The Rule of the Road: NBSE, AHSEC Classes 9 and 11 Alternative

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Get notes, questions, answers, solutions, pdf, and extras for NBSE class 9 and AHSEC class 11 Alternative English chapter “On the Rule of the Road.” However, these notes should be used only for references and additions/modifications should be made as per the requirements.

On the Rule of the Road NBSE Class 9

Summary: The issue of “freedom” and how some people, in their ignorance, misuse their individual freedom are addressed in A. G. Gardiner’s prose piece “The Rule of the Road.” The writer begins by describing a woman in Petrograd who, confused about the true meaning of liberty, believed she could legally walk in the middle of the street. 

Gardiner argues that if she can exercise such personal freedom by choosing to drive over the pavement, then a cab driver can do the same. If this were the definition of “freedom,” then people would be trampling each other in anarchy. Thus, rules must be established and adhered to in order to maintain harmony in human interactions. In light of this, Gardiner argues that the police officer is a necessary symbol of liberty, rather than oppression. 

As fallible beings, we need the institution of law in our societies to prevent us from trampling on one another’s rights. Thus, both freedom and restraints on freedom are essential for a peaceful existence. One’s negative impulses are mitigated by the fear of being punished, so nobody can be given complete freedom.

Although Gardiner is correct in his assessment that personal freedom allows us to act on our whims in the comfort of our own homes, he is also correct in his observation that when we leave our castles, we must take care to respect the freedom of others.

For NBSE Class 9 Alternative English

I. Explain with reference to context.

1. There is a danger of the world getting liberty-drunk these days, like the old lady with the basket, and it is just as well to remind ourselves of what the rule of the road means.

a. What does the writer mean by “liberty-drunk?”
b. How is the old woman “liberty drunk?”
c. What does the rule of the road imply?

Ans: a) By liberty-drunk, the writer meant that the people are only concerned about their own liberties and not the responsibilities and the limitations that their liberty.

b) The old woman was only concerned about her own reality and didn’t care that her liberty has limitations and must not infringe on the liberties of others.

c) The rule of the road is that in order that the liberties of all may be preserved, the liberties of everybody must be curtailed.

2. If I choose to go down the road in a dressing-gown, who shall say me nay? You have the liberty to laugh at me, but I have the liberty to be indifferent to you. And if I have a fancy for dyeing my hair, or waxing my moustache (which, heaven forbid), or wearing an overcoat and sandals, or going to bed late, or getting up early, I shall follow my fancy and ask no man’s permission.

Choose the correct answer.
The tone of this extract is:

a. sarcastic
b. defensive
c. humorous

Ans: c. humorous

ll. Answer these questions briefly.

1. How does Gardiner illustrate the argument that individual liberty can easily convert to social anarchy?

Ans: Gardiner illustrates the argument that individual liberty can easily convert to social anarchy by using a number of examples and situations that can be applied in the real world. He gave the example of an old lady walking with her basket down the middle of a street, to the great confusion of the traffic. She could not understand that if liberty entitled the pedestrian to walk down the middle of the road, then the end of such liberty would be universal chaos. Everybody would be getting in everybody else’s way and nobody would get anywhere, and individual liberty would easily become social anarchy.

2. Is Gardiner’s policeman a symbol of tyranny or liberty? Explain.

Ans: Gardiner’s policeman is a symbol of liberty because, though he is interfering with the liberties of others, he is doing this so that the liberty of everyone is ensured. If he didn’t interfere with others, the roads would become a place of confusion and people would be stuck in their own spots. He says that we have to submit to minimising our private liberty in order to bring about a social order which makes our liberty a reality.

III. Answer these questions.

1. Look at any one example that Gardiner uses. How does this appeal to you? How does the example serve the purpose?

Ans: The example of the old lady walking with her basket down the middle of a street is a very apt example that Gardiner used to set the premise before explaining the rule of the road.

