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Packing Summary in English by Jerome K. Jerome
Packing by Jerome K. Jerome About the Author
Jerome K Jerome (1859-1927) is a British writer of the Victorian period, best known for his comic novels. Although he faced difficult circumstances and poverty in early life, Jerome developed a passion for literature, politics, and the theatre. He began his writing career in 1885, when he published a memoir about his time working for a low-budget theatre troupe. He then began to publish comic essays in a magazine called Home Chimes. Although Three Men in a Boat was poorly received by critics, it became immensely popular among readers of all social classes. Jerome published a sequel called Three Men on the Bummel in 1898.
|Author Name||Jerome K. Jerome|
|Born||2 May 1859, Caldmore, United Kingdom|
|Died||14 June 1927, Northampton General Hospital, Northampton, United Kingdom|
|Full name||Jerome Klapka Jerome|
|Education||St Marylebone Grammar School|
|Books||Three Men in a Boat, Three Men on the Bummel, Told After Supper|
Packing Introduction to the Chapter
The extract Packing from Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog), published in 1889, is Jerome’s most famous and enduring work. Initially intended to be a serious travel guide, the novel with its deceptively simple story of three friends—J, George, and Harris—on a boating holiday on the River Thames between Kingston and Oxford, has been hailed as a classic work of comedy. For these three men on a relaxing holiday, rowing and sailing upstream, seeing the sights, and camping in the boat, anything that can go wrong, does.
On the periphery, there is also the dog Montmorency, a thoroughly anarchic figure whose practical solution to their difficulties usually consists of getting out of the way until all the fuss dies down. This extract is a humorous account of the confusion and mess created by the three friends (and their dog Montmorency) who are inexperienced in the art of packing and have little knowledge about working in an organised manner. Hence, to the great amusement of the reader, the small job of packing is carried out by them with many mishaps.
Packing Summary in English
Three friends—Jerome (the narrator), Harris and George—decided to sail down the Thames. And to set out on their expedition, they had to get on with the important task of packing stuff for it. The narrator volunteered for the task as he believed he was especially good at packing. Harris and George agreed “with a readiness that had something uncanny about it,” meaning the narrator felt something was not quite right. The narrator had of course meant he’d supervise and guide his friends while they packed. However, his friends took his advice seriously and to his great shock, watched him from comfortably lounging positions as he packed. The narrator, though irritated with his friends for sitting about doing nothing when he was working, straight away got busy with packing. The packing took a long time—longer than the narrator had thought it would be; but he finished it at last, and he strapped the bag.
Both his friends had watched him quietly as he packed and it was only when he was done with packing, that Harris asked the narrator if he wasn’t going to pack his boots. The bag had to be reopened again to pack the boots in. The irritated narrator had barely finished packing the boots when he was reminded of his toothbrush. Unsure about having packed his toothbrush, the narrator emptied the bag and hunted through all its contents to locate the brush. Of course every item in the bag had to be turned out, but although he found the toothbrushes of George and Harris, he couldn’t find his own. He rummaged through the bag, till he found it inside a boot. Then the bag was repacked once more.
This time the query came from George who wanted to know whether the soap had been packed. The narrator was so irritated by this time that he did not care a hang whether the soap was in or whether it wasn’t; and he slammed shut the bag and strapped it. That was when he found that he had packed his spectacles too and had to re-open the bag. Eventually, it was past ten when the packing was finally done.
After the expertise displayed by the narrator to pack the bag, George and Harris decided to pack the hampers themselves and show the narrator the real art of packing. However, they were equally clumsy and broke a cup at the very outset. Then Harris packed the strawberry jam on top of a tomato and the squashed tomato had to be picked out with a teaspoon. And as the narrator sat on the edge of the table and watched, they trod on the butter and smashed the pies by putting heavy things on them. Meanwhile, salt flew all over while they packed. After peeling the butter off George’s slipper, they tried unsuccessfully to squeeze it into the kettle. They finally scraped it out and put it down on the chair. Harris sat on it and the butter stuck to him while both of them went about searching for it all over the room. George spotted it behind Harris’s back and it was packed in the teapot.
Montmorency, their pet dog, got in everyone’s way and was sworn at. He came and sat down on things, just when they were being packed, climbed into the jam, scattered the teaspoons and crushed lemons as though they were rats, Harris was so angry that he tried to hit him with a frying pan.
