The Bishop’s Candlesticks

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Here you will find the summary, questions and answers, and notes for the chapter the Bishop’s Candlestick which is a part of the syllabus of class 10 for students studying under Nagaland Board of School Education.

However, these notes should be used only for references and additions/modifications should be made as per the requirements.

SUMMARY: The play is based on the theme that love and care can change a man rather than violence. The play is about a convict who broke into the Bishop’s house one night as Bishop’s sister Persome and the Bishop were about to have dinner. The convict had actually escaped from the prison because the police had forgotten to chain him up. He was sent to prison for ten years because he had stolen food for his sick wife as he didn’t have a job or money. The Bishop told the convict that he should not be afraid but take rest. The benevolence of the Bishop somewhat softened the convict, but, when he saw the candlesticks, he became greedy and stole them. He tried to run away with them.

The candlesticks were given to the Bishop by his dying mother and so they were very dear to him. The convict was, however, caught by the police and brought back to the Bishop without realising that they had caught an escaped criminal. The convict expected to go back to jail, but the Bishop informed the police that the candlesticks were a gift to the man and he was his friend. The act of kindness by the Bishop changed the convict’s heart and he believed in the spirit of God that dwells in the heart of every human being.

After the police were gone, the Bishop gave the candlesticks to the convict and told him to move to Paris and start a new life selling the candlesticks. The convict became a changed man.

I. Read and Write

1. Why was Persome rude to Marie?

Answer: Persome was rude to Marie because she thought that Marie and all the other people were taking advantage of her brother’s kindness.

2. Although it was quite late at night, why had the Bishop not returned?

Answer: The Bishop did not return early because he had gone to visit Marie’s mother and pray for her as she was sick.

3.. Why does Persome feel that people pretend to be sick?

Answer: Persome felt that the people pretended to be sick as they wanted the Bishop to visit them and also pray for them.

4. Why had the Bishop gone to visit Mere Gringoire?

Answer: The bishop had gone to visit Mere Gringoire because she was bedridden and so she was unable to work and parent. And because of this, she was threatened to be turned out from her rented residence.

5. What did the Bishop give Marie as she was going out? why? what trait of the Bishop’s character does it highlight?

Answer: The bishop gave Marie his comforter as she was going out due to the extreme cold weather.

It shows his compassionate character, love and concern for the less fortunate.

6. Why were the doors in the Bishop’s house never bolted?

Answer: The doors in The Bishop’s house were never bolted because he wanted anyone who was in need of shelter or food to come and stay in his house anytime.

7. Why was Persome angry with the Bishop?

Answer: Persome was angry with the bishop because she felt that her brother, the bishop, was too kind and soft with everyone and for that, everyone took full advantage of his kindness.

8. Why did the Bishop give the salt-cellars to Mere Gringoire?

Answer: Give the salt cellars to Mere Gringoire because he wanted her to sell them and pay her pending rent otherwise, the bailiff would turn her out of the house.

9. Why did the convict become a thief? What happened to his wife?

Answer: The convict became a thief because he was jobless. He had no money to buy food for his sick wife, so he stole food for her and for doing that he was arrested and sent to prison.

10. What was the punishment given to the convict?

Answer: The Convict was imprisoned for 10 years. She was chained, treated like an animal, and forced to feed on filth. He was covered with vermin.

11. Was the convict eager to reach Paris?

Answer: Yes, the Convict was eager to reach Paris. He felt that he could easily lose himself in the maze of hundreds of people of Paris and no one would ever find him there and he could start a new life.

12. Why did the Bishop not go to the police?

Answer: The bishop did not go to the police because he was forgiving by nature. He wanted to help the Convict and sympathized with him for all the sufferings and pain he had to go through during his imprisonment. He also wanted to save his soul and bring him closer to God. Moreover, he felt that if he was sent back to prison, he would become worse than before.

13. Before leaving the convict asks the Bishop to bless him. What brought about this change in him?

Answer: The bishop showed extreme love and sympathy towards the Convict despite the fact that the Convict stole his silver candlesticks and treated him and his sister with violence. He even told the sergeant that he had given the candlestick to the Convict so as to spare his life from being imprisoned for the second time. Hence, the genuine love end caring attitude of the bishop brought about a change in the hardened heart of the Convict who did not experience love and compassion in a long time.

II. Think and Write

2. Do you think the Bishop was right in selling the salt-cellars? Why/Why not?

Answer: Yes, I think the bishop was right in selling the salt cellars.

