NCERT Solutions for Class 12 English Chapter 4 – On the Face of It

Page No 56:

Question 1:

Who is Mr. Lamb? How does Derry get into his garden?

Answer:

Mr. Lamb is an old man who lived in a big house with a huge and beautiful garden. He had lost one of his legs due to a bomb explosion and it had now been replaced with a tin leg. He liked to talk to people and make them his friends, and so, he kept the gates of his garden always open.

Derry was a fourteen-year-old boy who was low on self esteem and liked to stay alone. Considering the garden to be empty, he jumped over the wall to hide away from the rest of the world.

Question 1:

This is a play featuring an old man and a small boy meeting in the former’s garden. The old man strikes up a friendship with the boy who is very withdrawn and defiant. What is the bond that unites the two?

Answer:

Derry jumped over the wall and sneaked into the garden of Mr. Lamb. He did not want to be noticed by anyone. His burnt and distorted face made him want to run away from the society. On the other hand, Mr. Lamb who had a tin leg was a topic of mockery for everyone. People came to sit in the beauty of his garden, ate apples, pears and toffees, yet he was a non-entity for them. Thus, although different, both Derry and Mr. Lamb were bound by a single cord. The old man was able to understand the lonely boy’s feelings because he himself was lonely, living in a huge but ‘empty’ house. Also, he could make out the reason behind this loneliness very easily, which was their deformed body part.

Derry was told by many to look at the positive side but he was not able to overcome his grief and self contempt. However, when Mr. Lamb said the same, Derry noticed the different perspective and the underlying empathy which brought him closer to Lamey-Lamb.

Page No 62:

Question 1:

Do you think all this will change Derry’s attitude towards Mr. Lamb?

Answer:

Derry’s burnt face made him the center of ridicule. Although people sympathized with him, it was never a heartfelt one. This resulted in his pessimistic approach towards life. He thought that everyone detested and despised him. On the contrary, Mr. Lamb did not show any pity towards him. He considered Derry to be his equal and welcomed him in his garden. He helped the boy to love and live life happily without any contempt for his own self. Derry had initially considered the old man to be like others, but he gradually started respecting and liking him for what he said.

Page No 69:

Question 1:

What is it that draws Derry towards Mr. Lamb in spite of himself?

Answer:

Derry was a young boy whose half of the face had been disfigured by acid. His shattered self confidence did not allow him to face the world. As a result, he tried to be only in secluded places. Mr. Lamb did not show any dislike or horror at the way Derry looked, which surprised him. Although Derry wanted to leave the garden the moment he noticed that he was not alone, the old man’s interesting and “peculiar” conversation kept him glued.

Also, Derry noticed that like him, the old man also had a disfigured body part which attracted mockery. Yet, he did not give in and was living his life happily. Mr. Lamb spoke words of encouragement, hope and zest for life, which no one had ever spoken to him. He makes the boy aware of his physical strength and explains the importance of emotional well-being. This realization draws him closer to the old man.

Question 2:

In which section of the play does Mr. Lamb display signs of loneliness and disappointment? What are the ways in which Mr. Lamb tries to overcome these feelings?

Answer:

Although the loneliness of Derry dominates the play, there are evident traces of Mr. Lamb’s loneliness throughout the first scene of the play. The old man says that having heard the bees for a “long time” he knows that they “sing”, not buzz. It not only depicts how his perception was different from others but also illustrates that he was lonely and that he did not have any one to be with.

Another evidence of his loneliness is the fact that whole day he sat in the sun and read books. This proves that books were his only true friends. He says that his “empty house” is full of books, underlining the way in which the void of his empty life was filled in by books.

By the end of this scene, it becomes even clearer that he is lonely and sad when he mutters to himself that no one comes back to him after the first meeting. Likewise, he did not expect Derry to return. He was so sure that Derry would never return that he climbed the ladder to collect all the apples himself, although Derry had offered to help him after informing his mother. Ironically, the old man would have died unnoticed if Derry had not returned to fill the emptiness of his own life.

Question 3:

The actual pain or inconvenience caused by a physical impairment is often much less than the sense of alienation felt by the person with disabilities. What is the kind of behaviour that the person expects from others?

Answer:

A person with any physical impairment can live life with respect and honour, if he is not ridiculed and punished with heartless pity. He expects empathy rather than sympathy. If everyone looks down at him with a pessimistic approach, he may never be able to come out of his sorrow, and consequently, recline to his own secluded world. He is already in tremendous mental and emotional pressure. So, he expects others to be understanding rather than remind him of his disability.

In the play, Derry and Mr. Lamb, both are caught in a similar situation. Mr. Lamb, as an adult, is able to cope with such problems, but Derry, being a child, is not able to untangle this web alone. He develops a strong liking for this old man because he spoke the words a person, with such problem, would want to hear.

Question 4:

Will Derry get back to his old seclusion or will Mr. Lamb’s brief association effect a change in the kind of life he will lead in the future?

Answer:

The brief association of Derry with Mr. Lamb boosted his self-confidence and helped him to respect his own self. The manner in which the old man made Derry realize the importance of his being self-dependent, of respecting himself and of holding on to hope helped Derry undergo a remarkable change. The new found self-esteem makes him tell his mother that his looks are not important.

It is not likely that the death of Mr. Lamb would take him back to his secluded life. This big change is definitely here to stay and would not be undone due to setbacks.

Question 1:

Use your imagination to suggest another ending to the above story.

Answer:

This story could have had another ending where, after falling, Mr. Lamb gets seriously injured and Derry calls an ambulance and takes him to a hospital. When his mother comes to know of the accident, she allows Derry to take care of him in the hospital as well as after being discharged. While his stay with the old man, he reads his books, takes care of the garden and makes “friends” for life which changes his perspective to life completely. Later, he befriends a boy whose father is a plastic surgeon, who operates on him and makes his life return to normal.

(The above answer is only a sample provided for students’ reference. It is strongly recommended that students prepare the answer on their own.)

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