ASL-dos and don’ts

The CBSE has introduced ASL ( ASSESSMENT OF SPEAKING AND LISTENING)  for high school students to assess the speaking and listening skills of students. I feet that it is a good evaluation tool as these two language skills are the two core skills one needs to master English Language. Here are some dos and don’ts

Dos

  • Prepare a write up of what you are going to speak during the speaking assessment.
  • Listen to the examiner properly.
  • Speak with ease.
  • Try to initiate discussion in the problem solving task.
  • Be relevant, don’t ramble.
  • Use connectives and conjunctions to join or link your ideas.

Don’t s

  • Don’t be panic.
  • Don’t read from a paper.
  • Don’t interrupt.
  • Don’t ramble.
  • Don’t be artificial, be yourself.
  • Don’t speak too fast or too slow.
  • Don’t assume anything before hearing properly.

These are some important points to be careful of. Ultimately, be confident and all the best for your exam!

 

Error Correction/Spotting Errors/English Communicative

Wrong:        I have visited Niagara Falls  last weekend.

Right :         I visited Niagara Falls last weekend.

Wrong        The woman which works here is from   Japan.

Right           The woman who works here is from     Japan.

Wrong        She’s married with a dentist.

Right           She’s married to a dentist.

Wrong        She was boring in the class.

Right           She was bored in the class.

Wrong        I must to call him immediately.

Right           I must call him immediately.

Wrong        Every students like the teacher.

Right           Every student likes the teacher.

Wrong        Although it was raining, but we had   the picnic.

Right           Although it was raining, we had the  picnic.

Wrong        I enjoyed from the movie.

Right           I enjoyed the movie.

Wrong        I look forward to meet you.

Right           I look forward to meeting you.

Wrong        I like very much ice cream.

Right           I like ice cream very much.

Wrong        She can to drive.

Right           She can drive.

Wrong        Where I can find a bank?

Right           Where can I find a bank?

Wrong        I live in United States.

Right           I live in the United States.

Wrong        When I will arrive, I will call you.

Right           When I arrive, I will call you.

Wrong        I’ve been here since three months.

Right           I’ve been here for three months.

Wrong        My boyfriend has got a new work.

Right           My boyfriend has got a new job.

Wrong        She doesn’t listen me.

Right           She doesn’t listen to me.

Wrong        You speak English good.

Right           You speak English well.

Wrong        The police is coming.

Right           The police are coming.

Wrong        The house isn’t enough big.

Right           The house isn’t big enough.

Wrong        You should not to smoke.

Right           You should not smoke.

Wrong        There is seven girls in the class.

Right           There are seven girls in the class.

Wrong        I didn’t meet nobody.

Right           I didn’t meet anybody.

Wrong        My flight departs in 5:00 am.

Right           My flight departs at 5:00 am.

         Words that are confused.

  • advice–a noun meaning helpful information
  • advise–a verb meaning to give helpful information
  • affect–a verb meaning to influence or to display.  Used as a noun in psychology to mean a feeling, an emotion.
  • effect–a noun meaning result.  Used as a verb to mean to cause or bring about.
  • As a general rule, remember that affect is usually a verb and effect is usually a noun.
  • all ready–an adjective meaning prepared
  • already–an adverb meaning prior to a certain time
  • cite–a verb meaning to quote and refer to
  • sight–a verb meaning to see or to aim; a noun meaning an extraordinary visual perception
  • site–a noun meaning a place or a verb meaning to place
  • its–the possessive form of it
  • it’s–the contracted form of it is
  • knew–the past tense of the verb to know
  • new–an adjective meaning recently created, unused
  • know–a verb meaning to have knowledge of
  • no–the negative.
  • loose–an adjective meaning free, unconnected
  • lose–a verb meaning to misplace, to be defeated
  • principal–an adjective meaning chief or main; a noun meaning the head of a school, a leading performer, or a sum of money
  • principle–a noun meaning theory, concept, rule
  • their–the third person plural possessive pronoun.
  • there–an adverb designating place
  • they’re–the contracted form of they are
  • to–a preposition meaning in the direction of
  • too–an adverb meaning also or excessively
  • two–the number 2.
  • whose–the possessive form of who
  • who’s–the contracted form of who is

Twenty Commonly Misspelled Words

  • existence
  • leisure
  • receive
  • forty
  • lose
  • separate
  • friend
  • misspell
  • studying
  • grammar
  • ninety
  • truly
  • independent
  • noticeable
  • writing
  • indispensable
  • occurrence
  • written
  • led
  • precede

Identify the tense and change into indirect speech

  1. She says “What time will you be home?”
  2. She said “What time will you be home?”
  3. I said “I don’t know!”
  4. John said, “There’s an elephant outside the window.”
  5. She said, “I saw him.”
  6. She said, “Today’s lesson is on presentations.”
  7. She said, “I’m teaching English online.”
  8. She said, “I’ve been on the web since 1999.”
  9. She said, “I’ve been teaching English for seven years.” –
  10. She said, “I taught online yesterday.”
  11. She said, “I was teaching earlier.”
  12. She said, “I’d already been teaching for five minutes.”
  13. She said, “I’ll teach English online tomorrow.”
  14. She said, “I can teach English online.”
  15. He said, “It’s been a real day for expectations. “
  16. He asked, “Where were you? “
  17. I’ve been waiting here for an hour.
  18. He said, “didn’t you leave a note?”
  19. She said, “I wasn’t planning on going anywhere.”
  20. He said, “I can see that.”
  21. He asked, “Where’s your coat?”
  22. She said, “I left the house in a hurry.”
  23. They called me when they couldn’t get you.
  24. He said, “I don’t understand your mother.”
  25. You said, “ I ran out to buy some flowers for her”.
  26. She said, “for three hours you’ve been buying flowers.”
  27. He said, “ And then I drove around.”
  28. He said, “But I’m fine now.”
  29. You didn’t go by the hospital?
  30. He said, “ Look, I’m freezing.”
  31. He said, “Let’s go inside.”
  32. Why did the hospital call?
  33. He asked, “Does the doctor need my signature for more tests?”
  34. He said, “We have to go to the hospital. ‘
  35. She said, “I’ve had a terrible”
  36. They said, “We have to go to the hospital.”
  37. Barra asked Ari, ” are you a doctor?”
  38. The dentist told me, “don’t eat candy too much!”
  39. Lina said, ” I must study now.”
  40. Nina said, “I will be going to Seoul tomorrow.”
  41. Cinta said,” I have studied hard for the final exam”
  42. George said, ” I watched the vampire diaries series yesterday.”
  43. Camille said, ” I went to school on foot yesterday.”
  44. The police told me, “show me your license!”
  45. Esme warned me, “don’t go to the forest by yourself.”
  46. Ridho said, ” I have been studied for TOEFL test.”
  47. ‘Congratulations! You have come first in the exams,’ the principal said to me.
  48. Mohit’s father said, ‘We must not watch TV while having our dinner.’
  49. ‘What an expensive car he drives!’ remarked Rahul’s neighbour.
  50. ‘How well you speak German,’ his teammate remarked.
  51. ‘Hurry up!’ said Viru’s mother. ‘The bus will be here in a minute.’
  52. The policeman ordered the truck driver, ‘Show your licence.’
  53. ‘You will have to surrender your passport,’ the officer said to the passenger.
  54. My grandfather said, ‘May you have a long life!’
  55. Mr Jain said to his colleague, ‘Will you please drop me at the airport?’
  56. ‘Light travels in a straight line,’ the teacher explained.
  57. ‘I saw an interesting film last evening,’ said my friend.
  58. The caller asked, ‘May I speak with Shweta?’
  59. ‘May I know who is on the line?’ her father enquired.
  60. ‘Ouch! The bee stung me!’ the child said.
  61.  ‘What do you want?’ she asked him.
  62.  ‘Are you coming with us?’ he asked me.
  63.  He asked, ‘When do you intend to make the payment?’’
  64.  ‘Do you come from China?’ said the prince to the girl.
  65.  The poor man exclaimed, ‘Will none of you help me?’
  66.  ‘Which way should I go?’ asked the little girl..
  67. Alladin said to the magician, ‘What have I done to deserve so severe a punishment?’
  68.  ‘Don’t you know the way home?”’ I said to her.
  69.  ‘Do you write a good hand?’ the teacher said to the student.
  70.  ‘Have you anything to say on behalf of the accused?’ said the judge finally.
  71.  ‘Have you anything to tell me, little bird?’ asked Ulysses.
  72.  ‘Who are you, sir, and what do you want?’ they asked.
  73.  The king was impressed with the magician and asked, ‘What can I do for you?’
  74. She asked, ‘What is it that makes you stronger and braver than other men?’
  75.  ‘Can you solve this problem?’ he asked me.
  76. “Where is my umbrella?” she asked.
  77. How are you?” Martin asked us.
  78. He asked, “Do I have to do it?”
  79. “Where have you been?” the mother asked her daughter.
  80. “Which dress do you like best?” she asked.
  81. “What are they doing?” she asked.
  82. “Are you going to the cinema?” he asked me.

83. The teacher asked, “Who speaks English?”

Two Gentlemen of Verona (A.J.Cronin)

Two gentlemen of Verona is a touching story of Jacopo and Nicola, two brothers aged 12 and 13, who do odd jobs and live a hard life themselves to sustain and treat their elder sister Lucia who is suffering from tuberculosis of the spine.

A.J Cronin uses the title of William Shakespeare’s famous  play, the Two Gentlemen of Verona in an ironic manner. Cronin’s portrayal of these modern ‘gentlemen’ of Verona redefines the concept of what it means to be a gentleman. Cronin shows us that one may polish boots or sell newspapers, but it is the magnanimity of heart and nobleness of purpose that actually determines whether one is a true gentleman.

The story recounts the hard life chosen by the two young boys so that they could pay for the treatment of the sister afflicted with tuberculosis. The boys exhibit sincerity and devotion to the cause and maturity they display in their actions gives a new hope for humanity.

The writer and his friend are stopped at the outskirts of Verona by two small boys when they drive through lower hills of the Alps. The boys are brothers, Nicola the elder and Jacopo the younger one. They were selling wild strawberries .Next time when they meet the boys, they were polishing shoes in the public square. Interacting with them, the writer comes to know that they do various tasks. One mid night, they see the boys resting on the stone of a footpath. Nicola sat tired with a bundle of unsold newspapers. His brother was sleeping by putting his hand on Nicola’s shoulder. The narrator asks the boys if they save the money for emigration to America, they deny and say that they have other plans. The writer offers them help for which Jacopo asks him to drop them at Poleta by their  car. The writer accepts their request.

