Get summary, workbook solutions, questions, answers, notes. pdf, extras to the story “The Cookie Lady” by Philip K. Dick which is a part of Class 12 English syllabus for students studying under ISC.
The story opens with young Bubber Surle walking down the street as other neighbourhood boys taunt him about visiting an elderly woman they refer to as his “lady friend.” Bubber ignores them and continues to the run-down home of Mrs. Drew, known around the neighbourhood as the “Cookie Lady.” She greets Bubber warmly, having just baked fresh cookies for him, his favourite treat.
As Bubber sits eating cookies in her living room, Mrs. Drew asks him to read aloud from his school books, claiming she enjoys being read to since her eyesight is failing. As he reads in a dull monotone, Mrs. Drew sits very close by, observing him intently. A strange transformation begins occurring – Mrs. Drew starts growing younger, her withered skin plumping up and wrinkles disappearing as she seems to feed off Bubber’s youthful energy. However, the transformation is only temporary and she becomes old again as soon as Bubber leaves.
Bubber’s parents dislike him spending time with the eccentric Cookie Lady. They notice he comes home exhausted and tells him that he can visit her only one last time. Bubber tells Mrs. Drew this next visit will be his last per his parents’ orders. Mrs. Drew is distraught and begs Bubber to stay and read to her. She moves her chair even closer to the boy and touches his arm, intensifying the rejuvenating effect. Lost in her own restoration, Mrs. Drew becomes a vivacious, dark-haired beauty, the withered old woman totally transformed. Oblivious, Bubber simply finishes the cookies and leaves.
As Bubber struggles home through the cold dusk, he becomes increasingly weak and ill, needing to frequently stop and rest. His concerned parents hear faint tapping at the front door and open it to find a bundle of dry weeds blowing in the wind. The implication is that Mrs. Drew’s selfish rejuvenation completely drained Bubber’s life force, leaving only his depleted remains.
Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)
1. Ernie Mill’s tone was:
(a) sad (b) happy (c) mocking (d) friendly
Answer: C. mocking
2. The house in which Mrs Drew lives was:
(a) a haunted house (b) shabby (c) very big (d) newly renovated
Answer: B. shabby
3. Mrs Drew was:
(a) a young woman (b) a very old woman (c) charming and friendly (d) cynical
Answer: B. a very old woman
4. Mrs Drew served Bubber cookies with a glass of:
(a) tea (b) coffee (c) hot milk (d) cold milk
Answer: D. cold milk
5. Bubber was carrying with him a book on:
(a) poetry (b) chemistry (c) geography (d) general knowledge
Answer: C. geography
6. The rocking chair was placed:
(a) in the living room (b) on the porch (c) near the staircase (d) in the backyard
Answer: B. on the porch
7. Mrs Drew turned into a woman of _______ when she came close to Bubber after his reading a book.
(a) 20 (b) 30 (c) 35 (d) 25
Answer: B. 30
8. What did Bubber’s parents discuss when they saw him coming from Mrs Drew’s house?
(a) Bubbar was indifferent (b) Bubbar was tired out (c) Bubbar was behaving abnormally (d) Bubbar was annoyed
Answer: B. Bubber was tired out
9. What kind of boy was Bubber?
(a) thin (b) obese (c) cheerful (d) very clever
Answer: B. obese
10. When Bubber told Mrs Drew that this was his last visit to hers how did she react?
(a) angrily (b) foolishly (c) behaved awkwardly (d) felt unhappy
Answer: D. felt unhappy
1. Mrs Drew kept the door open for Bubber because
Answer: she wanted to welcome him into her house to serve him cookies.
2. On eating cookies Bubber’s ample sides bulged because
Answer: he was already overweight and eating more made him even more obese.
3. Mrs Drew asked Bubber to stay and talk to her for while because
Answer: she wanted to regain her youth by draining his life and energy.
4. Bubber had been coming to Mrs Drew because
Answer: she baked tasty cookies with nuts and raisins which were his favourite.
5. Ernie used to ask Bubber about his visit to old lady because
Answer: he found Bubber’s frequent visits to the old lady amusing.
6. Mrs Drew underwent transformation when Bubber visited her because
Answer: something strange happened where she gained back her lost youth just by being close to Bubber.
7. Bubber’s mouth watered when he saw the lady drinking ice-cream soda because
Answer: it reminded him of the tasty cookies and cold milk served by Mrs. Drew.
