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CBSE Class 10 English Literature Reader Solutions The Dear Departed

The Dear Departed —By Stanley Houghton
Summary

‘The Dear Departed’ is dedicated to the old people who are neglected due to the increasing materialism of their families. Abel Merry weather is an old man who had two daughters, Mrs. Slater and Mrs. Jordan. One day, Mrs. Slater ‘found him dead’. She informed Mrs. Jordan and her husband Ben and started waiting for them. Meanwhile she discussed with her husband about a clock and the bureau – a writing desk with drawers, which she always liked and wanted to possess. Suddenly an idea struck her mind and she decided to bring the clock and the bureau down to her room before the arrival of Mrs. Jordan. Henry did not approve of it but later helped in getting the bureau down. It was at the moment of shifting that the Jordans arrive. But they never realized what had happened. All of them sat to have tea. They discussed the obituary announcement in the papers and insurance premium payment. The little daughter of Slaters – Victoria put them in a doubt that she saw grandfather going to ‘Ring-O-Bells’ instead of the insurance office. She was told by her mother to bring the keys so that they could find the premium receipt in the drawers. Victoria went up reluctantly but the next moment she was back when she saw grandfather rising from his bed. She informed everyone downstairs. By the time they came out of their shock, grandfather came down. He told them that he had a headache and so was a bit dazed. It was here during the discussion thatfhe noticed his clock and bureau in Henry’s room. He got annoyed and asked for the reason. Then Mrs. Jordan informed him that Mrs. Slater was perhaps deceiving everybody by trying to steal the clock and the bureau before anybody arrived. Grandfather got angry. He told them that he had decided to change his will. He further added that he would give away everything to somebody who cared for him and not his daughters who took him to be a burden. The sisters were unable to digest this. They apologised but grandfather didn’t listen to them. Then he told them his plans that he was going to marry Mrs. John Shorrocks, the keeper of ‘Ring-O-Bells’ and alter his will in her name. He invited them to attend his marriage on Monday, twelve o’clock at St. Philip’s Church and left the house.

Extract Based Questions (3 marks each)

Read the extracts given below and briefly answer the questions that follow:

Q. 1. “It didn’t take you long to start dividing my things between you.” (Board 2014, Set 8L1922Q)
(a) Who speaks these words and to whom ?
(b) What things are being referred to ?
(c) Why did they start dividing the things ?
Ans. (a) These words are spoken by Abel Merry weather to his family members.
(b) He is referring to the bureau, clock, slippers, etc.
(c) They started dividing the things because they presumed Abel to be dead.

Q. 2. ‘Are we pinching it before Aunt Elizabeth comes ?’ (Board Term-I 2013, Set 5007)
(a) Who is asking this question and to whom ?
(b) What has happened before this incident ?
(c) What reaction of the speaker is evident from the given lines ?
Ans. (a) Victoria is asking her parents.
(b) The parents have brought down the bureau from the grandfather’s room.
(c) The girl understands that her parents are stealing the bureau (CBSE Marking Scheme, 2014)

Q. 3. They’ll stretch, won’t they ? I am not going to have them wasted.
(a) What is they ?
(b) What does the speaker want the listener to do ? Why ?
(c) What will happen when ‘They’ will stretch ? (Board Term-I 2013, Set 8SRR)
Ans. (a) Abel Merryweather’s slippers.
(b) She wants him to wear them as they are new and his own are old and worn out.
(c) The slippers are small for Henry. She says they will stretch once he starts wearing them.
(CBSE Marking Scheme, 2014)

Q. 4. “Mrs. Slater : I’m not satisfied but it’s the best we can do till our new black’s ready and Ben and Elizabeth will never have thought about mourning yet, so we’ll outshine them there.
(a) What is Mrs. Slater dissatisfied with ?
(b) What is the reference to ‘new black’ and why is it required ?
(c) What does her speech reveal about her character ? (Board Term-12011, Set 44)
Ans. (a) She is not satisfied with her mourning dress yet.
(b) She needs a new mourning dress as her father has died.
(c) She is a hypocrite, competes with her sister and doesn’t have any regret of her father’s death.