The next afternoon they reach the village located on a hill. The two boys are dropped from the car. After sometime, the writer follows them and finds from the nurse about the two boys and their sister. She tells him that their father, a famous singer died in the war. A bomb had destroyed their home. They had a cultured life, but due to the war, they were left alone on road. Lucia was a good singer, but now she is suffering from tuberculosis and the boys are working hard day and night for the treatment of their  sister. Their selfless actions, nobility and devotion touch the writer’s heart and show a greater hope for mankind.

Questions for study

  1. What are the qualities of a “gentleman”? Work with your partner and complete the following web-chart by listing the qualities of a gentleman.

Answer: industrious, courageous, humble, honest, responsible.
2. Based on your discussion above, what do you think the story is about?
Answer: I think the story is about a person who bears amiable nature. The story is based on the theme of human ethics.
3. Based on reading of the story answer the following questions by ticking the correct options.
1. The driver did not approve of the narrator buying fruit from the two boys because
(a) the boys were untidy and poorly dressed
(b) the strawberries were not fresh
(c) they were asking for a heavy price
(d) the driver did not approve of small boys who worked
Answer: (a) the boys were untidy and poorly dressed
2. The narrator was most impressed by the boys’
(a) desire to earn money
(b) willingness to work
(c) ability to perform many tasks
(d) sense of fun
Answer: (b) willingness to work
3. Nicola was not pleased when Jacopo asked the narrator to drive them to Poleta as he
(a) did not want a stranger to become involved with their plans
(b) preferred going to Poleta by train so that he could enjoy the scenery
(c) did not want to ask anyone for favours
(d) did not want to take help from someone he did not know well
Answer: (a) did not want a stranger to become involved with their plans
4. The narrator did not go inside Lucia’s room as
(a) he did not want to intrude into their privacy
(b) he thought that the boys would object
(c) Lucia would not welcome a stranger
(d) the boys would feel he was spying on them
Answer: (a) he did not want to intrude into their privacy
5. The boys were the first to join the resistance movement against the Germans because
(a) the Germans had hurt their sister
(b) the Germans ruled the city
(c) the Germans had ruined their family
(d) the Germans had destroyed their home
Answer: (c) the Germans had ruined their family
6. The author did not speak to the boys on their return journey because
(a) he thought the boys would prefer to keep their secret
(b) he thought the boys were ashamed of their sister’s condition
(c) he thought they wouldn’t tell him the truth
(d) he thought the boys might ask him for money for their sister

Answer
: (a) he thought the boys would prefer to keep their secret.

5. What do you understand by the following statements?
(a) “We do many things, sir,” Nicola answered seriously. He glanced at us hopefully.
Answer: This statements shows that the two boys were not ashamed of doing menial jobs such as shoe polish or fruit-vending. When the narrator saw them working as shoe shine boys he was surprised as he had seen them selling wild strawberries the previous day. He asked them about it. Then Nicola, the elder brother spoke that they did many things. Nicola said that they also did a lot of other things for a living. The boys hoped that the narrator would ask for their services and in return would earn some good money.
(b) He coloured deeply under his sunburn, then grew pale
Answer: This statement shows the uneasiness of the speaker, Nicola. The narrator was astonished to see that boys worked hard day and night and yet lived meagerly. He wanted to know what the boys did with the money they earned. When he questioned Nicola, he appeared uncomfortable. Perhaps the boys were not used to anybody questioning them regarding their earnings, and the narrator’s question embarrassed them.
(c) He smiled uncomfortably. “Just plans, sir,” he answered in a low voice.
Answer: When the narrator suggested that the boys were saving to emigrate to the States.
Nicola responded that how much ever they wished to do that, currently they had other plans, which he was unwilling to and uncomfortable sharing with the narrator.
(d) Yet in both these boyish faces there was a seriousness which was far beyond their years.
Answer: This statement reflects that both the boys Nicola and Jacopo were mature enough to face the hardships of life. They were only 13 and 12 years yet they looked and behaved wonderfully remarkable. They were childish and innocent yet they were wise, responsible and mature.
6. Answer the following questions briefly.
(a) Why didn’t Luigi, the driver, approve of the two boys?
Answer: Luigi, the driver didn’t approve of the shabby appearance of Nicola and Jacopo. They were wearing old and worn out clothes.
(b) Why were the narrator and his companion impressed by the two boys?

Answer: They were very impressed by the boys because they were highly committed and devoted towards work at such a young age. They were ready to do all sorts of odd jobs to earn money. They exhibited dedication, determination and sincerity while working.

(c) Why was the author surprised to see Nicola and Jacopo working as shoeshine boys?
Answer: The narrator was surprised to see Nicola and Jacopo shining shoes because he thought that selling fruits was their only occupancy.
(d) How were the boys useful to the author?
Answer: The boys were useful to the author in many ways. They showed them city as guide, heelped them in getting a pack of American cigarettes, bought tickets for the opera for them, told them about good restaurants and ran all their errands.
(e) Why were the boys in the deserted square at night? What character traits do they exhibit?
Answer: The two boys were selling newspapers in the windy, deserted square at night. They were waiting for the last bus from Padua. They would sell their newspapers when it came in.
It shows their sense of hard work and patience. They could work till midnight.
(f) The narrator asks the boys, “Must you work so hard? You both look rather tired.”
The boys reply, “We are not complaining, sir.” What do you learn about the boys from their reply?
Answer: When the narrator saw them selling newspapers till midnight, he asked them if they must do work so hard as they both looked tired. . At this, Nicola replied that they were not complaining about it. It means that both the boys had a lot of courage and patience of working hard. It shows their willingness and readiness to work.
(g) When the narrator asks the boys about their plans, they are evasive. Why don’t they disclose their problems?
Answer: The boys don’t disclose their problems to the narrator when he asked them about their plans because they did not want to loose their dignity and self-respect by asking anyone for sympathy or financial help.
7. Discuss the following questions and write the answers in your notebook.
(a) Appearances are deceptive. Discuss with reference to the two boys.
Answer: ‘Appearances are deceptive’. It is very much true in the case of two boys but in the positive sense. In spite of their appearance, the narrator bought fruit from them. In the following days, the narrator discovered that the boys did a lot of other things apart from selling fruit, they sold newspapers, they were shoeshine boys, tourist guides and ran errands. All this made the narrator think that the boys were working so hard to save money to emigrate to America. However, it is revealed during the course of the story that their only motive was to be able to pay for their sister’s treatment. War had destroyed most of their family and yet it had not filled them with despair. The boys were working day and night to save whatever was left. Behind their shabby appearances were hidden two noble souls whose dedication and selflessness promises a new hope for mankind.
(b) Do you think the boys looked after Lucia willingly? Give reasons for your answer.
Answer: The boys loved their sister. She was the only family left after the war was over. When they realized that their sister had tuberculosis of the spine, they got her admitted to a hospital. The ultimate mission of the boys’ life centered on the welfare of their sister Lucia. Day and night, they slogged and starved only to provide for medical expenses for Lucia. This couldn’t have been done without their will and desire.
(c) How does the story ‘Two Gentlemen of Verona’ promise hope for society?
Answer: Both Nicola and Jacopo show selflessness and reflect great dignity in their behaviour. They are deeply devoted to save their sister. In their earnest endeavour they become role models, epitomes of sacrifice who can enlighten the path for rest of the humanity to follow.
8. Look at the Italic words in the following examples.
(a) We bought their biggest basket, then set off toward town.
(b) One night we came upon them in the windy and deserted square.
(c) He bit his lip, then in a rather put out tone he said, ‘Very well.’
(d) I shook my head and turned away.

Here are a few more. Match the phrases to their meanings.

Phrases Meanings
set up to start on a journey
break down to tolerate a situation or a person
set off to lose control of your feelings and start crying
put up with to enter
put off to be faced with or opposed by
put on to start/ establish a company
come in to refuse/ reject
come across to postpone
come up against to try to get help/advice/ sympathy from someone
turn down to wear
turn in to meet or find by chance
turn to to inform on or deliver up

Now use the phrases given above to complete the following sentences.

  1. The landlord was suspicious of the two men staying in his flat so he called the police and _____________them _____________
    2. Early in the morning we packed our bags and _____________ for a hike over the mountain.
    3. Janvi _____________some photographs of her grandfather in the old trunk.
    4. My father _____________ his own business 10 years ago.
    5. The Bank _____________ Paul’s request for a loan.
    6. The Corporation’s decision to reduce the leave of the employees _____________ a lot of opposition.

Answer

Phrases Meanings
Set up to start / establish a company.
Break down to lose control of your feelings and start crying.
Set off to start on a journey.
Put up to tolerate a situation or a person
Put off to postpone
Put on to wear
Come in to enter
Come across to meet or find by chance
Come up against to be faced with or opposed by
Turn down to refuse/ reject
Turn in to to inform or deliver up
Turn to to try to get help/advice/ sympathy from someone

 

  1. The landlord was suspicious of the two men staying in his flat so he called the police and turned themin
  2. Early in the morning we packed our bags and set off for a hike over the mountain.
  3. Janvi came across some photographs of her grandfather in the old trunk.
  4. My father set up his own business 10 years ago.
  5. The Bank turned downPaul’s request for a loan.
  6. The Corporation’s decision to reduce the leave of the employees come up againsta lot of opposition.
    10. The narrator realises why Nicola and Jacopo work so hard. Yet he does not go in to meet their sister nor does he speak to them about what he learns from the nurse. Working in groups, discuss the following aspects of the story and share your views with the class.
    (a) The love and devotion, and the family values Nicola and Jacopo display.
    Answer: Nicola is only 13 years old and Jacopo is 12. Yet, they have a man’s heart each. They work hard day an night, never mind doing petty jobs like vending strawberries, hawking newspapers, polishing shoes. They show tourists round the town and run errands. They do all this to earn money which is used for the treatment of their sister who has been suffering from tuberculosis of spine. It vividly depicts their love, devotion and the family values.
    (b) Their pride in themselves and their family
    Answer: Nicola and Jacopo are not ashamed of doing petty jobs to earn money for the treatment of their sister, Lucia who is afflicted with tuberculosis. War has not broken thei spirits. They are proud of themselves and their family. Though children, they do not want any help or favour from anyone. It shows their pride in thmslves and their family.
    (c) The trust they place in the narrator
    Answer: Before leaving, the narrator asks if he would be of any help to them, Jacopo requests the narrator to send them to Poleta in their car which they might not have asked anybody. After initial disagreement between the brothers and reassurance from the narrator they agree to go with him. They are very comfortable and trust him completely.(d) The reason the narrator does not disclose to them that he knows their secret.
    Answer: Nicola initially is not comfortable with the narrator driving them to Poleta. After some thinking they agree.The moment they reach their destination they jump out of the car and do not ask the narrator to come with them. On the other hand, they suggest him to spend time at a café in the village. The narrator understands their reluctance to share their purpose of visit with him and, therefore, does not disclose to them that he knows their secret.
    11. As the narrator, write an article on the lesson of love, faith and trust that you have learnt from the two young boys of Verona.
    Answer

IT DOESN’T TAKE YEARS TO GAIN MATURITY

 

Tragedies and adversities either bring out the best, or the worst, among people. They prove to be great testing times which end up in glory or disaster. The bitter and indomitable struggle of Nicola
and Jacopo, amidst the ravages of war, takes on epic proportions. The two young boys depict great maturity, wisdom and faith in the invincibility of human spirit. The die-hard nature of two boys
changes the nature of people around them, with their vibrant spark of humanity.

