The Last Lesson
Franz didn’t want to go to school that day as his French teacher Mr. Hamel had announced that he would take a test on French Participles and Franz was not prepared for it. Franz was afraid of M Hamel’s ruler and being scolded. Although Franz was more interested in spending day out of school but eventually he decided to go to the school. On the way he passed through the Town Hall where he noticed a huge crowd was there around the notice board. Franz didn’t stop there as he was well aware that this board had always been serving bad news about the war. Blacksmith told him no need to hurry for school but Franz thought he was making fun of him.
On Reaching School he was surprised to see the sea change in daily environment. There was no noise as usual, no lesson chanting sound by students. It seemed as a Sunday morning. All students were already in their class room. M Hamel was walking with his iron ruler under his arm. Franz was frightened to enter in class as he thought that he would be scolded badly as he was very late but to his surprise, M Hamel did not say anything to him, rather welcomed him politely “Go to your place quickly little Franz, we were beginning without you”. After sitting on his seat Franz noticed that teacher was wearing his beautiful green coat, frilled shirt with a little black silk cap having embroidery on it, this type of dress usually he wore on functions or prize ceremonies only. Franz also noticed that the other villager including old Hauser, former Mayor and former post master were also presented in class they were in last benches. He couldn’t understand until M Hamel announced the notice which was served from Berlin that now onwards no French would be taught in schools of Alsace and Lorraine, only German would be taught in the schools of these two French cities and he emotionally requested students to be more attentive for their last French lesson. Franz now realized that what was there on notice board in Town Hall.
These words of notice fell on Franz like a thunder clap. He couldn’t believe it would be his last lesson that day. He was badly repenting that why he didn’t learn, never paid attention to his lessons. He hardly knew how to read and write French. He was repenting that instead of studying he would go for other pleasant activities. His book that seemed always burden to him now to same appeared to him like old friends. Even his thoughts for his teacher M. Hamel changed thinking as realized that he would never see him again as it was his last day in the school. He forgot about his cranky nature and his cruel ruler. Now he could that the teacher had wore this dress in honor of his last lesson. He also understood why older people were presented in class as they were repenting why they never worry to go to school and they were there to show their respect to their teacher, who served them for forty years.
When Franz’s name was called to recite the lesson, he made mistake and could even speak few words just opposite to his thinking teacher did not scold him rather he preached him that one should not waste his precious time just by live in impression that there is plenty of time and postponing the important things for next day. How would they feel when someone will make fun of them that they were not able to speak or write the French despite of being Frenchmen? Teacher did not put all blame on him but he also blamed the parents who never bothered to send their children to school to study instead they put their children to work on farms and in mill to earn extra money. Even he blamed himself that he often would send his pupils to water his plants instead of study at school and he would declare a holiday whenever he wanted to go to fishing.
Teacher further said about the French language that it was the most beautiful, clearest and most logical language of the world. People should stick with their language it will be proven as the key to their prison in case they are enslaved. A magic had happened that day in class the students understood everything very well, because they were more attentive and teacher was more patient and polite on that day.
Finally with very heavy heart, M Hamel stood up, he was very sad as he walked to the black board, took a chalk and wrote on it “Vive La France” which means “Long Live France” and declared the class was dismissed.
Important Question and Answers
Q1: Why Franz was afraid of going to school that day?
A: The teacher M. Hamel had asked students to prepare for a test on Participles and Franz even didn’t even know a single word of it so he was not feeling like to go to school that day. Also Franz was afraid of M Hamel’s cruel iron rule, which he usually kept under his arm and he was famous as very strict teacher.
Q2: What unusual changes did Franz notice in school that day?
A: As Franz entered in school he noticed the unusual silence as if it was a Sunday morning. No noise of lesson chanting, no noise of opening and closing of desk drawers. All students were already in class. Teacher was wearing the special fancy dress which he would usually wear only on special occasions like prize ceremonies etc.
Q3: What was the notice from Berlin and how did it affect class?
A: The notice, which was served from Berlin, was that no French language would be taught in schools of Alsace and Lorraine cities only German would be taught instead. So M. Hamel, the French teacher was asked to vacate the place for a new German teacher. The notice affected everyone badly. Everybody was repenting on wasting the time and not learnt the French.
Q4: Describe the impact of notice on Franz, M. Hamel and senior villagers?
A: The notice affected everybody deeply. Franz thought why he wasted his time on leisure activities instead of learning his own language. The books which would seem him as a burden now those books seemed to be old friends to him. H. Hamel was feeling guilty for sending his students for his personal tasks. Villagers were feeling guilty that why they did not send their children to study instead of sending them on the farm for earning money.
Q5: Why did the feelings for M. Hamel were changed in Franz’s mind?
A: The impact of notice and fact that the teacher would be going away forever and he will never be able to see him again in class made Franz’s feeling soften for him. Earlier Franz would feel fear from his teacher because of his cranky nature and his iron ruler but now all those feelings were totally vanished up for him.
Q6: Why older villagers were presented in the class that day?
A: The older villagers were presented in class as they were feeling sorry for not sending their children to study in school instead they sent them to the farms and mills to earn extra money. One more reason for their presence was that they wanted to pay their respect to the teacher who served them for forty years.
Q7: How did Mr. M Hamel describe the French language?
A: M. Hamel described French language as world’s most beautiful, clearest and logical language. He also told that the love with one’s own language can be proven as the key to the prison for the people who live in enslaved country.
Q8: Write a brief character sketch of M. Hamel?
A: M. Hamel was taken as a strict teacher. Students were afraid of his iron ruler. He was very sincere and dedicated teacher who served for forty long years in his service as a teacher to the village in Alsace City. When he got the notice to vacant his place to make the space for new German teacher. He was totally broken. He remained sad during his final class. This changed his behavior; he behaved rather very politely and patiently. When Franz was not able to say his lesson correctly instead of scolding him he just made him understand about the relevancy of learning the mother tongue. He preached everyone presented in the class about that important things should never been postponed. Time flies very fast.