The Rattrap: MBOSE Class 12 English Core notes, answers

The Rattrap mbose
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Get summaries, questions, answers, solutions, notes, extras, PDF of Class 12 English Core textbook (Resonance), Chapter 2 The Rattrap by Selma Lagerlöf, which is part of the syllabus of students studying under MBOSE (Meghalaya Board). These solutions, however, should only be treated as references and can be modified/changed. 

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The story “The Rattrap” by Selma Lagerlöf follows a vagabond who sells small wire rattraps he makes himself. Despite his efforts, he often resorts to begging and petty thievery. One day, he conceives a metaphor that the world is a rattrap, offering riches and joys as bait, which once touched, ensnare people in their misfortunes.

One evening, he seeks shelter in a small cottage owned by an old man, who is happy for the company and shares his meager supper and tobacco. The old man, a former crofter at Ramsjö Ironworks, shows the peddler thirty kronor he had earned by selling milk from his cow. The next morning, after the crofter leaves, the peddler returns, steals the money, and flees into the forest. Initially pleased with his theft, he soon becomes lost in the confusing, dense woods. Feeling trapped by the forest, he reflects on his metaphor of the world as a rattrap.

As night falls, he hears the sounds of hammer strokes from an iron mill and follows them to Ramsjö Ironworks. There, he seeks warmth and shelter in the forge, where the blacksmiths, used to vagabonds, indifferently allow him to stay. The ironmaster of the mill, inspecting his plant that night, mistakes the peddler for an old regimental comrade, Captain von Stahle. The ironmaster invites him home, but the peddler, fearing discovery of his theft, declines.

The ironmaster sends his daughter, Edla, to persuade him. She succeeds with her kind and compassionate approach, assuring him he can leave freely after Christmas Eve. At the manor, the ironmaster realizes his mistake when the peddler is cleaned and dressed in borrowed clothes. Angrily, he threatens to call the sheriff. The peddler defends himself by explaining his predicament and likening it to the ironmaster’s metaphor of the world as a rattrap. Edla intervenes, convincing her father to let the peddler stay for Christmas.

The peddler enjoys a peaceful Christmas at the manor, sleeping long and eating well. The next morning, the ironmaster and Edla return from church, having heard of a robbery at the old crofter’s house. Expecting to find their guest gone with stolen silver, they are surprised to find he has left a small package for Edla. Inside is a rattrap with the stolen money and a letter. The letter thanks Edla for treating him with dignity and kindness, as if he were a captain. He asks her to return the money to the crofter and signs it as Captain von Stahle, acknowledging her role in saving him from the metaphorical rattrap of the world.

The story illustrates themes of compassion and redemption, showing how a kind act can change a person’s outlook and life. The peddler’s transformation from a petty thief to a man capable of self-respect and honesty underscores the impact of empathy and kindness.

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Textual questions and answers

Fill in the blanks

1. The vagabond compared the whole world to a _______. It existed for the sole purpose of _______. As soon as anyone let himself be tempted _______.

Answer: rattrap; setting baits for people; to touch the bait, it closed in on him

2. The old man in the gray cottage had earlier worked as a _______ at _______ and had also _______.

Answer: crofter; Ramsjö Ironworks; worked on the land

3. The peddler returned to the cottage in order to _______.

Answer: steal the thirty kronor

4. The peddler thought that he was caught because he had let himself _______.

Answer: be fooled by a bait

5. The blacksmith did not hear the peddler enter the forge because _______.

Answer: of all the noise in the forge

6. The ironmaster at Ramsjö mistook the peddler for his friend _______ who served with him in the _______.

Answer: Nils Olof; regiment

7. ‘Now come along with me and help us make the Christmas food disappear a little faster.’ This means _______.

Answer: come and join us for Christmas dinner

8. After the guest was well-groomed, the ironmaster was not pleased because _______.

Answer: he realised the man was not his old acquaintance

9. The peddler did not cause any trouble at the ironmaster’s home because all he did was _______ and _______.

Answer: sleep; eat

10. The peddler left behind a package for the daughter of the ironmaster, which contained _______, _______, and _______.

Answer: a small rattrap; three ten-kronor notes; a letter

11. The person who showed the most genuine care and concern for the peddler was _______.

Answer: Edla Willmansson

12. The peddler signed himself as Captain von Stahle because _______.

Answer: he felt raised to the status of a captain due to Edla’s kindness and wanted to return her generosity

Answer these questions briefly

1. How did the peddler see himself in relation to the world around him?

Answer: The peddler saw himself as caught in the world’s rattrap, believing that the whole world was a trap set to bait people with riches and joys.

