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’The last lesson’ written by Alphonse Daudet narrates about the year 1870 when the Prussian forces under Bismarck attacked and captured France. The French districts of Alsace and Lorraine went into Prussian hands. The new Prussian rulers discontinued the teaching of French in the schools of these two districts The French teachers were asked to leave. Now M. Hamel could no longer stay in his school. Still he gave lesson to his students with utmost devotion and sincerity as ever. One such student of M. Hamel, Franz who dreaded French class and M. Hamel’s iron rod, came to the school that day thinking he would be punished as he had not learnt his lesson on participles. But on reaching school he found Hamel dressed in his fine Sunday clothes and the old people of the village sitting quietly on the back benches. It was due to an order from Berlin. That was the first day when he realized for the first time that how important French was for him, but it was his last lesson in French. The story depicts the pathos of the whole situation about how people feel when they don’t learn their own language. It tells us about the significance of one’s language in one’s life for the very existence of a race and how important it is to safeguard it.
I – Sometimes I find a rupee in the garbage. The first part tells the writer’s impressions about the life of the poor rag pickers. The rag pickers have migrated from Dhaka and found a settlement in Seemapuri. Their fields and homes had been swept away by storms. They had come to the big city to find a living. They are poor. The writer watches Saheb every morning scrounging for “gold” in her neighbourhood. Garbage is a means of survival for the elders and for the children it is something wrapped in wonder. The children come across a coin or two from it. These people have desires and ambitions, but they do not know the way to achieve them. There are quite a few things that are unreachable to them, namely shoes, tennis and the like. Later Saheb joins a tea stall where he could earn 800 Rupees and all the meals. The job has taken away his freedom.
II – I want to drive a car.The second part deals with the life of Mukesh, who belongs to the family of Bangle-makers. Firozabad is best known for its glass-blowing industry. Nearly 20,000 children are engaged in this business and the law that forbids child labour is not known here. The living condition and the working environment is a woeful tale. Life in dingy cells and working close to hot furnaces make these children blind when they step into the adulthood. Weighed down by the debt, they can neither think nor find a way to come of out of this trap. The politicians, middlemen, policemen and bureaucrats will all obstruct their way of progress. The women in the household consider it as their fate and just follow the tradition. Mukesh is different from the rest of the folk there. He dreams to become a motor mechanic. The garage is far away from his house but he shall walk. comes across Mukesh in Firozabad.
In this story, Douglas talks about his fear of water and how he finally overcomes it with strong will Power, courage, hard work and firm determination. Once he took courage, the fear vanished. That Shows most of our fears are baseless. Fear creates dangers where there is none. The writer’s Experiences further confirm the proverbial truth, “Where there is a will, there is a way.”
The story is about an old disheartened peddler who is taken in and shown generosity by a young woman. Her generosity and kindness change his bitter attitude towards life. The peddler is a man who has fallen upon misfortune and now resorts to selling rattraps, begging, and thievery. He is very pessimistic about the world around him and sees the world as merely a “rat trap”. He believes that society tempts us with riches and fine things, and when we accept, we are caught in the trap and are left with nothing.The story conveys a universal message that the essential goodness in a human being can be awakened through love, respect, kindness and understanding. It highlights the human predicament. Material benefits are the traps that most human beings are prone to fall into. Human beings do have a tendency to redeem themselves from dishonest ways as does the peddler at the end of the story.
In this story, Louis describes Gandhi’s struggle for the poor peasants of Champaran who were the sharecroppers with the British planters. They led a miserable life and were forced to grow indigo according to an agreement. They suffered a great injustice due to the landlord system in Bihar. Gandhi waged a war for about a year against their atrocities and brought justice to the poor peasants.
- Derry: a boy of 14 with a burnt face, looks ugly, loner, pessimistic, suffered from severe negative complexes, anger and frustration, withdrawn and introverted, low confidence, indulged in self pity, suspicious of the intent of other
- Mr. Lamb: an Old man with a tin leg, lonely, craved for company and acceptance, jovial, optimistic, lover of nature, social, outgoing, tolerant, helpful, sensitive, independent, didn’t mind children calling him Lamely Lamb or picking the Crab apples.
- Derry’s mother
- James Roderick Evans: a prisoner
- Secretary of the Examination Board: a higher official of the examination board
- Governor: the governor of H.M. Prison, Oxford.
- Mr. Jackson: a prison officer
- Mr. Stephens: a prison officer
- Reverend Stuart McLeery: an invigilator
- Mr. Carter: a detective superintendent
- Mr. Bell: a detective chief inspector
The theme of this story is adolescent fantasizing and hero worship. It is quite natural for teenagers to have unrealistic dreams especially when their families are not well off. It is because of the fact that the socioeconomic background plays a leading role in the lives of the youths for choosing a particular profession. The act of fantasizing may lead to miseries in case it is beyond our approach. It is useless to build castles in the air.
