Class 12 English Chapter “The Last Lesson” Solutions: You get here the answers to Intext Questions and the exercises given at the end of the lesson “The last Lesson”. All answers follow CBSE standards.
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The Last Lesson: Intext Question Answers
Think As You Read:
Page – 7
1. What was Franz expected to be prepared with for school that day?
Ans. On that day, M Hamel, their teacher, was going to ask his students about participles, and Franz was supposed to be ready. However, Franz had not studied and was afraid of getting scolded by the teacher.
2. What did Franz notice that was unusual about the school that day?
Ans. When Franz arrived at school, it was very quiet. He didn’t hear the usual noise of desks opening and closing or the sound of students repeating their lessons together. It was as quiet as a Sunday. On the bulletin board, there used to be news about lost battles, drafts, and orders from commanding officers for the past two years. But that day, a notice was posted saying that schools in Alsace-Lorraine should only teach German, as ordered by Berlin.
Page – 8
1. What changes did the order from Berlin cause in the school that day?
Ans. The order from Berlin brought a lot of changes. On that day, the school was very quiet and spooky. People understood how important it is to learn their language and felt proud of their country. Even those who were busy working came back to the school to show respect to the teacher. Everyone felt a little sorry and ashamed in their hearts.
2. How did Franz’s feelings about M Hamel and school change?
Ans. Franz had always despised attending school and considered his books to be a hindrance. Learning was a burden to him, which led him to arrive unprepared for class that day. He longed to be carefree and untroubled, without a worry in the world. He held a negative perception of his teacher, Mr. Hamel, believing him to be strict and irritable.
However, on that momentous day, Franz’s perspective on his teachers and school transformed. He was astonished to learn that it would be his final French lesson, and he regretted not putting more effort into his studies and missing out on the opportunity to learn his mother tongue. Franz was ashamed of his inability to write, and his books, once a nuisance, became his loyal companions. The thought of Mr. Hamel leaving caused him to forget about his strictness and unpleasant demeanour.
The Last Lesson: Textbook Exercise
Understanding the Text (Page-9)
1. The people in this story suddenly realise how precious their language is to them. What shows you this? Why does this happen?
Ans. As soon as the decree arrived from Berlin dictating that only German would be permitted in schools, individuals realized that it was their final chance to grasp their native tongue. A number of elderly individuals, seeking to display their fondness for the language, attended classes and filled the previously empty back rows. Franz was filled with regret for not learning his participles when M Hamel abruptly informed them that they would become objects of ridicule. Language was their identity and the “key” to their imprisonment, as evidenced by M Hamel’s moving final lesson, which was prompted by the banning of the French language in Alsace and Lorraine.
2. Franz thinks, “Will they make them sing in German, even the pigeons?” What could this mean?
Ans. During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, France suffered defeat and the territories of Alsace and Lorraine were taken over by the Prussians. In accordance with orders from Berlin, only German was to be taught in schools and a new teacher was to arrive to teach the language. The last lesson in French left Franz and the other students feeling melancholic, realizing that they had put things off until it was too late. As they listened to the cooing of pigeons on the roof, Franz wondered if the same fate would befall the animal kingdom – would they also be forced to abandon their own languages and learn German? This question highlights the typical mindset of conquerors, who have a strong desire to subjugate others, including animals. Merely ruling over territory is not enough; captors seek to dominate minds as well, imposing their language on the oppressed. This linguistic chauvinism is the first step towards servitude. In essence, Franz’s question illustrates the inherent streak of authority and supremacy in humans. If given the chance, humans may not hesitate to invade even the sacred realm of the Gods.
The statement “Will they make them sing in German, even the pigeons?” is a reflection of the French protagonist Franz’s sense of loss of his language and cultural identity. In the story, Franz and his classmates are forced to learn German as the Prussian army has conquered their town of Alsace-Lorraine, which was a part of France. The phrase “even the pigeons” indicates the extent to which the German language is being imposed upon the people, to the point where even the pigeons, a symbol of the town’s identity and culture, may be forced to “sing” in German. It is a metaphor for the loss of French identity and the fear that their culture will be eradicated entirely. Thus, Franz’s statement represents the sorrow and frustration that he feels due to the cultural and linguistic oppression by the Germans.
Talking About the Text (Page-9)
1. “When a people are enslaved, as long as they hold fast to their language, it is as if they had the key to their prison.” Explain.
Can you think of examples in history where a conquered people had their language taken away from them or had a language imposed on them?
Ans. When a country is conquered, its people lose their freedom and identity. They have to follow the rules of the conqueror, even in their own land. But during difficult times, people can come together through their shared language, which can be used as a weapon against the oppressors. A teacher named M Hamel believes that language is the key to breaking free from oppression. It’s important to remember our language and fight for it, because it’s our identity and a symbol of our freedom.
Here are a few examples of the many instances throughout history where conquerors have imposed their language on conquered peoples or suppressed local languages.
- The Roman Empire: The Romans conquered many territories throughout Europe and the Mediterranean, and Latin was imposed as the official language of the empire. Local languages were suppressed or eventually assimilated into Latin, which evolved into modern Romance languages such as Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese.
- The British Empire: English became the dominant language in many territories colonized by the British, including India, Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Africa. Local languages were often suppressed, and English was imposed as the language of government, education, and commerce.
