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NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Literature Reader Unit 3


Summary of “The Letter”

“The Letter” is a touching story of Ali who is all alone and waits for his only daughter’s letter for five long years. He receives that letter only at his grave.
Ali was a brilliant hunter who derived pleasure from the terror of the dying birds. But his daughter hated his merciless hunting desire. After his daughter’s marriage, he was left alone. His daughter, Miriam left home with her husband, a soldier in a regiment in Punjab. Having understood the meaning of love and separation, he could no longer enjoy the screams of dying birds. Therefore, he stopped hunting.

Since then, he had been regularly visiting post office in the early morning expecting a letter from his daughter Miriam. However, it did come and he returned home disappointed. The post office staffs often made fun of him. The clerk even called out his name; jokingly even there was no letter for him. Suddenly, for several days, Ali did not come to the post office. Everyone was curious to know the reason behind this.

At last, he did come. But now it was difficult for him even to breathe and there were clear signs of his nearing death. Finally, he met the post master and asked him for Miriam’s letter. The post master scolded Ali because he was very busy. Consequently, Ali called a clerk and gave him five golden guineas and asked him to deliver his letter, if it would come, to his grave. Then he slowly left him and was not seen by any one after that.

One day, the post master’s daughter fell ill and he was anxious to hear from her. He searched for the letter from his daughter from the pile of letters and picked up a letter of the name he expected. It was addressed to “Coachman Ali”. Now he realized about his mistake. He called Lakshmi Das, a clerk and asked him to find out Ali. That day he did not receive his letter and decided that he would hand over Ali’s letter by himself.

In the post office, the next morning he opened the door and saw Ali leaning on a stick with tears in his eyes. His eyes had a light so unearthly that the post master was scared. But, suddenly he disappeared. Lakshmi Das, the clerk was shocked to hear the postmaster call out the name of Coachman Ali who had now been dead for three months. The letter was found near the door. Lakshmi Das tells him about his last meeting with Ali to convince him.

That evening both of them went to place the letter on Ali’s grave. The post master repented for his attitude and thought that he should have been more sympathetic and helpful towards Ali. He was no longer ill-tempered as he was in the beginning.


Unit-3 : Solutions of Questions on Page Number : 22


Q1 : Look at the picture of the old man given below:


Working with your partner note down the feelings of the old man.

  • ______________________________________________
  • ______________________________________________

Answer :

Lonely

Dejected

Sad

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Q2 : Can you think of reasons for these feelings? Discuss with your partner and note down possible reasons.

  • ______________________________________________
  • ______________________________________________

Answer :

Note: This question is to be answered on the basis of your own understanding, experience and thoughts. It is strongly recommended that you prepare the solution on your own.


Q3 : Ali’s walking to the Post Office daily even in biting cold weather shows his ________.

(i) courage

(ii) optimism

(iii) foolishness

(iv) strength of will

Answer :

(iv) strength of will


Q4 : The Post Office is referred to as Ali’s “place of pilgrimage” as he__________.

(i) visited it daily

(ii) came there to pray for a letter from his daughter

(iii) went there with faith and hope

(iv) believed God would bless him if he went there

Answer :

(iii) went there with faith and hope

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Q5 : The Post Master’s rudeness to Ali reveals his ___________________.

(i) lack of empathy

(ii) preoccupation with his work

(iii) preconceived notions

(iv) sensitivity

Answer :

(i) lack of empathy


Q6 : Ali did not come to the Post Office for several days as _____________________.

(i) he had given up hope

(ii) he was upset by the Post Master’s rebuke

(iii) he was unwell and not able to walk to the Post Office

(iv) he was busy hunting

Answer :

(iii) he was unwell and not able to walk to the Post Office


Q7 : “Tortured by doubt and remorse, he sat down in the glow of the charcoal sigri to wait.”
The Post Master was waiting for____________________________.
(i) a letter from Miriam
(ii) a letter from his own daughter
(iii) a letter from Ali
(iv) Ali to deliver Miriam’s letter to him.
Answer :
(ii) a letter from his own daughter


Q8 : Who was Ali? Where did he go daily?
Answer :
Ali was a shikari. He was a very able hunter. Even a small animal could not escape his sharp eyes. He was so obsessed with hunting that not a day would pass when he would not hunt. He would go to the post office daily.