One last Friday morning, the poetess was driving from her parents’ home to the Cochin airport. Her mother was sitting beside her in the car. She suddenly had a look at her mother. She found that her mother was dozing with her open mouth. Her face was as pale as that of a corpse. The poet painfully realized that her mother is not going to live long. This painful thought haunted her. But soon she tried to put it off by looking out of the car window. She saw the young trees running past them. She looked at the merry children coming out of their homes. As she saw life and vitality in the outside world, the painful thought passed away from her mind.
After reaching the airport, she went through the security check. Her mother was standing outside a few yards away. After the security check, she looked at her mother again. Her face was pale white like a late winter’s moon. She felt the old familiar ache of childhood in her heart which is usually felt by a child due to the fear of separation from his/ her mother. But she contained herself and kept on smiling in order to conceal her emotions. She spoke no word to her mother. All that she said was, “See you soon, Amma” and bade good bye to her mother with a hope to see her again.
In this poem, Stephen Spender deals with the theme of social injustice and class inequalities. He presents the theme by talking of two different and incompatible worlds. The world of the rich and the civilized has nothing to do with the world of narrow lanes and cramped holes. The gap between these two worlds highlights social disparities and class inequalities.
It is basically an anti-war poem. The poet is deeply concerned about violence, cruelty to animals and plight of manual workers. The poet offers a very simple solution to many of our social, political and religious problems. The solution is self-introspection. If it is acted upon, it will be the first major step towards uniting people. The second step is that everyone should look within and analyse what is wrong and who is the wrong doer. This will cleanse every heart and ennoble all people.
The poem is based on a Greek legend in which Endymion a handsome young shepherd and poet who lived on Mount Latmos, had a vision of Cynthia, the moon goddess. The enchanted youth resolved to seek her out and so wandered away through the forest and down under the sea.
Beauty is a heavenly tonic/drink – an endless fountain of nectar. This beauty comes in different forms– a tale, a poem, a play, a lovely object of nature or the heavenly bodies. It soothes our spirits and gives us good health, sound sleep and mental peace. It removes sadness from our lives and gives an everlasting joy.
Adrienne Rich was brought up in a well off family. Rich felt dominated by her father’s strong personality while growing up. It was he who most guided her as a young poet. This wasn’t always to her liking as he expected her to write her poems his way. When Rich was growing up men dominated and women were expected to become dutiful wives in their adult lives. All these elements may have influenced the picture of marriage Rich drew in this poem. At the heart of the poem is an image of a husband who controls and frightens his wife. Rich wrote a lot of poems based on everyday experience. One topic she often featured was the tension, women felt due to being dominated by their husbands. In ‘Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers’ Rich is mocking the weakness of Aunt Jennifer and the clout and authority of Jennifer’s husband in their marriage.
The chapter contains two extracts from two different autobiographical episodes from the lives of two women – Zitkala Sa and Bama. Both are victims of social discriminations. Zitkala Sa is the victim of racial discrimination whereas Bama is the victim of caste discriminations. In both the extracts, the writers look back on their childhood and reflect on their relationship with mainstream culture which illtreated them when they were child. But both the accounts are not simple narratives of oppression. Rather they reveal how oppression was resisted by both the narrators in their own ways. Zitkala-Sa and Bama were very young but not so young that they would not understand the evil scheme of the mainstream culture. The injustice of their society did not escape their notice also. Their bitter childhood experience sowed the seeds of rebellion in them earlier on.Both the accounts are based in two distant cultures. The first is that of Native Americans and the second is that of the Tamil Dalits. But the commonality that brings them closer is the fact that in both cases, the mainstream culture marginalized the underprivileged section of that society. This gave rise to the conflict between the mainstream culture and the marginalized community, which is exquisitely showcased in ‘Memories of Childhood’.
Little children love to hear stories from their parents at bedtime. Such stories are mostly fables and have no logic behind them. Many a time, parents make up stories out of their own head. Little children take them as literally true. But as the child grows up, he becomes inquisitive. He begins to ask many questions. He wants to know why and how certain things happen. He wants to know the reason behind things. Sometimes parents take this questioning of the child as an affront. They try to discourage it.They want the child to accept as true whatever is said to him. Is such an attitude desirable? This story poses this very question. A father tells his child a story out of his head. The child interrupts him a number of times. She raises questions whenever she feels that the story is wrong. The father feels himself caught in an ugly middle position. He does not know whether he should accept the child’s version or stick to his own. Thus the story raises a moral issue and leaves it to the reader to resolve it.
The Invisible Man is the story of a gifted young university student who invented a new formula to become invisible. He became invisible but made two mistakes. He did not inform anyone about the formula and without inventing the reverse process, he applied on himself.
He had to face many problems in London as it became difficult for him to get food, clothing and shelter. He came to Iping as he wanted to do research to find out the reverse formula. But his strange appearance and odd behavior made the people of Iping suspicious. As his money came to an end, he stole from the house of the Vicars.
He was cornered many times but he managed to escape by taking off his clothes. He met his fellow scientist Dr. Kemp at Burdock who betrayed him. He called Dr. Kemp a traitor and tried to kill him. Finally, he was killed by the people on the road.