Friday, 18 April 2014



·         Michael Morpurgo.
·         Born – October 5, 1943
·         He is a novelist, short story writer and playwright.
·         Notable works –
a) Friend or foe (1977)
b) War house (1982)
c) Why the whales came (1985)
d) Waiting for Anya (1990)

·         Awards – a) Blue Peter Book Award – 2003
              b) Hampshire Book Award – 2005
              c) Prix Sorcieres – 1999

Some Information and meanings

·         Bridport – A market town in Dorset, England, situated approximately 1.5 miles inland from British channel.

·         Junk Shop _ A shop selling miscellaneous secondhand or old out of use materials.

·         Clumsily – An award movement lacking skill or care.

·         Crisp – (here) cool and fresh.

·         No man’s land – A piece of land which falls in the middle of the borders of two countries.

·         Greatcoat – A long overcoat usually heavy and runs below knee.

·         Parapet – A low protective wall at the edge of the trench.

·         Sausage – Finely chopped and seasoned meat, especially pork, usually stuffed into a prepared animal intestine or other casing and cooked.

·         Dusseldorf – Capital city of the fireman state of north Rhine – Westphalia.

·         Thomas Hardy – Famous English Novelist, (June 2, 1840 – 11 January  1928)

·         Far From The Madding Crowd – fourth novel of Thomas Hardy, published on 1974.

·         Bathsheba – Bathsheba Everdene, the beautiful young heroine of Far From The Madding Crowd.

·         Gabriel oak- a farmer, shepherd Gabriel oak is the hero of Far From The Madding Crowd.

·         Sergeant troy – Sergeant Francis Troy, the villain of far from the Madding Crowd.

·         Run ration – it is the daily amount of runs given to a soldier (approx 70 milliliters per day)

·         Lopsided – Smaller than the other.

·         Mince pie – A small British fruit based mince meat sweat pie traditionally served during Christmas.

·         Conservatory – A room having glass roof and walls typically attached to a house on only one side.

·         Wicker chair – A chair made of wicker and is thus ventilated and useful under not or humid condition.


Page – 10

Comprehension check-

1)   What did the author find in a junk shop?

Ans: The author was desirous to possess a roll top desk. But he could not buy the roll top desk for high price. One day coincidently he found one roll top desk in a junk shop. Though the roll top desk needed a lot of repair, the author bought it as it was going for little money.

2)   What did he find in a secret drawer? Who do you think had put it in there?

Ans: While repairing the roll – top desk, the author found a black tin box which was well hidden in a secret drawer. On the top of the black tin box he discovered a paper sellotaped and written. “Jim’s last letter, received January 25, 1915  to be buried with me when the time comes.”

     Undoubtedly, the lined note paper was written by Mrs. Jim Macpherson and she herself had put the letter in it. We are fully ascertained about this when we come across the name and address of Mrs. Jim Macpherson on the envelope.

Page – 14

Comprehension Check-

1)   Who had written the letter to whom and when?

Ans: Jim Macpherson, husband of Connie Macpherson had written the letter on 26 December 1914 during the First World War. The letter was written to Jim’s dearest wife, Connie Macpherson.

2)   Why was the letter written – what was the wonderful thing that had happened?

Ans: Jim Macpherson could not control himself from sharing his experience of 25th December 1914. He had experienced and had been a part of the best Christmas observation of his life. To share his feeling and every detail of the incident, he had written this letter.

     Indeed, the incident had been wonderful. The ever blood thirst enemies, the British and Germans had forgotten their enmity in the battlefield. Like friends, they made peace in the middle of the battlefield and enjoyed the Christmas in the most unique way.

3)   What jobs did Hans Wolf and Jim Macpherson have when they were not soldiers?

Ans: Both Hans wolf and Jim Macpherson had not been professional soldiers. In the dire necessity of the country they appeared in the battlefield. Hans wolf was from Dusseldorf and used to play cello in the orchestra. Whereas Jim Macpherson was  from Dorset and was a school teacher by profession.

4)   Had Hans wolf been to Dorset? Why did he say he knew it?

