‘The Mountain that Ate People’ is a Japanese folk story about a feudal lord and the impact of his decree on his people. The highlight of this story is a wise woman who answers and solves all the puzzles put forward by the overlord. A summary and solutions to the book exercises re given here.
Summary: The Mountain that Ate People
A Japanese lord ruling over a feudal society deemed individuals over the age of sixty-one to be useless and ordered them to be disposed of in the dangerous forests of a high mountain near the city. He enforced this decree with the threat of severe punishment. Despite loving his mother dearly, one farmer was devastated when she turned sixty-one. However, his mother convinced him to take her away, but during the journey, the farmer turned back and hid her in a small room underground. Two years later, the feudal lord was defeated by a neighboring overlord, and he begged for mercy for his people. The overlord proposed a riddle for him to solve as a condition for clemency, but the feudal lord failed to solve it and offered a reward to anyone who could. The farmer’s mother solved the riddle with ease, winning the reward for her son and saving countless lives. The overlord repeated this exercise twice more, each time with the same result. However, the feudal lord grew suspicious of the farmer and asked him how he found the answers to the riddles. The farmer eventually confessed to the truth about his mother’s wisdom, leading the lord to withdraw his cruel decree.
Word-Meanings: The Mountain that Ate People
feudal – Person owning a lot of land
nuisance – very annoying or causing trouble
utterly – almost completely
decree – an official order from the ruling government
severe – very bad or serious
at the mercy of – completely in the control of the person who can harm
terrified – afraid and, in fear
jubilant – extremely happy
foliage – the leaves of a plant
dismal – gloomy and hopeless
gladly – happily
hardships – difficulties of life
dreadful – dangerous and threatening
dumbfounded – unable to speak because of some surprise
proclamation – an official announcement in public
intact – not harmed or damaged and almost in the original shape
ransack – to steal by causing damage to things around
harass – to make someone’s life unpleasant
petrified – become stone like, very frightened
quack – shake and vibrate
Solutions to Book Exercises
A. Answer these questions in one or two sentences.
- What did the people do to their parents when they turned sixty-one?
- How did the farmer’s mother climb the mountain?
- While the farmer and his mother were climbing the mountain, what was the latter busy doing?
- What did the overlord of the neighbouring state do?
- What happened when the defeated feudal lord pleaded for his people?
- Why did the feudal lord revoke his decree?
- The people abandoned their parents in the cold and rain, exposed to the mercy of wild animals, in the dense forests of the high mountain near the city.
- The farmer carried his mother on his back as he climbed the mountain, since she was unable to go up by herself.
- The mother broke twigs and threw them down to mark the trail for her son to follow and find his way back home.
- The mighty overlord of the neighbouring state, accompanied by his army and horses, waged war against the feudal lord and defeated him.
- After his victory, the overlord challenged the feudal lord to solve some problems correctly, promising to spare the lives of his subjects if he succeeded.
- The feudal lord revoked his decree upon realizing that the elderly are wise and deserve respect.
B. Answer these questions with reference to the context.
- Soon there were hardly any old people left, and the feudal lord was jubilant.
a. Why were there very few old people left?
b. What is the significance of ‘soon’?
c. Why was the feudal lord jubilant?
- ‘There is nothing strange about my thoughts.’
a. Who says this and to whom?
b. Why did the other person think that the thoughts were strange?
c. What does the speaker think about the thoughts?
- ‘Tell me honestly, who has helped you?’
a. Who are ‘me’ and ‘you’ in this sentence?
b. What help is being referred to here?
c. Who helped the listener in this situation?
- a. because they had been left by their families on the mountainside to die.
b. ‘Soon’ signifies how complete the feudal lord’s tyranny was.
c. The feudal lord was jubilant because he thought that now his state would surely prosper as the people in it were young and energetic, and there were no aged folk to hinder and trouble them.
- a. The farmer’s mother to her son.
b. He was carrying her to her death and she was only thinking of his welfare and how he would get back home safely.
c. The speaker thinks it is perfectly natural for her, a mother, to always think of her son’s wellbeing.
- a. ‘Me’ is the feudal overlord and ‘you’ is the farmer.
b. The speaker is asking about the help the farmer had in getting the right answers.
c. The listener’s mother helped him in this situation
C. Answer these questions.
- How did ‘the mountain that ate people’ get its name?
- Why did the young farmer defy the decree? What does it tell us about him?
- What proclamation did the feudal lord send across his land and what did he promise?
- What was the first question that the overlord asked? What advice did the farmer’s mother give?
