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On Saying Please: BSEM Class 10 English Literature

an angry man on saying please

Get summary, textual solutions, questions, answers, notes. pdf, extras to the chapter “On Saying Please” by A.G. Gardiner which is a part of Class 10 English Literature Reader syllabus for students studying under Manipur Board (BSEM).

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(A) Based on your reading of the text complete the following statements:

1. The liftman who threw the passenger out was in the wrong because discourtesy

Answer: is not a legal offence and it does not excuse assault and battery.

2. Law may not recognise discourtesy as a legal offence but it does not mean that

Answer: the damages are negligible.

3. In the eye of the law the liftman may be wrong yet most people

Answer: will have a certain sympathy with him.

4. ‘Thank you’ and ‘please’ make social relationship mutually co-operative and easy instead of

Answer: superiors dictating to inferiors.

5. The writer is thankful to the “Underground Railway Company” for

Answer: insisting on a certain standard of civility in its servants and taking care that that standard is observed.

6. The polite conductor got a heavy boot because

Answer: his own feet get trod on so much.

7. If bad manners are infectious so

Answer: also are good manners.

8. The polite conductor’s civility and good-humoured bearing

Answer: infected his passengers.

(B) Answer the following questions in a sentence each

1. Does law recognise bad manner as a legally punishable offence?

Answer: No, the law does not recognise bad manners as a legally punishable offence.

2. According to the writer are damages done to one’s self-respect negligible?

Answer: No, the damages done to one’s self-respect are not negligible.

3. According to the writer what poisons general life in society more than all the crimes in the calendar?

Answer: Bad manners poison general life in society more than all the crimes in the calendar.

4. What according to Gardiner is the first requirement of civility?

Answer: The first requirement of civility is that we should acknowledge a service.

5. What kind of mind will wish to command where one can have the service more willingly only on asking?

Answer: A very vulgar mind will wish to command where one can have the service more willingly only on asking.

6. What is the writer’s general opinion about conductors as a class?

Answer: The writer’s general opinion about conductors as a class is that they generally come through the ordeal of a very trying calling better than most.

7. The conductor gave a ticket to the writer although he had no money. Where did the conductor say he should pay the money?

Answer: The conductor said the writer could pay the money whenever he saw him next.

8. Why did the writer feel a curious pleasure whenever he travelled in the bus of the polite bus conductor?

Answer: The writer felt a curious pleasure whenever he travelled in the bus of the polite bus conductor because of the conductor’s constant good-nature and kindness.

9. According to the writer what is responsible for the loss of the little everyday civilities of behaviour that sweetens the general air?

Answer: According to the writer, the war is responsible for the loss of the little everyday civilities of behaviour that sweetens the general air.

(C) Answer the following questions briefly:

1. Why did the liftman push out the passenger?

Answer: The liftman pushed out the passenger because the passenger refused to say “Top please” as requested by the liftman, which the liftman perceived as discourtesy.

2. What legal right does a man have if a burglar breaks into his house?

Answer: If a burglar breaks into a man’s house, the law permits him to retaliate with reasonable violence in self-defense.

3. The law found the liftman wrong. Why does the author say that the law is reasonable? How?

Answer: The author believes the law is reasonable because it cannot legislate against bad manners or sanction the use of violence for something that is not a legally punishable offense.

4. Why does the law not compel a man to say ‘please’?

Answer: The law does not compel a man to say ‘please’ because it does not recognize the lacertation of feelings as a case for compensation and cannot legislate personal manners or social civilities.

5. “The pain of a kick on the shins soon passes away but the pain of a wound to our self-respect or our vanity may poison a whole day.” Explain.

Answer: This means that physical pain like a kick on the shins is temporary and fades quickly, but emotional or psychological wounds, like those to our self-respect or vanity, can have a longer, more profound impact on our mood and well-being.

6. According to the author what might the liftman have done if he was denied the relief of throwing the uncivil passenger out of the lift?

Answer: If the liftman was denied the relief of throwing the uncivil passenger out, he might have brooded over the insult for hours and potentially displaced his frustration onto others, like his family, in the evening.