The two boys not only create a home to survive from the rubble, but pitch in their best efforts to
sustain their sister Lucia. Their intrinsic vitality encourages them to take up any work that is available i.e. shining shoes, selling newspapers and fruits or escorting the tourists for sightseeing.
They don’t mind eating black bread or figs, or wearing torn clothes because they’re single-mindedly focused on their sister’s treatment. The boys resort to any kind of emotional blackmail or charity to provide for their sister. Their dignity and perseverance show their extreme faith in their own ability to cater to their sister’s medical treatment.
So, the relentless struggle of two boys offers a kaleidoscopic view of love, tenderness, wisdom and trust, which even a catastrophic war failed to crush.

  1. After her brothers’ visit, Lucia writes a page in her diary about her past life and her present situation. As Lucia write the diary entry in about 150 words.

    Answer


    Date:
    Day:
    Time:

I am very happy today because my brothers Nicola and Jacopo came to see me. They told me that they had come with a kind man by car. Jacopo was chirping. You know, he is as lively as a squirrel. Nicola is mature like a man. He looks after me as parents. How loving and affectionate they are!
I feel very lonely when they are not here. I know, they have to go to city to find some work thee. After all, they have to pay the hospital charges every week.
The demon of war has snatched our comfortable and cultured life. Dear Father, I remember, he was a famous singer. I, myself, had been training as a singer. But the Germans came with their bombs and destroyed our home. We are homeless, starving and suffering. It was a bad winter.
For months, we had to keep ourselves alive in a sort of shelter we built with our own hands amidst the rubble. For three years, the Germans ruled the city. We grew up to hate the Germans. Both of them joined the resistance movement. last year when the war was over, we had peace at lat. they came back. They found me ailing. I was diagnosed suffering from tuberculosis of the spine.
They brought me in the hospital. Now, I am showing steady recovery. One day I will walk and sing again.
This is all due to their efforts. I understand that they at this young age. Normally, an elder siblings looks after the younger ones, takes care of them. In my case, it is opposite. I will be grateful to them for the sacrifice they are making for me. They are embodiments of love, devotion and sincerity. They are my family. Moreover, they are my God on this earth. I am indebted to them for what they are doing forever. I owe them my gratitude.
May God bless these noble souls long and happy life!
Amen!
Lucia

Mrs. Packletide’s Tiger by Saki

Mrs Packletide’sTiger

Mrs Packletide’s Tiger by Saki (HH Munro) is a short story in which one character’s disloyalty to another proves the crux ( root) of the plot. Set mostly in Colonial India, the author aims to highlight and ridicule the pretentious nature of the upper classes of Edwardian society. With sophisticated language we are encouraged ingeniously (skillfully) to dislike Mrs Packletide who endeavors to shoot a tiger in order to upstage (outdo)  her rival Loona Bimberton. The satirical tone employed throughout the story enables us to applaud her comeuppance ( retaliation/ reward) at the hands of her paid companion, Miss Mebbin.

From the beginning the satirical tone employed increases our dislike of the petty Mrs. Packletide whose motive for shooting a tiger was that her rival Loona Bimberton had recently flown in an “aeroplane by an Algerian aviator.” This feat in those times was considered not only a daring and brave feat (because aeroplanes had just been invented and were nothing like the comfortable, reliable modes of transport they are today) but Saki’s tone also shows us his repulsion of these classes by implying that this feat of Loona Bimberton’s was only a show of bravery. The word “carried” suggests she had to be helped and coaxed( persuaded)  along the way and in the end it was only her greed for the fame it would bring her that made her do it. The alliteration highlights Mrs Packletide’s outrage at being battered ( abused) by a rival and we see her petty nature emerge from beneath her mask of society’s fashion.

Our dislike of Mrs Packletide’s character increases as the story continues along with Saki’s sarcasm. The word “ostensibly” used by the author to describe how Mrs Packletide is planning to show off the tiger skin rug to her friends seemingly in order to honour Loona Bimberton, is really an excuse to show off to her rival and upstage her. Similarly her offer of a thousand rupees for the chance to shoot a tiger “without overmuch risk or exertion” shows the extravagance of this ridiculous expedition on which she is intent and reminds us of her shallow nature. This detail allows the author’s theme to grow, showing us the stupid side of Mrs Packletide. She has no sense of the value of money or the actual excitement of hunting: the hunt, the chase, the kill.

Saki then introduces Mrs Packletide’s paid companion, Miss Mebbin as having a:“morbid(gloomy) dread of performing an atom more service than she had paid for.”This statement of Miss Mebbin’s nature immediately creates in our minds a stingy, strict, sneering(sorrowful), cold-hearted woman.  It also suggests she is observant and cautious, not for others but for herself. The title “Miss” combined with the detailed description of her thrifty nature creates an image of a mean old spinster. The idea that she is greedy is highlighted in the way he writes that she: “adopted a protective elder-sister attitude to money.”

Saki is suggesting that on the surface she is unthreatening but in truth she cares for money so much she treats it as a person, a sibling even. This revelation prepares us for her betrayal of Mrs. Packletide.

On the night of the shoot Mrs. Packletide reassures Miss Mebbin of the lack of danger showing that Mrs. Packletide knows how much of a farce (mockery) this expedition really is. Miss Mebbin wasn’t actually mortally afraid but rather was concerned in case she missed a bonus in her pay. The shooting’s absurd nature is highlighted even more when Saki introduces the added detail of Mrs. Packletide playing “Patience” with cards as she awaits the old decrepit tiger to go for the obvious bait. In the end Mrs. Packletide misses the stationary tiger – and kills the bait instead! However, the tiger dies of a heart attack because of the loud gun report. Mrs. Packletide ignores this fact and claims she shot the tiger, assuming Miss Mebbin will not say a word as she is merely a “paid companion.” The villagers keep quiet so as not to jeopardize their reward.

Upon returning to England Mrs. Packletide has her revenge and gains admiration from everyone except, of course, Loona Bimberton. Once the fuss has died down we begin to see Mrs. Packletide enjoying happiness and we beg for repercussions. Saki answers our plea. Miss Mebbin returns to her old boss to blackmail her into paying for an idyllic cottage, which she does, promptly. We cheer enthusiastically!

In my view Saki achieved his goal superbly. By making Mrs. Packletide such a fake show-off with his sardonic(mocking) tone and extravagant language, we grow hateful of her. Her petty, selfish nature annoys us and the extremes she will go to achieve her aims are deplorable. Although Miss Mebbin is a nasty piece of work herself, we still support her disloyalty towards Mrs. Packletide because it results in her comeuppance. The betrayal of Mrs. Packletide gives us the ending we want to this humorous story and leaves us in no doubt as to Saki’s feelings towards the upper classes.

  1. 4. a. Why did Mrs. Packletide wish to kill a tiger?

Answer-The vehement desire of Mrs. Packletide to kill a tiger is an embodiment of envy towards Looona Bimberton, her friendly enemy. The stunning act of Loona Bimberton i.e. a flying in an airplane for 11 miles with an Algerian aviator, caused Mrs. Packletide to be restless and sleep deprived. To give the perfect jab(injection) she had decided upon the point of killing a tiger and exposing to all and especially Loona Bimberton.

  1. b)What made her decide to give a party in Loona Bimberton’s honour? What did she intend to give Loona on her birthday? 

Answer- Loona Bimberton’s exposing works of flying in the airplane forced Mrs. Packletide to answer accordingly. To answer she planned to kill a tiger and make a great affair. She planned to present herself in all the newspapers and magazines with the snaps and the story. Apart from publishing those in newspapers she had also planned to organize a luncheon party. With pretention she wanted to arrange the party in Loona Bimberton’s honour. Her sole motto was to dip Loona Bimberton in the ocean of envy.

            She was desirous to present  a tiger claw brooch(badge)  on Loona Bimberton’s birthday.

  1. c) How was the tiger shooting arranged? What kind of a tiger was chosen for the purpose?

Answer- Mrs. Packletide, a superannuated woman, was not at all desirous to go for risk or hard work to kill a tiger. So she declared the reward of one thousand rupees for a person or group who would arrange the killing. Fortunately Mrs. Packletide got a village arranging the same.

            The tiger was ill, old and weak. It was chosen for easy killing and less risk.

  1. d) In what way did the villagers help Mrs. Packletide shoot the tiger?

Answer- The villagers, keen to grasp the money, arranged the shooting of the tiger. They chose an adjacent forest with an old and weak tiger living in it. They kept tiger alive with poor quality of goats and a group of young boys guarding the forest. On the day of shoot they had kept tethered a  goat and had arranged a platform on the trees for a convincing shoot.

  1. e)   Who was Miss Mebbin? Was she really devoted to Mrs. Packletide? How did she behave during the tiger shooting?

Answer-  Mrs. Packletide being a lonely old lady, had hired Miss Mebbin, a  paid attendant .

No, Miss Mebbin was a woman who had only a right match with money. Without any doubt she was not at all devoted to  Mrs Packletide.

During the shooting of the tiger, Miss Mebbin had been a good judge to accumulate the money paid in proportionate to service accomplished. She had a super parsimonious(stingy) attitude towards money irrespective of tiger and villagers.

  1. f) Packletide was a good shot. Discuss

Answer-Mrs Packletice was an amateur. This is beyond doubt when we see her to miss a mile and to shoot the goat instead. A dot of salt it was for her in her rejoicing when it was discovered that her shot was in vain. So good (!) was the shot resulting in damage of her money and an unending anxiety.

