asks if the boy’s face was like his, revealing his face in the light which was exactly the same, no eyes, no mouth, nothing. Suddenly, with a gush of wind, the lantern blew off and Mr. Oliver rushed towards his apartment. As per my opinion/the existence of supernatural cannot be denied from the face of the earth. There are instances present around us for which there is no logical explanation. So, what happened with Mr. Oliver could have been real and not merely his imagination.
A Face in the Dark Summary Extract Based Questions
Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.
“Life magazine, in a feature on India, had once called it the ‘Eton of the East’.”
(i) What is referred as ‘it’ in the above lines? Why has it been called as the ‘Eton of the East’?
(ii) Where was the school located? Who was the protagonist? Name the author.
(iii) What was Mr. Oliver’s usual evening routine?
(iv) Give the meaning of-
(v) What type of man was Mr. Oliver? Give reason for your answer.
(i) The school in Shimla in which the protagonist taught is referred as ‘it’. Eton College is one of the most esteemed, expensive and reputable English boarding school in Eton, Berkshire in U.K. This school has been called as the ‘Eton of the East’ because it had been run on English Public School lines and the boys of the school belonged to wealthy Indian families. They wore blazers, caps and ties.
(ii) The school was located on the outskirts of the hill station of Shimla. The protagonist, Mr. Oliver, was an Anglo – Indian teacher in the same school. The author is Ruskin Bond.
(iii) Mr. Oliver usually walked down to the Shimla Bazaar which had cinemas and restaurants in the evening and returned after dark taking a short cut through the pine forest.
(iv) (a) Strange and mysterious.
(b) To walk slowly and relaxingly
(v) Mr. Oliver was a bold man, he was not imaginative. This is proved from the fact that he dared to take the forest path in the dark where the pine trees made sad eerie sounds during strong winds while most of the people preferred the main grad.
Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.
“What are you doing out here, boy? asked Mr. Oliver.”
(i) Who is the boy Mr. Oliver is talking to? What was the boy doing?
(ii) How was the boy crying? Why did Mr. Oliver talk to him sharply?
(iii) Why does the author say “if you could call it a face”?
(iv) What was the reaction of Mr. Oliver when he saw the boy’s face?
(v) Describe the uncanny climax of the story.
(i) One night when Mr. Oliver was returning back to school, he saw a boy sitting alone on a rock in the forest. When Mr, Oliver came closer to the boy, it appeared to him that the boy was crying.
(ii) The boy’s head was down and he held his face in his hands. His body was shaking due to his strange, soundless weeping.
Mr. Oliver thought he was a miscreant i.e., a person who has done some mischief, and boys were not supposed to be out after dark. As a teacher he had the right to scold the boy.
(iii) The author says, ‘if you could call it a face’ because, when the boy looked up at the teacher, his face had no eyes, ears, nose or mouth. It was a round smooth head with a school cap on top of it.
(iv) As soon as Mr. Oliver saw the boy’s face, he got horrified. His hands started trembling and his torch fell down. He immediately turned around and with full of panic he started running blindly towards the school, calling for help.
(v) On seeing the faceless boys, Mr. Oliver darted towards the school fearfully. On the way he met a watchman carrying a lantern. When the watchman enquired about his condition, Mr. Oliver narrated him the encounter with the faceless boy weeping in the forest. To this the watchman lifted the lamp close to his face. Mr. Oliver finds out that the watchman too does not have any eyes, ears, nose or mouth. The story ends when the wind blows the lamp out leaving the readers keen to know what happened with Mr. Oliver.