7. “Bad manners probably do more to poison the stream of general life than all the crimes in the calendar.” Explain.

Answer: This statement suggests that bad manners and incivility have a more pervasive and damaging effect on everyday social life and interactions than even major crimes, as they create a continuous and widespread negative impact on people’s interactions and mood.

8. The writer says that most people will have certain sympathy with the liftman. Why does he say so in spite of saying that he was legally wrong?

Answer: The writer suggests that most people will have sympathy with the liftman because while he was legally wrong, there is a general social expectation and value placed on civility, and the liftman’s reaction, though extreme, stemmed from a violation of this social norm.

9. “‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ are the small change with which we pay our way as social beings.” Why does the writer say so?

Answer: The writer compares ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ to small change because, like coins used in transactions, these words are small yet essential elements of social interaction that facilitate smooth and respectful communication and relationships.

10. Why does the writer say that the bus conductor’s job is a trying job?

Answer: The writer says that the bus conductor’s job is trying because it involves constant interaction with a wide range of people, some of whom may be difficult or rude, making the role both socially and emotionally challenging.

11. Under what circumstances did the author meet the polite conductor?

Answer: The author met the polite conductor when he boarded the bus and realized he had no money to pay the fare, and the conductor kindly allowed him to stay on the bus and pay another time.

12. How did the author expect to be treated at the hand of the polite conductor when he found that he had no money?

Answer: The author expected to be treated coldly or suspiciously by the conductor, possibly being asked to leave the bus, when he found he had no money.

13. The conductor’s boot had hurt the author. Yet he assured him that he had not. Why did he do so?

Answer: The author assured the conductor that he hadn’t been hurt because he appreciated the conductor’s polite and good-natured apology, and didn’t want to make the situation uncomfortable or embarrassing for him.

14. How did the conductor treat blind men aboard his bus?

Answer: The conductor treated blind men with exceptional care and consideration, going beyond his duty to ensure they were safely guided to their destination or across the road.

15. The author missed the polite conductor from his bus. But he did not mind it. Why?

Answer: The author did not mind missing the polite conductor because he hoped that the conductor was spreading his positive attitude and good-natured service elsewhere, which would benefit more people.

16. ‘The policeman is a necessary symbol…..’ Why does the writer say so?

Answer: The writer says that the policeman is a necessary symbol as a representation of law and order, necessary for a society which is not perfect, indicating that while we cannot legislate civility and good manners, we still need laws to maintain basic societal standards.

17. What is the story of Lord Chesterfield who had a sweet revenge upon a boorish man?

Answer: The story of Lord Chesterfield’s sweet revenge on a boorish man is that when a man refused to give way to Chesterfield on a narrow path, saying he never makes way for scoundrels, Chesterfield politely stepped aside, saying he always does, elegantly demonstrating superior civility.

(D) Answer the following questions in about 80 words each:

1. “There is no allowance for moral and intellectual damages.” Why does the writer say so in the context of the liftman and the rude passenger?

Answer: The writer mentions this in the context of the liftman and the rude passenger to highlight the limitation of the law in addressing issues of personal manners and social civility. While the law can address and redress physical or material harm, it does not account for the emotional or psychological impact of rudeness or discourtesy. This limitation is exemplified in the case of the liftman, where his reaction to perceived discourtesy was legally punishable, but the law could not address the emotional hurt he felt due to the passenger’s rudeness.

2. “This does not mean that the damages are negligible.” Why does the writer say so in spite of the fact that incivility is not a legal offence?

Answer: Despite incivility not being a legal offense, the writer asserts that the damages are not negligible to emphasize that the emotional or psychological impact of discourtesy is significant. The writer suggests that while the law may not recognize or compensate for the hurt caused by bad manners, such behavior can have a profound effect on individuals, potentially causing lasting emotional distress, which is in its own way as impactful as physical harm.

3. “But all the same the law cannot become the guardian of our private manners.” Explain why the writer says so in spite of the fact that the damages caused by incivility are not negligible.