  1. g) What comment did Miss Mebbin make after Mrs Packletide had fired the shot?
    Why did Miss Mebbin make this comment? How did Mrs Packletide react to this comment? 

Answer- Apart from being a spendthrift Miss Mebbin was fault finder too. After a perfect spotting the shoot she, out of habit discovered the wrong i.e. the killing the goat instead of the tiger. Later Miss Mebbin commented “ How amused everyone would be if they knew what really happened”.

        Mrs. Mebbin got Mrs. Packletide in uneasy state after she found the unnoticed thing.

Her motto was to abuse the sentiment of Mrs.Packletide and make a little property.A paid woman Miss Mebbin didn’t feel to support Mrs Packletide .Rather she contrived to utilize the chance & co-incidence.

Mrs. Packtotide at the beginning tried to overrule her blackmail but soon she understood that she had no other way but to comply with the conditions of Miss Mebbin. She was very much annoyed with her..

  1. h) How did the villagers react to the tiger’s death?

Answer- The villagers  with the sole target of acquiring money on the event of the tiger’s death was rejoicing in chorus. They managed the fact that Mrs Packletide could not kill the tiger and made her understand that she was only the reason for the death of the tiger and hence she had only been the killer. They, both in the forest & village had been merry & rejoiced beating tom – toms.  

  1. i) Do you think Mrs. Packletide was able to achieve her heart’s desire? Give reasons for your answer.

Answer-Mrs Packletide was successful in creating a galore of jealousy in Loona Bimberton after having the pictures in the newspaper and magazine. Loona Bimberton forced by social etiquette had to answer the letter of Mrs. Packletide but declined the luncheon party owing to the danger of spilling emotions.

  1. j) How did Miss Mebbin manage to get her week-end cottage? Why did she plant so many tiger lilies in her garden?

Answer- Miss mebbin, perfect example of selfishness and narrow-mindedness, made unfair advantages of chance and coincidence appeared due to the failure of Mrs. Packletide in killing the tiger. She blackmailed Mrs. Packletide of leaking out the sensational truth and became the owner of the cottage.

Symbolic is the tiger lilies in her garden referring to her unexpected ownership of the cottage due to the killing of the tiger.

  1. k) “The incidental expenses are so heavy,” she confides to inquiring friends. Who is the speaker? What is she referring to here?
    Answer-Mrs. Packletide is the speaker of the above quoted lines. She is referring to the burdens of expenses she had to endure owing to the blackmailing of Miss Mebbin. She was compelled to cut loose a handsome amount of money to meet with the desires of Miss Mebbin.
  2. ) (a):Do you think the tiger shooting organized by the villagers was a serious affair? Give reasons for your answer.
    Answer-Tiger shooting arranged by the villagers was a serious affair. The whole village got indulged in the process of making the shooting of the tiger a fruitful one. They guarded the forest to ascertain the presence of the tiger in the forest, provided food in the form of poor quality goats and took active part in group to see wild beast a lifeless one.
  3. b) Do you think the writer is trying to make fun of the main characters in the story i.e. Mrs. Packletide, Miss Mebbin and Loona Bimberton? Pick out instances from the story that point to this fact.

Answers-Yes, the above quoted characters are ironically satired. Mrs. Packletide is mocked for her sense of jealousy towards Loona Bimberton through her activities to undermine her friendly enemy. On the contrary Loona Bimberton had been even a sufferer of inferiority complex which is unfolded in her meaningless act of flying in an airplane to make Mrs Packletide jealous .Miss Mebbin is also mocked by the narrator as she is delineated as a money minded spend thrift lady.

5.c) (c):A person who is vain is full of self importance and can only think of himself/herself and can go to great lengths to prove his/her superiority. Do you think Mrs Packletide is vain? Give reasons in support of your answer.

Answer- Aptly Mrs. Packletide was lady of vain. She had decided to a big extent to fulfill her biased target. She was totally taken up by the increasing jealousy against Loona Bimberton. She had a sacrifice of a handsome amount of money fanatically only to create a little sense of enmity in Loona Bimberton. She was though partially successful; her superiority was totally crushed and questioned by Miss Mebbin.

  1. d) (d):Sometimes writers highlight certain negative aspects in society or human beings by making fun of it. This is called satire. In your groups discuss whether you would classify this story as a satire. Give reasons to support your answer.

Answer- This story is an apt example of satire. The narrator through the fun made in the story highlighted the negativities of the society. People in the society mainly the rich are controlled not by love and hunger but by money, status, and jealousy. The story is to hint narrow minded and rich people and their habit paranoia.

  1. e) How does the writer create humor in this story?

Answer- The writer made extensive use of humour to make to story to be lively one. The character like Miss Mebbin and the activities of Mrs. Packletide and Loona Bimberton added a new flavor to the main story. The players, satires, the moves of the story, and main twist of shooting the wrong animal added a true aroma to the story.

Question 9-(b1:

In groups of four construct the dialogues and enact the following situations from the story:

Mrs. Packletide and the headman of the village/other villagers discussing the details of the tiger shooting

Answer :

Note: This question is to be answered on the basis of your own understanding, experience and thoughts. It is strongly recommended that you prepare the solution on your own. However, sample solutions have been provided for your reference.

Mrs.Packletide: I want to shoot a tiger. I will give you a thousand rupees to make necessary arrangements for tiger hunting. I want to shoot a tiger but without any risk or exertion.

Village Headman: There is an old tiger in the jungle who has given up hunting because of old age. He will be right for this hunt.

Mrs.Packletide: That will be perfect! I will make other arrangements. You let me know when the time is right.

Question 9-(b2:

In groups of four construct the dialogues and enact the following situations from the story:

Miss Mebbin blackmailing Mrs Packletide into gifting her a cottage

Answer :

Note: This question is to be answered on the basis of your own understanding, experience and thoughts. It is strongly recommended that you prepare the solution on your own. However, sample solutions have been provided for your reference.

Miss Mebbin: What would everyone say if they got to know the truth?

Mrs.Packletide: What do you mean?

Miss Mebbin: The truth Mrs. Packletide! How you shot the goat and frightened the tiger to death!

Mrs. Packletide (shocked): No one would believe it!

Miss Mebbin: Loona Bimberton would.

Mrs. Packletide: You wouldn’t tell the truth to Loona.

Miss Mebbin: I wish to buy a weekend cottage at Darking, its just that I don’t have the money.

Mrs.Packletide: If I buy you the cottage, would you promise not to tell our little secret to Loona Bimberton.

Miss Mebbin: Oh yes! Yes!

Question 9-(b3:

In groups of four construct the dialogues and enact the following situations from the story:

Loona Bimberton and a lady-friend discussing Mrs Packletide’s hunting success

Answer :

Note: This question is to be answered on the basis of your own understanding, experience and thoughts. It is strongly recommended that you prepare the solution on your own. However, sample solutions have been provided for your reference.

Lady-friend: Did you see the newspapers today?

Loona Bimberton: Why? What happened?

Lady-friend: Didn’t you see pictures of Mrs. Packletide with a dead tiger!

Loona Bimberton: Oh that! Yes I glanced at it.

Lady-friend: Isn’t it amazing!

Loona Bimberton: Yes, yes, of course. Did I tell you about my experience in the Algerian aviator?

The Letter by Dhumaketu CBSE/NCERT solutions

THE LETTER

Dhumaketu

  1. About the Author

Dhumaketu (1892 – 1965) was the pen name of Gowrishankar Govardhandas Josh, a prolific writer, who is considered one of the pioneers of the Gujarati short story. He published twenty-four collections of such stories, as well as thirty two novels on historical and social subjects, and plays and travelogues. His writing is characterized by a poetic style, romanticism and powerful depiction of human emotions.

  1. Summary

“The Letter” is a touching story of an old man who is all alone and waits for his only daughter’s letter for five long years. He receives that letter only at his grave but for that he pays a price. While living a lonely, morbid life, he undergoes some strange experiences of life in his interaction with unsympathetic, callous and inhuman human species. The old man’s controlled demeanour and silent sufferings are a bitter commentary on human existence.

Coachman Ali used to go every single day to the post-office, early morning, even in the bitter cold, plodding on, pulling his tattered clothes tighter to shield his body from the cold. The rest of the world would be fast asleep except the twittering of birds or barking of dogs, there would be a cold silence all along the way to the post-office.

Ali would sit on the wooden bench in the verandah of the post-office, his usual place, watching the post office officials and clerks going about their normal work. While sorting out letters a voice would suddenly call out his name “Coachman Ali”, but it was only in jest, since they all knew that he was waiting for the past five years for one single letter from his only daughter Miriam. His only child Miriam had married and left him with her soldier husband to his regiment in the Punjab. Since she left five years ago, there was no news from or of her. He lived a lonely cheerless existence. Ali now understood the true meaning of love and separation.

In his youth, Ali had been a clever Shikari. He loved hunting and was a very skilful one. He could catch the earth-brown partridge from the bushes, which even the dogs failed to see. His sharp eyes could see the hare crouching. He was also an adept fisherman. But now as he was growing in age and also loneliness was eating into him, he could no longer enjoy the earlier pleasures and he understood the pain of the animals and birds he hunted as they were separated from their parents or loved ones. He gave up his old ways and instead made daily trips to the post-office, waiting eagerly for a letter from Miriam.

He would be lost in the admiration of the green fields and would reflect deeply about life. He then came to the conclusion that the whole universe is built up through love and that grief and separation are inescapable. Thinking thus about life, he would weep bitterly, missing his daughter deeply.

The post office therefore became a place of pilgrimage for Ali. He would come promptly at 5 am every moving. While Ali waited, he would overhear the conversation and scandals. He would also see the wooden face of the postmaster who had no “glimmer of animation in his features”.

One day after the peons had all gone away with their mail, Ali also rose to go, saluting the post-office as though it held some previous relic in it. Seeing him, the postmaster asked the clerk if he was a madman. They all sat around and ridiculed Ali, saying that he had probably committed many sins and was paying for them by coming over there everyday. They all sat and related incidents of other mad men who had stranger habits and laughed at their own experiences with mad men.

