Thursday, 28 November 2019

The Last Lesson Summary - CBSE Class 12 English Flamingo

CBSE class 12 English Flamingo book Chapter 1 the last lesson summary and detailed explanation of the story with meaning, theme, important question answer and difficult words. Furthermore, the summary is followed by an explanation of the text. All the exercises and questions and answers given behind the lesson, CBSE board class 12 questions have also been solved.



The Last Lesson Summary - CBSE Class 12 English Flamingo

The Last Lesson Summary

Last Lesson is set in the days of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871). Led by Bismarck, Prussia defeated France, and the French districts of Alsace and Lorraine passed into Prussian hands.

the two protagonists of the story, M Hamel and Franz, belong to Alsace. M Hamel s a French language er at a school and Franz is one of his students. The story revolves around how the war proves to be a altering event for both.

Core Idea of the Chapter
Franz is Reluctant to go to School

Franz started for school very late that morning. His French teacher, M Hamel had announced that he would question the class on participles. Poor Franz did not know even a single word about them and was in great dread of a scolding from his teacher. It was a bright sunny day and for a moment Franz thought of running away and spending the day outside. The chirping of birds and the drilling of the Prussian soldiers was much more tempting than the rules of participles. However, Franz was able to fight the temptation and hurried off to school.

On his way to school, Franz passed the town hall and noticed a crowd in front of the bulletin board. For the past two years, all the bad news had come from it and Franz thought about what the matter was this time. As he was hurrying past, Wachter, the blacksmith, called out to him and said that there was plenty of time to reach the school. Franz thought that he was making fun of him and reached the school panting.

He had to open the door and reach his seat in front of everybody. He was blushing and was very frightened. What surprised and confused him more was that, instead of scolding him, M Hamel spoke very kindly to him and told him to take his seat.

Franz Notices Many Unusual Things at School

After Franz had calmed down, he noticed that M Hamel was wearing special attire, which he wore only on special occasions. The whole school was so strange and seriousness prevailed in the atmosphere. But the thing that surprised and confused him most was to see the village people sitting quietly on the back benches. They all looked very sad.

The Order from Berlin

Franz was still wondering as he observed the changes around him, when M Hamel mounted on his chair and made the dreadful announcement. He told the class that it was their last French lesson.

The order had come from Berlin to teach only German in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine and he would be leaving the school the next day. These words were like a thunderclap to little Franz. Now he remembered the gathering at the town hall.

Franz was totally shocked by the sudden turn of events. He regretted not having learnt his lessons when there was still time.

Now, he will never be able to learn them. He had wasted his precious time away from the class, engaging himself in trivial pursuits like seeking bird's eggs, going sliding on the Saar, etc. His books, which were a nuisance to him, suddenly felt like old friends. His feelings for his teacher too started changing.

The thought that M Hamel was going away and he would never see him again, made him forget all about his ruler and how cranky M Hamel was. Franz was feeling very sorry for him. It was in honour of his `last lesson' that he had put on his fine clothes, and the village people had gathered there to express their gratitude towards him, and to show their respect for their country.


The Last Lesson Summary - CBSE Class 12 English Flamingo

M Hamel Criticises Himself and the People of Alsace

While Franz was thinking of this, entire he heard his name called out; it was his turn to recite. He would have given everything if he could just say the rule loud and clearly. But unfortunately, he got mixed up on the first words. He was ashamed and stood holding his desk. M Hamel said that he would not scold him. He criticized the people of Alsace for their habit of putting off learning till the next day. He blamed their parents for not taking interest in their studies. He also blamed himself for this. Often, he sent the students to water his plants or gave them a holiday when he had wanted to go fishing.

Importance of Mother Tongue

M Hamel then talked about the French language_ He called it the most beautiful, the clearest and the most logical language in the world. He wanted the people of France to guard their language amongst themselves. According to him, whenever the people of a particular nation are enslaved, as long as they hold fast to their language, it is as if they have the key to their prison.