Q. 5. “Are we pinching it before Elizabeth comes ?” (Board Term-12011, Set 43)
(a) What does ‘it’ refer to here ?
(b) How does Victoria conclude that her parents are pinching ‘it’?
(c) Mention two reasons that Mrs. Slater gives for her action.
Ans. (a) It refers to the bureau here. Henry tells Victoria that he and his wife are going to bring the grandfather’s bureau down.
(b) Victoria concludes because they want to bring it down before Aunt Elizabeth comes.
(c) She tells them that she has always wanted to havejthe bureau after grandfather’s death. She tells them that
‘Elizabeth is sharp and will drive a hard bargain.’

Q. 6. That was a near thing. Open the door, Victoria. Now, Henry, get your coat on. (She helps him).
(Board Term-12011, Set 61)
(a) What was a near thing ?
(b) Why has Victoria been asked to open the door ?
(c) Why has Henry been asked to wear a coat ?
Ans. (a) The speaker and her husband being caught in the act of stealing.
(b) To usher in her aunt and uncle.
(c) Because it is black in colour and it would make him appear to be in mourning.

Q. 7. No, for myself it’s such a relief to get into the black. And now perhaps you’ll tell us all about it. What did the
doctor say ? (Board Term-12011, Set 41)
(a) What is a great relief for the speaker ?
(b) What does the speaker mean by telling us all about it ?
(c) Who is the speaker of these lines ?
Ans. (a) To get into the black mourning dress is a relief.
(b) They want to know how the old man died.
(c) Elizabeth or Mrs. Jordan.

Q. 8. Chut! Be quiet! It’s ours now. Come Henry, lift your end.
(a) Identify the speaker.
(b) Why is the speaker insisting on being quiet ?
(c) What ‘our now’ is being talked about ?
Ans. (a) Mrs. Slater. .
(b) As they are stealing grandpa’s bureau before others come.
(c) The bureau of grandpa.

Q. 9. “Victoria, if that’s your aunt and uncle you’re not to open the door.”
(a) Whose instructions are these for Victoria ?
(b) Why should her aunt and uncle not be allowed ?
(c) What was being done in their absence ? (Board Term-12011, Set 50)
Ans. (a) Amelia, her mother.
(b) As they are shifting the bureau containing a locked desk and they don’t want to be caught red-handed.
(c) Both Amelia and Henry were in grandfather’s room shifting an old-fashioned bureau.

Q. 10. “I don’t call that delicate, stepping into a dead man’s shoes in such haste.” (Board Term-12011, Set 38)
(a) Who is the speaker ?
(b) When does the speaker say these words ?
(c) What does the speaker mean by ‘stepping into a dead man’s shoes’ ?
Ans. (a) Mrs. Jordan. 1/2
(b) When she notices Henry wearing grandfather’s slippers.
(c) Stepping into a dead man’s shoes is to take the position of the dead man although one might not be capable
of it. She remarked that he was in a hurry to step into the grandfather’s shoes and didn’t even wait for his funeral. 1+1/2

Q. 11. No, if I’m not to have him you shan’t either. We quarrelled because Elizabeth said she wouldn’t take you off
our hands at any price. She said she’d had enough of you to last a life time, and we’d got to keep you.
(Board Term-12011, Set 42)
(a) Who is I ?
(b) Why is there a quarrel ?
(c) Who had got to keep the old man according to the speaker ?
Ans. (a) T stands for Mrs. Slater.
(b) They quarrel over Elizabeth’s attempt not to keep the old man with her at any price.
(c) Mrs. Slater and Henry.

Q. 12. I’ll tell you what I’ve got to do. On Monday next I’ve got to do three things.
(a) These words are spoken by to..’
(b) The listeners’ reaction to the speaker’s declaration is that they are
(c) has made the speaker decide on three things. (Board Term-12011, Set 14)
Ans. (a) Abel; his family.
(b) taken aback.
(c) Family’s negligent attitude towards the speaker.

