The Last Lesson | Chapter 1 Flamingo | Alphonse Daudet | Summary |


The Last Lesson Class 12, Chapter 1 Flamingo 


The Last Lesson revolves around a war between Prussia and France (1870-1871) and its aftermaths wherein Germany defeated France and captured its two districts namely; Alsace and Lorraine. Both the districts came under control of Germans which led to massive and unusual changes in the lives of Frenchmen.

The chapter begins with the introduction of little Franz 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 temptations 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 hurriedly. Having reached his school, he notices many unusual things such as; no hustle and bustle in his school, there is no opening and closings of desks and no lesson is being repeated in unison. Through the window of his class, he finds that he is the sole one outside the class whereas the rest of the students are already seated inside.

The moment he tries to enter the class, M. Hamel (French teacher) tells him that they were about to begin the class without him. He neither scolds Franz nor beats him but ask him to sit down. When the narrator overcomes his fear and dares to look up, he finds his teacher wearing unusual clothes which he wears on special days such as; Prize Distribution Day & Inspection Days. Besides, he finds that the back benches, which always remained vacant, were occupied by the rural as well as urban people of the village.

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. He further adds that both Alsace and Lorraine have been captured by Germany. 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. M. Hamel, being disappointed, holds parents, himself and the habit of Frenchmen that is putting off the work till tomorrow responsible for the poor performance of the children and the changes in the town. 

Before he leaves the school, he tells them about the importance of their mother tongue and request all of them to guard it for its the easiest, clearest and the most beautiful language. Meanwhile, 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.

This way little Franz also learns the importance of his mother tongue which is theirs no more.


Short Answer Type Questions

Q1. What was Franz expected to be prepared with for school that day?

Franz was expected to be prepared with the rules of participles for that day given by M. Hamel (French Teacher) as homework to be learnt. But, he did know the first word of it. As a result, he was afraid of being questioned by M. Hamel.

Q2. Why did Franz want to spend his day out of doors?

Franz was aware of the fact that his French teacher would certainly ask him to recite the rules of participles and he did not know the ABC of that. Therefore he decided to stay out of doors looking at Prussian Soldiers’ drilling and listening to chirping of birds. 

Q3. What had been put up on the bulletin-board?

Bulletin Board was a kind of notice board famous for all the bad news such as; draft, lost battle, order of commanding officers etc. But the latest information placed on the board was about the Germans’ capturing two districts of French namely 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 for now they were no longer the part of France. The order clearly stated that French was going to be replaced by German as a language in both the districts.

Q5. What did Franz notice that was unusual about the school that day?


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 been received all the bad news from that day. Since, he was getting late, he didn’t stop there and move towards his school.

Q7. How was Franz treated by M. Hamel in the class?

M. Hamel was a man of principles and strict teacher. Franz had expected a severe punishment from M. Hamel for being late and not completing his work before entering the class. But, having entered the class, 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 and banning their mother tongue shocked each and everybody in the class. M. Hamel himself announced this in front of all the students and the villagers present 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.

Long Answer Type Questions

 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?


How did Franz’s feelings about M. Hamel and school change?

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.

NCERT Solutions of The Last Lesson

Understanding The Text:

1. The people in this story suddenly realise how precious their language is to them. What shows you this? Why does this happen?

Answer: The French districts of Alsace and Lorraine had fallen into Prussian hands, according to the story. As a result, they received an order from Berlin mandating that only German be taught in Alsace and Lorraine schools. This was when they all realized how important their language was. The usual commotion at school was replaced by the peace of Sunday church. The students’ sincerity was evident in the fact that they all began working quietly. The only sound in the room was the scratching of pens across paper. Everyone in the class was silent and sad when the teacher came in. They all seemed to regret what they did or didn’t do. The teacher, whom they normally disliked, had made them feel like this. Franz regretted not paying attention to the teacher and his mother tongue more and M. Hamel who was heartbroken at having to leave wanted to tell them everything he knew before he left. He said that they should be ashamed of themselves because of what they did or didn’t do too.

2. Franz thinks, “Will they make them sing in German, even the pigeons?” What could this mean?

Answer: Franz asked if pigeons can sing in German. It means that humans can control things but they cannot control nature. They cannot have complete power over the world. Similarly, Prussians can control their schools and learning patterns but they cannot kill their pride in their country and language.

Talking About The Text

1. 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: In any state, the people who speak a different language than the majority of people face discrimination. But there is not as much acceptance and less discrimination in some cities like Delhi and Mumbai.

The minority of people who speak a different language tries to preserve their identity. They do this by interacting with each other and talking to others who speak the same language in family gatherings, women’s meetings, and festivals. It helps them feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. The minority also does this by following social customs. All these things help keep them together as one group.

3. Is it possible to carry pride in one’s language too far? Do you know what ‘linguistic chauvinism’ means?

Answer: People often have too much pride for their own language and don’t think about other languages. That is not good because we should respect all of the languages and cultures.

People who are too proud of their own language are called linguistic chauvinists. You need to be careful not to be too aggressive or fanatical about your language.


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