· Alphonse Daude
· Born – May 13 1840, France
· Died – December 16 1897, France.
· He was a famous Novelist, short story writer, playwright and a poet.
· Famous works –
a) Le petit chose
b) Les Amoureuses
c) Letters de Tarascon
d) Contes du Lundi
ABOUT THE STORY
The last lesson – Historical Background.
The story is set in the days of Franco – Prussian war. This war continued from 19 July 1870 to May 10 1871. In this war Germans were victorious which led them to “Treaty of Frankfurt”. One of the main tenets of the treaty was the annexation of Alsace and Lorraine. This war was the revenge of the Germans against the French as Napoleon – I had smashed the German provinces during early Napoleonic wars.
The last lesson – Alsace and Lorraine
On 10th May 1971 by the Treaty of Frankfurt’ 93% of Alsace and 26% of Lorraine had been annexed. Until October 1, 1872 the residents of Alsace and Lorraine were given option to choose between emigrating to France or to stay in Alsace – Lorraine. Around one lakh residents had emigrated to France.
The last lesson – Language, the Identity of A nation
A nation is known by its language. They take pride on their language. Here the story “THE LAST LESSON” acquaints us with the innate feelings of the inhabitants of Alsace and Lorraine who are ordered to stop learning French in the schools and adopt German instead. The school teacher M. Hamel makes us feel the very painful last day of the school. Little Franz and others felt to the core that they were dominated and as Frenchmen their identity was in danger. With a morose heart the teacher, the students and the inhabitants lamented as their mother tongue French was banned by Germany.
SOME IMPORTANT LINES EXPLAINED
1. “For the last two years all our bad news had come from there – the lost battles, the draft, the orders of the commanding officer – and I thought to myself, without stopping , “What can be the matter now?”
The bulletin – board had been the source of all of their negative news. Whenever they got a new bulletin, they would reckon that to be misfortune for them. They received the news of the defeat of their Army in the Franco – Prussian war; the news the “The Treaty of Frankfurt”; the news of the annexation of Alsace and Lorraine and the news of the death bell for French language.
2) “Don’t go so fast, dub; you’ll get to your school in plenty of time”
Watcher, the blacksmith made this scorning remark to Franz. Ironically he indicates that his going to school is futile. The bulletin board has brought news for them. Franz’s hurrying towards school is going to meaningless as the school will lose the relevance to inhabitants of Alsace and Lorraine.
3) What a thunder cap these words were to me!”
At the news of the last lesson, little Franz had become positively happy for he had been feeling blah towards studies. His getting rid of the studies made him mirthful. But he could not assess that what that actually meant. Almost immediately he envisaged the loss of his studies.
4) “Vive La France ………………School is dismissed – you may go.”
This concluding sentences are most emotional extending ourselves to feel the very pang of the French people of Alsace and Lorraine as they are ordered to change their heart, i.e. their mother tongue. In spite of being ruled by the Germans, all the villagers and M. Hamel are true patriots when they utter “Vive La France” i.e. long live France. The order of the dismissal of the school implies the final dismissal for the school and learning.
· Some Important questions –
1) Bring out the symbolical importance of the bulletin board.
2) How the language of country is is the identity.
3) Acquaint us with the back ground of the story.
4) What difference did Franz find in the atmosphere of the school?
5) What changes did Franz find in the class room?
6) What was Franz’s reaction when he heard that it was the last day for the school?
7) How was the performance of Franz on the last day?
8) Whom did M. Hamel criticize for the failure of little Franz in acquiring the lessons ?
9) “……….we must guard it, because 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 the line.
10) How did M. Hamel teach on last day and how did Franz learn on last day?
11) “Will they make them sing in German, even pigeons?” – Explain.12.How did the last lesson end?