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The Last Lesson NCERT Solutions for Class 12 English Flamingo Chapter 1
The Last Lesson NCERT Text Book Questions and Answers
The Last Lesson Think as you read
What was Franz expected to be prepared with, for school that day?
M Hamel, who was Franz’s French teacher, had wanted the students to be prepared for a lesson on participles, in grammar.
What did Franz notice that was unusual about the school that day?
Franz noticed that the school was unusually quiet. Usually, there was a great commotion of the opening and closing of desks, of lessons repeated in unison, and the teacher’s huge ruler rapping on the table. But on that particular day school was as quiet as on a Sunday morning.
What had been put up on the bulletin-board?
The bulletin board displayed the news that an order had come from Berlin to teach only German in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine. The teaching of the French language was discouraged and had to be discontinued. The French districts of Alsace and Lorraine had been taken over by the Prussians and the ban on French language came about as a result.
What changes did the order from Berlin cause in school that day?
The day the order came from Berlin, an uncanny silence hung about in the air in school. The students got new copies with “France. Alsace” written on them, and received their last lesson in French. These copies looked like little flags floating every where in the school room. This was in contrast to the usual scene when the school would be buzzing with activity. That day, everyone was working very quietly. The only sound that was heard was of the scratching of pens on paper.
How did Franz’s feelings about M Hamel and the school change?
Franz felt sorry for not learning his French lessons when he realized that he was to receive his last lesson in French that day. His books, that had seemed such a bother a while back, seemed precious to him and he felt he could not give them up. He had disliked his teacher, M Hamel, previously, but he felt sad on that day at the thought of his leaving.
The Last Lesson Understanding the text
The people in this story suddenly realise how precious their language is to them. What illustrates this? Why does this happen?
In the story, the people of Alsace and Lorraine receive an order from Berlin that only German was to be taught in the schools from that day. They realized the value of their language when they were faced with the command to give it up completely. The usual noisy scene at the school was replaced by the quietness of a Sunday church.
The earnestness of the students was evident from the fact that each one set to work very quietly. The only sound in the class was the scratching of pens on paper. Even the village people came and sat quietly in the class, like students. Everybody looked sad. M Hamel, the French teacher, evoked a feeling of regret in the students. Franz regretted not having listened carefully during his lessons.
M Hamel, who felt heartbroken at the thought of leaving, explained everything with a rare lucidity and with patience. It seemed almost as if he wanted to share all his learning before going away.
Franz thinks, “Will they make them sing in German, even the pigeons?” What could this mean?
(There could be more than one answer.)
- When Franz wondered whether they would even make the pigeons sing in German, he uses it as a metaphor to mean that the French language was as natural to them as cooing was to the pigeons. Robbing them of their right to speak in their own tongue and forcing the German language on them would call for unnatural practice.
- It is difficult for people to accept a language which is imposed on them. French was their mother tongue and they were comfortable using it as their own. It would not be easy to switch to a different language.
The Last Lesson Talking about the text
“When a people are enslaved, as long as they 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 race of people had their language taken away from them or had a language imposed on them?
During colonisation, colonisers usually imposed their language on the colonised people, forbidding natives to speak in their mother tongue. Many writers, educated while their countries were under colonisation, recount how students were demoted, humiliated, or even beaten for speaking in their native language in colonial schools.
(a) The Germanic tribes (Anglos, Saxons) over the course of six centuries, conquered the native Brythonic people of what is now England and south-east Scotland, and imposed their culture and language upon them.
(b) When Puerto Rico came to be the territory of the United States, as a consequence of the Spanish-American War, its population at that point consisted almost entirely of Spanish and people of mixed Afro-Caribbean Spanish descent. Though they retained the Spanish language, bequeathed to them as the mother tongue, the Americans imposed English as the co-official language.
(c) Written in the Latin alphabet, Estonian is the language of the Estonian people and the official language of the country. The oldest known examples of written Estonian originate in the thirteenth century chronicles. During the Soviet era, Russian was imposed upon Estonians as the language to be used for official purpose.
