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.
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CHAPTER 1 – THE LAST LESSON (SATQ)
Q1. What was Franz expected to be prepared with for that day?
Franz was expected to be prepared with the rules of participles for that day given by M. Hamel as homework to be learnt. But, he did know the first word of it. As a result he feared that M. Hamel would scold him.
Q2. Why did Franz want to spend his day out of doors?
Franz was aware of the fact that his teacher would certainly ask him to recite the rules of participles and he did not know the first word of it. Moreover, he was known to the cranky nature of this teacher. Keeping all the things in mind, he decided to spend his day out of doors.
Q3. What was Bulletin Board? What had been put on it?
Bulletin Board was a kind of notice board that was famous for all the bad news such as; draft, lost battle, order of commanding officers & other bad news. But the latest information on the board was about the German rulers’ order banning the teaching of French in Alsace and Lorraine.
Q4. What was the order came from Berlin that day?
The order that came from Berlin that day was about the banning of French language in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine. Now, French was going to be replaced by German as a language.
Q5. What changes did the order from Berlin cause in school that day?
Plenty of changes could be seen on that day in the school. On entering the school, Franz noticed that the day was as silent as of Sunday’s morning. There was no noise of opening and closing of desks, lessons being repeated, students were sitting silently in the class & the back benches which always remained vacant were occupied by the villagers & his teachers was wearing his unusual clothes that were green coat, frilled shirt and black silk cap.
Q6. What did the narrator observe while passing the town hall?
The narrator noticed a huge crowd standing in front of bulletin board. The sight troubled him because, for the past two years they had received all the bad news from there.
Q7. How was Franz treated by M. Hamel in the class?
Franz had expected a severe punishment & Scolding from M. Hamel before entering the class. But on entering, he was taken aback as M. Hamel asked him to take his seat and listen to the lesson carefully.
Q8. What was the thing that shocked everybody in the class?
The news of M. Hamel’s departure shocked each and everybody in the class. M. Hamel himself announced this news in front of all the students and the villagers sitting in the class.
Q9. Why had the villagers occupied the back benches of the class that day?
The beck benches were occupied by the villagers to thank their master for his forty years meritorious service. Moreover, they wanted to repent for their guilt for not being regular and serious towards their mother tongue and country.
Q10. How did the narrator recite the rules of participle? Was he disrespected in the class?
When narrator turn came to recite the rules of participle, he got mixed up & confused. He was, not at all, disrespected by M. Hamel as he didn’t want to hurt or beat anyone before leaving the school.
Q11.”We’ve all a great deal to reproach ourselves with” what did M. Hamel mean by this statement?
Who does M. Hamel hold responsible for the poor performance of the children in the class?
According to M. Hamel, both parents and he himself were responsible for the poor performance of the children. Parents wanted their children to work on the fields or at sawmill just for the sake of little amount and he sent children for watering his plants and for holidays when he had to go for fishing and outing. So he wanted people and him to reproach their doings.
Q12. How did M. Hamel bid farewell to the students and people sitting in his class?
M.Hamel was very much annoyed with the order that came from Berlin. He wanted to speak but his emotions and sentiments choked his throat. So he stood up, took a piece of chalk and write ‘Vive La France’ on the board as large as he could which means long live France. In this way, he bade farewell to the students and the people sitting in the class.
Q13. What did M. Hamel advise everybody to do?
M.Hamel advised all the students and people to guard their French language since it is the clearest and the most logical language of this world. In addition to this, he advised the people not to put off their work till tomorrow and to do them timely.
Q14. What made Franz learn his last lesson easily?
Franz who never took interest in his lessons was stunned by the wordings of M. Hamel of leaving the school forever. He paid slight attention to his chapters and succeeded in learning all what was taught by M. Hamel in the class.
Q15. How was M. Hamel’s last lesson different from his previous classes?
M.Hamel who once used to be a very strict teacher was totally opposite to his character on his last day. He always carried an iron rod under his arm before that day. But on his last day, he neither scolded nor beat anyone for not doing their work on time. He showed his patience and regard for everyone sitting there on his last day.
Q16. “They can’t make these pigeons sing in German” Why did Franz think so?
Franz thought about that because he had understood that rules can be imposed over the slaves not over the animals. According to him, Germans could insist them to speak German but they could not implement their rules over the innocent birds.
Q17. What was more tempting for Franz than going to school? Could he overcome those temptations?
Franz wanted to spend his days out either by looking at the chirruping of the birds or Prussian soldiers drilling at the saw mill as he knew that his teacher would ask him questions on participles. Finally, he managed to overcome his temptations and went to school.
Q18. Describe the background in which ‘The Last Lesson’ has been set.
In the background of the chapter, there is a war going on between Germany and France. In that war, Germany has acquired two districts of France which are Lorraine and France. Besides, an order has been issued which forces everyone to communicate in French not in German.
Q19. Was blacksmith Wachter really making fun of the narrator when he saw him hurrying towards school?
Blacksmith Wachter was, actually, taunting him for being late to school. Probably, he was known to Franz’s habit of going late to school on regular basis. Therefore, he told him jokingly that he had plenty of time to reach school.
Q20. What had the narrator counted upon on reaching school? What did he find on the contrary?
Ans. The narrator had expected that he would take the advantage of chaos at the school and enter his class without being noticed by anyone. But, when he reached there, he found everything on the contrary: there was no opening and closing of desks, no lesson being repeated and it was as silent as Sunday’s morning.
Q21. Did the teacher’s words, “We were beginning without you” have deeper connotations?
Undoubtedly, M. Hamel wanted every child to attend his last lesson as it was going to be different from his other lessons and day. He wished that everybody should know the importance of mother tongue. Particularly, he wanted Franz to attend that lesson because he never took his mother tongue seriously and always procrastinated.
Q22. What universality of human nature does M. Hamel comment upon?
Hamel makes a negative comment on the human nature stating that every human has a habit of putting off his work till tomorrow. According to him, every human procrastinates when it comes to learning his mother tongue. Therefore, some of them have to regret when their language is snatched away from them.
Q23. What views did M.Hamel express regarding the French language?
Ans. According to M.Hamel, French is the most logical and the clearest language of the world. Moreover, he requests the students to guard it as much as possible.
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