The Imp and the Peasant’s Bread: BSEM Class 10 English

The Imp and the Peasant’s Bread bsem class 10
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Get summary, textual solutions, questions, answers, notes. pdf, extras to the chapter “The Imp and the Peasant’s Bread” by Leo Tosltoy which is a part of Class 10 English Literature Reader syllabus for students studying under Manipur Board (BSEM).


The story begins with a poor peasant going to plow his field early in the morning. He takes his breakfast of a crust of bread with him. He hides the bread under a bush and starts working. After some time, when he is hungry, he goes to eat his bread but finds it missing. An imp had stolen the bread, hoping to make the peasant angry so he would curse. But the peasant does not curse or swear, instead saying whoever took it must have needed it more.

The imp is disappointed and goes to report his failure to make the peasant sin to the Devil. The Devil scolds the imp and threatens to punish him if he does not make the peasant sin within three years. The frightened imp returns to earth and disguises himself as a laborer to work for the peasant.

Over the next two years, the imp gives the peasant advice on when and where to plant his crops. Thanks to the imp’s advice, the peasant ends up with a surplus of grain. The imp then shows the peasant how to turn the extra grain into vodka. The peasant starts drinking the vodka and offering it to his friends.

When the Devil comes to see, he finds the drunken peasant swearing at his wife and refusing to share drinks with a poor neighbor. The Devil is pleased, but the imp explains that he simply made sure the peasant had more than he needed – excess leads to sin. The Devil praises the imp for exposing the beast within man when his greed is unleashed.

The story shows how excess wealth and greed can unleash man’s inner demons. A poor but virtuous peasant is led into sin when an imp tricks him into producing more grain than needed, allowing indulgence in alcohol. The story warns against the corrupting influence of excess.


(A) From your understanding of the story answer the following questions:

a) The imp’s intention in stealing the bread was :

Answer: (iii) he wanted the peasant to curse and commit a sin.

b) In the first year the Imp suggested that the peasant should sow corn

Answer: (ii) in a marshy place.

c) The peasant carried the drinks himself because

Answer: (iii) he was afraid his wife would spill the drink.

(B) Complete the following with information from the text:

(i) The imp was sad because he failed to make 

Answer: the peasant sin/curse.

(ii) The Devil said that if within three years the Imp failed 

Answer: to get the better of the peasant, he would have the imp ducked in holy water.

(iii) In the second year the peasant sowed the corns on the hill according to 

Answer: the imp’s advice.

(iv) The Devil said to the imp that if the drink made peasants so foxy then 

Answer: they would soon all be in their (the devils’) hands.

(v) After the second drink the peasants stopped oily speeches but they began 

Answer: to abuse and snarl at one another.

(vi) The pleasure that the imp showed to the peasant was 

Answer: making vodka from the excess grain.

(C) Answer the following questions briefly:

(i) How did the peasant react when his bread had been stolen?

Answer: The peasant reacted calmly when his bread was stolen. He said whoever took it must have needed it more and wished it would do them good.

(ii) What was the imp’s aim in stealing the bread?

Answer: The imp’s aim was to make the peasant curse or take the Devil’s name in anger so he could claim the peasant’s soul.

(iii) What did the Devil fear when he heard of the imp’s failure?

Answer: The Devil feared that if peasants started reacting calmly like this instead of with anger, it would be detrimental to the devils.

(iv) Why did the imp turn himself into a labouring man?

Answer: The imp turned into a laborer to trick the peasant and make up for his previous failure.

(v) How did the peasant get more corn than he needed?

Answer: The peasant got more corn than he needed by following the imp’s advice on where to plant each year.

(vi) Describe the effects of the first two glasses of drink on the peasant and his friends.

Answer: After the first two drinks, the peasants started making false flattering speeches to each other. After the second drink, they grew hostile and abusive.

(vii) ‘Wait a bit – the best is yet to come.’ What was the best?

Answer: The best was yet to come after the third drink, when the peasants became quite like brutes. They muttered and shouted, not knowing why, and not listening to one another. They became like swines.

(D) Answer the following questions in about 80 words each:

i. ‘That’s the man who did not grudge his only crust.’ Bring out the significance of the imp’s statement.

