Here we discuss about the short story ‘The Last Lesson’ written by Alphonse Daudet, Flamingo, CBSE class 12 textbook. Go through The last Lesson summary and solved questions.
1. What does M. Hamel say about the importance of language to an ‘enslaved people’?
Hamel advises his students to guard French language from the onslaught from invader’s influence and not to forget it ever. When people are enslaved, he thinks, as long as they held fast to their language, they have key to their prison.
2. What does Hamel announce at the start of the lesson? How does this change Franz’s feelings towards his school?
Hamel, the teacher, informed the students in a deep, solemn voice that it was their last French lesson in the school. As German invaders encroached that part of France, henceforth only German would be taught in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine. The new master would come conduct classes from next day. As this was going to be their last French class, he wanted all of his students to pay him more attention.
The moment Frantz knew this would be his last French class, he felt sorry for not learning his lessons well. His books, which seemed a garbage heap and a burden earlier, were now his old friends. His structure of feelings about Hamel also changed drastically. No longer had he remembered how strict Hamel was and how punishing his classes were.
3. “What a thunder clap these words to me!” What were the words that shocked and surprised the narrator?
Hamel told the children in a solemn voice that it was their last French Lesson. Henceforth, only German would be taught in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine. The new master would arrive next day and therefore he wanted his students to be little more attentive in his final class.
4. “He had the courage to hear every lesson to the very last.” What led Franz to make this remark?
Frantz noticed how sad Hamel was on having to leave a place which he held so dear for 40 long years and not being allowed to teach French any longer. But he kept a tab on his emotions and performed his duties faithfully. He called off the class after listening to every lesson to the last. Hamel’s dignified stance and his loyalty to his duty forced Franz to such realisation.
1. Is it possible to carry pride in one’s language too far? Explain ‘linguistic chauvinism’.
‘Linguistic chauvinism’ is a xenophobic feeling that seduces one to believe that his language is better than others in terms of pedigree and relevance. This falsified belief propels a man, a race and even a country to downplay language of others. Powerful nations want to obliterate the language of weaker ones and impinge their language onto others. As language is the sole preserver of history, culture and arts of a society, attack comes first on language. To defend their act of linguistic aggression, powerful ones air the theory of linguistic unity which they believe will hold together the country. But instead of bringing unity and winning over others as friends, this superiority complex invites disintegration and friction. The linguistic community whose language is under threat mounts a strong challenge to preserve their own language. So the rhetoric of linguistic singularity cannot gloss over linguistic chauvinism of the powerful.
2. What do you think is the theme of the story ‘The Last Lesson’? What is the reason behind its universal appeal?
Though the story discussed is located in a particular village of Alsace district of France which had passed into Prussian hands, the story definitely has a universal appeal. It highlights the penchant of the coloniser to steamroll the culture of colonised, to ruin their existence, to stomp their identity. Taking away mother tongue and forcing others to accept a foreign tongue is the first step of such colonial aggression. To combat such advancement, one needs to embrace his own language. M. Hammels, the French teacher of the school conducting his last class, passes this advice to his young students. New rulers cancel all the French classes and introduce German classes to the school. But even before such constant pressure from rulers, French people can uphold their flag if they remember their language which is the bulwark of their culture. The theme definitely does not remain confined to the classroom Alsace district; rather it gathers a universal significance as a rootmap to battle colonial aggression.
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