For several days after that, Ali did not go to the post-office. No one had sympathy or understanding to guess what the reason could be, but they were all curious to know what could have stopped him from coming.At last, one day he came again and he had to struggle to breathe, and it was clear that his end was fast approaching. He was also rather impatient and begged the post master if a letter had been received from his daughter Miriam. The postmaster was in a hurry and losing his temper at Ali, remarked that Ali was a pest and asked him to go away; saying that no one was going to eat his letter if it did come, and walked away in a huff.At that, Ali came away slowly and helplessly with tears in his eyes; for his patience was now exhausted, even though he still had faith and knew that Miriam would one day write to him.Ali went to a clerk and offered him five gold guineas for doing him a favour. In Allah’s name, he told him to deliver Miriam’s letter when and if he received it. When the clerk asked him where he had to deliver it, Ali told him that it should be delivered to his grave. So saying, he told the clerk tearfully that it was his last day and was sad not to have heard from Miriam.

Ali was never seen again and no one troubled to inquire after him.

One day, the post-master had a problem. His own daughter lay ill in another town and he was anxiously awaiting news of her. Seeing an envelope of the shape and colour, he was expecting, the postmaster snatched it; but dropped it as though it had given him an electric shock because it was addressed to Ali. The haughty temper of the postmaster had left him in his sorrow and anxiety and had laid bare his human heart. He asked Lakshmi Das the clerk to give the letter to Ali.The Postmaster did not receive his own letter all day. He worried all night and getting up at 3 am went to the post office in anxiety. Now the Postmaster was brimming with sympathy for the old man who had spent nights in the same suspense for the last five years. At the stroke of five in the morning, he heard a soft knock on the door and saw Ali, leaning on a stick, the tears wet on his face. He had an unearthly look in his eyes and the postmaster shrank back in fear and astonishment.

Lakshmi Das, on hearing the Post master’s voice/words came towards his office, enquiring whom he was talking to. The postmaster was still staring at the doorway through which Ali had come in and disappeared. When he finally admitted to Lakshmi Das that he had been speaking to Ali, Lakshmi Das informed him that old Ali had died three months ago. The postmaster was perplexed and wondered if he had really seen Ali or if his imagination had deceived him. That evening he and Lakshmi Das went to Ali’s grave and laid the letter on it.

The postmaster was still in a state of daze and confusion. He had, however, undergone a change of heart. The newly awakened father in him was reproaching him for not understanding Ali’s anxiety. He sat down, introspecting, in the glow of the charcoal sigri, tortured by both doubt and remorse.

  1. Text book solutions
  2. Complete the following table by explaining the following phrases/sentences in your own words :

Ans-

(a) happy memories light up a life that is nearing its close.

Meaning : Happy memories of one’s past life come up when one is dying.

(b) the sounds helped him along his lonely way.

Meaning : The people had woken up at that time in the morning. They were busy with their daily routine. These helped him to walk his lonely way to the post-office.

(c) the cold used to sleep to extend its sway over all things even as a false friend lulls his chosen victim with caressing smiles.

Meaning : Sleep is the last refuge for men or women to soothe one during cold which makes them its prey.

(d) when the evening of his life was drawing in, he left his old ways and suddenly took a new turn.

Meaning : When he was going to die soon, he let go his old memories (of the past) and took a new turn.

(e) that the whole universe is built up through love and that grief of separation is inescapable.

Meaning : The whole of the world has love and grief like the two sides of the same coin. Both love and separation are inescapable.

(f) the postmaster, a man with a face as sad and as inexpressive as a pumpkin, would be seen sitting on his chair inside.

Meaning : The postmaster was an unfeeling man. He had a wooden face, and sad and round one. He would keep sitting on his chair.

(g) The haughty temper of the official had quite left him in his sorrow and anxiety, and had laid bare his human heart.

Meaning : The postmaster shed his sorrow and anxiety. In that moment he saw the real human heart (when he put himself in Ali’s place, through for a moment).

  1. Answer the following questions briefly :

(1) Who was Ali ? Where did he go daily ?

Ans. Ali was an old coachman. He went to the post office daily.

(2) “Ali displays qualities of love and patience. ” Give evidence from the story to support the statement.        (V. Imp.)

Ans-  His love for his only daughter Miriam in his loneliness is clear when he hopes for a touch of love through it.

His going regularly to the post office for over five years to get a letter and waiting patiently for it shows his infinite patience.

(3)  How do you know Ali  was a familiar figure at the post office?

Ans.  Ali was now a familiar figure at the post office since every one there knew him well. He had been coming to it regularly for over five years.

(4)  Why did Ali give up hunting ?

Ans.  Ali gave up hunting because now he was getting old and inching towards death.

(5)  What impression do you form of the postmaster after reading the story, “The Letter’ ?

Ans.  The postmaster in the beginning is ill-tempered, selfish and impatient. He is casual, indifferent, unfeeling and un-understanding also. But when he faces a situation similar to that of Ali, he changes. He becomes caring, worrying concerned, patient, helpful, sympathetic and selfless. He also develops the virtue of understanding.

(6)  The postmaster says to Ali, “What a pest you are, brother!” Do you agree with the statement? Give reasons for your answer.

Ans.  I do not agree with it. But given the temperament of the postmaster at this point of the story, he behaves as he should. This speaks of the irresponsible and indifferent attitude of those in power towards the common people. In fact, the postmaster must have shown sympathy to Coachman Ali. Ali had been coming steadily to the post office for some solace from his own daughter Miriam.

(7)  Ali came out very slowly, turning after every few steps to gaze at the post office. His eyes were filed with tears of helplessness, for his  patience was exhausted’ even though he still had faith. Why were Ali’s eyes filled with tears of helplessness ? What had exhausted his patience ? How I why was his faith still intact ?

Ans.  Ali’s eyes were filled with tears of helplessness. It Was because he could do nothing to leave the postmaster in his rough and uncivilized behaviour. His not receiving any letter from Miriam for over a period of five years and the old age had exhausted his patience. But he had still faith that he would receive a letter from Miriam. And he did receive that, though even after his death.

(8) Tortured by doubt and remorse he sat down in the glow of the charcoal sigri to wait. Who is tortured by doubt and remorse? Why? What is he waiting for?     (V. Imp.)

Ans- The postmaster is now tortured by doubt. It is due to what he had seen in Ali’s coming to the post-office. Ali had been dead for over three months. But the postmaster had seen him (in the form of a ghost) that early morning.

The postmaster is bitten by remorse also. It is because of his rash and casual attitude towards Ali. He now realises the real and genuine love which Ali had earlier for his daughter. The postmaster now is, obviously, waiting for news from his daughter.

6- The written carefully up an atmosphere of loneliness and fgrief in the story. Working in groups, pink up words/phrases from the story that build up the atmosphere -copy the following table notebook and complete it.

Ans.

1-……..for whose sake alone he dragged along a cheerless existence.

2-But loneliness had come into his life since the day Miriam had gone away……..

3-There was no one with enough sympathy or understand to guess the reason ………

4-Ali was never seen again ……….

5-But when the evening of his life was drawing in ……….

6-……. the young partridges bereft of their parents

7-……..grief of separation is inescapable

8-…..weft bitterly

9-……..went away empty-handed

10-But he doesn’t get many letters

11-when I am here

12-His eyes were filled with tears of helplessness

13-To the grave

14-Today is my las day ;my very last, alas !

15-There were tears in Ali’s eyes

7- Tortured by dought and remorse. the postmaster sits in the glow of a charcoal sigri that night, waiting for news of his daughter. As he sits, he writes his diary. As the postmaster, write a diary in about 150 words outling your feeling about the day’s events.

Ans-

10 January, 2010

1.50 A.M.

I am overburdened with the feeling of dought and remorse at what happened today. I saw Ali coming and knowing at the door in his same dress. I duly asked him to come in. He was leaning on his stick and had tears on his face. However, his features were unearthly. I tried to guess what that could be. But I could not. This made me shrink in fear. I talked about it with lakshmi Das, and asked more about more about him. He told that Ali had died three months ago. This left me in a trouble atate of mind. I searched my mind to knowwho was that who had come to me in the early morning. Then I understood everything. It was Ali’s ghost. I had insulted him while he was alive. I now started feeling guilty. I do not know how I can be free from the guikt abuot Ali. I went Ali. I went to his grave and offered this letter from Miriam. This was my repentance.

I an feeling a sence of remorse. In the begining, I insulted Ali. I laughed at his genune felling of love Miriam when he used to wait for a letter from her. I overlooked the human side of his emotions them. But very soon I found myself in the same predicament. I realised my foolishness towards Ali. This has cut me to piecess. How can I recompensate for my rough and dry behaviour towards Ali when he was alive ! I really regret that I should not have been harsh to Ali.

Mirror by Sylvia Plath

Mirror a melancholic and thought provoking poem written by Sylvia Plath is a typical example of confessional poetry where a  lady who is the owner the mirror in the poem looks deep into her physical appearance over the years. It offers the reader a very good reading experience and it also leads one to contemplate on one’s life from womb to tomb. In the poem the mirror itself is the speaker. It says that it is silver and exact.  It has no misconceptions. The poet uses personification to expose the plight of a woman.

The mirror has no romantic preconceptions of love or dislike. Whoever or whatever looks at it, it absorbs within itself. The one who looks at it is absorbed within it. It also says that it is not cruel. It is only truthful. It is the very eye of a little god who is four cornered and omniscient. The mirror is neither cruel nor indifferent. The mirror meditates most of the time on the opposite wall. It is pink and has got speckles. It has looked the wall for long. It has become a part of its. heart. The wall seems moving. Faces and darkness separate the mirror and the wall. The mirror is a like a lake. When a woman looks into it, she searches for what she once had been in her youth. However, the mirror reflects back what she has become at present. She starts weeping over her lost youth. She sheds a few tears and moves her hands. She looks each morning into the mirror to see herself. The woman has drowned a young girl in the mirror. In the mirror the old woman reacts like a terrible fish and does her daily duties in that mood.

Mirror – A Melancholic Poem

     Mirror shows a pang to its very kind. As the poem deals with age and time, there is inevitability of the destruction of age in the hand of time. Here the woman is in tears as the reflected her lost youth beauty and above all her approaching end.

Mirror – An Embodiment of Time and Timelessness

     Sylvia Plath has presented here the eternal state of the mirror and ephemeral state of the woman. The mirror with its certain tenets will never change where as the woman subject to decay decline and death will lose her youth and beauty will meet the horns of death.

Mirror – A little God

     Indeed, a true reflection of the facets of mirror lead us to imagine the Godly characteristics it bears. The mirror is unchangeable, having no preconceptions, truthful, impartial and a true reflector. These qualities in real sense are impossible to be found in us, the humans.