Answer: This statement by the imp highlights the complete transformation in the once kind and large-hearted peasant’s character after he started consuming alcohol. Earlier, when his bread was stolen, he had generously wished well for the thief instead of getting angry or cursing him. However, now under the influence of alcohol, he had turned utterly selfish, greedy and was even rude to his own wife just because she spilled some drink. This contrast shows how consumption of alcohol made this once noble peasant lose all his good human qualities turning him into a selfish and rude man.

ii. ‘I can’t find drink for everyone who comes along.’ Comment on the change in the character of the speaker in the light of the given statement.

Answer: This statement by the peasant reflects the drastic change in his character after he started drinking alcohol. Earlier he was so generous that he did not even mind if someone stole his only bread and wished well for the thief. However, after consuming alcohol regularly, he became utterly selfish and denied drink to the tired peasant in spite of having excess grain. This clearly mirrors the transformation alcohol brought in him – from a large hearted noble man to a hardened insensitive person, selfish and indifferent to the needs of others.

iii. ‘The blood of the beasts is always in man.’ Write how the imp shows it.

Answer: Through this statement, the imp explains that every human inherently has the cunning and flattery of the fox, the ferocity and violence of the wolf and the filthy beastly habits of the swine in him. However, these traits manifest only when man acquires resources in excess of his needs. Earlier, the good peasant had turned cunning, violent and swinish after the excess grain crop. He and his friends flattered each other cunningly like foxes after the first drink. Then they fought savagely like wolves after the second drink and finally behaved in an utterly filthy manner like swines after the third drink.

iv. Bring out the moral of the story.

Answer: The moral of the story is that excess of anything corrupts human nature and brings out the worst in man. When people’s means are limited, they are good human beings. However, excess wealth and abundance make them greedy, selfish and insensitive to others’ sufferings. Similarly, excess consumption of alcohol brings out the latent cunningness, violence and filthy habits in them. Through the story, the author teaches us to be content with our needs and not indulge in excess pleasures which reveal the hidden evil in human nature.

Think & Write

i. The story has some moral message. Do you think the moral has some bearing even in modern day life-style? Write a paragraph in justification of your answer.

Answer: The moral message of this story is quite relevant even in modern times. In today’s consumerist world, people constantly yearn for more wealth and material goods beyond their needs. This breeds greed, selfishness and insensitivity to others’ sufferings. Wealthy people often indulge in excessive pleasures like drugs, alcohol and wasteful luxuries even as the poor suffer around them. This brings out the latent beastly nature in them. The story teaches us that we should use our resources judiciously to satisfy our needs but not indulge in excesses. Moderation and contentment are important virtues even in today’s materialistic lifestyles.

ii. Develop a dialogue containing the ‘false, oily speeches’ among the peasants under the influence of drinks.

The host – Friends, how do you like my drinks?

1st Peasant– It is wonderful. You are the best ho….. You are the greatest of friends!

2nd Peasant–

3rd Peasant–

Answer: The host – Friends, how do you like my drinks?

1st Peasant– It is simply outstanding, dear friend! You have the greatest heart to serve us such fine drinks. I’ve never had anything better.

2nd Peasant– These drinks are fit for royalty! You are the most generous host I’ve ever seen.

3rd Peasant – My friend, your hospitality and kindness are unparalleled. We are blessed to have you as our host. Please accept our sincere gratitude for this feast.


1. Discuss the effect of drinks on homes, society and the individual. Present your group’s point to the whole class.

Answer: Alcoholism destroys families by diverting household income to drinking, causing domestic violence and abuse, and pushing families into poverty and debts. It tears apart societies by increasing crime, diseases, broken families and productivity loss. For individuals, it ruins physical and mental health, relationships, careers and finances. As a group, we feel the state should crackdown on spurious liquor, regulate alcohol sales, and raise taxes to make it less affordable. At the same time, awareness campaigns, counseling and de-addiction centers should help people quit alcohol. Families and society must also provide support to combat this menace.


A. Match the words in list A with their meanings in B.

railinglaughed quietly
staggeringsad and dejected
scamperedmoving to and fro


CrestfallenSad and dejected
WaggingMoving to and fro
ChuckledLaughed quietly

B. Choose the correct meaning from alternatives given of the idiomatic phrases and write a sentence of your own using each of them.

Set to work:

Answer: To begin a work in a determined way

The students set to work on their project as soon as the teacher announced it.

Get the better of:

Answer: Defeat

The chess player could not get the better of his opponent who checkmated him.

Rail at:

Answer: Rebuke

The manager railed at the employee for being late every day.

At sixes and sevens:

Answer: In complete disorder

Everything was at sixes and sevens in the house as they hurried to pack for the journey.

