Third Level as a Medium of Escape for Charley | The Third Level | Class XII |
Summary of The Third Level
The Third Level is a story that shows how one can intersect the time and space together. It depicts psychological travelogue of the narrator who frequently visits his past in order to escape the modern world, fear, and war. Besides, it also highlights the human nature who, in order to, get rid of worries, stress try to escape this modern world and often travel to the places which are out of his reach but within his imagination.
The third level is a story of a 31 year-old man, Charley, who makes rubbish claims to have been to such a level that never exists. The chapter begins with the swearing-in of The President of New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroads, Presidents of different railway companies, who claim that there are only two levels at Grand central Station but, on the contrary, Charley claims to have gone to another level that he calls as third level. Charley has been represented as an escapist who is afraid of modern world, fear war and insecurities. Even his friends consider him the same and objects his philately in twentieth century calling it a a temporary refuge from reality and his Psychiatrist calls his claim as a waking dream wish fulfillment.
Later on Charley narrates how he reaches the third level during one of his visits to the Grand Central station. According to him, he gets lost at the second level and reaches down another level which is absolutely poles apart from the one he has been visiting for years. Besides, he finds some strange things on the third level like brass spittoons, people wearing gold watches, women wearing outdated clothes, a boy selling The World which has not been published for years and many more strange things. Then, he goes to the ticket counter to buy two tickets for him and his wife to Galesburg. The moment, he hands in the amount to the man sitting there, the latter starts threatening him to call the police for he finds the money different from the current currency.
Charley runs from there since he doesn’t want to be caught. Having come out of there, he gets his savings exchanged into old currency paying almost a premium of 100 dollars. Thereafter, he tries to find the third level again but all his efforts go in vain. On the advice of Louisa, he stops searching for the third level and resorts to philately. One day, while looking after his collection of stamps, he finds a first day cover in his grandfather’s collection wherein he finds a letter in one of them, written by Sam. Sam claims that he has found the third level and advises both of them to keep searching for the third level. He briefly elaborates the atmosphere of the place and praises the people living their along with their hospitality. He winds up the letter signing as Sam. You may also read The Third Level by Jack Finney, The Tiger King by Kalki, Journey to the End of the Earth by Tishani Doshi, The Enemy, Should Wizard Hit Mommy by John Updike, On the Face of It by Susan Hill, Evans Tries an O-Level, Memories of Childhood
Short Answer Type Important Questions of The Third Level
Q1. Why do the Presidents of New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroads swear on stack of Timetables?
Ans. Charley claims that there are three levels at Grand Central Station instead of two. In order to turn down the claim of Charley, they all have to swear on the stack of timetables that there exist only two levels not three.
Q2. Who was Charley? What was his psychiatrist view when he told him about the existence of the third level?
Ans. Charley was an escapist who was afraid of the modern world, its fear and insecurity. When he narrated the whole incident, on being at the third level, his psychiatrist rejected all the claims stating that ‘It was a waking dream wish fulfillment’.
Q3. What did Charley’s friends think of his stamp collection?
Ans. Charley was used to philately. He even claimed that it was all started by his grandfather. On the other hand, his friends did not consider philately as hobby; therefore they called it a ‘Temporary refuge from reality.’
Q4. What unusual changes did Charley notice on reaching the third level?
Ans. Charley was an escapist who usually got lost sometimes in the tunnels and sometimes at other places that never existed. When he reached the third level, he found that there were fewer ticket windows, brass spittoons, rooms were made of wood, people wore outdated clothes and newsboys were selling the newspaper ‘The World’ which had not been published for years. All those things surprised him a lot, yet he was happy on being at the third level.
Q5. Why could Charley not buy tickets for Galesburg?
Ans. Charley always wanted to travel to his past especially to Galesburg for it was more peaceful and safe than this modern world. When he offered money to the man at the ticket counter, the latter refused to accept it as he thought Charley was trying to skin him with fake currency?
Q6. What made Charley convert his new currency into old one?
Ans. Charley was frightened after being warned by the man at the ticket counter against forgery. Therefore, he ran from the third level forthwith. The next day, he went to a coin dealer to convert his new bills into old style of currency. Although he had to pay premium of almost 100 dollars yet he was happy.
Q7. What is a First Day Cover? What did Charley find in one of the First Day Covers?
Ans. Charley’s wife Louisa had requested him not to look for the third level any more. Therefore, he had resorted to his philately once again. One day, while messing up with his old first day covers, he found a strange one in his grandfather’s collection. It was not blank from inside and signed as Sam.
Q8. What did Sam want to convey to Charley through his letter?
Ans. According to the letter found in Charley’s grandfather’s collection, Sam had reached Galesburg which was more peaceful and safe than this modern world which is full of insecurities, fear and war. Besides, he made Charley aware of the friendly atmosphere there. Later on, he advised Charley to keep looking for the third level and signed it as Sam.
Q9. What does the narrator feel about the Grand Central Station?
Ans. The narrator feels that there are three levels at the Grand Central Station not two. On the other hand, this theory is completely rejected by his psychiatrist, friends and other people of his county.
Q10. Who was Charley? What does he find at the Grand Central Station?
Ans. Charley was a 31 year old man, a daily commuter, who reaches the third level while taking the subway for his home. He finds the Grand Central Station growing like a tree adding stairs and corridors to it.
Q11. What was Charley’s Psychiatrist reaction when he was told about the third level at Grand Central Station?
Ans. When Charley narrated the whole incident to his psychiatrist about the third level, the latter reacted strangely rejecting the claims being made by the former. According to him, it was a waking dream of Charley which had nothing to do with the reality.
Long Answer Type Questions of The Third Level
Q1. Do you think the third level was really a medium of escape for Charley? Elucidate.
Ans. Charley was, undoubtedly, afraid of the modern world and its complexities. He tried to avoid people, situations and circumstances as much as possible. His intense desire to go back to past and live there shows that how insecure and withdrawn he was. Besides, the remarks made by his psychiatrist and friends clearly indicate his defiant approach towards life and ways to escape from this world. He claimed to have seen the third level which never existed as per the records and the statements made by the higher officials of the Grand Central Station. The way he describes the scene of the third level and makes efforts to visit that again and again, points at his escapism from reality. Yes, according to me, Charley was an escapist who had no guts to face this cruel world and he had made an easy way to get rid of the harsh realities of the world. Therefore, we can say that the only way for Charley to escape was the third level which never existed.
Q2. Do you see an intersection of time and space in the chapter ‘The Third Level’?
Yes, there are some instances in the story that clearly indicate an intersection of time and space in the chapter ‘The Third Levels. First and foremost, the entire world and the Presidents of the chief railway companies claim that there are first two levels of Grand Central Station which are still located in the present time while the third level, being claimed by Charley, existed in the nineteenth century. Secondly, Charley lives in the present time yet he hurries to get his old currency exchanged from a coin dealer to buy two tickets for Galesburg. Furthermore, the old and outdated architecture of the third level, the obsolete way of putting on the clothes by the people and selling off the newspaper which once existed not now, is quite different from that of the advanced standards of the first two levels. In the end, the first day cover, which is usually blank from inside, contained a letter which was sent to Charley’s grandfather highlights the intersection of time and space as the sender and receiver belong to the present time.
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