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Chapter 1- The Last Lesson Interview Questions Answers

Question 1 :

Notice these expressions in the text. Infer their meanings from the- context

Answer 1 :

in great dread of –  fearful in anticipation of something
counted on – to rely or trust on somebody/something
thumbed at the edges – worn or soiled edges caused by frequent handling
in unison – something happening or being done at the same time
a great bustle – an excited (and often noisy) activity or a rapid, active commotion
reproach ourselves with – to express disapproval, criticism, or disappointment

Question 2 : What was Franz expected to be prepared with for school that day?

Answer 2 : That day, Franz was expected to be prepared with the lesson on participles.

Question 3 : What did Franz notice that was unusual about the school that day?

Answer 3 : That day, Franz noticed the absence of the routine commotion caused by the opening and closing of desks, repeating of lessons in unison and rapping of the teacher’s ruler on the table. The usual hustle-bustle was replaced by a strange stillness that was the characteristic of a school on a “Sunday morning.”

Question 4 : What had been put up on the bulletin-board?

Answer 4 : The bulletin-board notified the general public about an order from Berlin. It stated that only German was to be taught to students in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine.

Question 5 : What changes did the order from Berlin cause in school that day?

Answer 5 : The order from Berlin brought all the routine hustle-bustle of the school life to a stand-still. The teacher, M. Hamel, became more sympathetic to his students and taught his lessons with more patience. The students became more attentive in their classes. The villagers, who were sitting at the usually empty back benches and had come to show their respect and gratitude to M. Hamel, regretted not going to school more than they did. The order also brought about a great change in the feelings of the people towards their country and their native language. There was a general sadness about not being able to utilise the opportunities of learning French when it was easily accessible.

Question 6 : How did Franz's feelings about M. Hamel and school change?

Answer 6 :

Franz was shocked when M. Hamel told the students about the order from Berlin and that it was their last French lesson. He forgot about his teacher’s ruler and crankiness. He developed a fondness for M. Hamel at the troubling idea of being separated from him forever. He understood the pain and agony his teacher was undergoing. And, he became more sympathetic towards his teacher.
His school too, now, carried a different meaning. His books and lessons seemed old friends whom he couldn’t give up. He realised with pain how much French meant to him and regretted not being attentive in his classes earlier. Suddenly, he felt that the ‘difficult concepts’ had never actually been difficult.

Question 7 : The people in this story suddenly realize how precious their language is to them. What shows you this? Why does this happen?

Answer 7 :

The crowd surrounding the bulletin-board, the presence of the villagers in the class, the silence in place of the routine hustle and bustle of the school, the emotions that gripped M. Hamel and Franz, representing that of the teacher and the student community respectively, were all indicators of the realisation of the importance of their language to them.
In the story, M. Hamel says that people realise the importance of somebody or something in their lives very often when it is lost to them. Similarly, it was the order from Berlin that made people realise the importance of their language for them.

Question 8 : Franz thinks, “Will they make them sing in German, even the pigeons?” What could this mean?

Answer 8 :

Language is inherent to culture and identity. The authority of human beings is restricted only to false boundaries that can be controlled. Nature and other things cannot be governed by some superficial laws of the wilful people. By taking the reference of making the pigeons learn German, the author is pointing to this very constraint.
This sentence could possibly mean that however hard the authorities try to embed German language in the culture of Alsace and Lorraine, the natural status of French, for them, will remain unchanged. French flows in the air and the entire place is imbued with its effect. Even though they train students in German, the basic mode of communication would remain unchanged like the cooing of the pigeons.

Question 9 :
“When a people are enslaved, as long as they hold fast to their language it is as if they had the key to their prison.”

Answer 9 :

Can you think of examples in history where a conquered people had their language taken away from them or had a language imposed on them?

Some examples of the native language taken away from its people and/or imposition of the language of the conqueror are:
(a) Portuguese becoming the lingua franca of Angola.
(b) English imposed on the various Celtic peoples.
(c) Spanish imposed on the Basques and the Catalans.
(d) Turkish imposed on the Kurds.

Question 10 :
What happens to a linguistic minority in a state? How do you think they can keep their language alive? 

Answer 10 :

For example:
Punjabis in Bangalore
Tamilians in Mumbai
Kannadigas in Delhi
Gujaratis in Kolkata

A linguistic minority in a state does not have as much liberty to exercise linguistic skills as the natives of the state. They initially try to learn the jargons in order to cope with the day-to-day life activities and finally begin to understand the native language with regular interaction. At the workplace and educational organisations, English or the link language helps a lot to cope up with the work and learning process. But, when it comes to understanding the basic norms of the society, in order to socialize, one does face a sort of linguistic barrier during communication.
To keep their language alive, the linguistic minorities can form small communities where they can celebrate their festivals as per their traditions. Moreover, they can continue to speak their native language at their homes in order to make their children learn the language. People must, even, try to visit their native places at regular intervals in order to stay close to their roots.



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