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The Last Lesson Summary in English by Alphonse Daudet
The Last Lesson by Alphonse Daudet About the Author
Alphonse Daudet (13 May 1840 – 16 December 1897) was a French short story writer and novelist. He is remembered chiefly as the author of sentimental tales of provincial life in the south of France. All his life he recorded his observations of other people in little notebooks, which he used as a reservoir of inspiration.
Daudet represents a synthesis of conflicting elements and his actual experience of life, at every social level and in the course of travels, helped to develop his natural gifts. His major works include ‘Tastain’, ‘Le Petit Chose’, ‘In the land of Pain’ and ‘The Last Lesson’.
|Author Name||Alphonse Daudet|
|Born||13 May 1840, Nimes, France|
|Died||16 December 1897, Paris, France|
|Movies||Letters from My Windmill, L’Arlésienne|
The Last Lesson Introduction to the Chapter
The story, ‘Lost Spring’.written by Anees Jung revolves around the pitiable condition of poor children who are forced to live in slums and work hard in very dirty conditions. The story is divided into two parts. The first part tells the writer’s impressions about the life of poor ragpickers, who have migrated from Bangladesh but are now settled in the Seemapuri area of Delhi. The second part narrates the miserable life of the bangle-makers in the town of Firozabad. The story talks about the miserable life of the two children whose spring/childhood is lost in misery and poverty.
The Last Lesson Theme
The chapter, ‘Lost Spring’ is divided into two parts, and both the parts depict the plight of street children, who are forced into labour in their early childhood. The theme of the chapter is poverty, and how the poor children are condemned to a life of exploitation, which results in the loss of childhood, innocence, education and play.
The Last Lesson Summary in English
‘Sometimes I find a Rupee in the garbage’
The author watches a ragpicker named Saheb who scrounges the garbage heaps for some coins and other things to sustain his living. Saheb and his family were Bangladeshi migrants. He is unable to study due to lack of schools in his neighbourhood.
There were a number of ragpickers like Saheb and all of them were barefoot. It was more of a tradition for ragpickers to remain barefoot. They used it as an excuse to conceal their poverty. They have no means to wear paper shoes, though they yearn to possess a pair.
Seemapuri in Delhi is a haven for ragpickers. The author feels that for children, garbage is a mysterious gift, whereas for the elders it is just a means of survival.
The author then comments on the discrepancy between Saheb’s desire and the reality. He yearns to be comfortably off, enjoy pleasures of childhood, play tennis and wear shoes. Later, Saheb starts working at a tea stall. He is paid 800 rupees and all the meals. But now, he is no longer a free bird and a master of his own self.
‘I want to drive a car’
In the second part, the author met a boy called Mukesh. Mukesh stays in Firozabad and belongs to a family of bangle-makers. Most of the families in Firozabad are engaged in making bangles. About 20,000 children work in the glass furnaces of Firozabad. They have to work in very unhealthy conditions. Mukesh takes the author to his dilapidated house, located in stinking lanes. Though Mukesh’s father works hard, he has been unable to change the deplorable condition of his family. Mukesh’s grandmother regards it as their destiny.
She says that they were born in the caste of bangle-makers and have seen nothing but bangles in their life. The author feels that the life of bangle-makers is a vicious cycle of pain and misery, of which there is no end.
The author sees a girl named Savita in another hutment. She says that she has not enjoyed even one full meal all her life. The author says that the cry of poverty rings in every home in Firozabad. These poor people are exploited by sahukars, policemen, middlemen, bureaucrats and politicians. The author feels happy that Mukesh had decided to go to a garage and learn the job of a motor mechanic. Dreaming of flying airplanes seems too distant and too big a dream for him. At least, being a mechanic will help him to be a master of his own. He would be able to remain independent unlike Saheb.
The Last Lesson Main Characters in the Chapter
- Saheb-e-Alam is a young boy from Seemapuri (Delhi-UP Border).
- He is a ragpicker.
- His parents came from Bangladesh during a famine there. In Seemapuri, they became ragpickers.
- Saheb and many other children like him in Seemapuri, help their parents earn for a living.
- These children do not wear chappals or shoes. Their parents do not encourage them to be hygienic.
- Saheb loves to attend school, watch tennis, wear shoes and do better work and earn more money.
