Think as You Read (Page no. 7)
Question 1. What was Franz expected to be prepared with for school that day?
Ans: That day Franz was expected to be prepared with participles because M. Hamel had said that he would question them on participles. Franz did not know anything about participles.
Question 2. What did Franz notice that was unusual about the school that day?
Ans: Usually, when school began, there was a great bustle, which could be heard out in the street. But it was all very still that day. Everything was as quiet as Sunday morning. There was no opening or closing of desks. His classmates were already in their places. The teacher’s great ruler instead of rapping on the table, was under M. Hamel’s arm.
Question 3. What had been put up on the bulletin-board?
Ans: For the last two years all the bad news had come from the bulletin-board. An order had come from Berlin to teach only German in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine. The Germans had put up this notice on the bulletin-board.
Think as You Read (Page no. 8)
Question 1. What changes did the order from Berlin cause in school that day?
Ans: M. Hamel had put on his best dress—his beautiful green coat, his frilled shirt and the little black silk cap, all embroidered. The whole school seemed so strange and solemn. On the back benches that were always empty, the elderly village people were sitting quietly like the kids.
Question 2. How did Franz’s feelings about M. Hamel and school change?
Ans: Franz came to know that it was the last lesson in French that M. Hamel would give them. From the next day they will be taught only German. Then he felt sorry for not learning his lessons properly. His books, which seemed a nuisance and a burden earlier were now old friends. His feelings about M. Hamel also changed. He forgot all about his ruler and how cranky he was.
Understanding the Text
Question 1. The people? in this story suddenly realise how1 precious their language is to them. What shows you this? Why does this happen?
Ans: M. Hamel told the students and villagers that henceforth only German would be taught in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine. Those who called themselves Frenchmen would neither be able to speak nor write it. He praised French as the most beautiful, the clearest and most logical language in the world. He said that for the enslaved people, their language was the key to their prison. Then the people realised how precious their language was to them. This shows people’s love for their own culture, traditions and country. Pride in one’s language reflects pride in the motherland.
Question 2. Franz thinks, “Will they make them sing in German, even the pigeonsT’ What could this mean?(There could he more than one answer.)
Ans: This comment of Franz shows a Frenchman’s typical reaction to the imposition of learning German, the language of the conquerors. Being deprived of the learning of mother tongue would mean cutting off all bonds with the motherland. Teaching the pigeons to sing in German indicates how far the Germans would go in their attempts of linguistic chauvinism.
Taking About The Text
Question 1. “When a people are en slaved, as long as th ey hold fast to their language it is as if they had the key to their prison.”
Can you think of examples in history where a conquered people had their lan¬guage taken away from them or had a language imposed on them?
Ans: Mother tongue helps a person to express his feelings and thoughts most lucidly and intimately. Conquerors try to subdue and control the people of the enslaved territory by enforcing many measures such as use of force to crush dissent and imposing their own language on them.
From time immemorial the victorious nations have imposed their own language on the conquered people and taken away their own language from them. The Romans conquered many parts of Europe and replaced the local languages by their own language— Latin. Later on Spanish, Pourtuguese, Italian and French developed from Latin. The Muslim invaders imposed Arabic and Persian in the countries of Asia overpowered by them. In many Arab countries the local religion and language have disappeared. In India, a new language Urdu developed from the mixture of Persian and Hindi.
Question 2. What happens to a linguistic minority in a state? How do you think they can keep their language alive? For example:
Punjabis in Bangalore
Tamilians in Mumbai
Kannadigas in Delhi
Gujaratis in Kolkata
Ans. The linguistic minority in any state is easily marked and faces the same discrimination as the religious, social or ethnic minorities. There is, however, a pronounced difference in the treatment meted out and the level of acceptance displayed by the majority community in that region/city. Some cities like Delhi, Mumbai are cosmopolitan in outlook.
The linguistic minority tries to preserve its identity through an intimate contact, interaction and preservation of their language in social get-togethers, family functions and festivals of their own region. Adherence to social customs and traditions in family gatherings/group meetings of women also promote the unity between members of the linguistic minority.
In short, they create a mini-Punjab in Bangalore, mini-Chennai in Mumbai, mini-Bangalore in Delhi and mini-Surat in Kolkata.
Question 3. Is it possible to carry pride in one’s language too far? Do you know what “lin¬guistic chauvinism” means?