(d) The conquests of territories by Napoleon led to an imposition of the French language on the people of the conquered areas as the official language in the entire territory’. As the influence of French (and in the Channel Islands, English) spread among sectors of provincial populations, cultural movements arose to study and standardise the vernacular languages.
(e) A language was imposed more than 500 years ago on the indigenous people of Brazil by their conquerors. The native language has made a comeback in recent years.
(f) As a literary language, Venetian was overshadowed by the Tuscan ‘dialect’ and by the French languages. After the demise of the Republic, Venetian gradually ceased to be used for administrative purposes; and when Italy was unified in the nineteenth century the Tuscan language was imposed as the national language of Italy. Since that time, Venetian, deprived of any official status, has steadily lost ground to Italian. At present, virtually all its speakers are bilingual and use Venetian only in an informal context.
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
Preserving Language Preserves Identity!
Language is an important marker of identity. Even while speaking the same language, social groups differentiate themselves by the way they talk. Thus, language offers a way of stating resistance to cultural uniformity. A native language goes beyond simple differentiation.
It represents a whole cultural history. Most people recognise the importance and value of indigenous culture and linguistic tradition and thus create opportunities where the languages can be used for a wider range of purposes than simply conversing with grandparents.
First, they often form social clubs and publish their own newsletters that bind them together. They encourage popular entertainment through their mother tongue. They encourage viewing of TV programmes and movies that are subtitled in their mother tongue. They often assume an active role in language and cultural preservation.
Although children of minorities are no longer subjected to corporal punishment for using their home language, they are often the target of other, more subtle forms of rejection and ostracism. Thus, these children begin ignoring their native language. Often, overt put- downs come from peer groups belonging to other linguistic belts. To prevent this, elders of the community try to send children where there are others like them who show greater respect and appreciation for their culture.
However, we must all contribute to keeping native languages alive. To do this, it is essential to practise communicating in it. If the use of a language is declining, it is necessary to identify special occasions and designate special times and places to use the language. The community must provide direction, but unless the school system participates in the effort, it may lack credibility in the eyes of the youth.
Is it possible to carry pride in one’s language too far? Do you know what ‘linguistic chauvinism’ means?
‘Linguistic chauvinism’ means an unreasonable, overenthusiastic and aggressively loyal attitude towards one’s own language. Language is much more than a means of communication it is a vehicle to propagate one’s own culture and customs, etc. Hence, its importance is immeasurable. But, in an era of globalisation, one needs to have a more practical and realistic view of the situation.
For example, BPO and IT industries today employ people who are conversant with the English language. The salary differences between equally qualified persons who can and cannot speak English can be as high as 400 to 500 per cent. In fact, the best jobs with the upmarket sectors are reserved for those who can speak English.
Consequently, there is already a serious shortage of employable human resources in the service sector. The Chinese are hiring football stadiums to teach the English language and enhance employment opportunities. In India, language chauvinism bars a frank discussion or an acknowledgement that English is now the global language of commerce.
In his Independence Day address in August 2004, President APJ Abdul Kalam talked about the need to achieve 100 per cent literacy. The bigger challenge in the coming years will be to adapt our school and college curriculum to meet the demands of a changing society, job market, and individual aspirations. This signifies the inclusion of language skills.
The Last Lesson Working with words
English is a language that contains words from many other languages. This inclusiveness is one of the reasons it is now a “world language”. For example:
petite – French
kindergarten – German
capital – Latin
democracy – Greek
bazaar – Hindi
Find out the origins of the following words:
Tycoon – It is borrowed from the Japanese word taikun, meaning ‘great lord’.
Barbecue – It is borrowed from the Spanish barbacoa, a framework used for storing meat or fish that was to be dried or smoked. It was also used to mean a framework on which one could sleep. The Spanish word came from the Arawak barbacoa, meaning ‘a framework of sticks on posts’ referring to the framework of such a structure.