Q. 13. ‘She’s never been here since grandfather bought it. If it was only down here instead of in his room, she’d
never guess it wasn’t our own.
(a) These words are said by
(b) The word ‘it’ referred to here is
(c) The speaker is planning to (Board Term-12011, Set 12)
Ans. (a) Amelia. .
(b) the bureau.
(c) bring the bureau down.

Q. 14. “He’s done it on purpose, just to annoy us”.
(a) Who is the speaker ?
(b) Who is ‘He’ ?
(c) What has he done to annoy the others ? (Board Term-12011, Set 40)
Ans. (a) Mrs. Jordan.
(b) Grandfather – Abel Merryweather.
(c) He had not paid the premium – instead had gone to a public house.

Q. 15.1 may be wrong. But I don’t think father will fancy living on with you after what’s happened today.
(a) Who speaks the above lines ?
(b) What is the argument about in the conversation ?
(c) Why wouldn’t father want to stay with the listener ?
Ans. (a) Mrs. Jordan.
(b) The argument is over the place where Mr. Abel Merryweather should be staying.
(c) Mrs. Slater had behaved in a very mercenary manner and she wanted to take over her father’s belongings as
soon as he died.

Short Answer Type Questions (2 marks each)

Q. 1. What are the three things that grandfather plans to do on next Monday ?
(Board 2014, Set PRE2N18,8L1922Q, NCT 2014,2013 Set 8SRR)
Ans. (i) To go to the lawyer to alter his will.
(ii) Pay insurance premium
(iii) Get married at St. Phillips church to Mrs. Shorrocks (CBSE Marking Scheme, 2014)

Detailed Answer:
Grandfather plans to do three things on next Monday. He decides to consult a lawyer and alter his will in favour of Mrs. John Shorrocks. Secondly he decides to marry Mrs. Shorrocks and third he has to pay his insurance premium which is due.

Q. 2. Justify the title ‘The Dear Departed’. (Board 2014, Set PRE2N18, 2012 Set 64)
Ans. (i) The play revolves around the father. Fathers are loved by their children, but here he is not dear/truly loved by them as they are more interested in dividing up his belongings and are upset when they are informed that he is getting married and that they will not inherit.
(ii) The father has not departed, they presume he is dead without checking or calling a doctor.

Q. 3. Why did the two sisters fight with each other ? (Board 2014)
Ans. Grandfather decided that in his new will, he would leave all his money and things to the person he would be living with when he died. This led to another spat between the daughters. Since both of them were very keen to get his money and things, they wanted that he should stay with them. (CBSE Marking Scheme, 2014)

Q. 4. Why was black the dress code for the day ? (Board Term-12013, Set 5007)
Ans. Amelia had come to the conclusion that Abel Merryweather had passed away. So, the entire family had gathered to mourn the death of the grandfather. Black is the colour for mourning so they all had wome black.

Q. 5. Why is Mrs. Amelia Slater so edgy and nervous in the beginning of the play ? (Board Term-12013, NWKYS)
Ans. In the beginning of the play, Mrs. Amelia Slater is very edgy and nervous. Actually, she wants to steal grandfather’s bureau as she likes it very much but she wants to shift it to her room before the Jordans come and for that she has to do it quickly. She doesn’t want the Jordans to know about her theft.

Q. 6. Bring out the irony in the title of the play, ‘The Dear Departed’.  (Board Term-12013, Set 7PZ8) (Board Tenn-I 2012, Set 38)
Ans. Grandfather, the departed in this play, was not dear to his daughters and son-in-laws. Though they did not anxiously wait for his death, they actually did not regret even his sudden passing away.