The Last Lesson

M Hamel opened a grammar book and taught them their last lesson. Franz was amazed to see how well he understood everything. Franz thought that probably he never paid much attention in the class and that M Hamel had never explained everything with so much patience. After that they had a lesson in writing.
M Hamel had brought new copies for them that day. Everyone was immersed in their work. Even the little children sitting in the class were tracing their fish hooks, as if that was French too.

The Final Good Bye

All this while, M Hamel sat motionless in his chair. Franz thought that M Hamel wanted to imprint this classroom scene in his mind. For 40 years, he had given his faithful service to the school and now his sister was packing their stuff. All this must have been really heart breaking for him. Finally, they had a lesson in history.

Everybody became emotional towards the end; some even started crying, but M Hamel had the courage and patience to hear every lesson to the last. Finally, as the church-clock struck twelve,
M Hamel stood up. It was very evident that he had become emotional too. He tried to speak, but choked.

Then he turned to the blackboard and wrote as large as he could ‘Vive La France!’ which means ‘long live France’. He then dismissed the class, signaling everyone to leave.

Word Meanings

The given page numbers correspond to the pages in the CBSE class 12 NCERT textbook.

  • Dread- great feat or apprehension
  • Drilling- undergoing military training exercises
  • Resist- fight against temptation
  • Apprentice- trainee, a person who is learning a trade from a skilled employer, having agreed to work for a fixed period at low wages
  • Bustle- excited activity and movement
  • Unison- all at once, simultaneously
  • Rapping- striking rapidly on a hard surface, especially in order to attract attention
  • Counted on- relied or depended on
  • Commotion- a state of confused and noisy disturbance
  • Blushed- became pink or red with embarrassment or shame
  • Solemn- quiet, serious
  • Primer- an elementary book for teaching children to read
  • Thunderclap- a crashing sound of thunder
  • Wretches- villains; people deserving contempt
  • Saar- a river in North-Eastern France and Western Germany
  • Cranky- bad-tempered, eccentric or strange
  • Puts off- postpones
  • Reproach- rebuke, Criticize
  • At one stroke- by a single action having immediate effect
  • Twined- wound round something
  • Angelus- a bell rung as call to recite the Angelus-a devotional prayer in the Roman Catholic Church
  • Bearing on- continuing
  • Vive La France- long live France

The Last Lesson Very Short Question Answer

(1)"What a thunderclap these words were to me!" What were the words that shocked and surprised the narrator?     

Ans. The announcement made by M Hamel that there was an order from Berlin to stop teaching French and that this was their last French lesson seemed to be a thunderclap to Franz. He would no longer be able to learn French, his mother tongue.

(2) Why was Franz confused? What added to his confusion?

Ans.  When Franz reached school, he found the entire place unusually quiet, strange and solemn. He was late for school and thought that M Hamel would scold him. But, to his surprise, M Hamel spoke very kindly to him and invited him in. However, what .confused him the most was the presence of the village elders in the classroom.

(3) How did Franz perform when his turn came to recite?

Ans. When it was Franz's turn to recite, he got mixed up on the first words and stood at his place, ashamed. He did not have the courage to look up and face his teacher.


The Last Lesson Summary - CBSE Class 12 English Flamingo

(4) How did M Hamel praise the French language?

Ans. M Hamel called French the most beautiful language in the world. According to him, it was the clearest and the most logical language. He wanted the people of France to guard it amongst themselves and never forget it.

 (5) How is the mother tongue important?

Ans. The mother tongue is the representative of a nations true identity and character. It acts as a binding force, creating unity among the countrymen. M Hamel rightly said that 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.

(6) What was M Hamel's contribution to the school in Alsace?

Ans. M Hamel had given forty years of long and faithful service to the school. Though the students found him cranky, he was a true Frenchman at heart, who took immense pride in teaching his mother tongue. He loved the school and wanted the children to love their language.

(7) Franz was able to understand everything that day. Why?

Ans. Franz thought that probably he had never paid so much attention in the class, and that M Hamel had never explained everything with so much patience. Perhaps, these were the very reasons that he was able to understand everything that day.

(8) What did M Hamel teach the class in his last lesson?

