PROSE uses language not organized into a metrical pattern as in poetry. It is the usual medium of fiction.

FICTION is a narrative in prose. It relies more on imagination and creativity. It is invented and is not an account of events that have actually happened. It is sometimes used as a synonym for the novel. Fiction in prose includes short stories, fables, novellas, novels etc.

SHORT STORY is a brief work of prose fiction, which can be read at one sitting from half an hour to two hours. It is microcosmic – showcases the world in a small canvas.

FABLE is one of the earliest and simplest forms of fiction. Fable conveys a moral lesson. Aesop, a Greek slave, was the earliest person who practised this form. He introduced the ‘beast fable’ – animals are the major characters. George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a satiric fable. It makes use of the beast fable to satirize the totalitarian state.

NOVELLA is a literary genre of fiction shorter than a full length novel but longer than a short story.

NOVEL is a long narrative which describes fictional characters and events usually in the form of a sequential story.

ROMANCE is an umbrella term that includes the medieval romances, Gothic novels and novels that focus on romantic relationships between people. The adjective ‘romance’ refers to languages like French, Italian and Spanish which were derived from Latin. Later it became associated with narratives of ideal love and chivalric adventures. The features of Medieval Romance are: (1) idealizes chivalry (2) idealizes the hero-knight’s love for his lady (3) women idealized and held in high regard (4) courtly manners and unrelenting pursuit of a lady’s love (5)  abounds in questing knights, damsels in distress, wizards, magic spells and tournaments. The main themes were matter of France (stories of Charlemagne) & matter of Britain (King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table); example – Philip Sidney’s Arcadia. Romance is now considered to be a kind of novel dealing with adventures in exotic places or eulogizing pastoral life.

PICARESQUE NOVEL The term picaresque is derived from the Spanish term ‘picaro’ meaning ‘rogue’ / ‘a scoundrel of low birth, at war with society’; its English translation is ‘picaroon’. Picaresque is an episodic narrative, popular in 16th century Spain, which satirises the individual and the society it depicts. It is the voice of the beggars and vagabonds who abounded 16th century Spain and gave an outsider’s perspective on society.  Fielding’s Tom Jones is an English picaresque novel. Later the picaro became the first person narrator as in Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders; it also had an abrupt ending — the picaro going either to the galleys or to America to start a new life. The picaroons were usually the servants of tyrannical masters. The picaroons are rich in experience through their adventures. Their irrepressible independence is juxtaposed with society’s hostility towards them. Examples of modern picaresque novels are Joyce Cary’s The Horse’s Mouth and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man.

AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL is a form of fiction using auto-fiction techniques / the merging of autobiographical and fictive elements. Names and locations are often changed and events re-created for artistic purposes. But the story resembles that of the author’s life. The protagonist is modelled after the author and the plot mirrors events in his life and depicts intense, private experiences like war, family conflict etc. Example: Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Autobiographical writing includes memoirs, letters, and diaries. From Dr.Johnson in the 18th century till the end of the 20th century fiction showed a growing intimacy between experience and invention. For African and Afro-American writers like Achebe, Soyinka and Baldwin this genre was a means of asserting their identity. The late 20th century saw the increasing presence of elements of life-writing in both fiction and non- fiction.

EPISTOLARY NOVELS were popular in the 17th &18th centuries. This narrative is conveyed entirely through the medium of letters / journal entries of one /more of the characters. Samuel Richardson was the master of epistolary novel. His Pamela is the earliest form of this novel. Epistolary novel presents an intimate view of the character’s thoughts and feelings. The presentation of events from several points of view lends the story its verisimilitude. Example of an epistolary novel is Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The epistolary novel is the forerunner of the modern psychological novel.

HISTORICAL NOVEL is a form of fictional narrative which reconstructs history and recreates it imaginatively. It depicts a specific historical period and the manners and beliefs
specific to that period. It is characterized by the presence of historical characters, protagonists or minor characters. Public and private events are also taken as subject matter. Sir Walter Scott (Waverley novels), Victor Hugo (Notre Dame de Paris), Charles Dickens (A Tale of Two Cities), Margaret Mitchell (Gone with the Wind) are some of the greatest novels of this genre.

GOTHIC NOVEL gets its title from the term ‘Goths’, a warring European tribe. The term is also used to refer to a ‘monstrous, barbaric disorderly style’ in art. Later the term came to be used to describe fiction having a prevailing atmosphere of terror and associated with mystery and intrigue surrounding the supernatural and the unknown. The vogue was initiated in England by Horace Walpole’s Castle of Otranto. Its heyday was the period from 1760 to 1830. Dilapidated medieval castle or monastery with subterranean passages, hidden panels, trap doors, bleeding statues, haunted castles / homes, family curses, madness, death and decay, ghosts and vampires comprise the setting of a gothic novel. These novels which are set in grotesque, claustrophobic terrains not necessarily medieval are also termed gothic. Example: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. The genre continues to be popular.

BILDUNGSROMAN/ NOVEL OF FORMATION/ ‘COMING-OF-AGE’ NOVEL focuses on the psychological and moral growth of its protagonist from youth to adulthood. It originated in Germany in the 18th century and is now one of the major narrative genres in European and Anglo-American literature. These novels start with a loss/tragedy that disturbs the protagonist emotionally. He sets off on a journey to fill that vacuum, and gains maturity gradually and with difficulty. The protagonist’s conflict with the values of society is the common plot of such novels. Finally he accepts those values and is accepted by society. Example: Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird.