Ans. ‘Linguistic chauvinism’ means an aggressive and unreasonable belief that your own language is better than all others. This shows an excessive or prejudiced support for one’s own language. Sometimes pride in one’s own language goes too for and the linguistic enthusiasts can be easily identified by their extreme zeal for the preservation and spread of their language. In their enthusiasm, love and support for their own language, they tend to forget that other languages too have their own merits, long history of art, culture and literature behind them. Instead of bringing unity and winning over others as friends, having excessive pride in one’s own language creates ill-will and disintegration. The stiff-resistance to the acceptance of Hindi as national language by the southern states of India is a direct outcome of the fear of being dominated by Hindi enthusiasts. The result is that ‘One India’ remains only a slogan.
Short Answer Type Questions
Question 1. Why do you think was little Franz afraid of being scolded?
Ans: Franz was afraid of being scolded that day especially because M. Hamel, the teacher, had said that he would question them on participles. Franz frankly admits that he was totally ignorant about the topic. His exact words are: “I did not know the first word about them.” Secondly, he had started for school very late that morning.
Question 2. “It was all much more tempting than the rule for participles.” What did Franz find ‘much more tempting’? How did he finally react?
Ans: Franz found that it was a very warm and bright day. The birds were chirping at the edge of woods. The Prussian soldiers were drilling in the open field at the back of sawmill. He could gladly spend life out of doors. However, he had the strength to resist the temptation. Finally, he hurried off to school.
Question 3. “What can be the matter now?” says Franz. Why, do you think, did he make this comment?
Ans: There was a bulletin-board near the town-hall. When Franz passed by it, he noticed a crowd there. He did not stop to look at it. He wondered what could be the matter then. For the last two yeairs they had received all the bad news from the bulletin-board—the lost battle, conscription and the orders of the commanding officer.
Question 4. Who was Wachter? What did he ask Franz and why? How did Franz react?
Ans: Wachter was a blacksmith. He was reading the latest bulletin. He asked Franz not to go so fast to his school. He added that the little boy would get to his school in plenty of time. Wachter had read the latest bulletin about teaching of German. Franz thought that the blacksmith was making a fun of him. So, he ran to the school and reached there breathless.
Question 5. What was the usual scene when Franz’s school began in the morning?
Ans: Usually, when the school began, there was a great bustle. The noise could be heard out in the school. Students opened and closed their desks. They repeated the lessons together very loudly. They kept their hands over their ears to understand better. The teacher would go on rapping the table with his great iron ruler.
Question 6. How had Franz hoped to get to his desk? What had he to do and why?
Ans: Franz had hoped to get to his desk unseen during the commotion. But that day it was very quiet. So, Franz had to open the door and go in before everybody. He blushed as he was late. He was frightened that the teacher might rebuke him, but M. Hamel spoke kindly to him that day.
Question 7. What three things in school surprised Franz most that day?
Ans: First, M. Hamel, the teacher had put on his fine Sunday clothes—his beautiful green coat, frilled shirt and the little black silk cap, all embroidered. Second, the whole school seemed quite strange and solemn. Thirdly, the village people were sitting quietly like school children on the back benches that usually remained empty.
Question 8. Why had the villagers come to school that day? How did they look?
Ans: The villagers had come there to thank M. Hamel for his forty years of faithful service. They also wanted to show their respect to the country that was theirs no more. They were sorry that they had not gone to school more. They were sitting quietly and looked sad.
Question 9. “What a thunderclap these words were to me!” Which were the words that shocked and surprised the narrator?
Ans: M. Hamel, the teacher, told the children in a solemn and gentle tone that it was their last French lesson. Henceforth, only German would be taught in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine. The new master would come the next day. As that was their last French lesson, he wanted them to be very attentive. The teacher’s kind gesture and use of soft words shocked and surprised the narrator.
Question 10. How did Franz react to the declaration: ‘This is your last French lesson’?
Ans: The words appeared startling and unexpected like a thunderclap. He now understood why there was a crowd at the bulletin board, why the village people had come to school, why the teacher was dressed in his Sunday best and why there was sadness and silence in the school.
Question 11. What tempted Franz to stay away from school?
Ans: Franz was not prepared Tor the test on participles. The Prussian soldiers were drilling in the open field at the back of sawmill. The birds were chirping at the edge of woods. These things tempted him. So he hurried off to school.
Question 12. Who did M. Hamel blame for neglect of learning on the part of boys like Franz?