2. After stealing from the crofter, where did the peddler go? What were his thoughts during his journey?

Answer: After stealing from the crofter, the peddler went into the woods. He thought that he had been caught by the world’s rattrap and felt that the forest was closing in on him like an impenetrable prison.

3. Why did the ironmaster invite the peddler to his home? Why did the peddler decline the invitation?

Answer: The ironmaster invited the peddler to his home because he mistook him for an old regimental comrade, Nils Olof. The peddler declined the invitation because he feared that going to the manor would be like throwing himself into the lion’s den, especially since he had stolen money.

4. When the ironmaster realised that he had incorrectly identified the peddler as someone he once knew, what did the peddler say in his own defence?

Answer: The peddler said that he never pretended to be anything but a poor trader and pleaded to be allowed to stay in the forge. He said that the whole world was a big rattrap and that the ironmaster might also get caught in it someday.

5. Why did the ironmaster laugh to himself when he left the forge?

Answer: The ironmaster laughed to himself because he knew that his daughter would have better powers of persuasion than he did, and he anticipated that she would succeed in bringing the peddler home.

6. Where did the peddler find true warmth? How was he welcomed here?

Answer: The peddler found true warmth at the ironmaster’s home, where he was welcomed by the ironmaster’s daughter, Edla. She showed him compassion and treated him kindly, persuading him to stay for Christmas.

7. Did the peddler regret having taken the thirty kroner? Why do you think so?

Answer: Yes, the peddler regretted taking the thirty kronor. This is evident because he left the money behind in the rattrap along with a letter explaining that he did not want the ironmaster’s daughter to be embarrassed by a thief.

8. What was the reason behind the daughter’s request to her father? Why did she behave in that way?

Answer: The reason behind the daughter’s request was that she wanted the peddler to have a day of peace and comfort, as he was always chased away and afraid of being arrested. She behaved that way because she felt compassion and empathy for him.

9. Why do you think the peddler slept for long periods in the ironmaster’s house?

Answer: The peddler slept for long periods because he had not been able to sleep quietly and safely for many years. The warmth and security of the ironmaster’s house provided him the peace he needed to rest.

10. What was the peddler’s parting gesture? What does this tell us about him?

Answer: The peddler’s parting gesture was leaving a small rattrap with the thirty kronor and a letter for the ironmaster’s daughter. This tells us that he had a sense of honour and gratitude, and he wanted to repay the kindness he had received.

Answer these questions in detail

1. The peddler met four very different people along his journey. Compare and contrast the reactions of these people at their first meeting with the peddler. Give reasons for their behaviour. a. the old crofter b. the master blacksmith c. the ironmaster d. the ironmaster’s daughter. Which one of these four had a genuine kindness for the peddler? Why do you think so?

Answer: a. The old crofter welcomed the peddler into his home and was very generous, offering him food, tobacco, and companionship. He treated the peddler with kindness and shared his personal confidences, showing trust and hospitality. This was because he was lonely and craved human interaction.

b. The master blacksmith was indifferent and haughty when the peddler asked for permission to stay. He only nodded a haughty consent without saying a word. His reaction was probably due to the frequent visits of vagabonds seeking warmth at the forge, making him unsympathetic and indifferent.

c. The ironmaster mistook the peddler for an old regimental comrade and was very friendly and inviting. He insisted on taking the peddler to his home, hoping to help him out of his assumed embarrassment. His behaviour stemmed from a mistaken identity and a desire to reconnect with an old friend.

d. The ironmaster’s daughter, Edla Willmansson, showed genuine kindness and compassion towards the peddler. She persuaded him to come to their home and assured him that he could leave freely whenever he wanted. She treated him with respect and kindness, showing empathy for his situation. This genuine care and concern were evident in her actions and words.

Of the four, Edla Willmansson showed the most genuine kindness for the peddler. She treated him with compassion, respect, and empathy, understanding his need for a place where he could feel safe and welcomed. Her behaviour was driven by her innate kindness and desire to help those in need.+

Beyond the text

The way a person is treated can help to alter that person’s outlook on life and about himself as well. This is aptly proved in the story. Discuss the importance of empathy for our fellow human beings—those in need of love and understanding, those wrongly judged, and those who are marginalised in society. How can we develop this quality of empathy in ourselves?

Answer: The story highlights the transformative power of empathy and compassion. When the peddler is treated with kindness by Edla Willmansson, it significantly alters his outlook on life and himself. Instead of continuing his life of petty crime and mistrust, he is moved by her genuine care and decides to change his ways. This underscores the importance of empathy for our fellow human beings, especially those in need of love, understanding, and acceptance.

