Get notes, line-by-line explanation, summary, questions and answers, critical analysis, word meanings, extras, and pdf of the story “With the Photographer” by Stephen Leacock, which is part of ICSE Class 10 English (Treasure Chest: A Collection of ICSE Poems and Short Stories). However, the notes should only be treated as references, and changes should be made according to the needs of the students.
The writer, Leacock, goes to a photographer’s studio to get his photo taken. He has to wait for an hour before the serious photographer calls him into the inner room. It’s clear the photographer is not pleased with Leacock’s face. He says it is “quite wrong” and would look better taken at three quarters full. When Leacock tries to compliment the photographer’s perceptiveness, he is ignored.
The photographer positions himself behind the camera under a covered cloth. He comes closer to Leacock, tenderly holding his face. Leacock closes his eyes, thinking he is about to be kissed. But instead, the photographer roughly turns Leacock’s face in different directions, trying to find the most flattering angle.
The photographer begins ordering Leacock to alter his expressions and pose – close mouth, droop ears, expand lungs, etc. Leacock grows frustrated and confused by the demands. After 40 years of living with his natural face, imperfections and all, he is annoyed that the photographer finds so much fault with it.
Just as Leacock becomes angry and is about to get up, the photographer secretly takes a photo, pleased to have captured his animated emotion. He tells Leacock to return on Saturday to see the proof. To Leacock’s great annoyance, the photographer has edited his eyebrows, mouth, and wants to edit his ears using advanced techniques.
Leacock argues that he simply wanted a photo depicting his true self, so friends and family could remember him after he dies. But the photographer does not seem to understand. Extremely angry, Leacock declares the edited photo worthless and leaves the studio in tears, feeling humiliated.
About the author
Stephen Leacock was a famous Canadian teacher, political scientist, writer and humorist. He was born in 1869 in Swanmoor, England and later moved to Canada with his family. Leacock studied at Upper Canada College and then went on to earn a PhD in political science and economics from the University of Chicago.
Leacock started his career as a teacher and taught political science at McGill University in Montreal for over 30 years. However, he became most well-known for his humorous stories and writings which poked fun at human foibles and eccentricities. Some of his best known works include “Literary Lapses” (1910), “Nonsense Novels” (1911), “Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town” (1912) and “Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich” (1914).
During the 1910s and 1920s, Leacock was considered the best known English-speaking humorist in the world. His stories earned him international fame and recognition. In 1937, he was awarded the Royal Society of Canada’s Lorne Pierce Medal. To honour his legacy, the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour was established in 1947 and continues to be awarded annually for the best humorous writing in Canada.
Leacock passed away in 1944 at the age of 75.
Additional/Extra questions and answers
1. Why did the author go to the photo studio?
Answer: The author went to the photo studio to have his photograph taken. He wanted to leave it behind with his friends and relatives after his death. So, he went to a photographer.
2. Describe the photographer.
Answer: The photographer was a drooping man in a grey suit. He had dim eyes as a natural scientist.
3. Bring out the significance of what Leacock was reading at the photographer’s.
Answer: The poet had to wait. To kill the time, he read Ladies companion for 1912 and the girls’ magazine for 1902 and the infants journal for 1888. He read the old magazines which were meant for people who lived long ago.
4. Why did Leacock assume that the photographer was praying?
Answer: The photographer hid himself behind the camera under a cloth. He did not move or say anything for quite some time. So, the author assumed that the photographer was praying.
5. How did the inner room get light?
Answer: There was a frosted window. A sheet of factory cotton hung against it. A beam of sunlight filtered through it. Thus the studio got the needed light.
6. Why did the photographer take a longtime to photograph Leacock?
Answer: The photographer wanted to prove his skills in photography. Somehow, the author’s face didn’t appear to be good enough for a photo. So, he gave many instructions like “open the mouth, close it, droop your ear, roll your eyes, turn your face up” and went on correcting the pose. This took a lot of time.
7. What angered the author?
Answer: The author’s facial features and body was severely criticized by the photographer. He gave plenty of instructions. He himself held the author’s face and twisted it. He said, “I don’t like the head … The ears are bad”. He was asked to expand the lungs, contract the waist, turn the face upward. All this added to the author’s annoyance. He became really angry.
8. Why did the photographer feel happy after taking the photograph?
Answer: The photographer felt happy after taking the photograph. The author was angry and was about to get up from his place. The animation on his face was caught in the photograph.
9. Why did Leacock visit the studio on Saturday?
Answer: The photographer had asked the author to come and collect the proof on Saturday. So, the author went to the studio on Saturday.
10. How did the author react on seeing his photograph?
Answer: The author was upset to see his photo. It carried little likeness of him. He even asked the photographer if it was himself on the photo.
11. What changes had the photographer effected on Leacock’s face in the picture?
Answer: The photographer had retouched the author’s eyes. His eyebrows were removed and put in new ones. The mouth was adjusted a little. The author had a consolation that his ears were recognizable. The photographer declared his intention of removing it and fixing them anew.
12. What was the human side to the photographer?
Answer: The photographer stated that he thought the face would be better three quarters full. The author was glad to find that he had such a human side to him.
