Class 12 English Core Book Flamingo Prose Section Lesson “The Last Lesson”: The article here contains a summary with proper headings, analysis of the story and theme and message of “The last Lesson” by Alphonse Daudet. Learning these would greatly help in understanding the story and thus developing insight to answer the questions based on this story.
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Introduction – ‘The Last Lesson’
A French novelist and short-story writer, Alphonse Daudet (1840-1897), wrote “The Last Lesson”, which is set in the days of the ‘Franco-Prussian War’ (1870-1871) when France was defeated by Prussia under the leadership of Bismarck. The Prussian Empire at that time included territories that are now part of Germany, Poland, and portions of Austria.
The story portrays how the French regions of Alsace and Lorraine were occupied by Prussia, and how this occupation affected the school life, which can be discovered by reading the story. The story “The Last Lesson” illustrates how the oppressor not only seeks to acquire territory but also to exert dominance over the language and culture of a nation, effectively erasing the identity of the subjugated people.
Summary – ‘The Last Lesson’
Late for school and sees a crowd in front of the bulletin-board
Franz, the narrator of the story, was running late for school and had not prepared his lesson on participles. Despite the temptation to skip school and enjoy the bright day, he decided to go. On his way to school, he passed by the town hall and saw a crowd gathered in front of the bulletin-board, which usually displayed bad news related to the ongoing war. As he was about to hurry past, the blacksmith called out to him and reassured him that he had plenty of time to reach school.
Surprised by his teacher’s kindness
Upon arriving at school, Franz was surprised to find that the usually bustling environment was eerily quiet. He had hoped to slip into class unnoticed, but everyone was already in their places, and he had to walk before everyone. To his amazement, instead of scolding him for being late and unprepared, his teacher, Mr M Hamel, was kind to him and asked him to take his place.
M Hamel’s attire sets a solemn tone
Franz settled into his seat and noticed that his teacher, M Hamel, was dressed in his special attire. This included a beautiful green coat, a frilled shirt, and a little black silk cap with embroidery on it. The attire was only worn by M Hamel on inspection or prize days. This dress code set a serious and formal tone for the class.
The atmosphere in the classroom is solemn
The atmosphere in the classroom was noticeably different. It was solemn, and everyone seemed sad. This was likely due to the fact that it was the last day that M Hamel would be teaching the class. The village elders were also present, sitting in the last benches of the classroom. This further added to the solemn atmosphere.
Village elders attend class
What surprised Franz the most was the presence of the village elders in the classroom. These elders, including old Hauser, sat at the back of the room. Old Hauser even brought an old primer with him, which he thumbed at the edges and held open on his knees. The elders’ presence showed that M Hamel was highly respected in the village, and his departure was a significant event for everyone.
The narrator’s reaction the Shocking News about the last French lesson
The narrator was taken aback when M Hamel, their French teacher, announced that it was their last lesson. The reason for this was that Berlin had ordered that only German be taught in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine. The narrator was shocked to hear this, and suddenly the French books that had seemed like a burden to him became very dear.
The narrator’s realization and regret for not learning French
The narrator regretted not having learned his French lessons earlier. He understood why M Hamel had put on his Sunday clothes and why the villagers were attending the class that day. They were showing respect to their country and thanking the master for his commendable service of forty years. The narrator also regretted missing school so often.
Disgust at failure to recite the rules of the participles
During the last French lesson, the narrator heard his name being called out to recite the rules of the participles, but he was unable to do so. He felt disgusted with himself for failing. However, Mr. Hamel did not scold him, as he knew the student was already feeling bad.
Mr. Hamel’s warning to the students not learning French
Mr. Hamel told his students that they would be mocked by people for calling themselves French if they couldn’t speak or write their own language. The everyday learning that had been postponed to the next day was now impossible, as there was no more time left to learn.
Mr Hamel’s Regret and Confession
Furthermore, Mr Hamel admitted that many parents had preferred to send their children to work rather than to school, which he regretted. He also confessed that he was partly to blame for this, as he had given his students a holiday on days when he wanted to go fishing.
French Language: The Most Beautiful in the World
Despite his regret, Mr Hamel expressed his love for the French language, describing it as the most beautiful and logical language in the world.
Dedicated Teaching and Learning
During the lesson, Mr Hamel demonstrated his dedication to teaching by explaining the grammar lesson patiently and thoroughly. Surprisingly, even the writer, who had previously struggled with French, was able to understand the lesson well.
The Writing Lesson
After the grammar lesson, Mr Hamel continued the class with a writing lesson, handing out new copies of the lesson that were written in beautiful round handwriting. The words “France, Alsace, France, Alsace” were like little flags floating throughout the classroom.
Quiet and Serious Learning Environment
All the students worked seriously and quietly, engrossed in their writing. However, the writer was momentarily distracted by the sound of pigeons cooing outside and wondered if they too would be forced to sing in German.
