‘The Gold Frame’ Notes and Explanation of the Lesson Class 8 New Voices English

‘The Gold Frame’ is a story by R. K. Laxman, a famous Indian Cartoonist. Here is the story as given in Class 8 New Voices. The story is explained, along with glossary, here to make it easy to understand and get it deeply. You can click here to see Q/Ans.

About The Author:

R. K. Laxman (24 October 1921 – 26 January 2015) was an Indian cartoonist, illustrator, and humorist. He is best known for his creation The Common Man and for his daily cartoon strip, ‘You Said It’ in The Times of India, which started in 1951.

Explanation & Vocabulary: The Gold Frame

  • Mounted: Attached or secured to something else.
  • Laconic: Using few words, brief.
  • Fixture: A piece of furniture or equipment that is permanently attached in a place
  • Intrude: To enter a place or situation that is not wanted or expected.
  • Zone of silence: A place where someone wants to be quiet and undisturbed.
  • Medley: A confusing mixture of things.
  • Odds and ends: Small leftover pieces of things.
  • Grope: To search for something blindly or clumsily.
  • Dislodge: To force something out of its place.
  • Concave figure: Curved inwards, hunched over.
  • Dhoti: A traditional Indian garment for men, wrapped around the waist and legs.
  • Seasoned timber: A metaphor comparing Datta to aged wood, suggesting experience and resilience.

The story introduces us to Datta, the owner of “Modern Frame Works,” a small, ramshackle shop crammed between other businesses.

  • Extra-large wooden packing case mounted complex: The shop is described metaphorically as a large, makeshift structure built from a wooden crate. This emphasises its humble and possibly cluttered appearance.
  • Wobbly legs tucked in a gap: The shop seems unstable and crammed into a small space between other businesses.
  • Harmony of fixture: Despite the shop’s unconventional build, Datta seems to fit in perfectly, suggesting comfort and familiarity with his workspace.
  • Darta (Datta):  The owner of the shop, described as having a “concave figure” (hunched posture), “silver-rimmed glasses,” and being made of “seasoned timber” (suggesting a strong and weathered appearance). This description paints a picture of a dedicated but perhaps older and slightly worn-out man.
  • Silent, hard-working man: Datta is portrayed as focused on his work, not talkative.
  • Laconic answers: He gives short and to-the-point replies when customers ask questions.
  • Discouraged casual friends: He prefers not to be interrupted by idle chatter.
  • Harmony of fixture: This phrase suggests Datta fits perfectly into his shop environment, almost like a piece of furniture.
  • Incongruity: Lack of harmony or something that seems out of place.
  • Cheerful incongruity: A seemingly strange or clashing combination of things, presented here in a positive light.
  • Co-existed: Existed together peacefully.
  • Cheerful: Happy and bright.
  • Fabulous: Amazing, wonderful (not necessarily factual).

This section provides further details about the shop’s atmosphere and tells us more about Datta’s approach to his work.

  • The sheer number of pictures creates a sense of clutter and busyness.
  • The variety of the pictures highlights Datta’s broad clientele and his willingness to frame anything:
    • Gods, saints: Religious figures.
    • Hockey players: Sports figures.
    • Children: Personal photographs.
    • Cheap prints of the Mona Lisa: Copies of famous artworks.
    • National leaders: Political figures.
    • Wedding couples: Personal photographs.
    • Urdu calligraphy: Islamic art with beautifully written text.
    • Snow-clad Fujiyama: A picture of Mount Fuji in Japan.
  • Cheerful incongruity: A seemingly happy mismatch. This describes the strange harmony created by the vast variety of pictures all crammed together.
  • Fabulous world awaiting order and arrangement: This metaphor compares the shop to a fantastical place that could be beautiful if organized, hinting at the potential within the chaos.
  • Pavement: The sidewalk.
  • Pedestrians: People walking on a street.
  • Sepia-brown: A warm brown warm  colour.
  • Glazed: Having a smooth shiny surface.
  • Antiquity: Great age.
  • Stint: To limit or restrict something.
  • Whiskers: Facial hair growing on the cheeks and chin.
  • Cascading turban: A large headdress with folds that fall down.
  • Homage: Respect or honour shown to someone.
  • Glittering: Sparkling brightly.