With flying colours:

Answer: With great success

She passed her driving test with flying colours on the first attempt.

By hook or by crook:

Answer: By any means

He was determined to get the deal signed by hook or by crook.

Apple of discord:

Answer: Reason for quarrel

The disputed territory became an apple of discord between the two countries.

Writing Practice

Answer: Drug addiction has disastrous effects on youngsters. It damages their physical and mental health leading to memory loss, depression, heart problems, kidney failure and even death from overdose. Socially, it isolates them from family and friends as they spend more time getting high. Their academic performance deteriorates and they are unable to hold jobs or earn well, resulting in poverty and homelessness. They often turn to petty crime to finance their addiction. Young drug addicts suffer high rates of suicide due to mental health issues and drug-induced psychosis. The only solution is creating awareness about drugs, counseling by peers and psychologists, family support and strict enforcement of anti-drug laws. With society’s help, young addicts can overcome addiction and lead fulfilling lives.

Additional/extra questions and answers

1. What did the peasant do early in the morning before going to plow his field?

Answer: The peasant took his breakfast with him early in the morning before going to plow his field.

2. Where did the peasant hide his breakfast before starting to plow?

Answer: The peasant wrapped his breakfast in his coat and hid it under a bush before starting to plow.

3. Who stole the peasant’s breakfast while he was plowing?

Answer: An imp stole the peasant’s breakfast while he was plowing.

4. How did the peasant react when he discovered his breakfast was missing?

Answer: When the peasant discovered his breakfast was missing, he was sorry to lose it but did not curse or call on the devil. He said “After all, I shall not die of hunger! No doubt, whoever took the bread needed it. May it do him good.”

5. Why did the imp steal the peasant’s bread?

Answer: The imp stole the peasant’s bread because he wanted the peasant to curse and call on the devil, so he could report the peasant’s sin to his master.

6. What punishment did the Devil threaten the imp with for failing to make the peasant sin?

Answer: The Devil threatened to have the imp ducked in holy water if he did not get the better of the peasant within three years.

7. How did the imp try to redeem himself after his first failure with the peasant?

Answer: After his first failure, the imp disguised himself as a laborer and went to work for the peasant, giving him farming advice in order to gain control over him.

8. How did the imp’s advice help the peasant get a good harvest the first year?

Answer: The first year, the imp advised the peasant to plant his crop in a marshy area. It turned out to be a dry year, so the peasant had a good harvest while his neighbors’ crops suffered.

9. What advice did the imp give the peasant the second year? What was the result?

Answer: The second year, the imp advised the peasant to plant his crop on a hill. That year there was heavy rain, but the peasant’s crop on the hill thrived while his neighbors’ crops were ruined.

10. What did the imp teach the peasant to do with his excess grain?

Answer: The imp taught the peasant to mash the excess grain to make vodka.

11. How did the peasant behave when he started drinking the vodka he made?

Answer: When the peasant started drinking the vodka he made, he became rude and angry, even yelling at his wife when she spilled some vodka. He also refused to share drinks with a poor peasant who came to visit.

12. What did the imp and Devil observe when the peasant shared drinks with his friends?

Answer: The imp and Devil observed that the drinks first made the peasants sly and deceitful like foxes, then violent like wolves, and finally vulgar and foolish like swine.

13. Describe the progressive effects of the drinks on the peasants’ behavior.

Answer: After the first drink, the peasants began flattering each other with false, oily speeches. After the second drink, they started insulting and fighting with each other violently. After the third drink, they made crude noises and staggered around until the host fell down drunk in the mud.

14. What point does the story make about the “blood of beasts” being in all men?

Answer: The story suggests that all men have wicked animal instincts hidden inside them, but these instincts will only emerge when men become corrupted by greed and excess.

15. How did the imp explain the peasant’s behavior change to the Devil?

Answer: The imp explained that he simply gave the peasant more grain than he needed. Once the peasant had excess wealth, his wicked animal instincts emerged on their own.

16. What moral lesson does the story convey?

Answer: The story teaches that when people become wealthy, they are easily corrupted and turn to immoral pleasures. Excess wealth unleashes people’s wicked natures.

17. How does the ending demonstrate the theme that excess corrupts human nature?

Answer: In the end, the once-kind peasant becomes rude, greedy and beast-like after gaining excess wealth and drinking alcohol. This shows that all people can become wicked when they have too much, revealing the evil instincts hidden inside.

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