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THE LAST LESSON Background Two states of France, Alsace and Lorraine, were conquered by the Prussian troops

in the beginning of the 1890 Franco-Prussian war. (The war lasted for only one year) The new government imposed rules and bans on the French people. The last of the bans was the ban on the learning and teaching of French. Ban and its impact The news of the ban was displayed on the bulletin board in front of the town hall. People crowded there to read the bulletin. They were very much shocked and sad. They had to accept the ban under great resentment. They saw how much they had loved their mother tongue. They saw how important their language was. They didnt want to lose their language. They discussed their fate, shared their bitterness and felt helpless. Franz, the lead character It was at this time Franz was rushing to his school. He was a student of the elementary school in Alsace run by Mister Hamel, the teacher who taught them French. He was, as usual, late. A blacksmith, Mr. Watcher, saw him dashing by. Watcher expressed his anger and helplessness at the ban on French by asking Franz not to go in such a hurry as there was no more French to be learnt. But Franz hurried on, because he didnt understand what Mr. Watcher mean. Franz reaching school Once outside the school, Franz wondered at the silence around the school. It was never silent like this! Was it Sunday? He wondered. He waited for the noises from the school to get in without being noticed but there was not a sound. Finally he had to go in in front of all. To his amazement he was not punished for his late coming. M. Hamel, the cranky teacher, asked him to get in and regretted having begun the class without Franz. Franz took his seat. The unusual classroom Among others Franz noticed that the classroom was full and there were some old villagers sitting in the back benches. M. Hamel announced that it was their last French class as the Prussians had banned French in schools and introduced German instead. It was shocking news for Franz. Only then he understood why the people had been staring at the bulletin board. He too felt his love for French returning. He hated the Prussians for every reason. He began to love his teacher, classroom, books and lessons. He felt sorry for not learning his lessons, for postponing his study and for not realizing the greatness of his language. M. Hamels speech Franz heard his teacher praising French, blaming French parents for not sending their children to school and children for not attending school. He also blamed himself for not being a committed teacher. M. Hamel said that language is very important for a nation because the unity of a nation mostly depended on its language and no aggression can make such a united nation its slave. There was complete silence in the class. Even the children made a sound. They were all sad. Franz heard pigeons cooing on the roof of the classroom and wondered if the Prussians wound impose a ban on their cooing-language the next day. He heard an old man, Hauser, reading lessons with the children. He too was crying. The class is dismissed! It was noon. The Prussian soldiers went marching by the school. Their sounds frightened everyone. If they noticed that a class was still progressing, they could have arrested M. Hamel. But M. Hamel showed amazing patriotism. He wanted to say, Long live France but he could not. Either he was overwhelmed by emotions or he was scared of the Prussians. He went to the black board and wrote as big as he could: viva la France! Long live, France! In short The people of Alsace and Lorraine had true love for their nation and their mother tongue, French, but they were not keen enough to learn it. They always put off learning for another day. Parents used to send their children to mills and fields to make more earning rather than ending them to learn. M. Hamel's school was rather a mess. The children used to howl. The teacher was very cranky yet there was no peace inside the classrooms. Due to the