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Q9 : “Ali displays qualities of love and patience”. Give evidence from the story to support the statement.
Answer :
Ali loved his daughter deeply. After she got married, he missed her terribly. For the past five years, he had received no news of her. Ali went to the post office daily to get a letter from her. Even bad weather could not stop him. It was his immense love for his daughter and patience that made him go to the post office daily.


Q10 : How do you know Ali was a familiar figure at the post office?
Answer :
Everybody in the post office knew Ali. He went there daily. He sat on the same bench everyday waiting for his name to be called. The postmen made fun of him. Even though there would be no letter for him, they would call out his name, just to see his reaction. The post office became a place of pilgrimage for Ali. Even bad weather could not deter him. He was always the first one to arrive to the post office.


Q11 : Why did Ali give up hunting?
Answer :
Ali’s only child Miriam got married and left him. After his daughter went, he felt very lonely. It was then he realized the pain young partridge felt on being separated from its parents. He no longer enjoyed the game of hunting because he could now understand the grief the parents of the hunted animal went through after getting separated from their young ones.


Q12 : What impression do you form of the postmaster after reading the story ‘The Letter’?
Answer :
The postmaster had a sad and dull expression. Ali’s everyday presence in the post office irritated him. One day, he even screamed at him for enquiring for his letter. It was only when he experienced the same, that is, when he anxiously awaited the news of his ill daughter that he realized the agony of Ali. Finally, when a letter for Ali did arrive, he was told that Ali was no more alive. He was filled with remorse for his attitude towards Ali. He deposited the letter on Ali’s grave as was his last wish. The postmaster was a kind and noble man who, perhaps because of his dull job, had become so hard-hearted.

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Q13 : The postmaster says to Ali, “What a pest you are, brother!” Do you agree with the statement? Give reasons for your answer.
Answer :
Ali used to go to the post office daily. He would go and sit at a particular bench everyday, waiting for his name to be called out. He would not bother anyone. On that particular day, he had come to the post office after several days as he had fallen ill. Since he had not come for many days, he enquired for his letter from the postmaster. The postmaster, who was in a hurry to leave, lost his temper on Ali and called him a pest. Ali was not at all a pest; it was just that he came after many days so he was curious to know whether a letter had come for him.


Q14 : “Ali came out very slowly, turning after every few steps to gaze at the post office. His eyes were filled with tears of helplessness, for his patience was exhausted, even though he still had faith.” Why were Ali’s eyes filled with tears of helplessness? What had exhausted his patience but not his faith?
Answer :
Ali was getting old. He could no longer walk to the post office everyday. He had waited five years for a letter from his daughter. Everyday, he came to the post office with a hope that a letter would come for him. One day, the postmaster lost his temper on Ali when the latter enquired for his letter. Ali broke down because he was helpless, he could not do anything. The unending wait for the letter had exhausted his patience but not his belief that one day a letter would surely arrive for him although he might not be there to take it personally.


Q15 : “Tortured by doubt and remorse, he sat down in the glow of the charcoal sigri to wait.” Who is tortured by doubt and remorse? Why? What is he waiting for?
Answer :
The postmaster is tortured by doubt and remorse. He is filled with remorse because he failed to understand Ali’s concern about his daughter. The postmaster’s daughter was unwell and he anxiously waited for some news of her. When he saw an envelope of a shape and colour that he expected, he quickly snatched it. However, it was not addressed to him but to Ali. His disappointment at not receiving any news of his daughter made him realize the sorrow and pain of Ali who had waited for five years for some news from his daughter.


Q16 :

Loneliness

Grief

  • An old man was walking through the town, now and
    again drawing his tattered clothes tighter to shield
    his body from the cold and biting wind.
  • His lonely way
  • The whole town was wrapped in deathly silence

Answer :

Loneliness

Grief

  • An old man was walking through the town, now and
    again drawing his tattered clothes tighter to shield
    his body from the cold and biting wind.
  • His lonely way
  • The old man went back slowly to the bench on which he
    had been accustomed to sit for five long years.
  • …such
    loneliness had come into his life since the day
    Miriam had gone away, that now, forgetting his sport,
    he would become lost in the admiration of the green
    of the green cornfield.
  • A pitiable figure, a century behind his time.
  • The whole town was wrapped in deathly silence
  • …for the
    last five years he had no news of this daughter for
    whose sake alone he dragged along a cheerless
    existence.
  • …that the
    grief of separation is inescapable.
  • …he sat
    down under a tree and wept bitterly.
  • His eyes were filled with tears of
    helplessness…

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Q17 : Complete the table by explaining the following phrases/ sentences in your own words:

Phrases

Meanings

happy memories light up a life that is nearing its close  
the sounds helped him along his lonely way  
the cold used sleep to extend its sway over all things
even as a false friend lulls his chosen victim with
caressing smiles
 
when the evening of his life was drawing in, he left his
old ways and suddenly took a newturn
 
the whole universe is built up through love and that the
grief of separation is inescapable
 
the post-master, a man with a face as sad and as
inexpressive as a pumpkin, would be seen sitting on his
chair inside
 
And so the clerk, like a worshipper of Vishnu, repeated
his customary thousand names
 
The haughty temper of the official had quite left him in
his sorrow and anxiety, and had laid bare his human heart
 

Answer :
Meanings:
Happy memories are a source of joy when one is old and about to die.
The sounds of grinding mills, women singing at work were like a company in his otherwise long, lonely journey from his home to the post office.
The early morning cold induced sleep as a result everybody would be fast asleep and there would be no activity. The early morning cold is just like a person who pretends to be a friend influences its victim with sweet talk.
When Ali grew old, he gave up hunting as he could now understand the pain of getting separated from a loved one. Life had changed for him. His only daughter got married and left him.
Ali after being separated from his daughter realized that the whole world is made of love and the pain of separation is unbearable.
The postmaster had a cheerless and expressionless face just like a pumpkin and would always be seen sitting on his chair inside the post office.
Just as a follower of lord Vishnu would utter thousand names of Vishnu everyday, the clerk would call out the usual names for whom the letters came everyday.
As the postmaster eagerly awaited news from his daughter, he realized how arrogant and indifferent he was. Just like Ali, he was also worried for his daughter.


Writing task speaking task : Solutions of Questions on Page Number : 32

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Q1 : Tortured by doubt and remorse, the postmaster sits in the glow of a charcoal sigri that night, waiting for news of his daughter. As he sits, he writes his diary.
As the postmaster, write a diary entry in about 150 words outlining your feelings about the day’s events.
Answer :
Note: This question is to be answered on the basis of your own understanding, experience and thoughts. It is strongly recommended that you prepare the solution on your own. However, one sample solution has been provided for your reference.
Dear Diary,
I am very disturbed today. There is still no news of my daughter. Yesterday a letter came. When I read the envelope, it was addressed to Ali.
Ali, till very recently, used to come to the post office everyday. One day, irritated by his constant pestering, I rebuked him harshly. However, now I realize his grief and pain.
Yesterday a letter came for him. Next morning, I got up early and went to the post office. I wanted to give Ali his letter personally. At five, there was a knock on the door. It was Ali, leaning on a stick. His eyes glowed with a strange light that I was amazed to see. And then Ali disappeared. Suddenly, Lakshmi Das, the clerk came. He could not believe that I was speaking to Ali. He told me Ali had been dead three months ago. I was shocked. I regret my behaviour towards him. May his soul rest in peace.


Q2 : The postmaster believes that he saw Ali. What do you think?
Discuss with your partner and present your views in front of the class.
Answer :
Note: This question is to be answered on the basis of your own understanding, experience and thoughts. It is strongly recommended that you prepare the solution on your own. However, a brief idea on the solutions has been provided for your reference.

  • Initial impression of the postmaster: sad, expressionless.
  • Doesn’t like Ali sitting in the post office everyday.
  • One day he loses his temper on him.
  • Later, when he is in the same situation as Ali, he realizes his mistake and regrets it.
  • It is perhaps this regret and remorse that makes him see Ali.
  • Ali has probably come to pardon him because the postmaster is feeling very guilty.

Q3 : The postmaster was anxiously waiting for his ailing daughter’s news. On not getting any news he visits his daughter’s town. Now construct a dialogue between the postmaster and his daughter and enact it.
Answer :
Note: This question is to be answered on the basis of your own understanding, experience and thoughts. It is strongly recommended that you prepare the solution on your own. However, a brief idea on the solutions has been provided for your reference.
The postmaster (relieved to see his daughter): How are you? I had no news of you. That is why I had to come and meet you.
Daughter: Oh Father! I have been so unwell that I could not even get up from the bed.
Postmaster: So how are you now?
Daughter: I am better now but it will take me a few more days to recover.
Postmaster: Why don’t you come and stay with me for a few days. You will feel better.
Daughter: Once I am fully recovered, I will surely come and stay with you. But right now I feel very weak.
Postmaster: Okay as you say. But you will feel better if you come with me.

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