13. Why was the photographer proud to receive Leacock on Saturday?
Answer: While handing over the proof of the photo, there was a certain pride in the photographer’s manner. He believed that with his technical expertise, he had corrected all the ugly features and made the photo presentable. So, he was naturally proud.
14. What was the only similarity between Leacock’s face and his photograph?
Answer: The author’s ears were almost the same in the photograph.
15. Stephen Leacock’s visit to the photo studio turns out to be an annoying experience for him. Discuss citing relevant instances from the story.
Answer: Stephen Leacock went to a photo studio to have a photo of himself taken. The photographer said “Your face is wrong” and made unpleasant comments. He took a longtime and then he took a photo of Leacock, when Leacock angrily rose from his seat.
Leacock went to the studio to get his photo. The photographer showed him the proof. Leacock was shocked, because the photographer had changed and adjusted Leacock’s mouth, eyes, and eyebrows. The ears were the same, but the photographer said that he would completely remove them and supply new ears!
Leacock wanted his own, real face as given by Heaven, so that his friends would remember after his death.
But the face in the photo was not his face and so he did not accept the photo. So, Leacock’s visit to the photo studio was an annoying and disappointing experience.
16. “To me it is but a worthless bauble.” Why did the photographer’s touch of technical expertise appear a worthless bauble to Leacock?
Answer: The author wanted to have himself photographed. The purpose was to leave behind the image or picture of his likeness to his family and relatives. It would remind them of him after he is dead. The photo could reconcile his absence or loss to them. But the photographer had retouched the eyebrows, eyes, mouth etc. All these features did n6t resemble the author. In a depressed mood, the author said his ears were almost the same.
But the photographer said he could completely replace his ears using a new technique. When the author saw the photo it was technically sound but when it came to likeness, it was a disaster. The purpose of taking the photo was lost. The poet asked the photographer to do all sorts of corrections and keep it with himself and for his friends as a technically sound photo. But for himself, it was a worthless bauble. The author broke into tears and left the studio.
1. The photographer was a ____ man in a grey suit.
A. cheerful B. drooping C. drowsy D. flamboyant
Answer: B. drooping
2. The author has to wait for ____ to have his photo taken.
A. two hours B. 15 minutes C. 45 minutes D. an hour
Answer: A. two hours
3. The author visited a ____ to have his photo taken.
A. Jeweller’s B. dentist C. X-ray centre D. Studio
Answer: D. Studio
4. Stephen Leacock wanted a ____ taken to leave behind with his friends and relatives.
A. portrait B. photo C. will D. video
Answer: B. photo
5. The photographer rolled a machine into the centre of the room. The machine was an old ____
A. megaphone B. Radio C. TV D. camera
Answer: D. camera
6. The photographer said, “The face is quite ____”.
A. right B. impressive C. wrong D. handsome
Answer: C. wrong
7. The photographer commented, “The face would be better ____ full”.
A. one quarter B. three-quarter C. two quarter D. four quarter
Answer: B. three-quarter
8. The author closed his eyes when the photographer held his head in his hands. He thought the photographer was going to ____ him.
A. touch B. kiss C. kick D. hug
Answer: B. kiss
9. The photographer twisted the author’s ____ as far as it would go.
A. hand B. face C. leg D. ear
Answer: B. face
10. The photographer asked the author to drop his ____ a little.
A. shoulders B. hands C. ears D. eyes
Answer: C. ears
11. The photographer instructed the author to expand his ____
A. eyes B. ears C. hands D. lungs
Answer: D. lungs
12. In spite of making many corrections in the position, the photographer found author’s face just a ____ too full.
A. little B. lot C. a trifle D. a lot
Answer: C. a trifle
13. What did the photographer initially say about the author’s face?
A. It was quite impressive B. It was very handsome C. It was completely wrong D. It was perfectly alright
Answer: C. It was completely wrong
14. What magazine did the author read while waiting at the studio?
A. Scientific American B. National Geographic C. Ladies’ Companion D. Time Magazine
Answer: C. Ladies’ Companion
15. Why was the author asked to expand his lungs by the photographer?
A. For better posture B. To relax him C. For a fuller face D. For good health
Answer: C. For a fuller face
16. How did the photographer light up his studio?
A. Tube lights B. Sunlight C. Flood lights D. Candles
Answer: B. Sunlight
17. What annoyed the author during the photo shoot?
A. Long wait B. Unpleasant comments C. Bright lights D. Uncomfortable seating
Answer: B. Unpleasant comments
18. What did the author think when the photographer held his face?
A. He was going to slap him B. He was going to kiss him C. He was going to punch him D. He was going to hug him
Answer: B. He was going to kiss him
19. What was the photographer’s reaction on seeing the author’s animated face?
A. He looked scared B. He appeared shocked C. He seemed pleased D. He was disappointed
Answer: C. He seemed pleased
20. Why did the author reject the final photograph?
A. He looked ugly in it B. It was very blurry C. It did not resemble him D. His ears looked big
Answer: C. It did not resemble him
21. What was the author’s intention behind getting photographed?
A. To give it to his girlfriend B. To submit for a passport C. To give his friends after his death D. To send it to a magazine
Answer: C. To give his friends after his death
22. How did the author describe the final photo?
A. As a masterpiece B. As a fine work of art C. As a worthless bauble D. As an impressive click
Answer: C. As a worthless bauble
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