The customer is described as:

  • Obstructing the stream of jostling pedestrians: Inconsiderate and impatient. 
  • Volunteered the information: Eager to share details about the picture. Providing details without being prompted
  • The photograph itself is described as:
  • Sepia-brown: A warm brown colour often used in old photographs.
  • Sharp and highly glazed: The photograph is clear and shiny. Well-preserved despite its age.
  • An old man: The subject of the photograph holds sentimental value for the customer.
  • Great soul: The customer expresses high regard for the person in the picture.
  • Stint: To hold back on spending or effort.
  • Whiskers and top-heavy cascading turban: These details suggest the man might be from a specific culture or era.
  • The customer emphasises the importance of the picture:
  • “I want a really good job done, no matter how much it costs.” Willing to spend money for a high-quality frame.
  • “The best, of course. Do you expect I would stint where this great soul is concerned?” Believes the picture represents someone important (“great soul”).
  • Datta, however, sees the picture differently:
  • “Just another elderly person of those days…” Finds the photograph generic and impersonal. He sees it as a typical portrait of an older man.
  • “A standard portrait of a grandfather, a philanthropist, a social worker…” Categorises the picture based on appearance (whiskers, turban) rather than its meaning to the customer.
  • “At least half a dozen people came to him every month…” Indicates this type of request is common. This highlights how Datta frequently encounters customers wanting elaborate frames for portraits of respected figures.

He seems a bit cynical about customers using expensive frames to “demonstrate their homage” (show their respect) rather than out of genuine care for the picture. We can infer that Datta might be a bit jaded by the repetitive nature of his work, overlooking the emotional connection customers have with their photographs.

  • Lacquer: A hard, shiny coating applied to wood or other materials.
  • Profusion: A large or abundant amount of something.
  • Winding creepers: Twining vines or plants.
  • Lingering doubt: A remaining feeling of uncertainty.
  • Mount: The cardboard or other material surrounding a picture within a frame.
  • Cut mount: A mount with a decorative edge.
  • Elegant: Graceful and stylish.
  • Lacquer: A hard, shiny coating applied to wood or other materials.
  • Enamel: A hard, glossy paint.
  • Surveyed: Examined carefully.
  • Baffled: Confused and bewildered.
  • Enshrine: To place something in a sacred or protected position.
  • Profusion: A large or abundant quantity.
  • Creepers: Climbing plants with long, thin stems.
  • Mount: A decorative border around a picture.
  • Lingering doubt: A remaining feeling of uncertainty.

The Customer’s Reverence and Datta’s Impatience: This section deepens the contrast between the customer’s reverence for the old man and Datta’s more pragmatic approach.

  • The customer continues to describe the old man in glowing terms:
  • “Extravagant qualities of nobility, compassion and charity…” Highlights the man’s exceptional qualities. These words highlight the customer’s deep respect and admiration.
  • “Voice that came close to the chanting of a holy scripture…” Shows the depth of the customer’s near-religious devotion to the old man.
  • “He is God in my home!” This extreme statement emphasises the customer’s belief in the old man’s greatness. This Elevates the old man to a position of utmost respect.
  • “Demons who may not agree with me…” Suggests there might be people who disagree with the customer’s view of the old man.
  • Datta, however, remains focused on the business transaction:
    • “Plain, wooden, lacquer, gold, plastic or just enamel painted?” Lists various frame options impatiently.
    • “I don’t have any second-rate stuff in my shop…” Reassures the customer about the quality of his products….rather defensive, possibly feeling the customer is questioning his stock.
    • “He was shown a number of samples…” Provides options but doesn’t seem invested in the customer’s choice.
  • The customer’s indecisiveness highlights the emotional weight of choosing the right frame:
    • “Baffled by the variety…” Overwhelmed and feels lost due to the many options. 
    • “Unsure of his judgement…” Worried about making the wrong choice.
    • “Enshrining his saviour…” Sees the frame as a way to honour the old man.
  • Datta uses sales tactics to influence the customer’s decision:
  • “Recommended one with a profusion of gold leaves…” Suggests a fancy, expensive frame.
  • “German! Imported!” Further emphasises the frame’s exclusive value (possibly a lie)to  impress the customer.
  • “Cut mount looked more elegant.” Offers an opinion to sway the customer.
  • Bargain: To negotiate a price.
  • Plywood: A type of flat wood made from thin sheets glued together.
  • Uncertainly: In a way that is not sure or confident.
  • Executed: Carried out or completed.
  • Rustic: Relating to the countryside or rural life.
  • Rustic-looking: Simple and unsophisticated in appearance.
  • Enquired: Asked about something in a formal way.
  • Grinned nervously: Smiled in an awkward or anxious way.
  • Obsessive: Excessive or uncontrollable preoccupation with something.
  • Attachment: A strong feeling of love or affection for someone or something.
  • Stoic: Calm and unemotional.
  • Precise rhythmic strokes: Exact and regular movements.
  • Shelves: Flat surfaces for storing things.
  • Pencil stub: The short remaining part of a pencil.
  • Fragments: Small broken pieces of something.
  • Harassed: Annoyed and worried.
  • Frustrated: Made to feel angry and unable to do something.
  • Folds of his dhoti: The loose layers of his traditional Indian garment.
  • Ultimate move: The final action he takes.
  • Yielded results: Produced the desired outcome.
  • Stoked: Increased or intensified (anger in this case).
  • Stoked his anger: Made him even more angry.
  • Slimy: Thick and sticky in an unpleasant way.