scarcity of teachers, all the students sat in a hall. The back benches were always empty. One day Alsace was conquered by the Prussians. They imposed a ban on teaching French in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine besides introducing their language German as the official language. As per the ban all the French teachers were to quit the territory in no time. The ban gave a heavy impact on the people. The ban was a blot from the sky. The people of Alsace for the first time realized how much they had loved their mother tongue. The last lesson turned out to be a new lesson for young and old. They learnt the importance, greatness and sweetness of French language. They wished if they could learn it in an hour. They realized that the cause of their defeat was their illiteracy. Questions and Answers 1. Why was Franz late for school that day? Franz was instinctively not interested in learning French language. That day he had to learn the rules of Participles and he was least prepared for that and was therefore afraid of his teacher, M. Hamel. Moreover, he was allured by the attractions on the way to school. 2. What attracted Franz on his way to school? Franz was attracted by the warm weather outside. The birds that chirped at the edge of the forest and the Prussian soldiers who were drilling also slowed down his interest to go to school. 3. What did Watcher mean by saying Franz would get to his school in plenty of time? Watcher, the blacksmith, meant it ironically. He meant there was no more French taught in the school as per the ban imposed by the Prussians and it would take a long time to get it back and therefore there was no need to hurry to his school. 4. Describe the atmosphere of the school on usual days. On usual days the school no longer looked like a school. The noises inside the school could be heard out in the street. Children were in a playful mood, opening and closing their desks and shouting their lessons in chorus. The teacher had to use his ruler to silence the class. 5. How did the classroom look different that last day? Whose presence was extraordinary? For the first time in its existence, M. Hamel's classroom looked like a classroom. There was a deep silence in the class. No one spoke a word. All were sad. Besides, the presence of the villagers there was extraordinary. 6. Why was that class to be the Last Class? Alsace was conquered by the Prussians and as a result a new order came from Berlin to ban teaching of French in the schools of Alsace. The order further said that all the French teachers like M. Hamel had to leave the territory within a day and therefore that class was to be the last class. 7. How had Franz' books become 'old friends for him? Friends become sweeter when they depart from us. With the ban on French, his books were also going to separate from Franz and therefore they seemed to be old friends for him. 8. Franz related the extraordinary changes in the classroom to the ban on French that had been published on the bulletin board. How? When Franz passed the bulletin board at the Town Hall, he didn't know what was so curious about it. Later, when he reached his school there were changes and curiosity there too. Finally when he was told of the ban on French and of M. Hamel's transfer, he connected the order on the bulletin board and the extraordinary changes in the classroom. 9. What did M. Hamel mean by, 'And now you see where weve come out!' The people of Alsace were generally unwilling to learn their language. They left learning to another day and did all except that. Suddenly the ban on French was imposed by the Prussians and the people had no time left to learn their mother tongue. 10.How does M. Hamel blame the parents of his students? The parents of his students were, in M. Hamel's opinion, greedy for money. They considered learning less important than making a living. They used to send their children to work in the farms and mills to earn an extra amount of money. 11.How is a nation's language important for its citizens beyond the mere use for communication? Language is primarily important for communication. Besides, it has the amazing power to

bind a nation together. Once a nation is thus united it can stand against all foreign aggressions and safeguard its freedom. 12.The dead reaction to the beetles that flew into the classroom clearly said the children's resentment to the ban on French. Explain. In M. Hamel's school beetles used to swarm in and children used to take that for fun, too. But that day there was an amazing change in the usual reactions to the beetles. Due to the shock and sadness caused by the ban on French even the little children took no notice of the beetles. 13.What changes had happened in and outside the classroom during the forty years of M. Hamel's service? How do they speak of his incompetence? M Hamel was sent to teach the Alsace population. Forty years passed yet Alsace remained illiterate. Only the desks and benches had been worn smooth; the walnut-trees in the garden were taller, and the hopvine that he had planted himself twined about the windows to the roof. Yet there was no change or growth in the literacy and education levels of the people. 14.Why was Franz not able to understand if Mr. Wachter was teasing him or not? Franz didn't understand what Mr. Wachter meant by saying there was plenty of time for Franz to get to his school because he was illiterate and therefore didn't understand the order published on the bulletin board. 15.What hidden message did Watcher's advice to Franz contain? M. Wachter's advice for Franz hid a message for him. Having had no safe way to communicate to Franz and scared of working against the Prussian order, M Wachter was trying to tell him that there was no need to rush to his school as there was no French taught there anymore. 16.Why did M. Hamel say that people should safeguard their language among themselves? In M Hamel's opinion language has great importance for every nation. If a nation is well literate, there will be a great unity and understanding among the citizens. If a nation safeguards its language, it is not likely that another nation can conquer it. 17.Why did Franz wonder if the Prussians would make even the pigeons coo in German? Having felt helpless about the ban on French un the Prussian rule, France saw that imposing one's language upon the defeated nation is as inhuman as enslaving its people and it can be considered as senseless as snatching the pigeon's right to coo in any way it likes to. 18.How did old Hauser make a comic melodrama out of his presence in the class? Mr. Hauser was an old man in Alsace. Like many others, he too was illiterate yet had an undying passion for learning French. The sight of him with his old alphabet books, reciting lessons with the little boys and girls, made everyone laugh at one point but at another point they felt sorry for him and for themselves remembering the bitter reality that they would not have another day to learn their mother tongue. 19.How far is a language important for a nation's freedom? A nation that stands separated cannot stand against its enemy. Language is one of the most powerful elements that boosts the unity of a nation. If a nation has a single language it is said to be united and no aggression can conquer it. 20."What would I not have given to be able to say that dreadful rule for participle all through, very loud and clear, and without one mistake?" What did Franz mean by this? Franz wished if he could recite his lesson clearly, without any mistake so that he could please M Hamel, the sad teacher just because Franz could recite his lesson without any error. 21."Now those fellows out there will have the right to say to you..." What will the fellows rightly say to the French men? OR What was the justification of the Prussians for imposing German on the Alsace population? The Prussian had all the right reasons to impose German on the French citizens. Even though it was their way of annexing Alsace and Lorraine to Germany, they explained that it was their literacy program meant for Alsace.