Empathy plays a crucial role in positively impacting individuals who are marginalised or wrongly judged by society. When we show empathy, we acknowledge their struggles and validate their experiences, making them feel valued and understood. This can lead to a significant change in their behaviour and self-perception, as seen with the peddler.

To develop empathy in ourselves, we can practice the following:

  1. Active Listening: Paying full attention to others when they speak, without interrupting, and showing genuine interest in their feelings and experiences.
  2. Perspective-Taking: Trying to understand situations from others’ viewpoints, considering how we would feel in their position.
  3. Open-Mindedness: Being open to different experiences and viewpoints, and avoiding quick judgments about others.
  4. Compassionate Actions: Engaging in acts of kindness and support for those in need, showing that we care about their well-being.
  5. Self-Reflection: Reflecting on our own feelings and experiences to better understand the emotions of others.

By consciously practicing these habits, we can cultivate a deeper sense of empathy and contribute to creating a more compassionate and inclusive society.


1. The metaphor of the rattrap highlights the predicament of a person on the journey of life. Discuss.

Answer: The metaphor of the rattrap in the story highlights the predicament of individuals navigating through life, where temptations and pitfalls abound, much like bait in a trap. The peddler’s journey is symbolic of the broader human experience, where people often face challenges and moral dilemmas. The rattrap metaphor suggests that life is full of lures—riches, joys, comforts—that can lead one into trouble if not approached with caution.

In the peddler’s case, he succumbs to the temptation of stealing the crofter’s money, which sets off a chain of events that entraps him in his own guilt and fear. This reflects the idea that giving in to temptation can lead to a loss of freedom and peace, as the consequences of such actions can be binding and difficult to escape.

The metaphor also implies that everyone is at risk of being caught in life’s traps, regardless of their intentions or circumstances. It underscores the importance of making ethical choices and being aware of the potential consequences of one’s actions.


1. Imagine you are a rat caught in a rattrap! Write a paragraph in about 100 words describing your predicament. Use the experiences narrated in the text and create a vivid description of your emotions once caught. Why were you tempted? What are your regrets in life? How do you plan on escaping? Once free, will your attitude to life change?

Answer: As I lay trapped in the cold metal jaws of the rattrap, panic surges through me. The tempting smell of cheese had been irresistible, a momentary lapse in judgment driven by hunger and desperation. Now, confined and helpless, I regret every careless nibble that led me here. The world outside seems distant and unreachable, taunting me with memories of freedom. My mind races with plans of escape, envisioning gnawing at the wooden base or waiting for a kind soul to release me. If I ever taste freedom again, I vow to be cautious, wary of easy temptations, and cherish every moment of liberty.

2. Narrate an incident in your life when either you wrongly judged a person or you were wrongly judged. What were the consequences of your actions? Is there a lesson to be learnt? If so, what conclusions have you arrived at?

Answer: I once wrongly judged a new classmate. He always sat quietly at the back and rarely participated in class discussions. I assumed he was indifferent and uninterested in studies, which led me to avoid him. However, during a group project, we were paired together, and I discovered that he was incredibly knowledgeable and hardworking. He had a deep passion for learning but was just shy and found it difficult to interact with new people.

Working with him, I realized how wrong my initial judgment had been. The consequence of my hasty assumption was that I missed out on a potential friendship and the chance to learn from a brilliant peer. This experience taught me a valuable lesson about the dangers of making snap judgments based on appearances or limited interactions. I concluded that everyone has a unique story and strengths, and it’s important to approach people with an open mind and heart, giving them the opportunity to reveal their true selves.

Extra fill in the blanks

1. The vagabond compared the whole world to a ______. (rattrap/trap)

Answer: rattrap

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30. The peddler was able to rest peacefully for the first time in years at ______. (Ramsjö/ironmaster’s house)

Answer: Ramsjö

Extra true or false

1. The vagabond compared the whole world to a giant maze.

Answer: False

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29. The ironmaster forced the peddler to leave immediately after discovering his identity.

Answer: False

Extra question and answer

1 What did the man sell?

Answer: He sold small rattraps made of wire.

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29. How did the peddler’s final actions demonstrate his change in character?

Answer: The peddler’s final actions demonstrated a significant change in character. After experiencing the warmth and kindness of Edla and her father, he felt a deep sense of gratitude and remorse. Instead of fleeing with the stolen money, he left it behind in a rattrap as a Christmas gift, along with a letter explaining his actions and expressing his desire to repay the old man. This gesture showed that the peddler had been profoundly affected by the compassion he received, leading him to act honorably and seek redemption. His transformation from a petty thief to a person capable of empathy and integrity underscored the story’s theme of the redemptive power of kindness.

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