In my opinion, we all should always try to help anyone who is in need of our help irrespective of our differences. The bishop, being a religious leader, should, therefore, live by the example of being a kind person in the likeness of Christ. His selling the salt cellars, therefore, was an absolutely right thing that he should have done because it was meant to help someone.

3. Do you think the punishment given to the convict was justified? Why/Why not? Why is the convict eager to reach Paris?

Answer: No, I don’t think the punishment given to the Convict was justified.

The Convict was punished harshly for a minor crime which he committed out of circumstances. He was poor and unemployed and in no position to provide for the basic needs of his ailing wife who was bedridden. He simply did not have the money. He was compelled to steal food for his wife and was caught by the police in the act. The punishment of 10 years and the treatment that he received in the prison because of that small crime could not be justified in any way.

The Convict was eager to reach Paris because he felt that he could easily lose himself in the maze of hundreds of people of Paris and no one would ever find him there and he could start a new life.

4. The term irony refers to a disagreement. This can be between what someone says and what he or she really means. This is verbal irony. The discrepancy can be between a situation that one would logically anticipate or that would seem appropriate and the situation that actually develops. This is situational irony. The discrepancy can even be between the facts known to a character and the facts known to us, the readers or audience. This is called dramatic irony. Now, pick two examples of dramatic irony from the text

Answer: Not needed.

5. The convict was a victim of circumstances. Do you agree/disagree? Give reasons.

Answer: Yes, I agree that in the Bishop’s Candlestick, the Convict was a victim of circumstances.

The Convict was not a criminal to begin with. He was poor and jobless and he did not have the money to provide for the basic needs of his wife who was sick and bedridden. The immediate need for food and the lack of resources to get the food compelled him to steal as an easy way out. But he was caught in the act and was sent to prison for 10 years.

6. Do you think we need jails or reform houses? Justify your answer.

Answer: I think we need more reform houses but also need jails at the same time.

Jails are important for hardened criminals so as to keep them away from society where they can put the lives of others in danger. But we also need an increased number of reform houses as humans are adaptive in nature and criminals can be transformed into responsible citizens if they are given the proper treatments. Every human has a good part inside of him and reform houses can bring out that good part of the criminals. Further, many a time, the criminals are actually the victims of circumstances and not choices and in such cases, reform houses are of utmost importance and not prisons.

8. Read the following extracts from the text and answer the questions that follow.

a) Persome: You told him she was feeling poorly did you? And so my brother is to be kept out of his bed, and go without his supper because you told him she was feeling poorly. There’s gratitude for you!

i) Who is Persome speaking to and about whom?
ii) Where has he gone and why?
iii) What are the speaker’s views about him?

Answer: i) Persome is speaking to Marie about her brother the Bishop.

ii) He has gone to Marie’s house to pray from her mother who was sick.

iii) The speaker’s view is that her brother was too soft and people take unfair advantage of his kindness.

b) Bishop: Ah, you are admiring my candlesticks. I am proud of them. They were a gift from my mother. A little too handsome for this poor cottage perhaps, but all I have to remind me of her. Your bed is ready. Will you lie down now?

i) Who is the Bishop speaking to?
ii) Why is the person admiring them?
iii) What does the Bishop advise him?

Answer: i) The Bishop is speaking to the convict.

ii) The person is admiring them because they look beautiful and expensive and he is contemplating to steal them.

iii) The Bishop advised him to lie down as his bed is ready.

c) Bishop: Please; they may help you. And, my son, there is a path through the woods at the back of this cottage which leads to Paris; it is a very lonely path and I have noticed that my good friends the gendarmes do not like lonely paths at night. It is curious.

i) What is the Bishop referring to?
ii) Where is he sending him? Why?
iii) what is the consequence of the Bishop’s kindness?

Answer: i) The Bishop was referring to the candlesticks.

ii) He was sending him to Paris. The Bishop wanted the convict to start life anew which he could do by moving to Paris without coming in the notice of the police who were looking for him.

iii) Bishop’s kindness made the convict to have a change in heart. The convict became a changed man and decided to start life afresh away from the life of crime that he had resorted to.

d) Convict: Ah, thanks, thanks, Monseigneur. I-I-(He sobs.) Ah, I’m a fool, a child to cry, but somehow you have made me feel that-that it is just as if something had come into me-as if I were a man again and not a wild beast.

i) Who is the convict speaking to?
ii) What is he trying to convey?
iii) What has brought about the change?

Answer: i) The convict is speaking to the Bishop.

ii) He is trying to convey that he has a change in heart.

iii) The change is the consequence of the Bishop’s kindness despite everything the convict has done against him.

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