The Ambitious Guest

alternative english
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Here you’ll find a short summary of NBSE Class 10 alternative English chapter ‘The Ambitious Guest’ by Toshi Langu and questions and answers. However, these notes should be used only for references. These materials should be modified/changed as per the needs.

The Ambitious Guest by Nathaniel Hawthorne summary: The story begins with a cosy family sitting around a hearth. The grandmother is included to show that the daughter of the family is expected to grow old gracefully like the grandmother. The sense of security in the house is set against the danger lurking outside; their house is in a precarious position at the foot of a towering mountain and the harsh winter winds make it doubly dangerous. Huge boulders keep tumbling down the mountainside and a wailing wind rattles the door. Together with the wind, a young stranger knocks and the family is happy to welcome him from the harsh weather outside into the warmth of their hospitality. The guest makes himself at home and, after dinner, he talks about his ambition to do something in life that will make him famous after death.

The family too shares its ambitions with him: the father would like a better property and the title of a squire; the eldest daughter would rather be contented and happy in the obscure security of her home; a child would like all of them to go immediately and drink from a stream that fell over a precipice and the grandmother would like to look presentable as her dead body is laid out. A deepening rumble and the trembling of the house distract them from their casual conversation about their ambitions. They realise that the mountain is sliding. They rush out to go to a safer place but are buried in the landslide. The home, unharmed, is the only monument to their domestic happiness.

I. Choose the correct option

1. Which of the following words is NOT a synonym for fate?

Answer: b. Coincidence

2. Which of the following sentences is NOT an example of personification?

Answer: a. The Notch is just like the pipe of a great pair of bellows; it has blown a terrible blast in my face all the way from Bartlett.

3. Which of the following is suitable as an alternate title for the story you have just read?

Answer: b. The Common Fate

4. The romantic pass of the Notch is a great artery … the shores of St. Lawrence, on the other. What does this metaphor mean?

Answer: c. The mountain pass is an important route for trading.

5. Which of the following sentences is NOT a portent of the disaster to come?

Answer: a. This family was situated in the Notch of the White Hill, where the wind was sharp throughout the year, and pitilessly cold in the winter…

II. Read the lines and answer the questions that follow:

1. Perhaps a germ of love was springing in their hearts, so pure that it might blossom in Paradise, since it could not be matured on earth;
a. Were the young man and the daughter a good match?
b. Why could their love grow only in Paradise?
c. Why do you think the daughter felt lonesome?

Answer: a. According to the author, the young man and the daughter were a good match despite their differences in the context of being remembered by others after their death.

b. When the author said that their love could grow only in Paradise, he was foreshadowing the fate that was to follow them soon after. They had no time to let their love grow as they were soon going to die.

c. I think the daughter felt lonesome as she had was coming of age and never yet enjoyed the companionship of anyone else except her family.

2. Children, it will haunt me night and day till I tell you
a. Who is the speaker here?
b. What will haunt the speaker?
c. How does the speaker’s telling add to the story?

Answer: a. The speaker here is the grandmother.

b. The speaker will be haunted by the thought that if her clothes were not perfect when she would be buried after her death, she might try to correct them inside the coffin and therefore her children should hold a mirror above her face so that she could have a glimpse at herself.

c. The speaker’s telling adds to the subject of inevitable death that was coming at them sooner than they expected.

III. Answer these questions briefly.

1. How does the writer describe the peace and contentment in the family?

Answer: The writer described the peace and contentment in the family largely by the setting of the house and the members of the family who seemed to have no big ambitions, unlike the traveller. The lack of real ambitions among the family members suggested that they were happy with what they had and where they were. The faces of the father and mother had a sober gladness, the children laughed, the eldest daughter was the image of Happiness at seventeen, and the aged grandmother was the image of happiness grown old.

2. What is the most important feature of the young man’s character?

Answer: The most important feature of the young man’s character was that he was extremely ambitious. He wanted to do something in life for which he would be remembered by the world long after he would be gone. He believed he could not die until he had built his monument.

3. What does the father aspire to be?

Answer: The father aspired to possess a good farm in Bartlett, or Bethlehem, or Littleton, or some other township around the White Mountains but not where they could tumble on their heads. He wanted to stand well with his neighbours and be called Squire and sent to General Court for a term or two. He wanted to die happily as an old man and a slate gravestone with just his name and age, and a verse of a hymn and something to let people know that he was an honest man and died a Christian.

IV. Answer the questions.

1.Why is the opening scene important?

Answer: The opening scene is important because it comfortably described the proximity of the dangers and comforts dwelling together on the side of the mountains. The house was in sharp contrast with its surrounding. Inside the warm house lived the family happy and each member contributed to the forming of happiness, and yet they lived in a place where they could die anytime because of tumbling rocks. The opening scene was the beginning of a string of ironies that the story would follow.

2. How does the writer contrast the young man with the eldest daughter of the family?

Answer: The young man was a man of extreme ambition and wanted to leave a monument in the world after his death so that people would remember him. The eldest daughter, on the other hand, wasn’t ambitious at all. When the young man was telling them about his ambitions, she could not help laughing at those. Further, the eldest daughter was of simple nature while the young man was proud, contemplative, yet a kindly soul.

3. How does the writer develop the suspense in the story?

Answer: The writer developed the suspense in the story through a string of ironies and focusing on the aspirations and ambitions of the people inside the house. He kept the readers in the future, diverting away from the imminent dangers that were established at the beginning of the story due to the setting of the house and how stones continuously would roll down. He made the readers hopeful of the prospects of the men and normalizing the rolling down of the rocks as they never hit the house. The warm narrative and a plan to rush at a safer place during extreme dangers created a feeling of safety among the readers before the sudden turn of events that culminated in the death of everyone in the house and the end of the ambitious man as the most nameless casualty there.

V. Going Beyond

1. Do you think nature is projected as a symbol of fate or destiny in the story? Explain.

Answer: Yes, I do think that nature in the story is projected as a symbol of fate or destiny as in the end, no one in the story could defeat or stand the move of nature irrespective of the ambitions they could have.

The author showed fate or destiny as the ultimate truth which defines our lives, and the stark example of it is the story of the young man who came to the house. He wanted to make a mark in the world through his life and he was very ambitious. But in the end, he died as nature took its toll, and while the members of the family would be remembered because they were a part of the community, the stranger’s existence was forgotten.

2. ‘There is greater sense in enjoying the present than in dreaming of a future.’ How does the story bear out this statement?

Answer: This sentence provides the essence of the story and the truth that wasn’t appreciated, particularly in the case of the young ambitious guest who was so engrossed with the goal of leaving a mark in the world that he constantly lived in the future and cared not about the present he was spending. It becomes evident eventually in the story that it is the present that matters as future is unpredictable and there is no certainty that things will happen the way we think they would, like in the case of the young guest who wanted to be something of stature but died leaving no trace.

3. Come up to the front of the class and talk about your ambitions, why they are important to you and how you are going to go about making them come true.

Answer: Do it yourself (not important for exams)

Get notes of other chapters of Alternative English of Class 10 (NBSE)


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