Synopsis of A Face in the Dark by Ruskin Bond from Treasure Trove

Synopsis of A Face In The Dark by Ruskin Bond

About The Author A Face in the Dark

Ruskin Bond is an Indian author of British descent. He was born on 19th May 1934 in Kasauli, Punjab States Agency British India. His father was in Royal Air Force from 1939 till 1944. Bond spent his childhood in Jamnagar, Gujarat and Shimla. When he was ten years old, he went to live with his grandmother in Dehradun. He did his schooling from Bishop Cotton School in Shimla from where he graduated in 1950 after winning several writing competitions in the school. At the age of 16 in 1961, he wrote one of his short stories, Untouchables. After his high school education, he went to his aunt's house in the UK in 1951 for two years. In London, he started writing his first novel The Room on the Roof. It was the story of an orphaned Anglo-Indian boy named Rusty. It won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. He moved to London and worked in a photo studio while searching for a publisher. When it was published, he returned back to Bombay and settled in Dehradun. He sustained himself financially by writing short stories and poems for newspapers and magazines.

Summary of A Face in the Dark

A Face in the Dark is a short story by Ruskin Bond. The setting of the story is a dark windy night when an Anglo-Indian teacher, Mr. Oliver who dared to walk through the pine forest for a short cut after spending an evening in Shimla Bazaar. On his way back, he saw a boy sitting alone on a rock. He was weeping with his face in his hands and his head was hung down. Oliver stopped there and asked him the reason for being alone at that time and why he was crying. The boy didn't answer his question and continued sobbing. Out of curiosity, Olive again asked him what was troubling him. Then the boy lifted his face and the light from Oliver's torch fell on the boy's face. Oliver was shocked to see that there were no eyes, ears, nose or mouth. It was a smooth head with a school cap on it.

Horrified, Mr. Oliver ran blindly when he bumped into a watchman who was standing in the middle of the path with a lantern swinging in his hand. Watchman asked him the reason why he was running. Oliver told him about the boy who had no face. The watchman raised his lantern up and asked Oliver if the boy had the face like him. He too had the same featureless face. Suddenly the wind blew and put out the lamp.

Theme of A Face in the Dark

Ruskin Bond's stories are full of a ghost, witches, monsters, etc. which are as lively as human beings. That's why his works are popular among adults as well as children; the stories are intended to create an eerie. It is one of Bond's famous stories. It is supernatural and too short but complete in itself. There are only three characters which include Mr Oliver, an Anglo-Indian teacher, a boy and a watchman. But the main character is Mr. Oliver who is a bold and brave man but he is also caught by the fancy and imagines the cap lying on the rock as the faceless boy. Then he again imagines a watchman without a face like the boy. There is an element of fear, suspense, horror, thrill, mystery and surprise which is used skillfully by Bond. It displays the picturesque image of the hills at the evening which removes the loneliness of a person. The story ends with suspense to what might have happened to Mr Oliver and leaves the reader in confusion.

Character Sketches from Treasure Trove

Character Sketch of Mr Oliver

Mr Oliver was a stern and strict Anglo-Indian teacher in a school situated three miles away from Shimla. He was a bachelor and stayed alone in the school premises. He never got nervous; moreover, he was not an imaginative person, it is clear from the fact that he used to take unusual and lonely paths. He didn't believe in ghosts or spirits. On the other side, he was a concerned human being too who could not ignore the sight when he saw the boy weeping; he showed his soft side and kindness and asked him the reason for being alone at such an isolated place. But all the bravery went into oblivion when he saw that faceless boy. He was gripped with fear. It might be the imagination of his mind. The very mentally balanced teacher lost his physical balance. He was so shocked that to avoid the scene he rushed very fast that he bumped into a watchman and the climax occurred when the watchman showed his face that was the same featureless face.

The story ends without a clear ending. The readers are left thinking what might have happened to Mr. Oliver. They are free to give wings to their imagination and come out with different conclusions.


outskirts - parts of the town away from the city;
strolled - leisure walk;
eerie - mysterious, frightening;
miscreant – wrong doer;
convulsively – violent movement;
distinctly - Clearly;
racked - subject to suffering:
sobbing - crying with uneven drawing of breath;
scrambled - moved hastily or awkwardly;
stumbled up - loose balance;
gasping - breathing fast with open mouth.

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