Ivan the fool: NBSE class 9 Alternative English drama answers

Ivan the fool NBSE class 9 Alternative english
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Get notes, questions, answers, solutions, Assam, pdf, and extras for the chapter Ivan the Fool by Leo Tolstoy, which is a part of class 9 Alternative English syllabus for students studying under the Nagaland Board of School Education. However, these notes should be used only for references and additions/modifications should be made as per the requirements.


This adaptation largely concentrates on the three brothers—Simeon the soldier, Tarras the merchant, and Ivan the fool. While Simeon and Tarras are tempted by wealth and power, Ivan is content with a simple life. He works hard on his farm to take care of his family. Though called “Ivan the Fool” for his simple-mindedness and lack of intelligence, it is he who defeats the devil and his plans.

The devil tries to make the brothers fight amongst themselves in order to disturb their peace. For this purpose, he sends three of his imps. The imps plan to make the brothers lose all their possessions and to get them to fight over their share of their father’s property. Of the imps, two succeed in winning over Simeon and Tarras, who end up losing all they had earned. The third imp sent to make trouble for Ivan, however, is not so successful. He finds it difficult to overcome Ivan, who gets the better of him. Ivan foils the plans of the other two imps as well. The devil then decides to take control of the situation himself.

In the meantime, Ivan uses one of the magical gifts he has gained from the imps to cure the tsar’s daughter of her illness. As a reward, the tsar gives his daughter in marriage to Ivan and makes him the ruler of the kingdom. Ivan thus becomes the tsar. The devil goes to Ivan’s kingdom, disguised first as a general and later as a nobleman. He tries to ruin Ivan through war, money, and greed. However, it is the devil who faces defeat, while Ivan continues to rule the kingdom of the fools.

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Explain with reference to context

1. Soldiers playing tunes? What would Ivan know about the use of soldiers? It would take a man of the army to know to use them better.

a. Who says these lines?
b. What does the speaker mean when he says “a man of the army”?
c. What is the mood?

Answer: a. Simon the soldier says these lines.

b. When the speaker says “man of the army”, he means that only a man who has been in the army will know how to put the army to better use.

c. The mood is of doubt, tension, and jealousy

2. If they stop serving others, they will be free to work for themselves. Then they can work in the fields and make their own food.

a. Who are they?
b. What does the speaker mean by “work for themselves?”
c. To what problem is the speaker providing a solution?

Answer: a. ‘They’ are referred to the people of the land who serve the ministers and the king.

b. ‘Work for themselves’ means the people can till the land, make their own food, and meet their own needs.

c. The speaker is providing a solution to the problem of having no money left in the treasury to pay people for their work.

Answer the questions

1. Why is Ivan considered a fool? Mention three instances of ‘foolish’ behaviour.

Answer: Ivan is considered a fool as he is simple-minded, lacks intelligence, and does not want wealth, fame, or power. Moreover, he works hard and practically follows and believes in the dignity of labour. He is generous to others and easily forgets an offence.

Three instances of his foolish behaviour are:

i. The way heat dealt with his greedy brothers.
ii. The way he behaved when he got plenty of gold.
iii. The behaviour he displayed while having plenty of soldiers at his disposal.

2. Fools are determined and won’t give up easily. Comment on the truth of this statement.

Answer: This might sound like an ironic statement at first glance, but this holds much truth. In the story, when the Devil makes the statement, it is foreshadowing the events that would follow and is a backhanded compliment to Ivan.

Though Ivan is a fool, he perseveres against all odds. He puts people above materialism like only a fool would do, for no so-called sane person chooses people over wealth, as they equal the possession of wealth, fame, and power with the possession of happiness. Also, it takes a fool to forget and forgive the wrongs done to him and make the world a place of harmony. He finally makes others realise the meaning of happiness and that a fool is not really a fool.

3. When the imps grant him whatever he desires, what does Ivan choose? Why does he do so?

Answer: When the Imp granted him whatever he desired, Ivan chose the magic root from the Imp 3 to cure all diseases, the singing soldiers from the Imp 2 to entertain the girls of his village, and he learnt to make gold coins from the leaves of the oak tree from the Imp 1 to entertain the boys of his village.

Ivan chose these things because he was not materialistic and wanted to make others happy.

Think and answer

1. How is Ivan different from his brothers? Say with suitable examples from the text.

Answer: Ivan is portrayed as distinct from his brothers in terms of values and actions. While Simeon and Tarras are driven by wealth and power, Ivan, often referred to as the fool, is content with a simple life. For instance, Ivan generously shares his property with his brothers when asked, demonstrating his detachment from material wealth. Moreover, despite his brothers’ betrayal, Ivan continues to help them without holding grudges, showing his forgiving nature and focus on family over material gain.

2. Read the title of the story. Explain why you think the title of the story is suitable or unsuitable. If unsuitable, suggest another title for it.

Answer: The title “The Tale of Ivan the Fool” is suitable because it encapsulates the central theme of the narrative: Ivan’s apparent foolishness, which is actually his wisdom. The story repeatedly illustrates how Ivan’s seemingly naive acts, like giving away his wealth and refusing to use soldiers for violence, ultimately reveal a deeper insight into life’s true values. His ‘foolishness’ in rejecting the societal norms of greed and power leads to peace and harmony. If another title were to be suggested, it could be “Ivan’s Wise Folly,” emphasizing the wisdom underlying his foolish actions.

Going Beyond

1. Clever people work with their heads. It is more profitable and difficult at the same time. Is brain power mightier than physical strength? Discuss your views in an essay of 150 words.

Answer: Brain power is arguably mightier than physical strength, especially in the context of modern society where knowledge and intellectual skills drive progress. Intellectual capabilities enable the creation and manipulation of information, fostering innovations that can transform societies. For example, the development of technology and strategic problem-solving in industries such as healthcare, education, and finance highlights the significant advantages of intellectual over physical labor. While physical strength is essential and respected, particularly in fields requiring manual labor, the global shift towards a knowledge-based economy underscores the greater long-term benefits of brain power. Intellectual endeavors not only offer more profitability through high-skilled occupations but also promise broader societal advancements. Thus, in a world increasingly reliant on cognitive skills, brain power holds a critical edge over physical strength.

2. Is it possible to live without money or power? Write a short paragraph, explaining your view.

Answer: Living entirely without money or power is challenging in contemporary societies where economic exchanges and hierarchical structures dominate. Money facilitates trade and access to essentials, while power often dictates social and political influence. However, small, self-sustaining communities show that with mutual cooperation and resource sharing, reliance on money and power can be minimized. Such models, although rare, demonstrate that a different kind of societal organization, based on communal support and equality, is conceivable but requires significant shifts in societal values and structures.

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4 thoughts on “Ivan the fool: NBSE class 9 Alternative English drama answers”

  1. “Soldiers playing tunes? What would Ivan know about the use of soldiers? It would take a man of the army to know to use them better. ‘
    Who says these lines And to whom?

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