The Devoted Friend: NBSE Class 9 Alternative English answers

the devoted friend NBSE class 9
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Get notes, questions, answers, solutions, Assam, pdf, and extras of the chapter The Devoted Friend by Oscar Wilde which is a part of class 9 Alternative English syllabus for students studying under the Nagaland Board of School Education. However, these notes should be used only for references and additions/modifications should be made as per the requirements.


The Devoted Friend by Oscar Wilde is kind of a fable and should not be taken in a literal sense. This story begins with a conversation between a water rat, a duck and a linnet. The linnet is the storyteller, and a clever one at that, because the linnet appears to point to a certain similarity between the water-rat and the Miller, without saying so, and the water-rat is very proud to identify with the Miller.

The story, The Devoted Friend, that the linnet tells to the water rat is about a kind-hearted person named Hans and a selfish person named Miller. Hans always thought that Miller was his best friend, but Miller was selfish and he used to make Hans do his own work and use him. Miller was great at talking, and he would call Hans his best friend, but he did not care for Hans and did not help him during his bad times in the winter. Once the winter was over, the Miller would go to the house of Hans and take a bucket full of flowers from him.

In The Devoted Friend, Miller promises Hans that he will give him his wheelbarrow, as Hans had sold his own during the winter. But in return, he kept Hans asking for favours, which Hans kept on fulfilling until one day, while trying to help Miller, he died. He would not have died if Miller had been less selfish and cared for him.

The story very obviously points to values of generosity and goodness and happiness. The sad part of the story is that Hans becomes a victim of his own innocence and goodness. Like the linnet points out, of course, there is a moral. The water rat does not like a moral.

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Explain with reference to context

1. He lived in a tiny cottage all by himself, and every day he worked in his garden. In all the country-side there was no garden so lovely as his. Sweet-william grew there, and Gilly-flowers, and Shepherds’-purses, and Fair-maids of France.

a. Who is the “he” referred to here?
b. What was his most distinguishing quality?
c. Who was supposedly his best friend?

Answer: a. The ‘he’ referred here is little Hans.

b. His most distinguished quality was that he was his kind heart and his funny round good-humoured face.

c. His supposedly best friend was the Miller.

2. “Lots of people act well,” answered the Miller; “but very few people talk well, which shows that talking is much the more difficult thing of the two, and much the finer thing also;” and he looked sternly across the table at his little son, who felt so ashamed of himself that he hung his head down, and grew quite scarlet, and began to cry into his tea.

a. Why was the Miller’s son ashamed of himself?
b. Was the Miller justified in making his son feel ashamed?
c. Do you agree with the Miller that talking well is harder than acting well?

Answer: a. The Miller’s son had suggested inviting Hans into their house, at which the Miller scolded him by saying that this would make Hans filled with envy and, as a good friend, he did not want his friend to be spoiled.

b. No, the Miller was not justified in making his son feel ashamed.

c. No, I don’t agree with the Miller that talking well is harder than acting well. Anyone can talk well but it is very difficult to stand during difficult times for others.

Answer these questions briefly

1. How does the Miller justify his actions to little Hans?

Answer: The Miller justifies his actions to Little Hans by promoting a self-serving philosophy of friendship that emphasizes sharing and selflessness. He persuades Hans that true friends freely share everything, which allows him to take from Hans without offering anything in return. By cloaking his exploitation in the guise of generosity, he manipulates Hans into remaining grateful and compliant.

2. How did Hans die? Was this just?

Answer: Hans went out on a stormy night to call a doctor for Miller’s sick son. The night was very dark, but the Miller refused to give Hans his lantern. While returning from the doctor’s house, he lost his way and fell into a bog. He was found dead the next morning.

No, it was not just. It was the miller’s responsibility to call the doctor. Further, the Miller should have given him the lantern so that he did not get lost.

Answer these questions

1. Why was it difficult for Hans to say ‘no’ to the Miller? State your reasons.

Answer: It was difficult for Hans to say no to the Miller because Hans considered Miller to be his best friend. Hans was unable to refuse any request made by the Miller as he felt that he would be a bad friend if he did not oblige with the duties that the Miller had given to him. Moreover, Miller would guilt trap him by saying that he was going to give him a wheelbarrow.

2. Why are there two sets of characters? (bird-water-rat-duck/humans) Explain.

Answer: Oscar Wilde created a story within a story, using the fairy tale structure to convey a message. The two sets of characters mentioned in the story are humans and animals. In the story, Oscar Wilde is using human behaviour to teach morals to other animals, and it is full of ironies. The way in which the story is told itself is kind of ironic. I think Oscar Wilde chose two sets of characters to bring out the irony of the story, not just through the story of good-hearted Hans and selfish Miller, but also through the fact that animals are using human behaviour to teach morals instead of the other way around mostly used in fables.