Ans: He thought it typical with the people of Alsace. They would put off learning till tomorrow. Parents are not quite anxious to have their children learn. They put them to work on a farm or at the mills in order to have a little more money. The teacher got his flowers watered or gave them a holiday. He too neglected their lessons.
Question 13. What did M. Hamel tell them about French language? What did he ask them to do and why?
Ans: M. Hamel told them that French was the most beautiful language in the world. It was the clearest and the most logical language. He asked them to guard it among them and never _ forget it. He gave a reason also. When a people were enslaved, as long as they held fast to their language, they had the key to their prison.
Question 14. Why were the elders of the village sitting in the classroom?
Ans: M. Hamel was taking the class of last French lesson. That is why elders of the village were sitting in the classroom to attend it. It was done not only to pay respect to M.Hamel but to pay respect to his own language.
Question 15. How did Franz and other hoys enjoy their lesson in writing?
Ans: That day M. Hamel had new copies for them. The words “France, Alsace, France, Alsace” were written on them in a beautiful round hand. The boys set to work quietly. The only sound was the scratching of the pens over the paper. Nobody paid any attention to the beetles who flew in.
Question 16. How did M. Hamel feel and behave during the last lesson?
Ans: M. Hamel was solemn and gentle. He sat motionless in his chair during the writing lesson. He gazed at one thing or the other. Perhaps he wanted to fix in his mind how everything looked in that little school room. Surely, it must have broken his heart to leave it all after forty years.
Question 17. “He had the courage to hear every lesson to the very last.” What led Franz to make this remark?
Ans: Franz noticed that M. Hamel was feeling sad on having to leave the place sifter 40 years and not being allowed to teach French any longer. Yet, he kept control on his emotions. He performed his duties faithfully. He heard every lesson to the last. The school was dismissed only at mid-day prayer time.
Question 18. What happened when the lesson in history was over?
Ans: After the lesson in history was over, the babies chanted their ba, be, bi, bo, bu. Old Hauser, who was sitting at the back of the room, had put on his spectacles. He was holding his primer in both hands. He was spelling the letters with the babies.
Question 19. “Ah, how well I remember it, that last lesson!” says the narrator. Which scene does he remember more vividly than the others?
Ans: The narrator remembers the scene of old Hauser spelling the letters from the primer with the babies. He too was crying. His voice trembled with emotion. It was so funny to hear him that all of them wanted to laugh and cry at the same time.
Question 20. How did M. Hamel behave as the last lesson came to an end?
Ans: M. Hamel stood up in his chair. He looked very pale and tall. He wanted to say some parting words, but something choked him. Then he wrote “Vive La France!” on the blackboard with a piece of chalk. Then he stopped. He leaned his head against the wall. Without a word, he made a gesture to the students with his hand to permit them to go as the school was over.
Long Answer Type Questions
Question 1. Why was Franz scared that day 1 What did he see on his way to school and how did he get to his deski?
Ans: Franz was not good at learning. He would rather take the day off and waste time in searching birds’ eggs or going sliding on the Saar. Franz was scared that day because M. Hamel had said that he would question them on participles. Franz did not know anything about participles.
He found that the day was warm and bright. The birds were chirping at the edge of the woods. The Prussian soldiers were drilling in the open fields. There was a crowd in front of the bulletin-board near the town-hall.
Franz found the school room unusually quiet. So, he had no option but to open the door and go in before everybody. He blushed and was frightened of the teacher. M. Hamel spoke very kindly to him and asked him to go to his place quickly. Franz jumped over the bench and sat down at his desk.
Question 2. What order had been received from Berlin that day? What effect did it have on the life at school?
Ans: An order had been received from Berlin that only German would be taught in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine. This order had far-reaching effects on the life at school. M. Hamel, who had been teaching French at the village school for the last forty years would deliver his last lesson that day.
It was in honour of the last lesson that M. Hamel, the teacher had put on his best clothes. Old men of the village were sitting quietly at the back of the classroom. They were sad as well as sorry for they had not gone to school more. They had come to thank the master for his forty years of faithful service and to show respect for the country that was theirs no more.
The teacher addressed the students in a solemn and gentle tone. He asked them to be attentive and explained everything quite patiently. He appealed to them to preserve French among them. During slavery it would act as key to the prison. He felt so overwhelmed by emotion that he could not bid farewell properly.
