Summary of ‘The Rattrap’
(By: Selma Lagerlof)
This chapter sheds light on human’s loneliness and its dire consequences. It revolves around a rattrap seller who roams here and there in order to sell his rattraps which he makes by begging the material from the farms. Besides, he often remains involved in begging and petty thieveries for his survival.
While he is walking or lost in his meditations, he considers this world as rattrap where every human is trapped just for the sake of little money, greed and love. He is neither welcomed nor sheltered by anyone in this world rather shooed away by the people because of his odd habits and shabby appearance.
Once he is sheltered by a crofter who lives alone and depends on his bossy cow for his survival. The crofter, having sympathized with the rattrap seller, shows latter his hardly-earned thirty kronors which is, later on, stolen by the rattrap seller taking the undue advantage of his leniency.
Having stolen the money, the rattrap seller runs through the woods but he soon realizes that he has been trapped by those thirty kronors and now he can’t come out of it. Soon, he hears the thumping of the iron and reaches Ramsjo Ironworks which is almost closed now. Only little part of it is working and used for production of good quality iron.
Over there, he is mistaken as an old acquaintance by the ironmaster who is the owner of that mill. He requests that vagabond to come to his home but declined by the peddler. After some time, his own daughter comes to invite the peddler and she succeeds too in that.
The following day, when the ironmaster sees the peddler in day broad light, the ironmaster realizes his mistake and decides to hand him over to the police. Edla intervenes and saves him from the anger of his despondent father. She requests her father to let the peddler celebrate Christmas with them. Her father accedes to her request and they all celebrate Christmas together.
On the next day, when Ironmaster and Edla go to Church, they get to know about the rattrap seller and his misdeed of stealing thirty kronors from the home of old crofter. They rush to their home and find that the peddler is already gone. On enquiry, they find that the peddler has left a package which contains a letter, a small rattrap and 30 kronors. Besides he thanks Edla for changing a wild beast into a man.
In this way, a beast is converted into a civilized man with love care and affection.
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THE RATTRAP (Short Answer Type Questions)
Q1. What did the rattrap seller think of the world?
The rattrap seller thought that the world is a rattrap which attracts the people towards it through riches, joys and entertainment. Moreover, he thought that he would once get trapped in this world as a rat gets trapped in the greed of a piece of cheese & pork.
Q2. How did the crofter behave with the peddler? Had he expected that much of hospitality?
The crofter behaved genuinely with the peddler by sheltering, offering him food, serving him tobacco & sharing his sentiments with him. No, he had not expected any hospitality from him since he was looked down upon wherever he went.
Q3. What other business was the peddler engaged in?
The peddler got engaged in a couple of business except rattrap selling. He got involved in begging and petty thieveries for his survival. He begged the material from the scrap shop and made rattraps from that material.
Q4. How did he respond to the hospitality shown by the crofter?
He responded negatively to the hospitality shown by the crofter. He stole his thirty kronors that he had earned by selling the milk of his bossy cow. In this way, he cheated on the crofter.
Q5. Why did the peddler choose woods instead of public highway?
He chose woods because he had fear of being caught by the police. In order to escape, he diverted himself towards the woods instead of going through public highway.
Q6. What did the peddler notice after running through the woods all the day? Could he escape?
The peddler noticed that he was at the same place where he started in the morning. He once again felt that the world was a rattrap & he was a rat who had got trapped in that world. Yes, he escaped when he heard the sound of thumping iron; he moved towards its sound & reached Ramsjo Ironworks.
Q7. What did the ironmaster mistake while inspecting his iron mill?
Ironmaster, while inspecting, got to see a man sleeping in front of the furnace. He mistook him as an old acquaintance that once used to work him in his regiment. He requested the peddler to come along with him to his home.
Q8. Why did the peddler forbid him to go to his home?
The peddler knew that he was not the friend of ironmaster’s. He thought going to his home would be to put himself deliberately in lion’s den. In order to avoid his arresting by the sheriff, he forbade him to go to ironmaster’s home.
Q9. When did the ironmaster realize his mistake?
The ironmaster realized his mistake when he saw the peddler after having taken bath & been shaved. He threatened him to leave his home otherwise he would get him arrested.
Q10. Why did the ironmaster send his daughter to the peddler?
When ironmaster’s adamancy reached its peak, he thought it would be a better idea to send his daughter to his friend to convince him. He knew his daughter had better persuasion powers & she could easily convince any one. Therefore, he sent his daughter over there.
Q11. Who was Edla Willmanson? Why did she want the peddler to stay with them?
Edla Willmanson was the only daughter of the ironmaster. When she saw that her father wanted that man to be out of their home, she interfered & requested him to let him stay at their home since the next day was Christmas. Seeing her assurance, the ironmaster acceded to her request.
Q12. What did the ironmaster and his daughter get to hear at Church?
The ironmaster & his daughter get to hear that one of their employees had been robbed by a man who went around selling rattraps. They doubted the man who was staying at their home.
Q13. What had the peddler left for Edla Willmanson?
The peddled had left a packet containing a rattrap, 30 kronors to be returned back to the crofter & a letter for Edla Willmanson in jagged letters. Moreover, he signed himself as Captain Von Stahle.
Q14. Why did the peddler sign himself as Captain Von Stahle?
The peddler signed himself as Captain Von Stahle because he was treated as a captain at Ironmaster’s home. He was not only offered delicious food to eat but a due respect which changed him from a wild beast into a man.
Q15. What did the peddler write in the letter?
The peddler wrote that he had been transformed into a man by Edla Willmanson with her love. She changed him completely. Now he had stopped robbing people and stealing their money.
Q16. What two things did the peddler do throughout the day?
The peddler got engaged in two activities throughout the day. First one was to sleep and second was to eat. He slept all the day as if he slept for the first time in his life and eat as though it was the first time he ate such delicious food.
Q17. “If it’s me today, it’s you tomorrow” when did the peddler utter those words? How did he justify himself?
The peddler uttered those words when he was threatened by the ironmaster to be handed over to the police. He justified himself stating that was not his fault rather the fault of him and his daughter who deliberately wanted to bring him to their homes.
Q18. Why did the peddler want to get into the iron mill?
The peddler wanted to get into the iron mill since it had been raining outside. Moreover, it was extremely cold outside & he was wearing rage. In order to protect himself from coldness, he had to get into the iron mill.
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