- The Spanish conquest of the Americas: Spanish became the dominant language in most of the territories conquered by Spain in the Americas. Native American languages were suppressed, and Spanish was imposed as the language of government, education, and religion.
- The Soviet Union: Under Soviet rule, Russian was imposed as the official language in many territories that became part of the Soviet Union. Local languages were suppressed, and Russian was imposed as the language of government, education, and commerce.
- The Chinese conquest of Tibet: After China annexed Tibet in 1951, Mandarin Chinese was imposed as the official language of government and education. The use of Tibetan language was restricted, and many Tibetans were forced to learn and use Mandarin Chinese.
2. What happens to a linguistic minority in a state? How do you think they can keep their language alive? For example:
Punjabis in Bangalore
Tamilians in Mumbai
Kannadigas in Delhi
Gujaratis in Kolkata
Ans. When a linguistic minority lives in a state where the majority speaks a different language, there is a risk that the minority language may gradually disappear. This can happen because of various factors such as lack of official recognition, lack of education in the minority language, and assimilation into the majority culture.
To keep their language alive, linguistic minorities can take several steps such as:
- Promoting the language: The community can organize cultural events, language classes, and other activities to promote their language.
- Using the language: Members of the community can use the language in their daily lives, in their homes, at work, and in public spaces.
- Advocating for official recognition: The community can lobby for official recognition of their language as an official language or a language of instruction in schools.
- Educating the youth: It is essential to teach the younger generation about their language and culture. This can be done by incorporating the language in school curriculums and teaching it as a second language.
- Networking with other communities: The community can network with other linguistic minority communities to exchange ideas and learn from each other’s experiences.
In the case of Punjabis in Bangalore, Tamilians in Mumbai, Kannadigas in Delhi, and Gujaratis in Kolkata, these communities can take similar steps to keep their languages alive. They can organize cultural events, language classes, and use their language in their daily lives. They can also advocate for official recognition of their language and incorporate it into school curriculums. Finally, networking with other linguistic minority communities can provide them with additional support and resources to promote and preserve their languages.
3. Is it possible to carry pride in one’s language too far?
Do you know what ‘linguistic chauvinism’ means?
Ans. Yes, it is possible to carry pride in one’s language too far. While it’s natural to feel a sense of pride and attachment to one’s native language and culture, it can become problematic when it leads to prejudice or discrimination against speakers of other languages or cultures. This is sometimes referred to as linguistic chauvinism.
Linguistic chauvinism is a term used to describe the belief that one’s own language is superior to others and the promotion of that belief in a way that demeans or excludes speakers of other languages. It can manifest in various ways, such as mocking or belittling non-native speakers, insisting on speaking only one’s own language in multilingual settings, or actively opposing efforts to promote multilingualism and language diversity.
In short, while it’s important to take pride in one’s language and culture, it’s equally important to respect and appreciate the diversity of languages and cultures in the world.
Working with words (Page-9 & 10)
1. English is a language that contains words from many other languages. This inclusiveness is one of the reasons it is now a world language, For example:
petite – French
kindergarten – German
capital – Latin
democracy – Greek
bazaar – Hindi
Find out the origins of the following words.
2. Notice the underlined words in these sentences and tick the option that best explains their meaning
(a) (i) loud and clear
(b) (ii) are attached to their language
(c) (iii) early enough
(d) (iii) stood on the chair
Noticing form (Page-10)
Read this sentence M. Hamel had said that he would question us on participles. In the sentence above, the verb form “had said” in the first part is used to indicate an “earlier past”. The whole story is narrated in the past. M. Hamel’s “saying” happened earlier than the events in this story. This form of the verb is called the past perfect.
Pick out five sentences from the story with this form of the verb and say why this form has been used.
Answers with explanations:
1. “For a moment there was not a sound in the room; the last lesson! and the master had said it in such a strange voice.”
The past perfect form “had said” is used to indicate that the action of M. Hamel saying that it was the last lesson had occurred before the moment described in the sentence.
3. “But the worst of it was that I could hear the whistling of the bullets and, every now and then, a distant cannon-shot. They were fighting around Belfort. Then I thought of M. Hamel’s words: ‘I may not be able to hear your lessons any more,’ and my heart sank.”
The past perfect form “had said” is used to indicate that M. Hamel had expressed his concern about not being able to hear the lessons earlier, and this had now become a reality.
3. “I saw that our poor village was changed indeed; there were soldiers everywhere, in the fields, along the roads; helmeted Prussians, dirty, bearded, frightening fellows who gazed at us as if they wished to eat us alive.”
The past perfect form “had changed” is used to indicate that the change in the village had occurred before the moment described in the sentence.
4. “The news that we were to be questioned by the officer had got to us somehow before morning opening, and it put a stop to all our preparations.”
The past perfect form “had got” is used to indicate that the news had reached the students before the moment described in the sentence.
5. “It was the same with our writing; they were big, uneven, and so covered with blots and corrections that M. Hamel had to show us how to hold our pens.”
The past perfect form “had to show” is used to indicate that M. Hamel’s instruction on how to hold the pen had occurred earlier, and was a prerequisite for the writing lesson.
1. Write a notice for your school bulletin board. Your notice could be an announcement of a forthcoming event, or a requirement to be fulfilled, or a rule to be followed.
2. Write a paragraph of about 100 words arguing for or against having to study three languages at school.
3. Have you ever changed your opinion about someone or something that you had earlier liked or disliked? Narrate what led you to change your mind.