8. Bubber stopped outside McVane’s drugstore because
Answer: he felt tempted by the ice cream soda he saw someone drinking there.
9. Bubber’s father did not want him to go to the lady because
Answer: he found something strange about the old lady and her influence on Bubber as he would always come back exhausted.
10. On his way back from Mrs Drew’s house, Bubber felt tired, his headache because
Answer: Mrs. Drew had drained him of his youth and energy when he visited her.
Short Answer Questions
1. Why is Bernard teased by his friends? Where does he go?
Answer: Bernard is teased by his friend Ernie because he frequently visits an old lady named Mrs. Drew. Ernie asks in a mocking tone if Bernard is going to see his “lady friend” again. Bernard ignores the teasing and continues to Mrs. Drew’s house which is located at the end of the street.
2. Where was the old lady living? What kind of house was it?
Answer: The old lady Mrs. Drew lived in a small rundown grey house located at the end of Elm Street. Her house looked shabby and neglected with peeling paint, sagging porch steps, overgrown weeds in the yard, and an old rocking chair on the porch.
3. What tempts Bubber to the cookie lady?
Answer: Bubber is tempted to visit Mrs. Drew because she bakes fresh, warm cookies with nuts and raisins which are his favourite treat. She also serves him cold milk to drink with the cookies which makes it even more appealing to Bubber who has an insatiable sweet tooth.
4. What do you know about Bubber’s parents?
Answer: Not much background is provided about Bubber’s parents except that his father’s name is Ralf Surle and his mother’s name is May Surle. They do not approve of Bubber’s frequent visits to Mrs. Drew’s house and think there is something strange about the old lady’s influence on their son.
5. How long has Bubber been visiting the old lady? How would she feel in his presence?
Answer: The story indicates Bubber has been visiting Mrs. Drew for over a month. She seems to greatly enjoy Bubber’s company, as she does not like being alone and asks him to stay longer and talk or read to her. His youthful presence seems to have a refreshing, rejuvenating effect on Mrs. Drew.
6. What did the boy feel in her company and after he left her?
Answer: In Mrs. Drew’s company while eating cookies Bubber felt content and satisfied. But after leaving her house to return home, he felt extremely weary, tired, and drained of energy.
7. What reaction did Bubber’s parents give when he returned from Mrs Drew’s house?
Answer: Bubber’s parents were upset when he returned home late from Mrs. Drew’s, annoyed that he disobeyed their instruction not to stay too long. They also expressed concern that he came home exhausted and something strange was going on with the old lady.
8. What wrong do you find in Bubber visiting Mrs Drew?
Answer: It was unwise for an innocent, obese young boy to repeatedly spend time alone with a seemingly strange elderly woman. She appears to take advantage by exploiting Bubber’s youth and energy for her own benefit.
9. How did the lady feel the change in herself when Bubber visited her on his last visit?
Answer: On Bubber’s last visit, Mrs. Drew undergoes a shocking transformation where she suddenly begins rejuvenating and regaining a youthful vigour she had lost, with reddening lips, lush hair, firm flesh, and an exuberant thrill at getting her old body back.
10. Do you approve of the lady feeling happy over her transformation when she ignored what had happened to the boy?
Answer: No, it is despicable that Mrs. Drew only cares about restoring her own youth through some mystical energy drain from Bubber without any concern for his well-being or what terrible fate she doomed him to. Her selfishness and lack of conscience is quite disturbing.
11. What fate is meted out to Bubber?
Answer: The last scene shockingly reveals that Bubber never made it home from his final visit with Mrs. Drew, instead somehow turning into a mere bundle of trash papers and weeds blown about in the wind, essentially erased or destroyed.
12. What kind of boy is Bubber depicted?
Answer: Bubber is depicted as a fat, greedy, but innocent and oblivious boy who allows his craving for sweets and cookies to blind him to the dangerous stranger he interacts with, making him vulnerable to being exploited without realising the harm being done to him.
Long Answer Questions
1. Discuss the appropriateness of the title of the story The Cookie Lady’ .
Answer: The title ‘The Cookie Lady’ is highly appropriate for this story as the old lady, Mrs Drew is the pivot around which the entire story revolves. She has an irresistible charm of making delicious cookies which draw the young boy Bubber to her small house again and again. While serving him cookies, she craftily gains proximity to the boy which enables her to steal his youth and get rejuvenated herself. The title highlights her skill in baking as well as her vicious motives.