- Suddenly, one day Saheb chose another job—he abandoned ragpicking and started working for a tea stall owner.
- He was paid ₹ 800 and all his meals were provided. Though he lost his freedom, he gained a better salary and security.
- Mukesh is from Firozabad (UP, near Agra).
- Everyone in Firozabad is a bangle-maker. People here believe that they have been asked to make bangles for the entire nation.
- They believe that bangles are associated with marriage (suhag), so bangle-making is a divine work.
- The elders do not allow their children to look for any work other than bangle-making.
- On the other hand, these blessed bangle-makers are not happy in their lives. They starve. They become blind due to exposure to welding flames.
- They want to do more profitable and less hazardous work, but they are discouraged from all sides.
- The police do not allow them to organise their own trade unions. If Firozabad boys dare to do anything, they are beaten and dragged to prisons.
- Mukesh wants to become a motor mechanic. Fie is determined and focussed.
The Last Lesson Summary Reference-to-Context Questions
Read the extracts given below and answer the questions that follow.
1. Set amidst the green fields of Dhaka, his home is not even a distant memory. There were many storms that swept away their fields and homes, his mother tells him. That’s why they left, looking for gold in the big city where he now lives.
a. Who is ‘his’ here?
Here, ‘his’ is Saheb.
b. What does his mother tell him?
His mother tells him that there were many storms that swept away their fields and homes.
c. Where did he live?
He lived amidst the green fields of Dhaka.
d. What is ‘gold’ referred to here?
Here, ‘gold’ is referred to the rags.
2. Wherever they find food, they pitch their tents that become transit homes. Children grow up in them, becoming partners in survival. And survival in Seemapuri means rag-picking. Through the years, it has acquired the proportions of a fine art.
a. Who are ‘they’ here?
Here, ‘they’ are the children who are rag-pickers.
b. What do they do when they find food?
When they find food, they pitch their tents that become transit homes.
c. What does survival mean in Seemapuri?
In Seemapuri, survival means rag-picking.
d. What has acquired the proportions of fine art?
Rag-picking has acquired the proportions of fine art, through the years.
3. Saheb, too, is wearing tennis shoes that look strange over his discoloured shirt and shorts. “Someone gave them to me,” he says in the manner of an explanation. The fact that they are discarded shoes of some rich boy, who perhaps refused to wear them because of a hole in one of them, does not bother him.
a. What is Saheh wearing?
Saheb is wearing tennis shoes.
b. Why are the shoes looking strange?
The shoes are looking strange because he has worn it over his discoloured shirt and shorts.
c. Why were the shoes discarded?
The shoes were discarded because it had a hole in one of them.
d. Why is Saheb not bothered about the hole in one of the shoes?
He is not bothered because he had been walking barefoot, so even shoes with a hole was a dream come true.
4. “I will learn to drive a car,” he answers, looking straight into my eyes. His dream looms like a mirage amidst the dust of streets that fill his town Firozabad, famous for its bangles. Every other family in Firozabad is engaged in making bangles. It is the centre of India’s glass-blowing industry where families have spent generations working around furnaces, welding glass, making bangles for all the women in the land it seems.
a. Who is ‘I’ here?
Here, ‘I’ is Mukesh.
b. Why does he want to drive a car?
He wants to drive a car because he wants to be a motor mechanic.
c. What is Firozabad famous for?
Firozabad is famous for its bangles.
d. Why is Firozabad the centre of India’s glass-blowing industry?
firozabad is the centre of India’s glass-blowing industry because families have spent generations working around the furnaces, welding glass, making bangles for all the women in the land.
5. Mukesh’s eyes beam as he volunteers to take me home, which he proudly says is being rebuilt. We walk down stinking lanes choked with garbage, past homes that remain hovels with crumbling walls, wobbly doors, no windows, crowded with families of humans and animals coexisting in a primeval state. He stops at the door of one such house, bangs a wobbly iron door with his foot, and pushes it open.
a. Whom does Mukesh volunteer?
Mukesh volunteers author to take him home.
b. Where are they walking?
They are walking down the stinking lanes which are choked with garbage.
c. Describe the condition of homes.
The homes have crumbling walls, wobbly doors, no windows and are crowded with families of humans and animals.
d. Where does Mukesh stop?
Mukesh stops at his own house and bangs a wobbly iron door with his foot and pushes it open.