Summary of ‘The Last Lesson’
This chapter revolves around the narrator of this chapter who wants to spend his day out of doors listening to chirping of birds and looking at Prussian soldiers drilling. Besides, he is feared of being reprimanded by his French teacher as he has not gone through the rules of participles given as homework by his French teacher.
Somehow, he overcomes his temptation and moves towards his school. At town hall, he finds a huge crowd in front of bulletin board which is famous for all the bad news such as draft, commanding orders of officers etc. He turns a blind eye and reaches his school. On reaching his school, he finds that there is no hustle and bustle in his school, there is no opening and closings of desks, and no lesson is being repeated in unison. Besides, he notices that he is the sole one outside the class whereas the rest of the students are seated.
The moment he enters, M.Hamel tells him that they were beginning the class without him. M.Hamel neither scolds nor beats him. When the narrator overcomes his fears, he looks up and finds his teacher wearing unusual clothes which he wears on special days. Besides, he finds that the back benches, which always remained vacant, were occupied by the rural as well as urban people.
Before he could understand what the matter was, his teacher narrates and each and everything from the scratch. He tells all the students that an order has come from Berlin to teach German in the schools of Alsace in place of French. These words astonish little Franz and later make him realize the importance of his mother tongue.
After that, M.Hamel starts putting up questions on participles. When Franz turn comes, he gets mixed up in first few words, but not scolded by M.Hamel. He holds his parents as well as himself responsible for the poor performance of the children. Moreover, he holds their habit of putting off till tomorrow responsible too.
Then, he starts preaching them about the importance of their mother tongue and request all of them to guard it. Soon, the church clock strikes twelve and M.Hamel, with his heavy heart, bids adieu to his students. He writes ‘Vive La France’ which means long live France on the board.
CHAPTER-1 THE LAST LESSON (Long Answer Type Question)
Q1. Write a note on the character of M. Hamel as a teacher.
Hamel was a French teacher who had been teaching for forty years in the school of Alsace. He was a strict teacher who always kept an iron ruler under his arm in order to punish the children for not doing their work. He thought for the welfare of the children and their better future. He was disciplined and obedient to his duties. Having heard about the order that came from Berlin, he got so much depressed & emotional on his last day. He taught everybody the importance of his mother tongue and requested them to guard their language. He knew that was his last day in the school, yet he performed his duties seriously and taught his last lesson in the class which shows how dutiful he was towards his duties. He held himself and the parents responsible for the poor performance of the people. All the students and villagers present in the class had tears in their eyes for not being sincere and regular in the class. After teaching them all the lessons, M. Hamel stood up and bade farewell to the students by writing “Vive La France “on the board which means ‘live long France’.
Q2. How did Franz realize the importance of his mother tongue?
Franz was an irregular student who wished to live and spend his much of the time out of doors. He thought of skipping the classes as he was aware of the nature of his class teacher. He took his lessons as a medium of boredom. When he got to know about the order that came from Berlin, he got the land skipped under his feet. On reaching school, he learnt the lessons honestly and succeeded in learning all of them. Then, he realized that it was his fault that he never paid attention to his studies. When M. Hamel taught him about the importance of his mother tongue (French) that it is the clearest and the most logical language of this world & they should guard it, he repents over his negligence towards his mother tongue. On seeing M. Hamel emotions and his patriotism towards the country and its language, he realized the importance of his mother tongue.
Q3. What is linguistic Chauvinism? Do you think Germany encroached upon the natural rights of French people? What was the outcome of order that came from Berlin? Explain with reference to the chapter ‘The Last Lesson’.
Linguistic chauvinism means to carry pride in one’s language. Germans’ love for their country and language made Germans so selfish that they started encroaching upon the natural rights of French people. At first, they acquired their two districts illegally and later on, they banned their mother tongue i.e. French in both the districts. An order came from Berlin to prohibit people using French language and to introduce German as a mother tongue. This decision brought many unusual changes in the lives of Frenchmen; they, all of a sudden, realized the importance of their mother tongue and decided to guard it as much as possible. Life of Franz took a sudden and unexpected turn. Earlier, he considered his books as burden and teacher as nuisance but he realizes that it was his fault not his teacher’s. M.Hamel, too, had to bear a lot of pain due to that order. He had to quit his job and face the music.
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