Finally, by 12.50 at night, the packing was done. This was followed by a discussion on the “wake up’ time but George, who was to wake everyone up, was so tired that he slept off even before the time was decided upon.
The narrator and Harris decided that 6.30 in morning would be the right time to get up and then they too went off to sleep.
In the given extract Packing from Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) the narrator, Jerome, and his two friends, George and Harris, pack for their planned sailing expedition on the Thames. Although all three of them think they are experts in the art of packing, they end up creating total confusion. The narrator, who believes he is an exceptionally efficient packer, volunteers to pack the clothes. However, he keeps forgetting items, and then has to unpack the stuff in order to fit them in. Harris and George watch him pack with great amusement, and when he finally finishes packing the bag, volunteer to pack the food hampers. They are no better at it they constantly forget items, squash the pies and Harris steps in the butter. Throughout it all, they keep tripping over Montmorency, who creates further confusion. After some bickering, and a lot of confusion and blaming each other, they finish packing their bag and the hampers. Thus the title Packing is appropriate.
The novel Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) from which thie given extract Packing has been taken is set in England in the 19 Century. In the present extract, the three friends – the narrator, Jerome, George and Harris – are packing for their trip on the Thames. They are in the house shared by the narrator and George. Harris is to spend the night with them as the plan to set out early next morning.
Packing is based on the theme that routine tasks are not as easy as they are thought to be. Moreover, even a task as mundane as packing requires meticulous planning and foresight. Otherwise the results may be disastrous.
As the three friends, Jerome, George and Harris, pack for their river trip the task takes longer and is made more complex by the chaotic methods of the packers. The narrator, who packs all their clothing discovers when he is done, that he has forgotten to put the boots in. He also can’t remember if he packed his own toothbrush. So he has to rummage through the bag to make sure. He eventually finds it in one of the boots.
Harris and George pack the food and cooking utensils into two hampers. It takes them two hours. They break a cup, put heavy items on top of things that can get squashed – like a tomato and pies – and then have to clean the resulting mess out of the hamper. Harris sits on the butter and it sticks to him, and the two men have a difficult time finding it again. Montmorency, the dog, gets involved by putting his leg into the jam. Thus, the writer emphasises the need for planning and foresight even in mundane tasks like packing for a journey.
The lesson Packing conveys the message, albeit humorously, that even a task as mundane as packing should not be taken lightly. It requires planning, concentration and deftness otherwise the results are disastrous as well as time-consuming.
The Narrator, Jerome
Jerome, the narrator of the story, is the one who narrates the happenings from his point of view. The narrator is overconfident and rates his packing skills a bit too high. He volunteers to pack their personal belongings as he prides himself on his packing. As he says, “Packing is one of those many things that I feel I know more about than any other person living.”
He is also arrogant and expects to sit back as boss as his friends carry out the tedious part of packing. He imagines sitting back and passing orders as Harris and George pottered about under his direction, “really teaching them, as you might say”. His friends, however, do not take him seriously and finally he has to struggle while trying to pack the bag by himself, as his friends lounge about offering suggestions.
Jerome is both clumsy and forgetful. He first forgets to pack the shoes and then can’t recall if he has put in his toothbrush or not. He unpacks the bag twice clumsily to accommodate the missing items. ‘
The narrator also comes across as a person with a good sense of humour. Though he boasts about his skills of packing, he also recounts the way he packs, which is disorganised and chaotic. He has to pack and repack the bag as he forgets, or cannot find, various items – including his boots and his toothbrush. He also portrays his two friends in a humorous light. They all come across as somewhat lazy and awkward which gives rise to most of the comedy.
When his friends fumble while packing the hamper, he sits at the edge of the table and watches them because now it is his turn to have fun at their expense. However, he is a carefree person and ignores the clumsiness of his friends in the same way as he ignores his own.
George and Harris
George and Harris are the friends of the narrator, Jerome. As they start packing, they, like their friend Jerome, are very sure of their prowess as packers. Both start packing cheerfully wanting to show the narrator how to go about the task. However, according to narrator they are the worst packers in the world. That they are rather incompetent we realise as they get to packing the food hampers. They begin by breaking a cup. Harris packs the strawberry jam on top of a tomato and squashed it. George steps on the butter, Harris sits on it. They pack the pies at the bottom and squash them by putting heavy objects over them.