Q. 7. What decision did Abel Merryweather take regarding his will ? What were his future plans for himself ?  (Board Term-12012, Set 49)
Ans. He decided to make a new will and leave all his belongings to whomever he was living with when he dies. First, he would visit his lawyer,to alter his will. Second, he would go to the insurance office and pay his premium. Third, he would marry Mrs. John Shorrocks who kept the ‘Ring-O-Bells’ in Philip’s church.

Q. 8. What does Mrs. Slater want to possess from the grandfather’s room ? What were her plans after his death ?  (Board Term-12012, Set 55)
Ans. Mrs. Slater has her eye on grandfather’s bureau and the clock. She intends to grab her share of her grandfather’s property. She and her sister Mrs. Jordan are after jewellery, insurance, etc.

Q. 9. Mrs. Slater represents a great materialistic character in the play, ‘The Dear Departed’. Give two evidences in support of the statement. (Board Term-12012, Set 59)
Ans. When she is sure about the death of her father, she tries to grab all the essentials of her father first. Then she turns her attention to his insurance policy. She doesn’t want anyone to come there before she takes everything in her possession. She has no sympathy for anyone.

Q. 10. Why does Elizabeth wish to draw up a list of Grandpa’s things ? (Board Term-I 2012, Set 60)
Ans. Both the sisters, being calculative and selfish, did not want to be in any loss. Hence, Elizabeth wanted all the things to be listed so as to be able to get more than her share of inheritance.

Q. 11. Why did Victoria think that the behaviour of her parents was callous ? (Board Term-I 2012, Set 16)
Ans. Victoria thought the behaviour of her parents was callous as after the so-called departure of Grandpa’s soul, they were only bothered about money and other materialistic things.

Q. 12. Briefly describe the character of Victoria in ‘The Dear Departed’. (Board Term-I 2012, Set 18)
Ans. Victoria, the granddaughter, has been depicted as a compassionate and loving character who loved her grandfather and was very upset at the materialistic behaviour of the elders after the so-called death of her grandfather.

Q. 13. In what way is ‘The Dear Departed’ satirical ? Comment on the nature of human beings.
(Board Term-I 2012, Set 21)
Ans. ‘The Dear Departed’ brings out children’s greed; they are more interested in what they will inherit and try to grab a lion’s share. The play shows how children sometimes care more for what they will receive from their parents than for their welfare and happiness.

Q. 14. What change in the grandfather’s will lead to another spat between his two daughters ? Why ?
(Board Term-12011, Set 39)
Ans. Grandfather decided that in his new will, he would leave all his money and things to the person he would be living with when he died. This led to another spat between the daughters. Since both of them were very keen to get his money and things, they wanted that he should stay with them.

Q. 15. Why was the family surprised /shocked to see the grandfather awake ? (Board Term-I 2011, Set 25)
Ans. The family was shocked to see the grandfather alive as all of them wanted to share his belongings which they would not be able to do then.

Q. 16. What was the reason for delay in opening the door when Mr. & Mrs. Jordan came ?
(Board Term-I 2011, Set 28)
Ans. The Slaters wanted to bring the bureau down but did not want the other couple to know about it. So they delayed the opening of the door as at that moment they were in the process of bringing the bureau down.

Q. 17. Why does Mrs. Slater decide to shift the bureau from grandfather’s room before the arrival of the Jordans ? (Textual)
Ans. Abel, the grandfather, is ‘found dead’ in the room by Mrs. Slater. She informs her sister and then starts waiting for her to come for the mourning. At that time it strikes her that grandfather’s things will be divided between the two of them. She loves the grandfather’s bureau. So she decides to shift it to her room before the arrival of Jordans so that she can tell them that the bureau is their and not grandfather’s. That way she will be the sole owner of it.

Q. 18. Ben appreciates grandfather saying ‘It is a good thing he did’ later he calls him a ‘drunken old beggar’, why does he change his opinion about her grandfather ?
Ans. Ben changes his opinion about grandfather and calls him a ‘drunken old beggar’ later because he realises that he has not paid his insurance premiums and so they will not get any benefit of money from his insurance.