Mirror – The woman As Terrible Fish

     By ‘Terrible Fish’ the poetess here skilfully presented the agony, and pang of the woman who realises her demise. A fish taken out of water fights to save itself in a futile way. The violent and wild effort of the fish is similarised with that of the woman. She could not take her loss of beauty, youth and her feeling of losing her life made her wild and violent.

LINE BY LINE EXPLANATION

    “I am silver and exact. I have no pre conceptions”

The poetess starts with the positive tenets of the mirror. The mirror is here delineated with some paramount virtues unimaginable to humans. The word “exact’ is impossible to us. We cannot achieve the state of ‘exact’ i.e. unchangeable. The mirror is said to have no pre-conception. The mirror is bereft of the human obligations of pre-thought. We tend to create an image about a person or things which bring partial and biased thinking. Whereas the mirror is free from these shortcomings and reflects flawlessly.

     “Whatever I see I swallow immediately

     Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.”

       The poetess talks about the quality of the mirror in reflecting everything without any change. It reflects with supreme delicacy. Like humans it does not get affected by the human limitations like love or dislike.

Poetic Device in use  – 1) Antithesis – love or dislike

     ” I am not cruel, only truthful

The eye of a little god, four cornered.”

Truth is often hated. Often the very truth makes people feel sore and distressed. The mirror is here truthful and never misguides you. If we notice carefully, we shall find the virtues endowed to mirror are beyond the reach humans. The virtues like ‘exact’, “no preconceptions”, ‘unimisted’, “swallow immediately”, and ‘truthful’ can never be the tenets of human but these the can relate to ‘God’. Perhaps for this reason the mirror is described as ‘little god’,

 “Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall. It is pink with speckles.”

   The word meditation takes us to more people those who are conceived as great. The mirror does not falter in her meditation. She does it spontaneously almost without any break. She looks at the opposite wall without any pause. The wall is of pink colour and having some spots. Poetic Device in use –

  1. i)Alliteration – the time

“I have looked at it so long

     I think it is a part of my heart”

     These lines take us to the magic of power gaze. In power gaze we constantly look at something or any person and establish an invisible energy circuit between the two. You start to feel each other close and bearing the same tenets, feelings or emotion. The mirror gasing intently spontaneously enables it to possess the very characteristics of the wall.

     “………………But it flickers.

     Faces and darkness separate us over and over. The strong meditation of the mirror is often interrupted. Often faces of people and the darkness of night separate them.

     “Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me, searching my reaches for what she really is.”

Now the mirror is replaced by a lake. Lake has come perhaps to mean that both are having the same tenets. Only one possible addition can be made i.e. the lake has the depth. A woman bends over the lake to access her reflections. She is of the mind to check her true reflection. She expects herself look young and beautiful. But being truthful the mirror reflects the truth and reflects her with her lost beauty and youth.

“Then she turns to those liars, the candles as the moon I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.”

     As the reflection produced by the lake did not meet her expectation, she went to check the same to candles and the Moon. Candles and the moon are defined as liars as they are unable to provide any exact and true reflection. The candles and the moon provide the shadow or the dim light which does not affirm what she wanted. So the woman moves back to the lake and reacts with violent attitude. The woman cries and agitates as she discovers that she is no more young and beautiful and soon going to meet the horns of death.

     “I am important to her. She comes and goes. Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness”.

     To the woman the mirror is important. The woman gets only true reflection from the mirror. She often comes and checks her reflections. Each morning after darkness her face is seen.

“In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman

Rises toward her day after like a terrible fish”

     Everything changes but the mirror does not change. The mirror is the witness of the changing of the woman. The memory of the woman is drowned (saved in the depth of time) in the mirror and the mirror is the witness of the woman’s turning into an old woman. The mirror watches the woman moving towards her end. And this makes the woman uneasy, wild and uncomfortable like the ‘terrible fish’. A fish taken out of water goes wild to save itself likewise the woman realising her lost beauty, youth and above all realising end near behaved like a terrible fish.  

 

Dear Departed NCERT/ CBSE Solutions

Summary

A true test of people is how they behave towards the elderly. With modernization, reverence of the elderly seems to have suffered a grievous blow. All happiness to the elderly is parsimoniously measured out. Too often the elderly suffer death by invisibility long before their physical demise. The daughters in ‘Dear Departed’ are very materialistic and like beasts of prey, they are only ready to pounce on the money and belongings of their father. Keeping father at home has become a tiresome burden. Looking towards the elderly has become a matter of comfort and financial aid rather than for inspiration and emotional strength.

For a civilized society a new culture of giving needs to be ushered and one must give to the elderly without any selfish motive. We must remember that the difference between a helping hand and an outstretched palm is only a twist of the wrist.

The play ‘The Dear Departed’ presents an interesting situation that has tragically become common place in the world of today. The scene of the play is set in the sitting room of a small house in a lower middle-class district of a provincial town. The setting of the play reveals that the tea-table has been laid. Mrs. Slater, a plump and active lady is in mourning and she is getting ready to receive some guests. She beckons to her daughter Victoria, who is ten year old, and instructs her to change into something sober. It is revealed that Victoria’s grandfather has passed away and the Slater family is getting ready to receive Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle Ben.

Victoria expresses surprise at this news because her aunt and uncle had not paid them a visit for years. Mrs. Slater reveals that they were coming over to talk about grandfather’s affairs, on hearing of his death. In the meanwhile Mr. Slater enters. He is a heavy man who stoops he is also in mourning dress. Henry Slater is skeptical whether Elizabeth will come, for the last time when Mrs. Slater and Elizabeth had  quarreled, she had vowed never to pay a visit again to their house. Mrs. Slater gives Henry new slippers of her father.

She also plans to take away the new bureau of the grandfather and shift it to their room, before Elizabeth and Ben arrive. Both the husband and wife, lock the front door and shift the bureau down and put their old chest of drawers there. Victoria wants to know why they were stealing grandfather’s things but her mother tells her to remain quiet. Grandpa’s new clock is also taken away. Meanwhile there is loud knocking at the door and the Slaters take plenty of time to look normal. Mrs. Jordan and Ben pretend to be emotional at the death of Mr. Abel Merryweather.

Both the ladies compare their mourning dresses, criticizing the other’s outfit. Mrs. Jordan is surprised to discover that no doctor had been summoned to check on her father. Mrs. Slater insists in a stubborn manner that she had been keen on Mr. Pringle and if he was out of station, they couldn’t be offensive and call someone else. Mrs Slater reveals that her father had been happy in the morning and he had apparently gone to pay the premium of his insurance policy. He was generally going to “Ring-O-Bells’ frequently and the night before he had come drunk and had gone to bed without having dinner. Mrs Jordan and Ben prefer to have tea before going and looking up father.

All four of them start discussing about the obituary and the kind of announcement in the newspapers to be inserted. Mrs Jordan wants a long poem but Mrs Slater protests by saying that it will cost a lot. Meanwhile Mrs Jordan reveals that her father had willed his gold watch to her son Jimmy. Mrs.Slater feels very offended and refuses to believe it. Victoria says that grandfather had not gone in the morning to pay his premium but had instead gone over to ‘The Ring of Bells,’ the public house, managed by John Shorrock’s widow. Everyone starts blaming the old man for not paying his premium. Victoria is instructed to go over to grandpa’s room to get the receipt of the premium.

Mrs Jordan is surprised to note a new bureau and she wishes to know the details, because she doubts Mrs Slater’s version. Victoria enters, looking dazed. She gives the shocking news that ä  Grandpa was stirring and moving. After some time Mr Abel Merryweather enters and is surprised to see his otherdaughter and son-in-law, Mr and Mrs Jordan. He reveals that he was well and just had a slight headache he notices Henry wearing his new slippers and takes them. Abels wishes to know, why all were in mourning dresses. Mrs Jordan makes up some story to pacify him. Abel Merryweather enjoys tea and has a generous slice of the apple-pie.

He grumbles and scolds Mrs Slater for taking away his bureau. Mrs Jordan gets agitated and accuses her sister of robbing her father. The husbands also join their wives in hurling accusations at each other Abel discovers about his death. He addresses his daughters directly and declares that he was going to change his will and all the money will go to the one, in whose house he dies. Both the daughters fight with each other to keep their father. Abel is amused and watches all the fun. At last he makes his announcement which shocks everyone. On Monday, he would go to the lawyer and alter his will, then he would go to the insurance office and pay his premium.

After that he would go to the church and get married to Mrs. Shorrock. Everyone is shocked. Abel reveals that he had at last found someone who was happy to keep him. He exits with an invitation of his marriage. He also thanks Mrs. Slater for shifting the Bureau down-stairs for now it will be easy to cart it away to “Ring-O-Bells.’

 Questions and Answers

Answer the following questions briefly.

(a) How does Mrs. Slater plan to outshine the Jordans? What does it reveal about her character?

Ans. Mrs. Slater has managed to procure a black dress for mourning, though it is not complete. She believes that her mourning outfit would still be better than Mrs. Jordan’s, who might not have managed to arrange it also. Her obsession for a mourning dress reveals that she is a frivolous and pretentious woman who is not distressed at the death of her father and is bothered more about worldly pretensions.

(b) Why does Mrs Slater decide to shift the bureau from grandfather’s room before the arrival of

the Jordans? How does Henry react to the situation?

Ans. Mrs Slater wishes to steal the bureau and shift it in her room and replace it by her old chest of drawers. The bureau was new so now with her father’s death, she wishes to possess it before her sister comes and Henry is not that greedy and suggests that his wife must-discuss it with her sister before taking it away. Later he gets persuaded by his dominating wife.

(c) What is the reason for the Jordans taking a long time to get to the house of the Slater’s? What does it show about the attitude of the two sisters towards each other?

Ans. Mrs Jordan took a lot of time to reach the home of the Slater’s because she wanted to get a complete new mourning dress before coming. Both the sisters are not grief-stricken at the death of their father but are trying to out shine each other in wearing their best mourning dresses. For the sisters grief is to be depicted through mourningdress and not through the feelings in one’s heart.

(d) What does Mrs Jordan describe as ‘a fatal mistake’? What is the irony on the comment she makes on Mrs Slater’s defence?

Ans. Mrs. Jordan believes that not sending for the doctor at her father’s death was a ‘fatal mistake’. Mrs

Slater clarifies immediately that since it was Mr Pringle who had always attended on her father, it would be against professional etiquette to call someone else. Mr Pringle was out of town so they didn’t call anyone else.

(e) Ben appreciates grandfather saying “it’s a good thing he did”. Later he calls him a ‘drunken old beggar’. Why does he change his opinion about grandfather?