Answer: The writer states that the law cannot become the guardian of private manners to acknowledge that while incivility can cause significant emotional harm, it is impractical and inappropriate for legal systems to regulate personal behavior and social interactions to that extent. The complexity and subjective nature of manners and civility make them unsuitable for legal enforcement. The law’s role is to address clear, definable offenses, not the nuanced and varied realm of social conduct.

4. “While it is true that there is no law that compels us to say ‘Please’ there is a social practice much older and much more sacred than any law which enjoins us to be civil.” Explain why civility is important in the light of the above remark.

Answer: Civility is important, as indicated by the remark, because it represents a fundamental social practice that facilitates respectful and harmonious interactions among people. While not legally enforced, civility is rooted in longstanding social customs that are crucial for maintaining positive interpersonal relationships and social order. The use of words like ‘Please’ and mutual respect, though not mandated by law, are essential for a cooperative and civilized society, embodying values that are older and more revered than legal stipulations.

5. Write about the author’s encounter with the polite conductor when he found he had left home without any money.

Answer: The author recounts an encounter with a polite bus conductor when he realized he had forgotten his wallet at home. Despite not having money to pay for the fare, the conductor kindly allowed the author to stay on the bus and offered to book him through to his destination, showing trust and goodwill. This experience left a lasting impression on the author, highlighting the conductor’s exceptional civility and kindness. The conductor’s gesture of good faith and understanding in a potentially awkward situation exemplifies the impact of good manners and empathy in daily interactions.

6. “I found that he irradiated such an atmosphere of good-temper and kindliness that a journey with him was a lesson in natural courtesy and good manners.” Explain the activities of the polite bus conductor in the light of the above remark.

Answer: The polite bus conductor’s activities, as observed by the author, were marked by consistent good-nature, kindness, and courteous behavior towards all passengers. He showed exceptional patience and a gift for making passengers feel comfortable. His actions included offering helpful tips, being considerate and solicitous towards the elderly and children, and even going out of his way to assist blind passengers. This consistent display of good manners and a positive attitude created a pleasant and respectful atmosphere on the bus, serving as a practical lesson in the importance and impact of natural courtesy and good manners in everyday life.

7. “In lightening their spirits he lightened his own task.” Explain how the conductor lightened his task as a bus conductor.

Answer: The conductor lightened his task as a bus conductor by maintaining a cheerful and positive demeanor, which in turn positively influenced the mood and behavior of his passengers. His good manners and kindliness not only made the journey more pleasant for the passengers but also made his job easier and more enjoyable. By creating a friendly and cooperative environment, he reduced the likelihood of conflicts and negative interactions, thereby making his duties less stressful and more manageable. Essentially, his positive attitude towards his work and the people he interacted with made the challenges of his job seem lighter.

8. What are the author’s recommendations for getting back the lost sense of civility in society?

Answer: The author recommends restoring civility in society by emphasizing the importance of personal manners and social practices that are beyond the scope of legal enforcement. He suggests that civility should be cultivated through social customs and individual behavior, rather than relying on the law. The author implies that fostering an environment where courtesy and respect are valued and practiced regularly can help rebuild the sense of civility. This includes acknowledging services, using polite language, and showing consideration for others, thereby creating a more cooperative and harmonious social atmosphere.

Think and Write

1. Read the following dialogue:

Mr. A: “Excuse me gentleman. Can you please tell me the way to Mr. Z’s house?”

Mr. B: “What! Do you think I’ve been standing here for the last 15 minutes to answer stupid questions from men like you?”

Suppose you are Mr. A and the above incident has happened to you. How will you describe the incident? What will your feelings be? Write how you will react?

Answer: If I were Mr. A, I would describe the incident as an unexpected and unpleasant encounter with rudeness. Upon asking for directions in a polite manner, I was met with hostility and disrespect from Mr. B, who not only refused to help but also insulted me. My feelings would be a mixture of surprise, hurt, and perhaps frustration at such unwarranted rudeness. In reaction, I would try to maintain my composure, not stooping to the level of incivility shown by Mr. B. I might express disappointment at his response but would choose to walk away without escalating the situation, understanding that civility is a personal choice and not everyone chooses it.