The Deal is Struck (and Trouble Begins):

  • This section details the customer finalizing the order and foreshadows a potential problem for Datta.
  • The customer agrees to the cut mount but wants an oval shape, replicating a frame on the shop wall.
  • The price of 17 rupees seems reasonable to the customer, who feigns surprise (unsuccessfully) to bargain.
  • Datta, based on experience, anticipates the customer will be late picking up the framed photograph. He has a system of waiting for repeat visits before completing orders.

The Customer’s Early Arrival and Datta’s Annoyance:

  • The customer arrives unexpectedly, ten days early, wanting to collect the picture.
  • Datta is annoyed by the early arrival and ignores the customer initially.
  • The customer acknowledges his own lateness (“four days early”) but still hopes to get the picture sooner (by Tuesday).
  • Datta senses the customer’s strong attachment to the photograph (“obsessive attachment”). He realizes delivering on time is crucial.

Disaster Strikes!

  • Datta prioritizes framing the photograph the next morning.
  • While preparing the picture for framing, Datta loses his pencil stub – a recurring event for him.
  • His frustration builds as he searches for the pencil, even knocking over a container of white enamel paint.
  • The paint spills directly onto the photograph, creating a disastrous situation.
  • Transfixed: Shocked and unable to move.
  • Perspiration: Sweat.
  • Venerable: Deserving of respect because of age or wisdom.
  • Helter-skelter: In a confused and hurried way.
  • Unmindful: Not paying attention.
  • Panicky: Feeling sudden fear and anxiety.
  • Vintage: The period during which something was produced.
  • Conspicuous: Easy to see or notice.
  • Calculated: Estimated carefully.
  • Dazzling: Extremely bright and impressive.
  • Suspense: A feeling of excited curiosity or anxiety.
  • Unguarded moment: A time when someone is not paying attention.
  • Bungle: To mess something up completely.
  • Plot: A secret plan to do something illegal or harmful.
  • Shrill: High-pitched and unpleasant.
  • Expectation: A feeling that something is going to happen.
  • Deliberation: Careful consideration.
  • Exuberance: Lively and enthusiastic expression of joy.
  • Sanctum: The most sacred part of a temple or other religious building.
  • Throbbed: Beat strongly and rhythmically.
  • Agitated: Made restless or nervous.
  • Inflamable: Likely to catch fire easily.
  • Racked his brain: Tried hard to think of something.
  • Frail: Weak and easily damaged.
  • Exhaustion: Extreme tiredness.
  • Resignation: A feeling of accepting that something bad has happened and cannot be changed.
  • Transcendental: Beyond normal experience or understanding.
  • Fervent: Showing strong and sincere feelings.
  • Appeal: A serious request for help or support.
  • Lament: To feel or express grief or sorrow for something.
  • Fagged-out: Extremely tired.
  • Resemble: To be similar in appearance to someone or something else.
  • Panicky: Suddenly feeling or showing fear and anxiety.
  • Scurried: Moved quickly in a small, hurried way.
  • Unmindful: Not paying attention.
  • Vintage: From a particular period in the past.
  • Substitute: A person or thing that takes the place of another.
  • Jaunty: Cheerful and full of confidence.
  • Fluted: Having vertical grooves along the side.
  • Substitute: A person or thing that takes the place of another.

Datta’s Panic and a Desperate Idea: This section details Datta’s escalating panic and the risky solution he devises:

Datta is initially paralyzed by the ruined photograph:

“Transfixed and stared…lost all faculty of movement…” As if frozen or paralyzed by shock

“Spectacles clouded with perspiration…” Physical reaction to his distress.