Ans:      No, Hans wolf had never visited to England or Dorset.

     He learnt all about England, Dorset and English from school and reading books in English.

5)   Do you think Jim Macpherson came back from war? How do you know this?

Ans: No, as per the references from the text and based on intuitive fact we can conclude that Jim Macpherson did not return. Following are the supportive facts.

     In the sellotaped notepaper it was written that the letter was Jim’s last letter. Connie Macpherson did not receive any more letters from him. It indicates Jim Macpherson’s demise.

     The incident took place around the earlier part of the world war – I in which the Germans had been victorious which implies the defeat of the British and the demise of Jim Macpherson.

Page – 15

Comprehension check

1)   Why did the author go to Bridport?

Ans: The author was moved with the content of the letter and apprehended that the letter is a big treasure to a lady named Connie Macpherson. So to return the letter to its true owner, the author decided to go to the address of Bridport.

2.   How old was Mrs. Macpherson now? Where was she?

Ans: Mrs. Macpherson aged one hundred and one years.

     After the fire incident, the muddle headed Mrs. Macpherson was kept in Burlington house nursing home.

Page – 16

Comprehension check

1)   Who did Connie Macpherson think her visitor was?

Ans: Connie Macpherson being aged enough had lost her eyesight and had been a bit muddle headed. She could not recognize the person. She mistook the author to be her husband, Jim Macpherson.

2)   Which sentence in the text shows that the visitor did not try to hide her identity?

Ans: The author did not try to hide his identity. The sentence which shows this is –

     “I explained about the desk, about how I had found it, but I don’t think she was listening.”

     Working with the Text

1)   For how long do you think Connie had kept Jim’s letter? Give reasons for your answer.

Aan: Connie Macpherson is now one hundred and one years old. She had received the letter on 25th January, 1995. This hits that she had kept the letter for a very long period till the burning of her house.

2)   Why do you think the desk had been sold and why?

Ans: It must be after the fire accident in Mrs. Macpherson’s house. When her house was burnt the roll top desk was also partially burnt. And after this incident the roll top desk might have been sold to the Junk shop.

3)   Why do Jim and Hans think that games and sports are good ways of resolving conflicts? Do you agree?

Ans: Jim and Hans opined that games and sports are the best ways for resolving war because in games and sports no one dies. No wives become widows no children become orphan. So games and sports should be the sole way to solve disputes among countries.

     Yes, I do agree war destroys a country socially, culturally, economically. War must be shunned by us.

4)   Do you think the soldiers of the two armies are like each other or different from each other? Find evidence from the story to support your answer.

Ans: Indeed booth the armies were like each other. Following are the ways in which they are like each other –

·         Both the armies celebrated Christmas
·         Both the armies shared their food and spent time together in smoking, laughing, talking, drinking and eating.
·         They played a football match and agreed that conflicts and disputes may be resolved by football match
·         They agreed about the negative aspects of war and longed peace.
·         They exchanged carols and hoped to unite with the families again.

5)   Mention the various ways in which the British and the German soldiers become friends and find things in common in Christmas.

Ans:      The British and German soldiers enjoyed Christmas together. They shared food and spent time in smoking, drinking, laughing, eating and talking. They sang carols and exchanged carols. Both Jim and Hans talked about books. Favourite writer and the characters of “Far from the madding crowd”. They agreed about everything and of course agreed that war does not bring solution, rather war means loss and destruction.

6)   What is Connie’s Christmas present? Why is it ‘The best Christmas Present’ in the world?

Ans: To Connie she got the best Christmas present in the form of the author whom she mistook to be Jim, her husband. Since long she kept the letter with her and waited for her husband. And on this Christmas along with missing letter she got her husband back.

7. Do you think the title of this story is suitable for it? Can you think of any other title(s)?

Ans;- Yes, there is no doubt that the title of the story is appropriate. The whole story revolves around Christmas observation in the battlefield and Connie Macpherson’s waiting for her husband. At last coincidently on the Christmas the author returned her precious letter and her considering author as her husband proved to be the best Christmas gift. So the title is apt and appropriate. 


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