The example is very realistic to the societies of the world and it easily demonstrates to us the necessity of not invading the liberties of others because of the liberty we have or the world will fall into chaos.

The example serves the purpose of marking clear lines beyond which we should not take our personal liberties so that the liberties of everyone are being sustained. If the woman keeps walking down the middle of the road when there are separate paths for pedestrians, she is invading the liberties of others to drive the cars on the road. If everyone gets so liberated, the cities and nations will be filled with anarchy.

2. Prove that the rule of the road is the foundation of social conduct.

Ans: The rule of the road is the foundation of social conduct, and Gardiner illustrated this very simply through various examples in the essay. For a society to function in an orderly manner, it is very important that people follow the rule of law. People must understand that while they have the liberty to do anything, it is limited to the extent they don’t infringe on the liberty of others. One’s liberty should not come at the cost of another’s trouble. If liberty is taken at face value and people start doing everything, there will be anarchy and chaos and personal liberty cannot be ensured. Therefore, individual liberty would easily become social anarchy.

3. What makes Gardiner’s instructive essay charming? Explain.

Ans: What makes Gardiner’s instructive essay charming is its humorous tone. He chose the examples very carefully, and the situations that he mentioned are easy to imagine. His narrative is easy, sometimes sarcastic, but he is able to make his points clear while at the same time keeping the readers engaged.

For AHSEC Class 11 Alternative English


1. The writer describes the old woman in the middle of the road as being of “no small peril to herself”? What does that mean?

Answer: She was running the risk of being run over by the traffic.

2. The writer says, “Individual liberty leads to social anarchy.” Do you agree/disagree? Give reasons for your answer. 

Answer: Enjoying one’s own freedom without respecting the freedom of others is a surefire recipe for social chaos. It’s more accurate to say that when everyone is free to do as they please, social anarchy ensues and no one gets anything done.

3. Why should we not feel offended when stopped by a traffic policeman?

Answer: We should not feel offended when stopped by a traffic policeman because he is a symbol not of tyranny but of liberty. He makes arrangements for us so that everybody can enjoy liberty.

4. What is the difference between the liberty one has in dressing to please oneself and in playing the tramboline at night? 

Answer: Nighttime tramboline is nothing like the decision-making process that goes into selecting an outfit. Freedom of expression in dress does not pose a safety risk to others. On the other hand, if you play tramboline late at night, your neighbours might get a little antsy. Thus, there is a large gap between the two. Dressing would cause no disturbance, but playing the tramboline will cause disturbance for everyone.

5. “The truth is that I never read Blue-books for pleasure. I read them for the very humble purpose of turning an honest penny out of them.’

(a) What does the writer mean when he says he never reads ‘Blue-books’ for pleasure?

Answer: To say that reading the “Blue-books” was never a hobby of his is to say that he never found them interesting. The only reason he read them was to legitimately increase his income.

(b) What is a ‘Blue-book’? Why does he read them? 

Answer: A “blue-book” refers to a government document archive. He needed to read them for work and to make money.

(c) Explain ‘turning an honest penny out of them.’ 

Answer: Using the information available in “Blue-books” to make a profit is referred to as “turning an honest penny out of them.”

6. ‘As I wrestled with clauses and sections, his voice rose like a gale.’

(a) Who does ‘his’ refer to?

Answer: The person referred to as “his” is a fellow commuter who boarded the train at the next stop.

(b) What does this description imply?

Answer: This passage gives the impression that the author was unable to finish reading the “Blue-book” due to the extremely loud conversation of another passenger.

(c) What were the topics being discussed by the speaker? 

Answer: The discussion turned critical of France and Germany in international politics, which the speaker was discussing.

(d) Were they interesting? What was their effect on the writer? 

Answer: They were boring and not at all interesting.

The writer was so distracted by the conversation that he stopped reading his “Blue-book” altogether.

(e) The writer has used another comparison to convey his feeling about the speaker’s voice. Quote the line from the lesson. What is such a comparison called?

