The Hack Driver: SEBA, TBSE Class 10 English questions, answers

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Get summary, textbook solutions, questions, answers, notes, extras, MCQs, pdf of the chapter “The Hack Driver” by Sinclair Lewis for SEBA, (Assam Board) and TBSE (Tripura Board) Class 10 English from the book Footprints Without Feet (supplementary reader). However, the given notes/solutions should only be used for references and should be modified/changed according to needs.

the hack driver

Summary: According to the story’s narrator in the story “The Hack Driver”, after graduating, he began working for a well-known law firm in the city. He was an assistant clerk at the time. He was dissatisfied with his job as a summons server because it required him to face difficult situations on occasion. He was assigned the task of serving summons on Oliver Lutkins, a key witness in a case, one day. He was from New Mullion, a small town in Ireland.

The narrator was very happy to visit a small and beautiful town, but his enthusiasm was dashed by the town’s dull appearance. He noticed a cheerful and nice hack driver standing on the platform. He approached him and inquired about Oliver Lutkins, as he was new to town and wanted to locate him. The driver informed him that Oliver was a nasty man who owed a lot of people money. He also duped the lawyer into thinking he needed Lutkins for a court case.

Both parties agreed on a deal in which he agreed to hire Bill’s hack and go after Lutkins. Bill somehow traps the lawyer in his story, and they travel to various locations in search of Lutkins. He always requests that the lawyer remain behind. They go to Fritz’s in order to catch Lutkins while he is playing poker. However, he informs them that he has gone to Gustaff for a shave. They were unable to meet him at Gustaff’s and were told that he was seen in the pool room. Someone else mentioned that he left the poolroom after purchasing cigarettes.

Bill thought of Lutkins as a cunning man who had gone to Gray’s for a shave. Bill offered him lunch from his wife in the afternoon because it would be less expensive than going out to eat. They ate lunch at Wade’s Hill, which was a breathtaking location. Bill’s pleasant and cheerful demeanour had already won over the clerk. He’d even begun comparing village people to city dwellers. Later, based on information obtained from one of Lutkins’ friends, they went to search for him at his mother’s house.

They had to flee because the lady was about to strike them with a hot iron rod. Finally, the lawyer had to leave without serving the summons on Lutkins. The next day, he was severely chastised by his chief and sent back to New Mullion with a companion who knew Lutkins. When the clerk arrived at the station, he enthusiastically stated that Bill had been extremely helpful in his search for Lutkins.

At this point, his companion revealed the truth: the hack driver was none other than Lutkins himself. The clerk felt terrible and ashamed that he had been duped by a villager.

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Intext questions and answers

1. Why is the lawyer sent to New Mullion? What does he first think about the place?

Answer: The lawyer is dispatched to New Mullion to serve a summons on Oliver Lutkins.

The lawyer imagined New Mullion as a sweet, simple country village.

2. Who befriends him? Where does he take him? 

Answer: Bill, a hack driver, befriends the attorney. Bill takes the lawyer to all of Lutkins’ favourite spots in the village.

3. What does he say about Lutkins?

Answer: Bill claims that it was difficult to persuade Lutkins to part with money and pay his debts. He also mentions that Lutkins was a difficult individual to apprehend.

4. What more does Bill say about Lutkins and his family? 

Answer: Bill claims to have known Lutkins’ mother, who he describes as a terror. He goes on to say that he once brought her a trunk, but she nearly skinned him alive because she felt he hadn’t been careful enough with her trunk. He estimated her height to be nine feet tall and four feet fat.

Bill speculates that Lutkins must have realised that someone was pursuing him and was thus hiding behind his mother’s skirts.

5. Does the narrator serve the summons that day? 

Answer: No, the narrator of the story The Hack Driver did not serve the summons on that particular day.

6. Who is Lutkins? 

Answer: The hack driver, who pretended to be Bill, was actually Lutkins himself. 

Textual/exercise questions and answers: Think about it

1. When the lawyer reached New Mullion, did ‘Bill’ know that he was looking for Lutkins? When do you think Bill came up with his plan for fooling the lawyer?

Answer: No, Bill didn’t realise the young lawyer was looking for Lutkins at first. This was communicated to him by the lawyer himself.

As Bill later explains, seeing the lawyer dressed up would make Lutkins sceptical and cause him to avert him; similarly, Bill’s suspicions would have been aroused. So, when he heard the lawyer say he was looking for Lutkins, he devised a plan to dupe the lawyer by driving him around in his hack and profiting handsomely in the process.

2. Lutkins openly takes the lawyer all over the village. How is it that no one lets out the secret? Can you find other such subtle ways in which Lutkins manipulates the tour?