Zero – The word zero comes through the Arabic literal translation of the Sanskrit shunya meaning void or empty, into cifr meaning empty or vacant. Through transliteration, this became zephyr or zephyrus in Latin. The word zephyrus already meant ‘west wind’ in Latin; the proper noun Zephyrus was the Roman god of the West Wind (after the Greek god Zephyros). With its new use for the concept of zero, zephyr came to mean a light
breeze – an almost nothing.
Tulip – The word originated in Turkey. It was derived from dulband which meant turban and somewhat described the shape of the flower.
Veranda – The word originated in India where it is found in several native languages. However, it may have been an adaptation of the Portuguese and Spanish word baranda referring to a railing, balustrade, or balcony.
Ski – The word ‘ski’ (pronounced ‘shee’ in Norwegian) is derived from the old Norsk word skith meaning to split a piece of firewood.
Logo – A logo (from the Greek word logotipos) is a graphic element, symbol, or icon of a trademark or brand and together with its logotype, set in a unique typeface or arranged in a particular way.
Robot – Robot comes from the Czech word robot, which means worker.
Trek – It is borrowed from the Dutch word trekken which means to draw, pull, or travel.
Bandicoot – Bandicoot, a large rat, derives its name from Pandhikoku in Telugu, which meant pig-like.
Notice the underlined words in these sentences and tick the option that best explains their meaning.
(a) “What a thunderclap these words were to me!”
The words were
(i) loud and clear.
(ii) startling and unexpected.
(iii) pleasant and welcome.
(iv) startling and unexpected.
(b) “When a people are enslaved, as long as they hold fast to their language it is as if they had the key to their prison.”
It is as if they had the key to the prison as long as they
(i) do not lose their language.
(ii) are attached to their language.
(iii) quickly learn the conqueror’s language.
(iv) do not lose their language.
(c) Don’t go so fast, you will get to your school in plenty of time. You will get to your school
(i) very late.
(ii) too early.
(iii) early enough.
(iv) early enough.
(d) I never saw him look so tall.
(i) had grown physically taller.
(ii) seemed very confident.
(iii) stood on the chair.
(ii) seemed very confident
The Last Lesson Extra Questions and Answers
The Last Lesson Short Answer Questions
Why was Franz unhappy as he set out for school?
Franz was unhappy chiefly for two reasons. He had started very late for school that morning and expected his teacher to reprimand him for running late. Secondly, he had not learnt his lesson on participles and was afraid his teacher, M Hamel, would punish him.
What little details does Franz notice as he walks to school? Why was he reluctant to go to school that day?
On Franz’s way to school, he observed how the weather was warm and bright, and the birds chirped melodiously. At a distance, Franz noticed the Prussian soldiers drilling. But soon, his attention was arrested by a crowd in front of the bulletin board. He was afraid of being hauled up by his teacher for not having learnt his French lessons and was reluctant to go to school.
What was the announcement on the bulletin board? When did Franz learn the contents of the announcement?
The bulletin board contained the unfortunate announcement that the French districts of Alsace and Lorraine had been conquered by the Prussians. Consequently, the notice carried an order to teach only German in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine. He learnt of the announcement when he reached school.
When Franz reached school that day he found the sight very unusual. Why?
When Franz reached school that day he found an uncanny calm, unlike usual days when there was a din of the opening and closing of desks, of lessons repeated in unison, and the teacher’s ruler rapping on the table.
What were the unfamiliar sights that Franz noticed as he entered the classroom?
Unlike the usual chaotic scene, Franz noticed that his classmates were seated in their places. There was an unusual calm and quiet. He noticed his teacher, M Hamel dressed in his Sunday best. The back benches that were usually empty were occupied by villagers sitting quietly. He was also surprised that M Hamel was quiet and took no note of Franz’s late arrival.
What does Monsieur Hamel reveal at the start of class?