Long Answer Type Questions (4 marks each)

Q. 1. Victoria Slater is truly attached to her grandfather. She is confused by the behaviour of the elders at home, their attitude towards the old man.
As Victoria write a diary entry in not more than 150 words, outlining the incidents and the elders’ feelings towards the misfortune. (Board Term-I 2012, Set 39)
Ans. 28 February, 20xx
Tuesday •
10 pm.
Dear Diary
I am quite confused by the behaviour of the elders towards my grandfather. As soon as they found him to be dead, it was as if mother was in a hurry to divide Grandpa’s belongings. She informed aunt Elizabeth who arrived alongwith uncle. To my shock, none of them were feeling sad about the departed soul. Rather they started fighting for Grandpa’s properties. Is this what we call love and affection ? Bureau, grandpa’s slippers and many other things were gaining priority at that moment. My mother and aunt forgot that their father was dead. They were being so materialistic. It was a terrible experience. Thank God! Grandpa is still alive. Now I wonder would they accept if I pay them back in the same coin.
Victoria

Q. 2. You are Abel Merryweather. Express your ideas/feelings after you wake up and come to know about your daughters’ feelings, greed and intentions in the form of a letter to your friend. (Board Term-I 2012, Set 30)
Ans. 3 March, Thursday 10 p.m.
Dear John
After an unbelievable experience of watching the selfishness of my family members, I have made my final decision. Let me first narrate you the incidents that led to this decision. One day I woke up only to find them fighting for my property. Both my daughters and son-in-laws were discussing this matter. They were being blunt and impolite. I saw them in their true colours that day. They were outdoing each other in considering me as a burden for them. They made me realize that they had only been tolerating me for five long years. Though all of them were in black mourning dress it never appeared that they were really sad. All of them were greedy, impolite, insensitive, dominating and what not. It was only my granddaughter who was an exception. So I’ve decided to marry Mrs. Shorrocks who seems to be quite humane. This was a horrible experience of my life which I wanted to share with you.
Abel

Q. 3. How is hypocrisy of the two sisters brought out in the play, ‘The Dear Departed’ ? (Board Term-12012, Set 29)
Ans. The two sisters in the play lived by double standards. Each of them tried to surpass the other. Amelia tried to . steal the bureau before Elizabeth’s arrival whereas Elizabeth was late because she wanted to reach there in mourning dress. She was in no hurry to reach her father’s house even after hearing the news of his death. Both of them laid more stress on getting materialistic gains from Abel’s death as Amelia wanted to steal the clock whereas Elizabeth wanted grandfather’s watch. Their hypocrisy reached its height when at tea, they discussed about newspaper announcement even before confirming his death. But when Abel came down, both of them were shocked. Further they got a terrible blow when their father announced his marriage to Mrs. Shorrocks and the change of his will.

Value Based Question (4 marks)

Q. 1. You are Victoria and you are really angry and disturbed at the way your parents, uncle and aunt have behaved with your grandfather. Express your thoughts and feelings about the value of the love of grandparents in a person’s life in the form of a diary entry in about 150 words.
Ans. Thursday
27 April, 2014 9:30 p.m.
Dear Diary
I am very upset and disappointed today. I was informed by my parents in the morning that my grandfather is dead. It was a terrible news. I was shocked as it was an unexpected news. But more shocking was the behaviour of my parents especially my mother. She turned out to be a materialistic lady who was more concerned about the bureau and the clock in grandfather’s room rather than the dead grandfather. I had never thought that my parents, uncle and aunt are greedy. Today I found that each one of them was interested in benefits that they could get after grandfather’s death rather than the old man himself. I am disillusioned by their materialistic attitude. Why don’t they realise the importance of fatherly affection and love ? I love my grandfather and thank God that he is not dead. I always look towards him whenever I’m troubled. His experience and knowledge always helps me come out smoothly from my problems. I hope ma, pa and others will soon understand the value of parents’ love and give grandpa his due regard and respect in the future.
Victoria

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