Ivan the Fool

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Get questions, answers, notes, and solutions of the chapter Ivan the Fool by Leo Tolstoy which is a part of class 9 Alternative English syllabus 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: This adaption largely concentrates on the three brothers-Simeon the soldier, Tarras the merchant and Ivan the fool. While Simeon and Tarras are tempted by wealth and power, Ivan is content with a simple life. He works hard on his farm to take care of his family. Though called Ivan the Fool’ for his simple-mindedness and lack of intelligence, it is he who defeats the devil and his plans.

The devil attempts to make the brothers fight amongst themselves in order to disturb their peace. For this purpose, he sends three of his imps. The imps plan to make the brothers lose all their possessions and to get them to fight over their share of their father’s property. Of the imps, two succeed in winning over Simeon and Tarras, who end up losing all they had earned. The third imp sent to make trouble for Ivan, however, is not io successful. He finds it difficult to overcome Ivan, who gets the better of him. Ivan foils the plans of the other two imps as well. The devil then decides to take control of the situation himself.

In the meantime, Ivan uses one of the magical gifts he has gained from the imps to cure the tsar’s daughter of her illness. In reward, the tsar gives his-daughter in marriage to Ivan and makes him the ruler of the kingdom. Ivan thus becomes the tsar. The devil goes to Ivan’s kingdom, disguised, first, as a general and later as a nobleman. He tries to ruin Ivan through war, money and greed. However, it is the devil who faces defeat, while Ivan continues to rule the kingdom of the fools.

l. Explain with reference to context.

1. Soldiers playing tunes? What would Ivan know about the use of soldiers? It would take a man of the army to know to use them better.

a. Who says these lines?
b. What does the speaker mean when he says’a man of the army,?
c. What is the mood?

Answer: a. Simon the soldier says these lines.

b. When the speaker says ‘a man of the army’ he means that only a man who has been in the army will know how to put the army to better use.

c. The mood is of doubt, tension, and jealousy

2. If they stop serving others, they will be free to work for themselves. Then they can work in the fields and make their own food.

a. Who are they?
b. What does the speaker mean by ‘work for themselves’?
c. To what problem is the speaker providing a solution?

Answer: a. ‘They’ are referred to the people of the land who serve the ministers and the king.

b. ‘Work for themselves’ means the people can till the land, make their own food, and meet their own needs.

c. The speaker is providing a solution to the problem of having no money left in the treasury to pay people for their works.

ll. Answer the questions.

1. Why is Ivan considered a fool? Mention three instances of ‘foolish’ behaviour.

Answer: Ivan is considered a fool as he is simple-minded, lacks intelligence, does not want wealth, fame or power. Moreover, he works hard and practically follows and believes in the dignity of labour. He is generous to others and easily forgets an offence.

Three instances of his foolish behaviour are:

i. The way heat dealt with his greedy brothers.
ii. The way he behaved when he got plenty of gold.
iii. The behaviour he displayed while having plenty of soldiers at his disposal.

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2. Fools are determined and won’t give up easily. Comment on the truth of this statement.

Answer: This might sound an ironic statement at a cursory look, but this holds much truth. In the story when the Devil makes the statement, it is foreshadowing the events that would follow and is a backhanded compliment to Ivan.

Though Ivan is a fool he perseveres against all odds. He puts people above materialism like only a fool would do, for no so-called sane person choose people over wealth as they equal the possession of wealth, fame, and power with the possession of happiness. Also, it takes a fool to forget and forgive the wrongs done to him and make the world a place of harmony. He finally makes others realise the meaning of happiness and that a fool is not really a fool.

3. When the imps grant him whatever he desires, what does Ivan choose? Why does he do so?

Answer: When the Imp granted him whatever he desired, Ivan chose magic root from the Imp 3 to cure all diseases, singing soldiers from Imp 2 to entertain girls of his village and learnt to make gold coins from leaves of the oak tree from Imp 1 to entertain the boys of his village.

Ivan chose these things because he is not materialistic and he wanted to make others happy.

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