M Hamel announced at the beginning of the class that it was to be their last lesson in French. He explained that there was an order from Berlin to teach only German in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine. It was therefore M Hamel’s last lesson, and he requested the students to be very attentive.
What were the evident changes in school after the order from Berlin?
There was an unnatural quiet in school that day. The students had new copies with “Vive La France!” written on them. The class was uncommonly filled up for M Hamel’s last lesson. The villagers turned up for the last class and sat quietly at the back. Everybody looked upset at having to let go of their French lessons.
Why were the villagers in the class that day?
After the announcement that German was to be taught in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine, the villagers came to school for the last French lesson. They regretted not having valued education previously. They also wanted to thank M Hamel for his forty years of faithful service to teaching. By attending the last lesson, it was their way of paying homage to their country that was no more theirs.
What did M Hamel say to Franz when he was unable to answer a question on participles?
When Franz could not recite the rules for the participle, he was scared of what M Hamel would say. But, much to his surprise, M Hamel did not scold him as usual. He expressed regret on Franz’s behalf for never getting the right opportunity to learn. He railed at parents for sending children to work instead of school. He also blamed himself for not doing his duty faithfully.
What did M Hamel say about the importance of language to the “enslaved” people?
M Hamel reiterated that French language was the most beautiful language in the world. He said it was the clearest and the most logical language, and even more importantly it was their own language. He felt they must guard and hold fast to their language as long as they could. He drew an analogy between their language and the key to their prison. Like the key, their language could liberate them.
What was the difference in teaching and learning after the order of the Government?
There was a yawning gap in the attitudes of the teacher and the taught after the order of the Government. Franz was amazed to see how well he understood his French lesson that day. Perhaps, it was because he had never listened so carefully or because M Hamel had never explained with so much patience. It seemed almost as if he wanted to give the students all he knew before going away.
How did Franz realize that announcement had left M Hamel heartbroken?
M Hamel seemed subdued and nostalgic as he neither scolded Franz when he arrived late in class, nor when he could not recite his lessons. He was reminded about his association with the class and looked sad. Hence, it seemed to Franz that he was heartbroken to leave.
The last moments with M Hamel were very emotional. What final words did M Hamel write on the board?
Hauser, one of the villagers, cried as he spelled the letters. His voice trembled with emotion as he spoke. At twelve, M Hamel stood up, choked with emotions. All he was able to do was write “Vive La France!” on the blackboard. He sagged back on the wall, and without a word signalled to them to go.
The Last Lesson Long Answer Questions
How did little Franz’s feelings alter before he left for school and on his way to school?
Before Franz set out for school he was in dread of a scolding, because he was late for school that morning. Moreover, he was scared to be tested on participles by his French teacher, M Hamel, for he was ill-prepared. Hence he thought of playing the truant and spending the day outdoors. As he walked about, the weather . was warm and bright. His spirits also lifted when he saw the Prussian soldiers drilling. He was a little apprehensive when he saw a crowd in front of the bulletin board as this sight usually spelt bad news. He resisted this desire and hurried off to school. The blacksmith teased him for being late to school. By the time he reached school he was out of breath.
What was the scene in the classroom that alarmed Franz?
There was an eerie silence unlike usual days when there was a savage din of the opening and closing of desks, of lessons repeated in unison, and the teacher’s huge ruler rapping on the table. His classmates were in their places and his teacher, M Hamel, was dressed formally. On entering, he was surprised to see the village people sitting quietly on the back benches. He noticed how everybody looked sad. He was further astonished when M Hamel announced in a grave and gentle tone that it was to be their last lesson in French. The order had come from Berlin to teach only German in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine from then on.
M Hamel’s reaction when Franz could not answer a question on participles was unlike what he had expected. Justify.
Franz had been reluctant to reach school as he had anticipated a scolding from his teacher. But much to his surprise when M Hamel noticed that Franz was mixed up on the basics; he did not scold him as usual. He said that Franz must be feeling bad himself. He added it was too late as they would never learn French in Alsace. Ironically, they were Frenchmen, who could neither speak nor write their own language.