His attempt to fix the picture only worsens it:

  • “Rubbed the picture so hard…” Frantic actions lead to further damage.
  • “Helplessly looked at the venerable elder…” Realizes the damage is irreversible.
  • “Venerable elder transformed into thick black specks…” The picture is beyond repair.

Datta contemplates the consequences:

  • “What answer…to the customer…” Worries about facing the customer’s anger.
  • “Nightmarish consequences…” Fears the customer’s reaction could be violent.

A glimmer of hope emerges:

  • “Sheer exhaustion calmed his agitated nerves…” His mental state allows for a risky solution.
  • “Plethora of gods, saints and sages…” A figurative description of seeking inspiration or divine guidance. The pictures on the wall offer a sense of comfort (possibly ironic, as they’re not his problem to solve).
  • “A particular photograph…” Notices a picture of a man with a resemblance to the ruined one.

Datta notices a photograph on the wall with a resemblance to the ruined one:

  • “Ordinary portrait of a middle-aged man…” A potential substitute.
  • “Faint likeness…” The resemblance is debatable.
  • “He dismissed the odd resemblance…” Initially doubts the idea

Datta hatches a risky plan:

  • “An idea began to take shape…” Considers using the similar picture as a replacement.
  • “He saw the possibility of finding an acceptable substitute!” Considers replacing the damaged picture with another.
  • “Unclaimed photographs…” Searches for a similar picture in his collection.
  • “One with which Datta felt he could take a fair risk…” Chooses a photograph that might pass as the original.

Searching for a Replacement:

Datta searches through a box of unclaimed photographs:

  • “Unclaimed over the years…” Shows his business sometimes has leftover items.
  • “Panicky cockroaches and spiders scurried…” The box has been neglected.
  • He finds several old photographs but most aren’t suitable replacements:
  • “Flower vase next to them…” Unwanted detail in the picture.
  • “Over-dressed grandchildren…” Another unwanted detail.
  • Finally, he finds a potentially usable photograph:
  • “Yellowed a bit…” Not perfect, but workable.
  • “Dazzling gold frame…” Plans to use an impressive frame to distract from the flaws.

Datta’s Deceptive Work and Mounting Anxiety:

Datta completes the framing and feels proud (despite the deception):

  • “Proudly surveyed the old man’s double…” Satisfied with his risky solution.
  • “Perhaps one of the greatest risks…” Acknowledges the potential consequences.
  • “Challenge the customer…” Even imagines a defiant defense if caught.
  • Days pass filled with worry about being discovered:
  • “Suspense and anxiety…” Datta fears the customer will see through his plan.
  • The Customer Returns (and Datta Stalls):
  • The customer arrives on time, much to Datta’s relief:
  • “Promptly a couple of days later…” The customer keeps his word.
  • “Slightly stiffened…” Datta tenses up at the customer’s arrival.

Datta deliberately delays revealing the framed picture:

  • “Let a whole minute pass without answering…” Stalls for time to compose himself.
  • “The customer waited impatiently…” The customer shows his eagerness.
  • Datta finally unveils the framed picture:
  • “The customer seemed visibly struck by its grandeur…” The gold frame impresses the customer.
  • “Inner sanctum of a temple…” A metaphor comparing the framed picture to a revered object.
  • Betray: To reveal something that is secret or confidential.
  • Hoax: A trick intended to deceive someone.
  • Reverential: Showing deep respect.
  • Benevolent: Kind and helpful.
  • Indignantly: In a way that shows anger or offense.
  • Familiar: Well-known or having been experienced before.
  • Rehearsed: Practiced something in advance.
  • Authority: The power or right to give orders or make decisions.
  • Bearing: The way a person stands or carries themsel

The Customer’s Reaction (Not What Datta Expected!):

This section reveals a surprising turn of events. The customer’s outrage is not about the replaced photograph, but something entirely different.

Datta anticipates the customer’s anger about the fake picture:

  • “Held his breath and watched the man’s expression…” Tense and worried about the customer’s reaction.
  • “Betray the big hoax…” Fears his deception will be exposed.

However, the customer focuses on a different detail:

  • “Straighten…reverential look vanished…” His demeanour changes from reverence to anger.
  • “What have you done?” His outrage is unexpected.
  • “Demanded, indignantly…” His tone is accusatory.

The customer complains about the frame, not the picture itself:

  • “Cut mount with an oval shape…” Reminds Datta of his specific request.
  • “This is square. Look!” Points out the discrepancy in the frame’s shape.