2. Comment on the theme of the story.
Answer: The central theme of this horror story is the exploitation of innocence. The old Mrs Drew exploits Bubber’s innocence and craving for cookies to drain out his youth for her own benefit. It also shows how neglect on the part of parents can lead children to fall into the traps of unscrupulous people. The theme highlights the selfishness and greed for one’s own good at the cost of others.
3. Give a character sketch of Mrs Drew.
Answer: Mrs Drew is the main character around whom the story revolves. She is depicted as a shrewd, cunning old lady living alone in a dilapidated house overgrown with weeds. Her only aim is to exploit the boy Bubber who is drawn to her house by the irresistible cookies she bakes. While serving him cookies, she gains proximity with the boy which enables her to literally steal away all his youth and vitality, leaving him just an empty shell. She is shown to be utterly selfish, remorseless and vicious in her motives.
4. What kind of story is ‘The Cookie Lady’?
Answer: ‘The Cookie Lady’ is a horror story with strong elements of mystery and suspense. There is something strange and sinister about the old lady’s house, her persona and her interaction with the young boy. The reader feels an atmosphere of foreboding evil as the boy loses all his vitality after his visits to Mrs Drew’s house while she becomes younger. The climax where the boy turns into a bundle of trash being blown around builds the horror.
5. Discuss the plot of the story.
Answer: The story follows a linear plot sequence. The exposition introduces us to the boy Bubber who is drawn to the dilapidated house of Mrs Drew because of her irresistible cookies. The conflict arises from his repeated visits to her house where she craftily begins to drain out his youth. The suspense builds up around the strange transformation Mrs Drew undergoes and the abrupt ending where Bubber loses his human form comes as a horrifying twist. There are no subplots and the story focuses only on the bizarre relationship between the boy and the cookie lady.
6. Comment on the ending of the story. Could there be another ending?
Answer: The ending is quite abrupt and horrifying as Bubber loses his human form and existence and turns into a bundle of trash being blown around by the wind. This ending shows the extent of Mrs Drew’s vicious and exploitative nature. An alternative ending could have shown Bubber realising her evil motives and stopping his visits to her house on his parents’ advice. But that would have made it less horrifying. The present ending jolts the reader by its sheer unexpectedness.
7. Does the story ‘The Cookie Lady’ carry any meaning underneath? What is it?
Answer: Yes, beneath its horrifying plot, the story carries the message that innocent people like Bubber are often exploited by selfish and unscrupulous elements in society. The old lady represents the greed and exploitation facing innocence and gullibility in the modern world. Parents and guardians have a duty to guide and protect children from falling into such traps. The story is thus a critique of selfishness and suggests remaining vigilant in an increasingly materialistic world.
1. What was Ernie Mill doing when he saw Bubber?
(a) Delivering newspapers (b) Reading a book (c) Fixing papers for his route (d) Calling to his friends
Answer: C. Fixing papers for his route
2. What did Ernie ask Bubber when he saw him?
(a) Where are you going (b) Why do you visit the old lady (c) What route are you taking today (d) Would you like to play
Answer: B. Why do you visit the old lady
24. Why didn’t Bubber share details of his visits with his parents?
(a) He was shy (b) He was embarrassed (c) He feared punishment (d) He wanted to keep visiting
Answer: D. He wanted to keep visiting
25. Why did Mrs. Drew want Bubber to keep visiting her?
(a) She was fond of him (b) She was lonely (c) She enjoyed the transformations (d) She wanted to fatten him up
Answer: C. She enjoyed the transformations
Extra questions and answers
1. What is the name of the young boy who visits Mrs. Drew?
Answer: The name of the young boy is Bernard, nicknamed Bubber.
2. What does Mrs. Drew serve the boy when he visits her?
Answer: Mrs. Drew bakes fresh, warm cookies with nuts and raisins for Bubber when he visits her. She also serves him cold milk to have with the cookies.
23. How would you describe Mrs. Drew’s motivation in the story?
Answer: Mrs. Drew is motivated by a ruthless desire to regain lost youth by exploiting Bubber’s presence. She is driven by entirely selfish aims and is willing to harm another for the sake of her own restoration. Vanity, greed and vampirism seem to drive her more than compassion or ethics.
24. Do you think there are any deeper meanings in this story? Explain.
Answer: Yes, the story can be seen as an allegory about how the old exploit the young in order to recapture lost youth and vitality, thus damaging bright futures. On a deeper level, its exaggerated horror hints at the societal fear of ageing and underscores how age drains beauty and vigour from all eventually.
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