- What was the question posed by the overlord about the drum? What was the answer suggested by the farmer’s mother?
- How did the feudal lord react when the farmer told him the truth?
- What important lesson did the feudal lord and the overlord learn?
- The young man in the story defied the orders of the feudal lord. He could have been punished for this defiance, yet he went ahead and did what he thought was right. Imagine that you were the young man and list out the reasons you would have thought of before taking the decision to defy the order.
- What does it mean to have courage of conviction? Who in this story exhibited courage of conviction and how did she/he display it?
- Justify the title of this story.
- The mountain acquired its name due to the frequent occurrence of fatal wild animal attacks on the elderly individuals who were left there.
- The son disobeyed the command as he couldn’t bear to witness his mother’s demise. He comprehended her profound affection towards him and was determined to preserve her life, which demonstrates his love for her and his strong character.
- He issued a proclamation offering a substantial reward to anyone who could respond to the neighbouring lord’s queries.
- The initial question posed was about burning a bundle of one thousand strings into ashes while keeping the bundle intact. The farmer’s mother proposed soaking the bundle in seawater and allowing it to dry before burning it.
- The overlord sought a drum that could play on its own. The farmer’s mother recommended placing some bees in an ordinary drum, and their movement within the drum would make it appear as though the drum was playing by itself.
- He recognized that the farmer acted correctly by rescuing his mother and rescinded the decree.
- He learned that the elderly can be wise, and their wisdom should be respected.
- The reasons are listed below:
(i) I cannot take my mother to death because I love her so much.
(ii) I would prefer punishment for myself to death of my mother
(ii) I find the decree of the feudal lord illogical leading to untimely death of old people.
- Having the courage of one’s convictions involves standing up for one’s beliefs, even if it requires confronting challenges or difficulties. In the narrative, the farmer exemplifies this trait when he opts to disobey the feudal lord’s order to abandon his mother on the mountain. By doing what is morally right, he knowingly exposes himself to the possibility of severe repercussions.
- The title of the story is clear and justified because many people died after visiting the mountain due to the harsh unfriendly conditions there. It can be said as if the mountain ate the people as the people did not return and died there.
A. Add im- or un- to these words.
Ans. 1. immoral 2. immobile 3. uninformed 4. unintentional
- immoveable 6. impersonal 7. immodest 8. unimportant
B. In this story, there are more than twenty words ending with -ly or -ily. List as many as you can.
Then, add five words of each kind to your list.
Ans. happily; heartily; stealthily; severely; dearly; hardly; terribly; quickly; fearfully; correctly; silently; extremely;
really; folly; courageously; honestly; surely; merrily; suddenly; only; quietly; perfectly; funnily; shabbily; slowly
A. Underline the adjectives in these sentences. Mention what kinds they are. There may be more than one adjective in some sentences.
- What a cruel feudal lord he was!
- That room is where the farmer hid his mother.
- The farmer crossed the dismal forest.
- The farmer helped his mother down to the stony ground.
- Get a narrow pipe with seven bends.
- Many days went by, but no one could think of a correct answer.
- The feudal lord praised the farmer and gave him lots of money and lovely presents.
- Make an ordinary drum and put some bumblebees inside it.
- cruel: quality 2. that: demonstrative
- dismal: quality 4. stony: quality
- narrow: quality; seven: number 6. many: quantity; correct: quality
- lots: quantity; lovely: quality 8. ordinary: quality; some: quantity
B. Arrange the adjectives in these sentences in the correct order where required. Make any other changes if necessary.
- There is wooden old German blue radio with my uncle.
- The bear had brown long beautiful fur.
- The procession contained handmade massive twenty-four floats.
- Gayathri has an ill-tempered orange tiny cat.
- Neel just bought a smart brown woollen coat.
- There is an old blue German wooden radio with my uncle.
- The bear has beautiful long brown fur.
- The procession contained twenty-four massive handmade floats.
- Gayathri has an ill-tempered tiny orange cat.
- Neel just bought a smart brown woollen coat.
A. Imagine that the feudal lord is organising a dinner party to honour all the elders in his state. Draft an invitation for the occasion.
Dear Elders of Rajpur,
The Feudal Lord [may write name also] of Rajpur [write Name of your choice] is organising a
grand dinner party to honour the esteemed elders of Rajpur
Join us at my palace for an evening of indulgence and entertainment, including a sumptuous feast and cultural performances.
We eagerly await your response and hope to see you there.
Sunday, 08 September 2023
Venue: State Palace Banquet Hall
Feudal Lord of Rajpur