Ans In his 'last lesson', M Hamel taught the class about grammar, then about writing and finally a lesson in history. More than this, he made his students realise the importance of their mother tongue, and taught them to take pride in their language.

(9) What is' Linguistic Chauvinism'? Explain this in reference to M Hamel's views about his language.

Ans. 'Linguistic Chauvinism' means carrying pride in one's language too far. But the love of Hamel and the village elders for French doesn't amount to this. Rather, they are victims of it. German is being imposed on the French speaking people of Alsace. M Hamel feels genuinely proud of French language. He urges others never to forget such a beautiful language.

The Last Lesson Long Questions

(1)Draw a character sketch of M Hamel.

Ans. M Hamel has been portrayed as a character with many sides to his nature. At the start, he appears to be a typical schoolmaster, very strict with students who are afraid of him.
After M Hamel gives the class the dreaded news of the day's French lesson being the last one, we see a totally different side to him. However, after the last lesson starts, he becomes very kind and gentle towards his students. He does not scold Franz for coming late or for not being able to recite his lesson. He is also a true patriot at heart. He calls the French language the most beautiful, the clearest, and the most logical language in the world. He wants the people of France to guard their language amongst themselves.
He becomes very sentimental at the end, because when the moment of the final goodbye comes, he gets choked and just writes on the board, as big as he could, 'Vive La France!'

(2) Describe the change in the attitude of Franz towards his language and his teacher.

Ans. Initially Franz is reluctant to go to school. He has never been a sincere and devoted student. He fears that his teacher, M Hamel would scold him because he had not learnt his lesson. He finds his teacher strict and austere.
When he reaches school, he is surprised because M Hamel speaks kindly to him. He is still confused and absorbing the situation, when M Hamel announces that it is to be their last French lesson. Poor Franz now regrets not having learnt his lessons. He know little of his mother tongue and now he would never be able to learn it. His books, which were a nuisance to him, suddenly seem like old friends. The thought that he would never see M Hamel again makes him forget all about his crankiness. He begins to feel very sorry for his teacher.

(3) Explain "M Hamel was an epitome of patience that day— A true patriot”

Ans. M Hamel was very patient that day. He did not remark on Franz's being late. He did not scold Franz when he could not recite the rules of participles. In fact, he blamed all of them, including himself, for neglecting the study of their mother tongue, the French language. That he was a patriot is demonstrated by the fact that he praised the French language for its clarity, logic and beauty and exhorted his audience to hold fast to it. M Hamel had been teaching for forty years in the school, so everyone was overwhelmed by emotions at the time of his leaving the school. But M Hamel maintained utmost dignity and composure. He exhibited strong courage and patience and listened to every lesson to the last.
Finally, at the end of the lesson, he wrote on the blackboard, 'Vive La France!', meaning 'long live France', which showed that he was a true patriot

(4) Why did M Hamel not scold Franz for not learning his lesson?

Ans. M Hamel did not scold Franz for not learning his lesson as it was too late to do anything about it. It was M Hamel's last day at school. He was to teach the last lesson to his students that day. Even the environs reflected the sorrow that was pervading everyone's heart. It was a very emotional day for everyone. M Hamel's was also not his usual strict that day as it was not just his another normal day at school. It was very natural that M Hamel was also moved by the fact that after that day he would no longer teach French there. He told everybody that they had always put off learning to the next day and now there was no next day left to learn. He was too engulfed with emotion to think of scolding anyone and so he did not scold Franz.

(5) Explain the importance of the parting message on the day of 'The Last Lesson: Cite some examples from the text to support the explanation.


Ans. The day of the last lesson was full of regret and sadness. All the people — the French language teacher, the students and the village elders —were in a very depressed mood. People were stunned by the new orders from Berlin. It aroused patriotic feelings among them for their language. M Hamel announced that he was going to deliver his last lesson in French. He called French the most beautiful, the clearest and the most logical language. He parted with the message that one should safeguard his language as it held the key to one's freedom. This had a profound effect on the audience. He ended his class by writing 'Vive La France' on the blackboard. These parting messages evoked the people's patriotism and aroused in them a sense of love and respect for their mother tongue.


