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The Last Lesson: English summary, textbook answers, extras

Here, you will find a summary, textual solutions, questions, answers, notes. pdf, extras to the chapter “The Last Lesson” by Alphonse Daudet.

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Alphonse Daudet is the author of “The Last Lesson.” The author recounts events in the year 1870, when France was seized by Bismarck-led Prussian soldiers and French teaching was discontinued in several places. This story shows how people feel when they are unable to learn their mother tongue. The story is narrated by a French boy, Franz. He is lazy but sensitive and likes to play. He dislikes studying French and hates his teacher M. Hamel.

After conquering its French districts of Alsace and Lorraine, Berlin has ordered that German be taught in schools instead of French. It is the last day of M. Hamel’s forty-year career as their French teacher. He is overcome with grief, nostalgia, and patriotism. The village men also attend his ‘final lesson’ to show their appreciation for his hard work. They are disappointed since they did not learn their mother tongue, French, as children.

Franz is surprised to learn that this is his final lesson because he does not speak French. Now, all of a sudden, he is interested in learning it and understands everything that was taught that day! He instantly likes and appreciates his teacher, M. Hamel, for his sincerity and hard effort. He is saddened by his departure and embarrassed by his inability to recite the participles instruction.

M. Hamel reminds them that they are all to blame for not being willing to learn and putting it off until the next day. He blames himself for failing to teach them sincerely. His patriotism is shown in his appreciation for the French language as the world’s most beautiful and logical language. He warns the students to defend their language because knowing one’s language is the key to escaping the prison of enslavement. It will aid them in their escape from the Germans.

They recognise the significance of studying their mother tongue and the fact that they were vanquished by the Germans due to their illiteracy. Franz believes that it is impossible to take away a person’s language because it is natural to each being, whether it is “coo” to pigeons or “French” to Frenchmen.

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Additional/extra questions and answers/solutions

1. What was Franz supposed to prepare on that particular day?

Answer: M. Hamel had stated that he would question them on participles that day, therefore Franz was expected to be prepared with them. Franz had no idea what participles were.

2. What did Franz notice about the school that day that was unusual?

Answer: When school started, there was always a lot of hustle and bustle that could be heard all the way down the street. But it was eerily quiet that day. Everything was as peaceful as it had been on Sunday morning. There were no desk openings or closings. His classmates had already taken their seats. Instead of banging on the table, the teacher’s huge ruler was under M. Hamel’s arm.

3. What was posted on the bulletin board?

Answer: The bulletin board had been the source of all bad news for the last two years. From Berlin, an order had been issued to teach solely German in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine. This notification had been posted on the bulletin board by the Germans.

4. How did Franz’s opinions about M. Hamel and the school change?

Answer: Franz learned that this was M. Hamel’s final French lesson for them. They will only be taught German starting the next day. He felt bad for not paying attention in class. His books, which had before appeared to be a nuisance and a burden, were now old companions. His sentiments for M. Hamel had also shifted. He’d forgotten about his ruler and how grumpy he was.

5. “Will they make them sing in German, even the pigeons?” Franz wonders. What does this imply?

Answer: Franz’s remark exemplifies a typical French reaction to the imposition of learning German, the conqueror’s language. Being denied the opportunity to learn one’s mother tongue would sever all ties to one’s motherland. Teaching the pigeons to sing in German demonstrates how far the Germans would go in their linguistic chauvinist ambitions.

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24. What is ‘The Last Lesson”‘s underlying message?

Answer: The story exemplifies what happens when we are unconcerned about our country or our language. To protect one’s motherland, culture, and language, patriotism is a necessary quality in every citizen.

25. ‘What was Alsace’s fault, according to M. Hamel? Whom did he hold responsible?

Answer: According to M. Hamel, Alsace’s fault was the harmful habit of procrastination. The habit was more pronounced when it came to education. Everything else came first, including the studies. It was always postponed to a later date that never came.

M. Hamel blamed the Alsatian people collectively for this. Schooling was viewed as a waste of time by the parents. They would rather put their children to work and contribute to the family income. The children themselves were not looking forward to going to school. M. Hamel had also neglected his primary responsibility by delegating garden care to his children or declaring a holiday whenever he wanted to go fishing.

26. What does M. Hamel think about the French language?

Answer: As a Frenchman, M. Hamel held his mother tongue in high regard. He went on to praise the language and emphasise the importance of its preservation on the last day of class. He claimed that French is the most beautiful language in the world, that it is coherent and well-organized, and that its clarity and distinctness make it simple to understand. He urged everyone to take special care to preserve their native tongue because it is the only platform on which people can unite. This unity will provide them with the strength they require to defeat the powerful Germans and reclaim their independence. As a result, language will always be a unifying factor for their country’s citizens.

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