Long Questions and Answers - 150 words - 10 marks 1. How does the author present a nation's love for its lost freedom? For the people of Alsace being conquered by another country wasnt a new experience. But they had never foreseen that their freedom to learn their own language would be taken away from them one day. They had a teacher to teach them French but they never took him seriously. They used to put off learning for another day but one day came without another day to follow. Their freedom to learn their own language taken away from them, the people of Alsace realized its importance. Everyone, young and old, reflected the loss of something whose importance they realized only when it was taken away from them. They wanted their freedom back. They wished to learn their language as intensely as their teacher wished to teach them in an hours time. The usually boisterous classroom became a peaceful place of learning. Some felt a sudden love for their books that were once burden for them while others wept with their books in hand. The teacher became emotional and accepted his failure in teaching the people and his students strove to learn French in an hour. They hated the Prussians and themselves for their lost freedom. 2. How was the last class a new lesson for Franz? Franz was a typical child of Alsace. He too, like the others, had put off learning for another day. To Franz learning French was very difficult. He loved anything except his own language. But when he was told that there was no more chance to learn of his language, Franz felt guilty of not having taken keen interest to learn it. It is obvious that Franz knew no French, if at all to read and write. All of a sudden his love for learning his language grew strong in him. He paid his full attention to his master Hamel. He understood every rule of the grammar, every sentence, very easy. The teacher no longer appeared to him cranky nor his terrible ruler any more terrorizing. He loved to learn French in an hour. He felt very sorry for not learning. The last class was unforgettable for Franz.

Question 1: What changes did the order from Berlin cause in school that day?
The order from Berlin brought all the routine hustle-bustle of the school life t o a stand-still. The teacher, M. Hamel, became more sympathetic to his students and taught his lessons with more patience. The students became more attentive in their classes. The villagers, who were sitting at the usually empty back benche s and had come to show their respect and gratitude to M. Hamel, regretted not go ing to school more than they did. The order also brought about a great change in the feelings of the people towards their country and their native language. The re was a general sadness about not being able to utilise the opportunities of le arning French when it was easily accessible.

Question 2: How did Franz's feelings about M. Hamel and school change?
Franz was shocked when M. Hamel told the students about the order from Berlin an d that it was their last French lesson. He forgot about his teachers ruler and cr ankiness. He developed a fondness for M. Hamel at the troubling idea of being se parated from him forever. He understood the pain and agony his teacher was under going. And, he became more sympathetic towards his teacher. His school too, now, carried a different meaning. His books and lessons seemed o ld friends whom he couldnt give up. He realised with pain how much French meant t o him and regretted not being attentive in his classes earlier. Suddenly, he fel t that the difficult concepts had never actually been difficult.

Question 1: The people in this story suddenly realize how precious their language is to them . What shows you this? Why does this happen?
Answer DiscussionShare The crowd surrounding the bulletin-board, the presence of the villagers in the c lass, the silence in place of the routine hustle and bustle of the school, the e motions that gripped M. Hamel and Franz, representing that of the teacher and th e student community respectively, were all indicators of the realisation of the importance of their language to them. In the story, M. Hamel says that people realise the importance of somebody or so mething in their lives very often when it is lost to them. Similarly, it was the order from Berlin that made people realise the importance of their language for them.

Question 2: Franz thinks, Will they make them sing in German, even the pigeons? What could thi s mean?
(There could be more than one answer.) Answer DiscussionShare Language is inherent to culture and identity. The authority of human beings is r estricted only to false boundaries that can be controlled. Nature and other thin gs cannot be governed by some superficial laws of the wilful people. By taking t he reference of making the pigeons learn German, the author is pointing to this very constraint. (or) This sentence could possibly mean that however hard the authorities try to embed German language in the culture of Alsace and Lorraine, the natural status of Fr ench, for them, will remain unchanged. French flows in the air and the entire pl ace is imbued with its effect. Even though they train students in German, the ba sic mode of communication would remain unchanged like the cooing of the pigeons.

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
Answer DiscussionShare A linguistic minority in a state does not have as much liberty to exercise lingu istic skills as the natives of the state. They initially try to learn the jargon s in order to cope with the day-to-day life activities and finally begin to unde rstand the native language with regular interaction. At the workplace and educat ional organisations, English or the link language helps a lot to cope up with th e work and learning process. But, when it comes to understanding the basic norms of the society, in order to socialize, one does face a sort of linguistic barri er during communication. To keep their language alive, the linguistic minorities can form small communiti es where they can celebrate their festivals as per their traditions. Moreover, t hey can continue to speak their native language at their homes in order to make

their children learn the language. People must, even, try to visit their native places at regular intervals in order to stay close to their roots. Is it possible to carry pride in ones language too far?