Question 3. What do you think is the theme of the story ‘The Last Lesson’? What is the reason behind its universal appeal?
Ans: The theme of the story ‘The Last Lesson’ is linguistic chauvinism of the proud conquerors and the pain that is inflicted on the people of a territory by them by taking away the right to study or speak their own language and thus make them aliens in their own land of birth. The story has a sub-theme also. It highlights the attitudes of the students and teachers to learning and teaching.
Though the story is located in a particular village of Alsace district of France which had passed into Prussian hands, it has a universal appeal. It highlights the efforts of the victors to crush their victims—the vanquished people in all possible manner—materially, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Taking away mother tongue from the people is the harshest punishment. The proper equation between student and teacher, his focused attention, helpful and encouraging attitude and kind treatment can encourage students to learn better.
Question 4. Comment on the appropriateness of the title ‘The Last Lesson’.
Ans: The story has an appropriate and suggestive title. It is the centre of attention throughout and the whole story revolves around it. The beginning of the story serves as preparation for it. The unusual quietness at school, presence of village elders and the teacher in his Sunday best dress—all point out to the unusual and unique occasion—the last lesson in French in a French village school in a district conquered by the Prussians. While delivering the last lesson, the teacher wants to transmit all his knowledge in one go. He explains everything with patience and the students as well as old villagers listen attentively.
For the narrator it is an unforgettable experience. “Ah, how well I remember it, that last lesson,” says he. Old Hauser is crying and his voice trembled with emotion. As the teacher is unable to express His emotions because of choked throat, he ends the lesson by writing Wive La France’ on the blackboard. He makes a gesture with his hand to indicate that the school is dismissed and students can go home.
Question 5. What impression do you form ofM. Hamel on the basis of your study of the story ‘The Last Lesson’?
Ans: M. Hamel is an experienced teacher who has been teaching in that village school for forty years. He imparts primary education in all subjects. He is a hard task master and students like Franz, who are not good learners, are in great dread of being scolded by him.
The latest order of the Prussian conquerors upsets him. He has to leave the place for ever and feels heart broken. He feels sad but exercises self-control. He has the courage to hear every lesson to the last.
His performance during the last lesson is exemplary. He is kind even to a late comer like Franz. He uses a solemn and gentle tone while addressing the students. He has a logical mind and can analyse problems and deduce the reasons responsible for it. The problem for Alsace is that he (the district) puts off learning till tomorrow.
He knows the emotional hold of a language over its users. He is a good communicator and explains everything patiently. Partings are painful and being human, M. Hamel too is no exception. He fails to say goodbye as his throat is choked. On the whole, he is a patriotic gentleman.
Question 1. War causes destruction and spreads hatred. People feel insecure. Discuss the disadvan¬tages of war keeping in mind Franco-Prussian war (1870-71).
Ans: War is a great threat to mankind. Fear, anxiety, tension and hatred are some of the offsprings of war. No individual is in favour of this brutal act. Innocent people lose their life because of the vested interests of some of the corrupt politicians. Moreover, war is not the solution to any problem. It only increases the hiatus between two nations. The desire to overpower the other disseminates hatred and the feelings of enmity. The aftermaths of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are evident before us. It should also be remembered that each nation is trying its level best to become a nuclear power. A nuclear bomb has the power to devastate nations. Thousands of people will lose their lives. There will not be any survivor. If someone is left alive, he/she will be crippled. There is no doubt that war has put the human existence at stake. We have heard seers say that one should shed one’s ego. The nations should also feel equally important. No nation is self-sufficient. Peace enhances creativity and productivity. The concept of a global village should be followed by all countries. Thus, war does not benefit any individual. It must not be encouraged.
Question 2. It is often said that each language is unique in itself. No language is superior or inferior. People need to understand that a language is one of the means of communication. Discuss this statement in the light of the following lines:
“My children, this is the last lesson I shall give you. The order has come from Berlin to teach only German in schools of Alsace and Lorraine. The new master comes tomorrow. This is your last French lesson…”
Ans: Language is always considered a medium of communication. Man is a gregarious animal. He has to interact with the fellow human beings. Therefore, a set of complex symbols is designed to serve this purpose. We must ruminate over the past before discussing the status of a language. There are innumerable man made problems. At the dawn of civilisation there was no discrimination on the basis of caste, colour, creed, language and nationality. But in this century these problems exist. Nature does not segregate nations. Scientific advancement, material prosperity, lofty aspirations, materialistic attitude, a desire to rule the world and vested interests are some of the causes of human sufferings. The concepts of all languages are similar. They have nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions and conjunctions. As no religion is insignificant in the same way no language is inferior. The characteristics and nature of all languages are similar. The only difference is in symbols and pronunciation. The purpose and objective of all languages are synonymous. There is a dire need to understand that there should be only one religion i.e. humanity and there should be only one language i.e. the language of love. A language must not become the cause of rift among masses. It should bring people together instead of spreading hatred. One should not despise others because of their language. It is against human dignity and grace.