Answer: Lutkins, in his own unique way, manipulated and orchestrated all of the meetings between the lawyer and the villagers to ensure that no one revealed his secret. In some places, he went in himself and alerted them to the situation before bringing the lawyer up to them, while in others, he went in and introduced himself and the lawyer, also describing the lawyer’s purpose of visit, so that the villagers knew they had to lie about Lutkins.

Lutkins entered Fritz’s shop and asked if he had seen Lutkins, noting that the lawyer was looking for him. Similarly, he drove to his mother’s barn and introduced himself as Bill the hack driver before inquiring about her son. In this way, Lütkins indirectly informed the villagers of his situation wherever he went.

3. Why do you think Lutkins’ neighbours were anxious to meet the lawyer?

Answer: Lutkins’ neighbours were eager to meet the lawyer because they wished to see for themselves the young and naive man from the city who had been taken for a ride by Lutkins and spent the entire day with him, not recognising that the man he was with was the same man he was seeking in the first place. These were the few neighbours who had missed out on meeting him on the first day.

4. After his first day’s experience with the hack driver the lawyer thinks of returning to New Mullion to practise law. Do you think he would have reconsidered this idea after his second visit?

Answer: The lawyer would have certainly reassessed returning to New Mullion to practise law. Everyone now thought him a fool for being so easily duped by Lutkins, and it would be humiliating for him to work there.

5. Do you think the lawyer was gullible? How could he avoid being taken for a ride?

Answer: Yes, I believe the lawyer was gullible. He could have managed to avoid being taken for a ride if he had taken the initiative to find Lutkins himself, rather than relying on Bill. The lawyer ignorantly preferred a stranger he had just met for the first time.

Textual/exercise questions and answers: Talk about it

1. Do we only meet people like Lutkins in fiction, or do we meet them in real life as well? You can use fictional examples, or you can tell about an incident you read about in the newspaper or in real life.

Answer: People like Lutkins are very common in real life as well. There are a lot of them around. These people are experts at deceiving others. Every day, we read about such cases in the newspapers. To avoid being duped by such people, it is necessary to be astute and witty.

I recall a man once coming to my house and telling my father that if he gave him 50,000 rupees, he would return him double the amount in just fifteen days. He stipulated that it had to be kept a secret because it was a scheme intended only for a few people who had been shortlisted by the company based on certain criteria. My father flatly refused, and he was asked to leave. A month later, we learned that the man had visited all of the homes in our community and told them the same thing. Three of my father’s friends from the same social group had given him the money. Since then, there has been no trace of either the man or the money.

There was nothing that could be done because the man’s address was invalid. All they could do was bemoan their choice.

2. Who is a “conman”, or a confidence trickster? 

Answer: A ‘conman,’ also known as a confident trickster, is someone who outwits or cheats another after gaining his or her trust and confidence.

Additional/extra questions and answers/solutions

1. What exactly does the narrator mean by “pretty disrespectful treatment”?

Answer: The narrator describes Lutkins’ mother’s treatment of them as “extremely disrespectful.” She made fun of them. She marched towards them with a hot iron rod in her hand. She laughed at them as they fled in terror from there.

2. What was the lawyer’s impression when he returned to the city?

Answer: The lawyer left the city with a favourable impression. He had a soft spot for the people of the village. He found them to be straightforward, wise, and soft-spoken. He considered practising law there. He was overjoyed. In New Mullion, he discovered a treasure and a new way of life.

3. Give an outline of the lawyer’s personality.

Answer: The lawyer was inexperienced, young, and gullible. He was a law firm trainee who was assigned the menial task of delivering summons rather than preparing legal briefs. When he went to deliver the summons, he was beaten up by some of the well-built and confident recipients. He despised his job, and when he visited Mullion village, he was struck by the people’s friendliness and the rural atmosphere. His gullibility comes to the fore in the ease with which he was taken in by Lutkins’ ruse of posing as Bill, the hack driver, and taking the lawyer all around the village to search for Lutkins when he himself was the man the lawyer had come to find.

4. Why did the lawyer despise his job so much?

Answer: The lawyer was an honours graduate who had gotten a job as a junior assistant clerk in a very good law firm, but instead of preparing law briefs, he was sent to the city’s seedier areas to find people and serve the summons. Some of these people were so strong and self-assured that they assaulted him. As a result, the attorney despised his job.

5. What did the lawyer have in mind for New Mullion? What was the difference between it and reality?

Answer: New Mullion was supposed to be a sweet, simple country village, according to the lawyer.

In reality, New Mullion’s streets were incredibly muddy, and the wooden shops that lined the street were either painted a dirty brown colour or had no paint at all. As a result, it was not at all what the lawyer had anticipated.

6. Who was Oliver Lutkins, and where did he come from? Describe him as he appeared the first time the lawyer met him.

Answer: Oliver Lutkins, a New Mullion villager, was sought as a witness in a case.