Do you know what linguistic chauvinism means?


Answer DiscussionShare Yes, it is possible to carry pride in one's language too far if one is fond of o nes own language at the cost of others. Indifference towards other languages is n ot healthy for any democracy like India. When the sense of belonging to one's own language crosses the thin line between p ride and proud, it becomes linguistic chauvinism. If people feel good about their l anguages and traditions, they must have tolerance for other languages too. Every body has the right to follow the religion as well as speak the language as per h is/her desire. In fact, it is disparaging to distort the names of communities, f or example, Bongs for Bengalis, Gujju for Gujratis, etc.

justify the title 'the last lessons'?


The story The Last Lesson highlights the human tendency that there is plenty of ti me to do things; hence, man keeps postponing the lessons of life, oblivious to t he fact that life is subject to change. The people of Alsace always thought they had plenty of time to learn the lessons; therefore, they did not give much impo rtance to school. They preferred their children to work on the farms and mills i nstead of having them learn the lessons. Even Franz, the narrator, always looked for opportunities to skip the school and collect birds eggs. However, the unexpe cted happens and an order is received from Berlin regarding compulsory teaching of German in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine. It is then that they realise th at they would be deprived of what they had been evading all this while. The last French lesson taught by M. Hamel symbolizes the loss of language and th e loss of freedom for France. It becomes an emotional lesson rendered by M. Hame l to the villagers, signifying the changing order of life and its impact on the sensibilities and emotions of people. The marching soldiers under the windows re present the dawn of Prussia in France, defeat of the French people and the resul tant threat to their language and culture. The story is aptly titled as it evokes the consciousness in the reader not to pu t off things and do what one can do that day. M. Hamels bold Long live France on th e blackboard becomes substantial evidence of his sadness, patriotism and finalit y that is reflected in his motionless posture, his fixed gaze on things in the c lassroom and his eventual words- School is dismissed You may go

Q)What was the importance of french language?


The French language according to M.Hamel is the most beautiful language in the w orld in terms of its clarity and its logic. Just as any mother tongue is paramount to its people, so is French to Franz and the rest of the students in his class. It is of greater relevance , now that the y were being enslaved and forced into learning German, they needed to guard thei r language and hold on to it and is metaphorically the key to their freedom.

q)Why was Franz even more surprised when he entered the class?
Franz was firstly surprised that usual bustle and commotion when school began we re missing and that there was a deafening silence in its place. He was also surp rised to hear M.Hamel speak kindly to him in spite of him being late. After he got over his fear of reprimand, he saw that his teacher had on his beau tiful green coat, his frilled shirt, and the little black silk cap, all embroide red, that he never wore except on inspection and prize days. But the thing that surprised Franz the most was that the back benches that were always empty were f illed with the village people sitting quietly just like themselves but strangely solemn and sad. Apart from French being the most logical and beautiful language in Hamel's perce ption, it was their mother tongue and their native language. It was important to them because it was a part of their identity and a integral part of who they we re. Franz expected to hear a lot of commotion as usual at the time as students would be talking to each other fitting into their places arranging desks and books. H owever, he hears only silence is thus surprised on entering the class. Also, he observes that Hamel is wearing fine clothes which are usually reserved for speci al events.

q)what are the sentiments expressed by M.Hamel regarding the attitude of the vil lagers towards studying?
when franz was called to recite the rule of participles , he got mixed up on the first words and stood there unable to answer. but M.Hamel, instead of scolding him expressed his disappointment in the fact that villagers and students like hi m always postponed learning till the next day and end up in not learning it.he a lso added that the people from other places would have the right to say to alsac e people that they pretend to be frenchmen and yer they can neither speak nor wr ite their own language

q)franz thinks,"will they make them sing in german ,even the pigeons?" what could this means?
The Alsace and Lorraine districts were under the regime of France. During the Fr anco-Prussian war in which France was defeated by Prussia led by Bismarck and bo th these districts have passed into Prussian hands. Earlier they were learning t heir own language, French. As per new set up, an order was passed that German was to be t aught in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine.M. Hamel who had been teaching the French for the last forty years. In his last lesson he told that from the next day in the s chools of both districts would teach only German instead of French from a new te acher. They wont be learning their own most beautiful, clearest and logical language. He told the im portance of their own language, this feeling of M. Hamel aroused their patriotic feelings . There came a sudden change in Franz. He disliked learning German. He heard and saw the pigeons. He immediately remarked: Will they make them sing in German, ev en the pigeons? It is meant that the German can impose German language on the peo ple of Alsace and Lorraine but they cant impose this language on the birds etc. T hey can enslave the people but have no authority to compel the cooing pigeons.