Think and answer

1. Would you say Little Hans was foolish? Why?

Answer: Yes, Little Hans was foolish because he allowed himself to be exploited by the Miller under the guise of friendship. He failed to see the one-sidedness of their relationship, where he continuously gave without receiving anything substantial in return.

2. How does the word ‘little’ have an impact on the way Hans is seen and treated in the story?

Answer: The word ‘little’ emphasizes Hans’s vulnerability and naivety, making him appear less significant and more susceptible to being taken advantage of by others, particularly the Miller.

3. Why do you think the wheelbarrow is mentioned repeatedly in the story?

Answer: The repeated mention of the wheelbarrow symbolizes false promises and manipulative friendship. It represents the tangible yet unfulfilled commitments made by the Miller to Hans, highlighting the exploitative nature of their relationship.

Going Beyond

1. “Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain…if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.” Do you agree with this view? Share your views in an essay of 150 words.

Answer: Yes, I agree that friendship is among the hardest human relationships to fully explain, primarily because it encapsulates a range of emotions and commitments that are deep and often complex. True friendship involves a balance of giving and receiving, trust, and a deep understanding of one another, all elements that require time and experience to cultivate. Moreover, learning the essence of friendship extends beyond personal benefit; it teaches empathy, loyalty, and the importance of interpersonal connections which are crucial in every aspect of life. These values help in fostering communities and making humane decisions in personal and professional settings. Without a proper understanding of what constitutes genuine friendship, individuals might find themselves lacking in crucial social skills and emotional intelligence, which are necessary for navigating the broader social and relational aspects of life.

2. Are stories with morals annoying? Write a short paragraph, explaining your view.

Answer: Stories with morals are not inherently annoying; their value depends significantly on the execution and context. Morals embedded in stories serve as useful tools for conveying lessons about ethics, conduct, and virtues in an accessible and engaging manner. These stories can guide behavior and thought processes, particularly for young readers. However, when the moral is too explicit or didactic, it can detract from the enjoyment of the story, making the narrative feel forced or preachy. Effective moral stories subtly weave the lesson into a compelling narrative, allowing the reader to glean insights through reflection rather than direct instruction, thus maintaining the story’s entertainment value while still imparting wisdom.

Extra MCQs

1. What is the initial setting of “The Devoted Friend”?

A. A farmyard B. A pond C. A garden D. A marketplace

Answer: B. A pond

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10. How does Hans ultimately die?

A. From illness B. In an accident C. Drowning D. From old age

Answer: C. Drowning

Extra questions and answers

1. What kind of friend was the Miller to Hans? 

Answer: The Miller was not a true friend to Hans. He only took advantage of Hans’s kindness and generosity, without ever reciprocating or showing genuine care and concern for him. He manipulated Hans into doing various tasks for him, like fixing his barn roof, carrying a sack of flour, and driving his sheep to the mountain, all under the pretext of giving him the old, broken wheelbarrow.

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10. What message did the story convey about true friendship? 

Answer: The story conveyed the message that true friendship is not about empty words, false promises, or one-sided exploitation. Instead, it should be based on mutual understanding, respect, and a genuine willingness to care for and support each other without any hidden motives or selfish interests. The Miller’s actions were a stark contrast to the qualities of a true friend.

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12 thoughts on “The Devoted Friend: NBSE Class 9 Alternative English answers”

  1. 1. Why didnt Hugh the Miller invite Hans to his house during the winter?
    2. Comment on the treatment of Hans by his best friend Miller.
    3. Do you think that Miller knows the value of friendship?

  2. 1.Why did Hans not feel sad about not getting anything in return from Hugh?
    2.What did Hugh ask Hans to do in return for the promised wheelbarrow?
    3.Was Hugh actually a devoted friend?Give reason for your answer.

      1. My teacher gave some additional questions that are
        1. Explain the opening scene of the story ‘ the devoted friend’.
        2. What according to the milller would make Hans happy?
        3. What was the milller’s idea about friendship?
        4. Analyse the characteristic of the killer.

        I hope this will help you

  3. wow! I love you?? very much .Make sure you give us more and more notes like this

    And Please! ???
    Give us the NBSE Exam sheets for 2021,2022,2023, etc ……
    I will love you with all my heart then?

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