When the lawyer arrived at New Mullion station, he saw Lutkins for the first time, though he had no idea who he was. The only pleasant sight at the station, he said, was the delivery man. He was in his forties, red-faced, cheerful, and a little chubby around the middle. His work clothes were worn and filthy, but he was pleasant. This man, the lawyer assumed, was sociable.

7. What was the name of Bill’s business? 

Answer: Lutkins had used the alias Bill Magnuson to deceive the lawyer. Bill described his company as “William Magnuson Fancy Carting and Hacking.”

8. Where did Bill take the lawyer for the first time?

Answer: Fritz’s shop was the first place Bill took the lawyer.

9. What led Bill to believe Lutkins had gone to Gray’s for a shave?

Answer: Bill reasoned that because Lutkins’ credit at Gustaff’s had run out, he had no choice but to go to Gray’s for a shave.

10. Describe the journey of Bill and the lawyer as they searched for Lutkins?

Answer: In the story The Hack Driver, Bill and the lawyer began looking for Lutkins at Fritz’s shop, where Fritz informed them that Lutkins had gone to Gustaff’s for a shave. When they arrived, they discovered that Lutkins had used up his credit at Gustaff’s, so Bill assumed he had gone to Gray’s barbershop. They went to Gray’s next, but Lutkins had already left for the poolroom, so they couldn’t find him. When the two arrived at the poolroom, they discovered that Lutkins had not lingered, but had left after purchasing a pack of cigarettes. The never-ending search for Lutkins appeared to be wearing both Bill and the lawyer down, so they decided to stop for lunch. After lunch, they learned that Lutkin had gone to his mother’s farm from one of his friends. Lutkins’ mother chased them away once they arrived. The lawyer finally boarded the train back to the city, exhausted and unable to locate Lutkins.

11. What was the lawyer’s reaction when he returned to work without Lutkins?

Answer: On returning to the office, everyone was furious because Lutkins was a crucial witness in the case that was to be heard the next day in court. They mocked him and referred to him as a shameful, worthless fool. His boss was furious and told him he’d be good at digging ditches. He was returned to Mullion along with someone who had previously worked with Lutkins.

12. What did Bill think of Lutkins as a money borrower?

Answer: Bill informed the lawyer that Lutkins was notorious for failing to pay his dues and that if the lawyer had come to collect money from Lutkins, it would be difficult to force him to pay. Bill also stated that Lutkins owed him fifty cents.

13. What prompted the lawyer to reveal the reason for his search for Lutkins to Bill?

Answer: Bill’s open and friendly demeanour had piqued the lawyer’s interest from the start. Bill appeared to be very helpful and went out of his way to help him, a stranger, find Lutkins. The lawyer was very pleased when Bill told him that his fancy clothes might make Lutkins dubious enough to avoid him, and offered to go into the shops himself to see if Lutkins was there. The lawyer convinced that Bill was sincere in his desire to assist him, revealed the true reason for his search for Lutkins.

14. Describe what all of the lawyers liked about Bill.

Answer: The lawyer thought Bill was agreeable and friendly, and that he liked people. He also claims that Bill was so kind and helpful that he took on the lawyer’s task, which endeared Bill to him. He appreciated Bill’s offer to go into the various stores and look for Lutkins first. The lawyer appreciated Bill’s rough country opinions and found him to be very honest the entire time he rode around the village with him. Bill exuded cheerful country wisdom that the lawyer found energising. Bill was a keen observer who could conjure up images with his descriptions so that each person in the village seemed to come to life for the lawyer. He understood people’s folly while laughing at it. He’d travelled across the country, and while he was unfamiliar with city life, his travels had taught him a philosophy of simplicity and laughter. The lawyer, so taken with Bill, seemed to draw strength from him. He’d discovered Bill to be deeply human.

15. Where did the lawyer recommend he and Bill go for lunch, and where did Bill eventually take him?

Answer: For lunch, the lawyer suggested they go to a restaurant. Bill proposed that he have his wife pack lunch for both of them and charge the lawyer half a dollar for it. The lawyer agreed, and they went up to Wade’s hill to eat while looking out over the pastures and the creek. 

16. Describe the meeting between the lawyer and Lutkins’ mother.

Answer: When one of Lutkins’ friends told the lawyer and Bill that he would be found at his mother’s farm, they went there. Bill confidently approached Lutkins’ mother, introduced himself, and then inquired about Lutkins. The woman yelled back that she knew nothing, and when the lawyer informed her of the reason for the lawyer’s visit, she was impressed. However, the woman entered the kitchen and chased them out with a hot iron from the stove. Bill warned them to leave before she murdered them, and they did so after inspecting the house and barn and confirming that Lutkin was not present.

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