Ans. Ben appreciates the grandfather for paying the premium of his insurance policy. When he hears that grandfather had not gone that day to pay the premium, he changes his stand and calls him a ‘drunken old beggar’ since the grandfather had gone to ‘Ring-O-Bells.’

(f) What change does the grandfather make in his new will? What effect will it have on his daughters?

Ans. The grandfather decides that he will change his will. He decides to leave all the things to whomsoever he’s living with when he dies. The daughters get agitated and consider it unfair. Both of them compete with each other to keep grandfather with them. None of them wanted to be deprived of their share.

(g) What are the three things that grandfather plans to do on Monday next?

Ans. The grandfather plans to alter his will, pay his premium of the insurance policy and get married to John

Shorrock’s widow.

Answer the following in detail :

(a) How does the spat between the two daughters leads to the grandfather discovering the truth?

Ans. Abel Merryweather recognizes his bureau and wants to know the reason for its shifting. Mrs. Slater had

already told her sister that the bureau belonged to them. This lie is enough to set tongues wagging and tempers

escalating. Mrs. Jordan accuses her sister of stealing her father’s things, thinking him to be dead. That is when Abel

discovers that they had gathered there for the official mourning of his death.

(b) Compare and contrast Henry’s character with his wife:

Ans. Henry is timid and honest by nature. Soft at heart, he tends to get bullied by his dominating wife. Initially

he protests against stealing the grandfather’s slippers and bureau but when Mrs Slater forces him, he gets carried

away. He is a worried looking man who believed what his wife says and ends up supporting her. Mrs Slater by contrast is vain, pretentious and greedy. She makes the plans and he executes them with his wife’s help of course.

SOME IMPORTANT QUESTIONS

  1. Discuss the significance of the title of the play. Bring out the irony inherent in it?

Or

In what way is the play satirical? Comment on the nature of its characters.

Ans. The title is very appropriate and packed with great irony and wit that makes a farce of all relationships that

are most intense and pious. Children like the Slaters and the Jordans are a blot on humanity and on the bonds of

love and affection. Both Amelia and her sister consider their father Abel Merryweather a burden and his death is

no loss to them. The father is taken lightly. Immediately after Abel’s supposed death, the elder daughter pinches his

slippers, clock and his bureau. For both the daughters, father’s death is a kind of competition to outshine each

other. There is no mourning in their hearts, but both the daughters vie with each other to wear the best mourning

dress. Mrs Jordan wants to have her tea and snacks rather than looking at her dead father. Accusations are hurled at

each other, death announcement is planned but no one spares a thought for the father. An obituary should reflect their feelings, that are non-existent. It is only the granddaughter Victoria, who is a sole witness to this game of pinching things and benefits. In a lighter tone, Abel Merryweather had sensed the mercenary nature of his daughter so he outwits them in their planning. He finds a widow to marry who would look after him better. The lesson ends on a humorous note but outlines a very tragic and pathetic concern – care of the elderly that is a glaring and ugly reality of today’s world.

REFERENCE TO CONTEXT – MCQs

Read the following extracts and choose the correct option.

  1. Mrs Slater : “I’m amazed at you, Victoria, I really am. How can you go gallivanting about in the street with your grandfather lying dead and cold upstairs, I don’t know. Be off now, and change your dress before your Aunt Elizabeth and your uncle Ben come. It would never do for them to find you in colours.”

(i) Mrs Slater is angry with Victoria because

(a) she is moving around too much

(b) she is wasting time in the street

(c) she hasn’t changed her dress

(d) she’s not bothered about her grandfather’s death

(ii) Aunt Elizabeth and Ben are paying a visit to

(a) offer condolence for the old man’s death

(b) check upon the old man

(c) lay their hands on his belongings

(d) to show to Mrs Slater their sorrow over the death

(iii) Mrs Slater appears to be a lady who is very particular about

(a) ceremonies

(b) relatives

(c) condolence

(d) mourning dresses on death

Answer : (i) (c) (ii) (d) (iii) (d)

  1. Mrs Slater : My heart’s fit to break when I see the trifles that belonged to grandfather lying around, and think he’ll never use them again. Here! you’d better wear these slippers of grandfather’s now : It’s lucky he’d just got a new pair.

(i) Mrs Slater is very disturbed because

(a) her father is dead

(b) his things are lying scattered

(c) she has to make arrangements

(d) she cannot afford to have his things wasted

(ii) Mrs Slater is very resourceful as

(a) she manages to make all the arrangements

(b) she is able to use her father’s slippers

(c) she has managed to inform her sister

(d) she has managed to get tea ready for relatives

(iii) From the above statement it is clear that Mrs. Slater was

(a) resourceful (b) miserly

(c) greedy (d) vain

Answer : (i) (d) (ii) (b) (iii) (c)

  1. Victoria : Are we pinching it before Aunt Elizabeth comes?

Henry : (Shocked) No, my child. Grandpa gave it to your mother before he died.

(i) Victoria’s remarks reflect upon the behavior of the adults that they are

(a) hypocrites (b) mercenary

(c) greed-driven (d) clever

(ii) Henry proves to be __________ from his statement.

(a) submissive (b) gullible

(c) hen-pecked (d) vulnerable

(iii) Such pretensions and manipulative behaviour ends up __________ the lives of children like Victoria.

(a) benefitting (b) guiding

(c) harming (d) confusing

Answer : (i) (a) (ii) (c) (iii) (d)

  1. Mrs Slater : I could never fancy buying readymade things.

Ms Jordan : No? For myself it’s such a relief to get into the black.

(i) The above conversation reveals that both the daughters are not __________ at the death of their father.

(a) emotional (b) grief-stricken

(c) sad (d) concerned

(ii) Death has become an occasion for only

(a) sad expressions

(b) flaunting mourning dresses

(c) funeral services

(d) prayers

(iii) The above conversation reveals that both the sisters are

(a) Jealous (b) Competitive

(c) Vicious (d) Concerned

Answer : (i) (b) (ii) (b) (iii) (c)

  1. Mrs Jordan : I like ‘Never Forgotten’. Its refined Henry : Yes, but it’s rather soon for that.

Ben : You couldn’t very well forget him the day after.

(i) Do you believe the conversation taking place above is

(a) emotional (b) authentic

(c) genuine (d) pretentious

(ii) The comment of Ben is

(a) humorous (b) pretentious

(c) ironical (d) satirical

(iii) The relatives above are discussing about __________ to be given in the newspaper.

(a) obituary (b) announcement

(c) tribute (d) notice

Answer : (i) (d) (ii) (d) (iii) (a)

  1. ‘She’s never been here since grandfather brought it. If it was only down here instead of in his room, she’d never guess it wasn’t our own.

(i) These words are said by

(a) Victoria (b) Amelia

(c) Elizabeth (d) Henry

(ii) The word ‘it’ referred to here is

(a) the ornaments (b) the clock

(c) the chest of drawers (d) bureau

(iii) The speaker is planning to

(a) steal the clock before her sister comes

(b) bring the bureau down

Read the following extracts and answer the questions that follow:

  1. “It would never do for them to find you in colours.”

(i) Identify the speaker and the listener.

Ans : The speaker is Mrs. Slater and the listener is her daughter Victoria.

(ii) Who is referred to as ‘them’ in the above statement?

Ans : ‘Them’ refers to Mrs. and Mr. Jordan.

(iii) Explain – ‘in colours’.

Ans : Victoria is wearing colourful clothes,whereas she should be wearing a mourning dress.

(iv)  What is the context of the above remark?

Ans : Victoria’s grandfather is supposed to be dead.

  1. “Elizabeth’s that sharp she’ll see I’m after it and she’ll drive a hard bargain over it. Eli, what it is to have a low money grubbing spirit?”

(i) What is Elizabeth’s relation with the speaker?

Ans : Elizabeth is the speaker Mrs slater’s sister.

(ii) What bargain is being discussed here?

Ans : The plan of shifting the grandpa’s bureau before Elizabeth arrives.

(iii) Explain – low money grubbing spirit.

Ans : It refers to money-mindedness, or greed to possess things.

(iv) What do the above remarks reflect about the speaker’s attitude and nature?

Ans : The speaker herself is very mean, manipulative and clever.

  1. “No, my child, Grandpa gave it to your mother before he died.”

(i) Identify the speaker and the listener.

Ans : The speaker is Henry Slater and he is addressing his daughter.

(ii) What does ‘it’ refer to?

Ans : ‘It’ refers to the ‘bureau’

(iii) What impression do you form of the speakers from the above statement?

Ans : Both the Slaters are greedy and great hypocrites.

(iv) What do you think will be the impact of the above statement on the listener?

Ans : Victoria will end up losing respect for her parents.

  1. “He is too honourable to have gone without paying his premium.”

(i) Who is the speaker and who is the listener?

Ans : Mrs. Jordan is the speaker and her sister is the listener.

(ii) Who is “He” in the above statement?

Ans : ‘He’ is Abel Merryweather, Mrs Slater and Mrs Jordan’s father.

(iii) What is the speaker’s relation with the person mentioned?

Ans : She is Abel’s daughter.

(iv) What is the speaker’s conception of ‘honour’?

Ans : ‘Honour’ refers here to ‘paying one’s insurance premium.’

(c) send the child up to bring the keys

(d) sell the old chest of drawers

Answer : (i) (b) (ii) (d) (iii) (b)

  1. (Chirpily) “Now, Amelia, you mustn’t give way. We’ve all got to die sometime or other. It might have been worse.”

(i) Who speaks these words?

(a) Ben (b) Mrs. Slater

(c) Mrs. Jordan (d) Victoria

(ii) The speaker is prompted to utter these words to Amelia so that / because

(a) she should not cry.

(b) she need not show off.

(c) he knew her real nature and wanted to caution her that when they would face such

a situation, it would be still worse.

(d) He wanted to be lively and humorous in that grim situation.

(iii) The literary device used in the given lines is:

(a) Personification (b) Irony

(c) Alliteration (d) Metaphor

Answer : (i) (a) (ii) (c) (iii) (b)

  1. “I like ‘Never Forgotten’. It’s refined.”

(i) Who is the speaker?

Ans : Mrs. Jordan is the speaker.

(ii) What is the context of the above remark?

Ans : The discussion is regarding the obituary to be put in the newspaper.

(iii) For whom is ‘Never forgotten’ used?

Ans : For Abel Merryweather.

(iv) Point out the irony inherent in the above remark.