When the narrator comes over and quietly sits on the edge of the table, this irritates them as narrator had known it would. It makes them nervous and excited. They are even more clumsy and aren’t able to find what they want. However, like the narrator, the two men are carefree and good-natured. In spite of making fools of themselves, while packing for the trip, they don’t criticise or blame each other and ignore each others’ mistakes.
Montmorency is the pet dog of the three friends – Jerome, George and Harris. He is a well-loved pet and, therefore, knows no restraints. He is a high-spirited animal and instinctively rushes to probe everything, and in doing so creates a nuisance for his masters.
Montmorency had a tendency to get underfoot and be more of a general hindrance than of any help. He disrupts the packing in umpteen ways because he would like to be a part of all the activities going on in. He doesn’t mind being shouted at and does not even respond when they try to move him away from the packed stuff. In fact, no amount of scolding can dampen his enthusiasm.
He may be ill-trained, temperamental, destructive and meddlesome but he is loved as much by the readers as much as by his masters. His presence in the story makes it more interesting and amusing.
Packing Summary Questions and Answers
How many characters are there in the narrative? Name them.
Jerome, George and Harris are the three human characters in the narrative. Jerome is the narrator of the story. Their pet dog, Montmorency too is an important character, who participates as enthusiastically in the packing as his masters.
Why did the narrator have to pack for the journey?
As soon as the narrator offered to pack for the journey, his two friends, George and Harris accepted the offer with readiness and sat back to let him do it all. He had expected his friends would work under his guidance and directions rather than doing the task himself.
Why did the narrator volunteer to do the packing?
Jerome, the narrator, prided himself in his packing skills. He wanted to show off his skills to his friends so he volunteered to do the packing. However, he had expected that his friends would work under his guidance and directions. He expected that under his guidance even poor packers like Harris and George could accomplish this task with great efficiency.
The narrator took pride in his packing skills. Comment.
The narrator felt that packing was one of those things that he felt he knew more about than any other person living. This made him develop a sense of superiority about his ability as the best packer and he took pride in his packing skills. However, he was disorganised and bungling. First, he forgot to pack the boots and had to reopen the bag. Then, his frantic search for his toothbrush resulted in a complete mess. Later, he had to reopen the bag to take out his spectacles.
How did George and Harris react to Jerome’s offer to do the packing? Did Jerome like their reaction?
George and Harris, who were rather lazy, agreed readily to Jerome’s offer to do the packing because both – took it as an opportunity to sit back and relax while someone else did the work. George sprawled over the easy-chair while Harris cocked his legs on the table. Jerome did not at all like this reaction because he had actually wanted to supervise and instruct them on how to do the packing instead of doing it himself.
What did Harris and George do while Jerome was packing the bag? How did Jerome react to their behaviour?
When Jerome told George and Harris to leave the job of packing to him, they accepted his suggestion at once. They settled themselves comfortably, George on the easy-chair and Harris with his legs on the table and watched Jerome packing the bag all by himself. As they watched, they smoked and found faults with Jerome’s packing and also made fun of him. They made him reopen the packing by inquiring about items he had forgotten to pack. All this irritated Jerome.
When he offered to pack Jerome’s real intention was not to do the packing himself. Elaborate.
Jerome’s real intention was not to pack himself but to make his friends George and Harris work under his directions and supervision. He would guide and direct and, pushing them aside every now and then, showing them the right way of packing things in – really teaching them, as you might say.
What kind of a man did the narrator once live with?
The narrator lived with a man once who used to annoy him. He would loll on the sofa and watch the narrator doing things by the hour together. He said it did him real good to look on at the narrator, messing about.
“I lived with a man once who used to make me mad that way.” How did he do that?
The man, with whom the narrator once stayed drove him mad by lolling on the sofa and watching him constantly as he went about messing the tasks at hand. The man said he really enjoyed that sight and felt good.
‘Now, I’m not like that.’ What does the narrator intend to convey by this statement?
By this statement, the narrator intends to convey his dislike for sitting idle and watching someone else work hard, like the man he lived with did. He preferrs to walk around and supervise work in his natural energetic way. However, this actually means that he, too, was not interested in toiling but liked to boss over others.