2. People say that the young generations in modern time lack a sense of good manners. Write a paragraph expressing your ideas for and against this opinion.

Answer: The opinion that younger generations lack good manners can be seen from different perspectives. On one hand, it is argued that modern youth, influenced by rapid technological advancements and changing social norms, may not adhere to traditional forms of politeness. The rise of digital communication has led to shorter, less formal interactions, and the fast pace of life may diminish the emphasis on courteous behavior. However, on the other hand, it is important to recognize that good manners evolve and the younger generation may express civility in new ways, adapting to the contemporary social context. They might be more aware of and sensitive to issues like inclusivity and respect for diversity, which are integral to modern notions of good manners. Thus, while the expression of politeness might differ, it does not necessarily mean that young people lack a sense of good manners; they may simply be redefining what it means in today’s world.


(i) In English language the meaning of a word changes with different appropriate prepositions – For example:

  • break away – That country may break away from the World Body (separate).
  • break down- His health broke down because of illness (failed).

Now, find the meaning of the following and write sentences of your own. You ought to consult a dictionary.

Break in:

  • Meaning: To enter forcibly or illegally.
  • Sentence: The burglars managed to break in through the back door while we were on vacation.

Break into:

  • Meaning: To suddenly begin doing something.
  • Sentence: She couldn’t help but break into a smile when she saw her friend’s surprise.

Break off:

  • Meaning: To end a relationship or a discussion.
  • Sentence: They decided to break off their engagement after realizing they had different life goals.

Break out:

  • Meaning: To suddenly occur, usually referring to something undesirable like a fire or a war.
  • Sentence: Panic started to break out in the crowd when the fire alarms sounded.

 Break through:

  • Meaning: To make a discovery or advancement; to overcome an obstacle.
  • Sentence: The scientist’s research finally had a breakthrough, leading to a new vaccine.

Break up:

  • Meaning: To end a relationship; to disperse or scatter.
  • Sentence: The teacher had to break up the fight between the two students.

Break with:

  • Meaning: To disagree with or disassociate from a group or tradition.
  • Sentence: He decided to break with family tradition and pursue a career in arts instead of business.

(ii) Make new words by matching the words on the left with suitable words from the right:


  • Moonlight
  • Earspoon
  • Doorstep
  • Liontamer
  • Moneymaker
  • Firescape
  • Shoelace
  • Windmill
  • Teacup
  • Outpatient

Writing Practice

Write a letter to the editor of a newspaper expressing your views that ‘politeness’ makes human relationship sweet.


The Editor,
The Manipur Daily

29 April 2023

Dear Sir,

I am writing to express my views on the vital role politeness plays in enhancing human relationships. In today’s fast-paced and often impersonal society, the value of politeness may seem diminished, but its power to sweeten human interactions remains unparalleled.

Politeness acts as the oil that smoothens the machinery of our daily interactions. It is not just about using courteous words or gestures; it is an attitude, a way of presenting ourselves that shows respect and consideration for others. This respect fosters stronger, more positive relationships, both in our personal lives and in the broader community.

In a world where misunderstandings and conflicts are commonplace, politeness serves as a tool for peaceful and effective communication. It can bridge gaps, heal wounds, and build bonds. It is often in the small, everyday courtesies that we find the strength of our human connections. When we are polite, we acknowledge the other person’s dignity, and this acknowledgment can transform even mundane interactions into meaningful exchanges.

Moreover, politeness is contagious. One act of courtesy can inspire another, creating a ripple effect that can significantly improve the quality of our collective social experience. By prioritizing politeness, we not only enhance our own lives but also contribute to a kinder, more empathetic society.

In conclusion, I believe that politeness is not just a social nicety but a fundamental aspect of human interaction that enriches our relationships and our community. It is a timeless virtue that holds the key to a more harmonious and fulfilling social life.

Yours sincerely,

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