Ans: It was only in words that he was not forgotten in its reality both the daughters had forgotten him already.

  1. “He’s done it on purpose, just to annoy us.”

(i) Identify ‘He’ and ‘us’.

Ans : ‘He’ is Abel Merryweather and ‘us’ means the Jordans and Slaters.

(ii) Mention the context of the above remark.

Ans : The discussion is whether Abel has paid his insurance premium or not.

(iii) What mistake has the person mentioned made?

Ans : Abel appears to have deliberately messed out paying the premium.

(iv) Do you think the speakers and the others like him deserve that kind of treatment?

Ans : Yes, they do because they are all very greedy.

  1. “Drat me if that isn’t my clock too. What the devil’s been going on in the house?”

(i) What is the confusion regarding the clock?

Ans : Abel Merryweather’s clock has been pinched by his daughter.

(ii) What exactly has been going on in the house?

Ans : Mrs. Slater, the daughter, thought that her father was dead and she was taking away his things.

(iii) Who is the speaker and whom is he addressing?

Ans : The speaker is Abel and he is addressing his daughters.

(iv) What do the above remarks reflect about the listeners?

Ans : The listeners are very greedy and not attached to their father.

  1. Mrs Jordan, “You know father, it’s quite time you come to live with us again we’d make you very comfortable.”

(i) What has brought about the above change in the speaker’s attitude?

Ans : The father’s new terms for the will has brought about this change.

(ii) What about the above turn of events?

Ans : Abel has announced that his money will go to the daughter with whom he would be staying at the time

of his death.

(iii) Who is instrumental in this change and why?

Ans : The greedy nature of his daughters has brought this change.

(iv) What does it reflect about Mrs Jordan’s character?

Ans : Mrs. Jordan is very mercenary, greedy and opportunistic.

  1. I felt I was bit of a burden to you, so I found someone who’d think it a pleasure to look after me.

(i) For whom is the speaker supposed to be a burden?

Ans : Abel is supposed to be a burden for his daughters.

(ii) Who is the speaker and who are the listeners?

Ans : Abel is the speaker and both the daughters and their husbands are the listeners.

(iii) Who has the speaker found to look after him?

Ans : Abel has found a widow, Mrs Shorrock, to look after him.

(iv) How does the speaker’s decision affect the listeners?

Ans : The daughters are denied all the rights to the property and money of their father.

  1. I’ll tell you what I’ve got to do. On Monday next I’ve got to do three things.

(i) Who is the speaker?

Ans : Abel Merryweather, the father.

(ii) What has he decided to do?

Ans : He has decided to marry Mrs Shorrod, a widow, who runs a school in the neighbourhood.

(iii) Why did he take such a decision?

Ans : He took such a decision so that Mrs. Shorock would take care of him. His own daughters were very

greedy and were not attached to him.

  1. Why does Mrs Slater instruct Victoria to change her dress?

Ans : Mrs. Slater is very particular about mourning dresses. Since her father has expired, she instructs her

daughter Victoria to quickly change her colourful dress into something sober, before the guests and relatives

arrive.

  1. Why were Mr and Mrs Jordan visiting the Slaters after so many years?

Ans : Since Mr Abel Merryweather had expired, Mrs. Jordan, the daughter, was visiting her sister’s family,

to look after the arrangements to be made for the father’s death.

  1. Henry says, “I suppose it’s in the family.” Why does Henry make this comment and what does it reflect about the two sisters?

Ans : Henry is well aware that both the sisters Mrs.Slater and Mrs. Jordan are very mean and calculative, so

they will not lose any chance to pinch things belonging to their family. When his wife brings the new slippers of her

father and gives to Henry, he makes this humorous comment.

  1. “Mother and me is going to bring grandfather’s bureau down here.” Who makes this remark and in what context? What does this reflect about the speaker?

Ans : Henry Slater tells his daughter Victoria that they were shifting grandfather’s bureau down because he had

gifted it to them. Victoria cannot believe it. This remark depicts that Henry is not only a hen-pecked husband but

also a hypocrite, who just does what his wife tells him. He has no individuality of his own.

  1. “For myself it’s such a relief to get into the black.” Who makes the above remark and what is the context?

Ans : Mrs Jordan makes the above remark because she got delayed due to a new mourning dress for herself. She

was not bothered about her father but worried about appearing in a new mourning dress. This indicates her pretentious nature without any thought for her father.

  1. Mrs Slater says, “he must have gone round to the ‘Ring-O-Bells’ afterwards, for he came in as merry as a sand boy” regarding Abel Merryweather. Do you think this remark is a prediction of the things to come?

Ans : Yes, this remark is a death-knell on the plans forged by the two sisters to grab their father’s money. The

fact that Abel is going there too often and is looking extremely pleased is a prediction of the future course of

things.

  1. Mrs Jordan, “we want a verse that says how much we loved him and refers to all his good

qualities and says what a heavy loss we’re had.” Point out the irony in this remark.

Ans : Mrs. Jordan, the daughter, wishes to show to the world how much they all loved their father, by choosing

such words for his obituary. But the irony is that in reality, they do not love him nor do they care for any of his good

qualities.

  1. “After all I’ve done for him, having to put up with him in the house these three years. It’s

nothing short of swindling” who makes this remark and what does this reflect about the speaker’s attitude?

Ans : Mrs. Slater makes the above remark in great agitation when Abel states that his entire property will go

to the person with whom he would be staying, at the time of his death, Mrs. Slater feels cheated. She believes that

looking after her father for these years has not benefitted her at all.

  1. Describe the reaction of all Slaters and the Jordans when Abel Merryweather walks in the parlour?

Ans : Both the Jordans and the Slaters are too shocked. There are no gasps of relief, none of them heaves a sigh

of happiness. Both the sisters are displeased to see their father alive. They had spent quite some money on their

mourning dresses. Mrs. Jordan had made this visit only because of her father’s death.

  1. Why are Amelia and Elizabeth reluctant to tell the truth to their father regarding their

mourning dresses? What stories do they cook up to convince their father?

Ans : Abel Merryweather is shocked to see his daughters in mourning dresses and when he wishes to know the reason, he is told that Ben’s brother has expired. They further tell lies that the brother was in Australia and

he was older by five years.

  1. You are a neighbour of Mrs Slater on Upper Cornbank Street. You have witnessed the indifferent and insensitive manner in which Mrs. Slater looks after her father and how the poor father contrives ways to stay out of the

house. Write a letter to a friend expressing your grave concern at the way in which the elderly people are neglected.

Ans : Post Carter Road,

Mumbai

30 March, 2010

Dear Alina,

With a heavy heart, I am writing this letter as I fear for our advancing age. The Slaters are our neighbours and Mrs. Slater treats her father so badly, that I fear how our old age will fare. The old father is very sporting, friendly and happy-go-lucky and still treated badly. He is not the demanding type, but still Mrs. Slater is always cribbing

about keeping him. Mr Abel, that is his name, hardly stays at home and goes about to visit people even when he is

sick and should be tended. His granddaughter Victoria is the only one who cares for him but a child cannot have

her way. Mrs Slater is always trying to take away Mr Abel’s things, one way or the other. These days he appears to

be looking better because I have heard in the neighbourhood, that he is apparently seeing some old widow Mrs. Shorrock. Atleast there is some light in his life, some flicker of hope. God save us from such children. I hope we do not face any such problems. Do write to me.

Your sister,

Agatha.

  1. Discuss the character-sketch of Mrs Jordan and Mrs Slater as opposed to the characters of their husbands.

Ans : Mrs Slater is clever, manipulative and mean, much like her sister Mrs. Jordan. Their aim in life is to do

nothing for their father and derive maximum benefit. If Amelia takes away her father’s slippers, bureau and clock,

Elizabeth wants to take away her father’s watch. Both the ladies spare no thought for their father and worry about

outdoing each other in wearing mourning dresses. For them the death of their father is like a drama that needs to

be staged with best outfits. Both the husbands are henpecked and they go according to their wives. Henry

knows that his wife is an opportunist but he assists her in carrying the bureau down. The husbands have no

individualities except to pamper the whims of their wives.

  1. Victoria is the only one who loves her grandfather. She is also a witness to the manipulations and the mercenary behaviour of her parents and her aunt and uncle. She writes a diary expressing shock at their attitude and

the emotional loss she would undergo after her grandfather’s departure.

Ans : Dear Diary,

Today is the worst day of my life, when Grandpa was supposed to have passed away. I am deeply shocked

at the behaviour of my mother and father, who are pinching the belongings of my Grandpa. Imagine none even went

to look up Grandpa. I know Grandpa was not happy living with us, I tried my best but mummy never listens. Even papa supports her. I am so ashamed to see their hypocrisy.I don’t know how they will expect respect from me, when

they have behaved so abominably. I pity Grandpa for this treatment. Oh! how I wish I was grown up enough to look

after him.

Victoria.

  1. What is the most surprising announcement made by Mr Abel in the end? How does it affect the other characters?

Ans : Abel makes a very dramatic announcement in the end that he is going to marry Mrs. Shorrocks who keeps the ‘Ring-O-Bells’. Moreover he is going to take away his things and leave nothing for his daughters.

  1. You are Abel Merryweather. Express your ideas/ feelings after you wake up and come to know about your daughter’s feelings/greed and intentions.

Or

Abel in “The Dear Departed” is very upset at the behaviour of his family. He expresses his feelings to a close friend in a letter. As Abel, write this letter.

Ans : Dear Anthony, You must be surprised to get my letter after such a long time. But frankly speaking I did not find anyone in this whole world to become a witness to my marriage with Mrs. Shorrock, a widow, running a school in our

neighbourhood. Don’t get shocked to hear about my marriage at this ripe age when I have a full-fledged family of two children and grand children. I myself never thought of taking such a drastic step had I not got over drunk one night and slept till late in the morning. That was a blessing in disguise, I could see the hypocrisy of my daughters. My

supposed death was no loss to them since they considered me a burden. My death became a kind of competition for

both of them. They outshone each other in wearing the best mourning dresses and took away the things from my

room in the presence of my supposed dead body and started accusing each other. It is only my granddaughter who has some feelings for me. Sensing the mercenary nature of my daughters, I have taken a stern decision, to spend the fag end of my life in good care. I have outwitted all of them and have planned to Marry Mrs Shorrock who would look after me better. Moreover, I am going to take away all my things and leave nothing for them. I hope you will appreciate my decision. Do come to St. Wilson church on Monday, the day I am getting married, at 11 a.m.

Yours very own

Abel Merrywheater.