CBSE Class 12 English Flamingo

The Last Lesson: Value Based Question 

(1) Franz thinks,"Will they make them sing in German, even the pigeons?" What could this mean?
                                                                               or
After reading the chapter, you realise that man has an intense desire to subjugate others. You feel that in the modern world, there is a strong need for brotherhood. Write an article in about 120-150 words for a national magazine on this.

Ans.                                                          What will You Conquer?
                                                                                                By XYZ

During the Franco-Prussian war, as related in the story 'The Last Lesson' France has lost two of its districts toGermany. The Germans pass the order that from now on, only German will be taught in the schools. The imposition of German over French has been quite humiliating. It has filled the people with great patriotic feelings. Suddenly on the roof the pigeons coo in a low tone, and Franz asks himself whether they will make the pigeons also sing in German.
This remark is a Frenchman's typical reaction to the imposition of learning German. The attitude of the French is full of hate and desperation. This also shows the extent the Germans would go in their attempts at linguistic chauvinism.
The instance in question makes it clear that man has a strong desire to impose his will upon others, to subdue others. This very instinct of man is responsible for tension, turmoil and conflicts in the world. In today's world, only the feeling of compassion, tolerance and brotherhood towards our fellow beings can lead us towards peace and prosperity.

(2) "Then he turned to the blackboard, took a piece of chalk and bearing on it with all his might, he wrote as large as he could 'Are La France!"

After reading the lesson you begin to feel that the Indian youth lack the spirit of patriotism. Write an article in about 120-150 words on the need of a patriotic spirit amongst the youth in India.

Ans                                                     Love your Motherland!
                                                                                         By XYZ
India is the land of people like Mahatma Gandhi and Bhagat Singh, people who devoted their whole lives in serving their motherland. But in modern India, their thoughts have become a shadow of their previous self. The word 'patriotism' has faded away from the hearts of the youth. The youth remains so much immersed in their superficial world that they have no interest in or intention of reflecting upon the idea of patriotism.
However, if they can channelise their energy into something positive, India will surely become a super power as there is a lot of potential in the youth of our nation. The youth need to tap their limitless energy in the service of the nation and make an effort for the better and bright future of India, our motherland.

The Last Lesson: Miscellaneous Question

(1) The people in this story suddenly realise how precious their language is to them. What shows you this? Why does this happen?

Ans. When the order had come from Berlin that thenceforth only German would be taught in schools. people realised that it was the last day to learn their mother tongue. To show their affection for the language, many elderly people came to attend school, occupying the last benches, which had usually remained vacant earlier.
Franz regretted not having learnt the participles, when M Hamel suddenly appraised them of the fact that they would become a laughing stock before the Germans. Their language was their identity, the 'key' to their prison. The strongest evidence of how important their language became can be taken from M Hamel's mesmerizing last lesson quite. Everyone was extremely attentive. Franz too found the lesson quite easy to understand, when earlier he has found the French classes very difficult.

(2) "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.               

Ans. Subjugation of a country deprives people of their identity and freedom. One is subjected to restrictions in his or her own land. In these testing times, it is only our mother tongue that acts as a uniting force and binds us together. It becomes a weapon against the tyrants who have forcibly moved into our country. It helps us express our feelings and thoughts, and to convey these to the masses. The teacher, M Hamel is perfectly right when he says that language is a 'key to their prison'. Language is a catalyst that initiates and sustains the freedom movement. So he reminds his countrymen of the importance of language; it is their identity and only when they fight for it will the future generations remember that they had once been enslaved.

Ask Yourself - The Last Lesson
  1. Why was Franz reluctant to go to school?
  2. Why was M Hamel behaving differently?
  3. Why had the old people of the village gathered in the classroom?
  4. What effects did the order from Berlin have on M Hamel, Franz and the people of Alsace?
  5. Relate the significance of one's mother tongue.
  6. Give reasons for the sudden changes in the behavior of Franz towards his language and his teacher.
  7. What did the Germans want to prove by imposing their language on the French people?
  8. Who should be blamed if people/students don't give due attention to their studies?

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