The Importance of Mother Tongue
In the story, “Mr. Hamel makes people realise the importance of mother tongue”. During a writing assignment, Mr. Hamel, who had been teaching at the school for forty years, sat motionless in his chair, taking in the sight of the classroom. The only noticeable changes were the worn-out desks and chairs and the taller trees outside.
The narrator notes that it must have been heart-breaking for Mr. Hamel to hear his sister packing upstairs, preparing to leave the country. This event emphasizes the importance of preserving one’s native language, as it connects people to their culture and roots.
Mr M Hamel’s Patience
On this particular day, Mr M Hamel displayed immense patience as he allowed even the youngest students, or “babies,” to chant the alphabet. The elderly villagers even joined in, their voices trembling with emotion. Despite the impending return of the Prussians from their drill, Mr M Hamel remained calm and collected.
Mr M Hamel’s Display of Patriotism
Overcome with emotion, Mr M Hamel went to the blackboard and wrote “Vive La France” (Long Live France). He then leaned against the wall and dismissed the class with a gesture. This act demonstrated his patriotism to the core.
The story serves as a wake-up call to those who continuously postpone important matters, as the natives of Alsace had to forego learning their mother tongue. The story also extrapolates the fact that war can make a person inhumane and insensitive to the feelings of others.
Analysis of the story “The Last Lesson” by Alphonse Daudet
“The Last Lesson” is a short story by French author Alphonse Daudet, first published in 1873. The story is set in a small village in Alsace-Lorraine, a region that was once part of France but had been annexed by Germany following the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. The story focuses on the last French lesson taught by an elderly teacher, Monsieur Hamel, to his students before they are forced to learn German.
The story opens with the narrator, who is one of Monsieur Hamel’s former students, reflecting on his childhood and the many times he had skipped school and ignored his studies. He remembers the day when he was finally motivated to attend school, which was also the day when he discovered that it would be his last French lesson.
As the lesson begins, Monsieur Hamel speaks solemnly and passionately about the importance of French language and culture. He explains that the French language is the most beautiful language in the world and that it is the duty of every Frenchman to cherish and preserve it. The students listen attentively, realizing for the first time how much they had taken their language and culture for granted.
Towards the end of the lesson, Monsieur Hamel announces that it will be his last day as their teacher, as the new German regulations require that all lessons be taught in German. The students are devastated, realizing too late the value of their education and culture. Monsieur Hamel urges them to never forget their French language and heritage, and to always fight for their country’s freedom and independence.
The story ends with the narrator reflecting on the lesson he had learned that day, and the importance of cherishing and preserving one’s language and culture. He also laments the fact that it took losing their language for the students to realize its value, and wonders if he himself had truly appreciated it while he had the chance.
One of the main themes of “The Last Lesson” is the importance of education and cultural preservation. Daudet uses the story to emphasize the value of one’s language and culture, and to warn against taking it for granted. Another important theme is the idea of loss and regret, as the students realize too late what they had lost and missed out on. The story also touches on the themes of nationalism, patriotism, and the importance of standing up for one’s beliefs and country.
In short, “The Last Lesson” is a poignant and thought-provoking story that highlights the importance of cultural preservation and the regret that can come with taking things for granted.
The theme of “The Last Lesson” by Alphonse Daudet
The pain that is inflicted on the people of a territory by its conquerors by taking away the right to study or speak their own language.
The theme of highlights the importance of language and the value of education. The story is set in a small French town in 1870, during the time of the Franco-Prussian War, when French was no longer the official language and was being replaced by German. A young boy named Franz, is late for school on the day of his last French lesson, and when he arrives, he finds that the teacher, M. Hamel, is particularly sad.
As the lesson progresses, Franz realizes that it is his last opportunity to learn French, as the new German authority has ordered the school to teach only German. M. Hamel delivers a powerful lesson about the importance of language and the need to appreciate it while it is still available. Through this, the story highlights the fact that education and language are essential for preserving culture, identity, and independence.
The theme of the story emphasizes the importance of learning one’s own language and the value of education. Daudet’s “The Last Lesson” reminds us that language is an essential tool for preserving cultural identity and that it is crucial to appreciate the education that is available to us while we still have access to it.
Moral and message of the story “The Last Lesson” by Alphonse Daudet
The story “The Last Lesson” by Alphonse Daudet is a poignant tale about the importance of education and the preservation of cultural heritage. The story is set in a small village in France, where the local school is about to be closed down due to a new law mandating the use of the German language in all schools.
The moral of the story is that education is a valuable and irreplaceable asset that must be cherished and protected. The story emphasizes the importance of learning, not just for its practical applications, but for the preservation of cultural identity and heritage. Franz, initially takes his education for granted and fails to see its value until it is too late. He realizes that he has been taking the lessons for granted and that they are an essential part of his cultural identity.
The message of the story is that language and culture are intertwined and that the loss of one can lead to the loss of the other. The story highlights the importance of preserving cultural heritage and identity, and the vital role that education plays in achieving this goal. It also underscores the dangers of ignoring or neglecting the value of education and culture, and the consequences that can arise from doing so. Overall, the story serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of education and cultural preservation.