M Hamel was also critical of their parents who put them to work on a farm or at the mills for a little more money rather than study. He also blamed himself for sending the students on errands instead of teaching them. He also regretted giving them a day off when he wanted to go fishing.
What was the impact of the announcement of the change on M Hamel?
The announcement shook M Hamel to his roots. He was kind to Franz and did not scold him for not learning his lessons. On the contrary, he blamed himself for not doing his duty faithfully. His formal attire reflected his serious attitude towards his work. He taught with passion and great patience. During the class, M Hamel sat motionless in his chair gazing as if he wanted to etch those last moments in his mind. It was evident that he was heartbroken to leave.
Discuss the last moments in the class on the last day of the French lesson.
The last moments of the French lesson were evocative of their freedom and their way of life coming to an end. Old Hauser sat at the back of the room wearing his spectacles and holding his primer in both hands. As he spelled the letters, he was crying. His voice trembled with emotion, so that all of them wanted to laugh and cry.
When the church clock struck twelve, the trumpets of the Prussians, returning from drill, were heard. M Hamel stood up, and could not go on with his speech. His voice was choked. All he could do was write on the board, as large as he could: “Vive La France!” He fell back against a wall, dejected and gestured to his , students, with his hand, to leave.
How does telling the story from young Franz’s point of view affect the reader’s reaction to the story? How does this point of view help build suspense at the start of the story?
Telling the story from young Franz’s point of view makes it particularly moving as it voices Franz’s childlike concerns. The fears and apprehensions of a child arrest the attention of the readers.
Franz’s anxiety of running into trouble with his teacher stirs the readers’ concern. One is worried about his % reception as he reaches his school late. Every moment, one wants to know what is in store for little Franz. After learning of the order from Berlin to teach only German in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine, the readers’ concerns increase.
The readers leam to love the French language as the most beautiful language and also share Franz’s childlike fascination with the new copies given by M Hamel. Franz’s concerns worry the readers; they keenly feel his disappointment of losing his French lessons.
The story helps one realize how precious one’s own language is. Justify.
With the announcement of the change in Government, the situation and people’s reaction was radically altered. The usual noisy scene at the school was replaced by the one which was as quiet as the Sunday church. The students’ earnestness was reflected in their enthusiasm for the last lesson. So much so that even the elderly village people came and sat quietly in the class like students.
Sadness was writ large on their faces. The students felt sorry for M Hamel as he was made to discontinue his French lessons. Franz regretted not having studied well. The students endeavoured to pay unwavering attention to their last lesson, even M Hamel taught with a rare lucidity and passion.
The Last Lesson Value Based Question
Young Franz grows up into a fine young lad. He recalls his “last lesson” with tenderness as it taught him the greatest lesson on patriotism. Write Franz’s feeling in the form of a diary entry.
I was like any other child, postponing duties and jobs with a perpetual feeling that there was plenty of time to do things. I felt going to school was a drudgery and studying, sheer boredom. But that day the most unexpected thing happened! We received an order from Berlin instructing compulsory education of German in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine. It was a crucial day when the realization dawned on all, young and old. The loss of language and the loss of freedom for France shook our being.
Our parents had preferred us working on the farms and mills instead of having us leam at school. We were in fact postponing the lessons of life, oblivious to the fact that life is subject to change. Our French teacher, M Hamel, taught us for the last time that day. The last lesson symbolized the changing order of life and its impact on the sensibilities and emotions of people. Our teacher taught us to hold firm to our love for our mother tongue, and consequently our sense of liberation. I remember the soldiers marching under the windows, representing the dawn of Prussia in France, the defeat of the French people and the resultant threat to their language and culture. We painfully realized the importance of all that we would be deprived of.
Our teacher ended the class by writing the bold message of “Long live France” on the blackboard, instilling in us an undying pride in our nation and language.