The Great Stone Face- A Story Built on a Prohecy

The Great Stone Face is a spiritual story written by Nathaniel Hawthrone. It answers the question: Why do human beings attain greatnes and nobility? The whole story is told on the Great Stone Face which was a work of nature. It was formed on the perpendicular side of a mountain by some immense rocks. When viewed at a proper distance, it resembled the features of a human face. The people who lived in the valley beneath the stone face had believed in a prophecy. The prophecy was that at some future day  a child should be born in the valley was destined to become the greatest and noblest person of his time and whose face would resemble to the Great Stone Face.

In the opening of the story, we find a mother and his son named Ernest. The mother lived in the log-cottage suggestive of their poverty and simplicity. The child was dutiful and helpful to her mother. The mother tells  the prophecy to him. Ernest was was a pensive child and since he had no teacher, the Great Stone Face had become a teacher to him. He would gaze at the Stone Face for hours until he imagined that those features recognised him. It gave him a smile of kindness and encouragement.

About this time there went a great rumour in the valley that a great man bearing the resemblance to the Great Stone Face had appeared at last. His name was Gathergold who left the valley and settled at a distant seaport. He set up a business and had become very rich and returned to the valley. Everyone in the valley except Ernest considered him as the fulfillment of the prophecy the Great Stone Face seemed told him.” Fear not He is yet to come.”

The years went on and Ernest grew to be a young man. He attracted little notice from the inhabitants of the valley. They found nothing remarkable in him except that he was industrious, kind and neighbourly. They didn’t know that Great Stone Face, his teacher would enlarge the young man’s heart and fill it with deeper sympathies than other hearts.By this time, Mr. Gathergold was dead and buried. His wealth, which was the spirit and body of his existence had disappeared before his death. People of the valley changed their opinion and started to look for the great man to come.

It so happened that another son of the valley had become a soldier many years before. He was a great warrior and his names was Blood -and -Thunder.After many years he returned and inhabitants of the valley took him as the great man. However, Ernest’s teacher (The Great Stone Face) whispered again, “Fear not, he will come.”

Years passed Ernest became a middle aged man. There appeared white hairs on his head. B ut his wisdom became known beyond his valley. Many people, even college professors came to see and converse with him. He received them with sincerity.He spoke freely and his face would brighten and shine upon them.

While Ernest was growing old, God had granted a new poet to this earth. He too was a native of the valley.The songs of the poet found their way to Ernest. He asked, “O Great Stone Face,is not this man worthy to be your likeness?” The face only smiled to him but did not answer. The poet eventually pays a visit to Ernest. The poet sat beside him and they talked together. The poet had never talked with a man like Earnest, so wise, gentle and kind. Ernest examined the features of the poet and became sad that the prohecy was not fulfiilled so far. He thought it would be fulfilled in the poet.

The poet admitted that he is not worhy to be the likness of the Great Stone Face as his life hasn’t corresponded with his thoughts.They cried together. As usual in the evening Ernest started speaking to a group of neighbours in the open air. He began to talk what was in his heart and mind. His words had power because they agreed with his thoughts. His thoughts had reality and depth because they harmonised with the life which  he had always lived. The poet listened to his words and his eyes filled with tears and he said to himself that never was there so worthy of a sage as that mild, sweet, thoughtful face, with with the glory of white hear in Ernest. The poet instantly shouted, “behold! Ernest is himself the likeness of the Great Stone Face!” The inhabitants of the valley saw what the poet said was true. The prophecy was fulfilled. However, Ernest, after finishing his talk went home still hoping that some wiser and better man than himself would appear one day resembling the Great Stone Face.

The story teaches us that nature is the greatest teacher and not books. The greatest things in life are not wealth, power and human knowledge. It is in attaining wisdom that a human being becomes really great and noble. The life that is remarkable in the eyes of the world is not the real great life!


What was Ernest’s image in the valley ?
Ans.- Earnest commanded respect in the valley. He was heard patiently by his neighbours. He was regarded as wise and noble.

Why did his words and thoughts have force and appeal ?
Ans.- his words expressed real thought s, and his thoughts were in harmony with his real life. So both had great force and appeal.