Datta and His Shop

  • Datta, the owner of Modern Frame Works, is a meticulous but solitary shopkeeper.
  • The shop reflects his personality, filled with various items used for framing.
  • Customers bring diverse pictures for framing, but Datta finds the requests impersonal.

The Revered Photograph

  • A customer arrives with a faded photograph of an old man.
  • He expresses deep respect for the man, describing him with admiration.
  • Datta remains focused on the business aspect, offering frame options.
  • Despite initial negotiation, the customer agrees to framing with specific details.

Disaster Strikes

  • The eager customer returns early to collect the framed picture.
  • Datta prioritizes completing the frame due to the customer’s attachment.
  • A series of unfortunate events lead to Datta accidentally ruining the photograph with paint.

A Risky Deception

  • Fearing the customer’s reaction, Datta hatches a risky plan.
  • He finds a vaguely similar photograph and frames it in an expensive frame.
  • Days filled with anxiety follow as Datta awaits the customer’s potential anger.

An Unexpected Turn

  • The customer arrives, and Datta delays revealing the framed picture.
  • In a surprising turn, the customer focuses on a minor detail – the frame’s shape.
  • He complains that the frame is square, not oval, as requested.

Unresolved Mystery

  • The story ends without revealing the consequences of this twist.
  • The reader is left with questions about the photograph switch and the customer’s motives.

Character Sketch

The Customer:

  • Highly Reverential: The customer displays immense respect for the old man in the photograph. He uses extravagant descriptions and portrays him as a “great soul” deserving a place of honor.
  • Impatient: Despite his reverence, the customer exhibits impatience. He tries to bargain on the price and returns to collect the picture early, even though it’s not yet ready.
  • Specific in his Tastes: He has definite preferences regarding the frame’s style (cut mount) and shape (oval). His focus on these details, especially after the supposed picture switch, raises questions about his priorities.
  • Unexplained Attachment: The story doesn’t reveal the reason behind his deep connection to the photograph. Is it solely due to the man depicted, or is there another reason (e.g., sentimental value, personal connection)?

The Shop Owner (Datta):

  • Meticulous and Skilled: Datta takes pride in his work and seems detail-oriented in his craft.
  • Impatient and Dismissive: He finds customer requests repetitive and lacks the customer’s reverence for the photographs.
  • Resourceful: When faced with ruining the photograph, Datta demonstrates resourcefulness by coming up with a risky plan to create a substitute.
  • Anxious and Fearful: Datta spends days worrying about the customer’s reaction to the potential deception, revealing his fear of confrontation.
  • Prides his Workmanship: Despite the deception, Datta takes pride in the framed “replacement” picture, suggesting a sense of professional satisfaction.


Both characters have layers that remain unexplored. The customer’s true motivations and the nature of his connection to the picture are a mystery. Datta’s initial dismissiveness contrasts with his later anxiety, hinting at a deeper complexity to his personality.

Character Attributes:

The Shop Owner (Datta):

Datta, the meticulous shop owner, finds his work routine and lacks the customer’s emotional connection.  Despite his initial dismissiveness, he’s resourceful in crafting a risky solution, but his fear and lingering pride in his work reveal a more complex personality beneath the surface. 

  • Professional: Meticulous, skilled, takes pride in his work.
  • Impatient: Finds customer requests repetitive, dismissive of their reverence.
  • Resourceful: Creates a risky plan to replace the ruined photograph.
  • Anxious: Worries about the customer’s reaction, fearful of confrontation.
  • Conflicted: Takes pride in the framed “replacement” despite the deception.

Words: Meticulous, skilled, dismissive, resourceful, anxious, conflicted.

  • Phrases: Takes pride in his craft, finds customers repetitive, hatches a risky plan, consumed by fear, a sense of professional satisfaction.

The Customer:

The customer, a man of reverence, treats the photograph of the old man with utmost respect, bordering on piety.  His impatience and specific taste in framing, however, cast some doubt on the nature of his attachment. 

  • Reverential: Expresses immense respect for the old man in the photograph.
  • Impatient: Tries to bargain, returns early to collect the picture.
  • Particular: Specific preferences regarding the frame’s style and shape.
  • Unexplained Attachment: Deep connection to the photograph for unknown reasons.
  • Enigmatic: True motivations and the nature of his connection remain a mystery. 
  • Possible deceptive: Focus on the frame’s shape after the switch suggests he might not have noticed the picture itself.

Words: Reverential, impatient, particular, enigmatic.

  • Phrases: Deep respect bordering on piety, exhibits impatience, specific taste in framing, unexplained attachment to the picture, a man of mystery.

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