Question 3. The people of Alsace and Lorraine were forced to study German. They were not allowed to study French. It implies that students of the area were taught only one language. They did not follow the concept of three languages at school. Write an article on the topic Advantages of Three Language System at school.
Ans: Advantages of Three Language System
India is a democratic stater. It is replete with people who have diverse backgrounds, and culture. Their customs and traditions vary. Their languages are also different. The language of a South Indian is entirely different from that of the North Indians. People have their regional languages and dialects too. In such circumstances it becomes a herculean task to decide which language should be taught at schools. So, India opted for three language system at schools. It is a boon to the residents of a particular area. They do not feel that their language is insignificant and ignored. They are given ample opportunities to opt for the languages they intend to speak or learn. Pupils get fundamental knowledge of three languages and can appreciate the literature of all these three languages. Such students never face failure due to language barriers. They bring laurels to their parents and nations as well. They explore new avenues and horizons with an astonishing ease. Three language system must be adopted by all nations so as to acquaint the children with various language patterns. The people of Alsace and Lorraine could be taught both languages i.e. German and French. Linguistic discrimination mars the future of humanity.
Question 4. Nature has the knack to fascinate even the cynics. Its beauty and spontaneous music galvanise the beings. Write an article expressing the astounding beauty of nature in the light of the following lines:
“It was so warm, so bright! The birds were chirping at the edge of the woods… It was all much more tempting than the rule for participles…”
Ans. Our touch with nature makes the whole world kin. Matthew Arnold has rightly said that:
“Nature, with equal mind,
sees all her sons at play,
sees man control the wind,
the wind sweep man away.”
Nature’s working is mysterious. It is an astonishingly fabricated universe. Man has, undoubtedly, progressed a lot. Scientific advancement has explored the portals of every field. The hidden realities have been exposed. But science has not unearthed the mysterious traits of nature. It is also an acceptable fact that nature gives happiness to weary minds. It soothes and consoles the troubled souls. It banishes anxiety, tension, worry, fear and dejection. Its law is to please every beholder. The aesthetic pleasure we derive from Nature is incredible and cannot be expressed in words. Keats has rightly averred that ‘A thing of beauty is a joy forever!’ Lord Byron has said:
“There is a pleasure in the pathless wood,
there is a rapture on the lonely shore,
there is a society where none intrudes, ‘
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less but nature more.”
Nature is our mother. It must be obeyed. It gives us moral lessons. All the seers and intellectuals have understood the significance of nature. “Nature goes on her own way, and all that to us seems an exception is really according to order.” It fascinates those who are indifferent to life. The boring scientific explorations and linguistic principles make our life insignificant. We are becoming devoid of emotions. But nature evokes sentiments and help us to become sensitive.
Question 5. Teachers can act as trailblazers in the lives of pupils. They can affect eternity. But the advancement of technology has changed the role of a teacher. Write an article on the para¬digm shift in educational technology and the role of teachers.
Ans: Technology and Teachers
It goes without saying that teachers shape the destiny of children. They mould them according to their inbred potential and considerable talent. Dronacharya taught his pupils together. But he could not make everyone so skilled in using the bow and arrow as Aijuna. He identified his latent talent and tapped the same potential. In modem education system teachers don’t have much time to study the child. Children stay in the school campus for six hours a day and study various subjects from teachers. At times it happens that the subject teachers do not remember the names of students. They use PITs, projectors and computers to make their lectures interesting. They lack any kind of emotional attachment with the pupils. It has happened because of the innovative educational tools and aids. Teachers are given softwares to teach students. The teaching community has made students information seekers. The role of a teacher has undergone a sea change. A teacher has become a facilitator. He has no right to scold and punish the child. The dictum ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ has become obsolete and outdated. A teacher has to understand the psychology of a child in a period of thirty minutes. The role of a teacher is a mystery in today’s era.