How did his speech affect the poet ?
Ans.- the poet was greatly impressed by ernest’s speech. He felt that ernest’s own life and character  were a nobler kind of poetry than his own.

How did the poet happen to meet ernest ?
Ans.- the poet had been a native of the valley. One summer day he arrived at ernest’s door and asked for a night’s shelter.

Why did ernest admire the poet ?
Ans.- ernest admired the poet for his great thoughts and dreams as expressed in his poems.

What was the poet’s assesment about his own worthiness ?
Ans.- the poet had no misunderstanding about his own worth. He admitted that his own life was different from his poems  and his dreams were hollow.

Where did ernest stand in the poet’s estimation ?
Ans.- the poet called ernest ‘pure seeker of the good and true,’ a great and noble soul.

What did the people accept as true about ernest ?
Ans.- the people accepted at once that earnest himself was the noblest and the greatest man bearing the likeness of the stone face.

The story was completed. Elaborate and explain ?
Ans.- ernest had heard the story from his own mother that some day a person, a native of the valley, would become the greatest and noblest person of his time, and his face would resemble the stone face.

Did ernest himself believe that the old prophecy had come true ? What did he say about it ?
Ans.-  no, ernest himself did not believe so because he was very humble and ideal person.

Questions in the text book

How was ernest different from others in the valley ?
Ans.- ernest became known among the people as good and simple hearted man. Noble and powerful thought scame out of his mouth. He became famous beyond the valley.?

Why did ernest think the poet was like the stone face ?
Ans.- the songs of the poet  found their way to ernest. He read them after his day’s work and found them worthy. So he began to think that the poet was like the stone face.

What did the poet himself say about his thoughts and poems ?
Ans.- the poet admitted that his songs were heavenly, and dreams were grand. But his life did not agree with his great thoughts. He lacked sincere faith in his own thoughts. His  dreams were mere hollow dreams.

What made the poet proclaim earnest was the stone face ?
Ans.- the poet heard Ernest’s address to the people. He felt that earnest’s own life and character were a nobler kind of poetry than he had ever written. He saw white clouds around the stone face and white hair on Ernest’s head. He could not help declaring that ernest himself was the stone face.

  1. Write ‘Ernest’ or ‘poet’ , against statements below
    a) there was a gap between his life and his words. (poet)

b) his words had the power of truth as they agreed with his thoughts. (Ernest)

c) his words were as soothing as a heavenly song but only as useful as a vague dream. (poet)

d) his thoughts were worthy. (poet)

e) whatever he said was truth itself. (ernest)

f) his poems were noble. (earnest thought so.)

G) his life was nobler  than all the poems. (Ernest)

h) he lacked faith in his own thoughts. (poet)

i) his thoughts had power as they agreed with the life he lived. (Ernest)

j) greatness lies in truth. Truth is best expressed in one’s actions. He was truthful, therefore he was great. (Ernest)

  1. A) who, by common consent, turned out to be like the great stone face.

Ans.- Ernest.

B) did Ernest believe that the old prophecy had come true ? What did say about it ?

Ans.- no. He did not believe that the  prophecy made by his mother had come true. As he walked homeward, he still hoped that some man wiser and better than himself, bearing a likeness to the great stone face, would appear.

Mark the meaning that best fits the word or a phrase in the story :
1.) Sun going down.     A) becoming smaller,
b)  weakening
c)  setting

2.) Brightening .            A) making it look bright and cheerful.
B) lending a special glow
c) causing to appear hopeful

3.) Spacious.                      A) lonely and wild
b) big and wide
c) special and important

4.) Prophecy.                     A) proverb
b) prediction
c) rumour

5.) Marvellous.                A) wonderful
b) surprising
c) shocking

6.) Proclaim.                      A) reveal
b) declare
c) shout

7.) Cease.                               A) happen
b) stop
c) remain

8.) Shelter.                         A) stay
b) safety
c) hospitality

9.) Gazed.                             A) wandered about
b) stared at
c)  thought of

10.) Took on.                       A) challenged
b)  resembled
c) assumed



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