Answer: “It was like a barrel-organ groaning out some uninteresting songs of long ago.” Metaphorical comparison describes this type of comparison.

7. “By what right, my dear Sir, do you go along our high way uttering that hideous curse on all who impede your path?” 

(a) Who is the writer discussing in this line?

Answer: Some motorists, the author claims, use their horns in a deliberately hostile and bullying manner.

(b) What is the ‘hideous curse’ referred to in this line? 

Answer: This “hideous curse” refers to the aggressive honking of horns by some motorists.

(c) What is this kind of behaviour called? 

Answer: Aggression or tyranny are two words that describe this type of behaviour.

(d) Explain ‘impede your path.’ 

Answer: When someone “impedes your path,” they are essentially standing in your way. The pedestrians present a hazard to the passing vehicles.

8. “It is like little habits of commonplace intercourse that or make bitter the journey.” 

(a) What is the journey being referred to here? 

Answer: Life itself is the trip being referred to here.

(b) How can the journey be made sweet? 

Answer: We can make the journey more pleasant by developing habits of common conversation that consider the needs of those around us.

(c) What makes the journey bitter? 

Answer: An unpleasant experience awaits those who seek personal freedom at the expense of social liberty.

(d) Explain ‘commonplace intercourse’.

Answer: ‘Commonplace intercourse’ suggests some sort of interpersonal connection. In a society, everyone must give a little to get a little.

Additional/extra questions and answers/solutions

1. What exactly does “rule of the road” mean?

Answer: The author maintains that everyone’s freedoms must be limited for the greater good of maintaining everyone’s freedoms. For the sake of social freedom, it is necessary to limit individual freedom. Individual freedom can only exist in conjunction with the freedom of others.

2. For the old woman who walked down the centre of a Petrograd street, what did freedom mean?

Answer: The old woman believes that liberty means that she can do as she pleases. Once she gained her freedom, she could go in any direction she pleased.

3. At what point does personal freedom lead to chaos for everyone?

Answer: If everyone was allowed the same amount of freedom, anarchy would ensue. For example, if the foot passengers were allowed to walk down the middle of the road, and the cab driver was allowed to drive on the pavements, everyone’s freedom would be a mess. Personal freedom would have led to complete anarchy in society.

4. When riding on the train, why did the author choose to read the “Blue-book”? How well did he read it? Why?

Answer: AG Gardiner has never been a fan of “Blue-book.” He read them to improve his productivity at work and thus increase his honest income. So, he was attempting to read a Blue-book while riding the rails. However, the necessary reasonable quiet was not present, as at the next station a pair of men entered the carriage, and one of them kept talking to his friend in a loud and pompous voice for the remainder of the trip, preventing him from finishing the book.

5. When the author realised he was unable to read the “Blue-book,” why did he remain silent?

Answer: The author chose to remain silent because he was afraid that his fellow passenger would view him as rude and uncultured if he asked him to reduce his volume. Because the man was sure that no one in the carriage had anything more important to do than listen to him, and because he thought that everyone had thanked him for an enlightening ride.

6. In the story, what is described as the foundation for social conduct?

Answer: A person’s behaviour should reflect the values and concerns of the community in which he or she resides. We might refer to this as “social conduct.” According to the author, respect for the rights and feelings of others is the bedrock of civil behaviour.

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7 thoughts on “The Rule of the Road: NBSE, AHSEC Classes 9 and 11 Alternative”

  1. Dwaipayan kashyap

    The difference is that the liberty one has in dressing to please oneself remains only with that person and doesnot affect liberties of other people but while playing tremboline at night one has to keep in account the liberty of the people living nearby as the sound of the tremboline could disturb others thus affecting their individual liberty to sleep peacefully without any interference.

  2. Debashree Saikia

    thank another qestion…What is the difference in the linberty one has in dressing to please oneself and in playinf the tramboline at night?

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