DETECTIVE FICTION is a sub-genre of crime fiction and mystery fiction. It presents a mysterious event/crime, often murder, the solution is concealed from the reader until a detective’s successful investigation reveals it. Edgar Allan Poe gave the start to this form in the 19th century. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot and Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason are the immortal detectives. CRIME NOVEL focusing on the criminal and the psychological working of the protagonist and the POLICE NOVEL focusing on the police detective are the later varieties of detective fiction.

UTOPIAN NOVEL: The term ‘Utopian’ implying  ‘no place’ / ‘nowhere’ is derived from the Greek ‘ou’ which means ‘not’ and ‘topos’ meaning ‘place’.  Utopian fiction critiques existing society by presenting an ideal society. Example:  Sir Thomas More’s work Utopia. It depicts an ideal place / state with no war, poverty and inequality. It portrays a safe environment, which ensures health care and access to education.

DYSTOPIA NOVEL – the term dystopian is from ‘dys’= bad, difficult > a world where nothing is perfect. Dystopian fiction depicts a state controlled by an oppressive government, where free thinking is banned, and propaganda controls people’s minds. It also portrays a nightmarish/unpleasant vision of the future.

SCIENCE FICTION/ SF/ SCI-FI: is a genre dealing with the impact of actual/imagined science upon society/individuals and imaginative concepts like space travel, time travel, extra-terrestrial life, futuristic themes related to science and technology. It includes space travel, time travel, alien beings, unknown inventions that could become reality. The plot creates situations different from those of both the present day and the known past. It has a human element too. It explains the effect new scientific developments and new discoveries will have on us in the future. Examples: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World; Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy.

SATIRE exposes, ridicules & criticizes the folly, vice and corruption of an individual / institution / society. It is entertaining and censorious at the same time; it can also be harsh or genial. It uses fictional characters, which stand for real people, to expose & condemn their corruption and intends to improve humanity by criticizing its follies and foibles.  Eg: George Orwell’s Animal Farm

REALISTIC FICTION attempts to portray the world as it is. It contains no fantasy, no supernatural elements.  It usually depicts the everyday life of ordinary people with its joys, sorrows, successes and failures. The plots highlight social or personal events or issues such as falling in love, marriage, finding a job, divorce, alcoholism, etc. Characters seem like real people with real issues solved in a realistic way. Their language and actions are appropriate for the setting.  Eg: a story about a gang in a city (urban setting) should use appropriate slang, and colloquial forms of the language that reflect the characters’ social class, culture and setting.  Realistic fiction does not dictate specific moral and ethical beliefs. It has a beginning, & a middle event leading to a definite ending.  Eg: R.K.Narayan’s Malgudi Days.

DIARY is a form of autobiographical writing, a regularly kept record of the diarist’s daily activities and reflections. A diary is a safe space to discuss how they feel, without worrying about other people’s opinions. It is written primarily for the writer’s use alone; so the diary has a frankness that is unlike writing done for publication. Diary writing can be therapeutic and it is a great way to relieve stress. If something worries us , getting it down on paper is a wonderful way to get it off our chest and off our mind.

TRAVEL WRITING is a form of creative nonfiction in which the narrator’s encounters with foreign places serve as the dominant subject. It is writing about places, persons, and things in other places–also writing about how to travel, when to travel, and advice on traveling–all with the reader in mind. It’s about relaying your travel experiences to others so that they may emulate them or at the very least not make the same mistakes you did. It is also called travel literature. Essentially, it aims to give a vicarious experience to the reader, both to enable understanding of other places and cultures and also to encourage the reader to follow the author’s footsteps.

Five main elements go into the making of fiction. They are:

Plot – it is the sequential order of incidents in a story. It comprises five parts. First and foremost is the Exposition which reveals the setting, introduces the main characters, and presents the conflict. There are different types of conflict – (a) person vs self; (b) person vs person; (c) person vs society; (d) person vs Nature; (e) person vs machine/technology. This is followed by the Rising Action / Complications. The action progresses sequentially, step by step, and the characters attempt to resolve conflicts/problems. The Climax is the turning point of the narrative; it reveals the process for solving the conflicts; decisions are made now. The Falling Action shows the action that works out the decision arrived at. The End / Conclusion does not introduce new characters / incidents; it resolves the conflicts, ties up loose ends, and brings the story to a close.

Character – the term character is the name of a literary genre inaugurated by the Greek author, Theophrastus; it presents a short, witty sketch of a distinctive type of person – the ‘stock characters’ like the wicked stepmother, the jealous husband and the old miser.
Characters are the persons represented in a narrative / dramatic work. Their dialogue and action reveal their moral, intellectual and emotional qualities. The Protagonist / hero/ heroine is the central character whose actions form the basis of the plot. The Antagonist is the character  who opposes the protagonist and creates obstacles for him / her. E. M. Forster distinguishes between two kinds of characters :– (a) Flat characters – built around a single quality, simple and unchanging and are also minor figures; (b) Round characters – complex, dynamic (subject to development), undergo rapid changes throughout the story. Traditional fiction gives physical description of characters whereas Modern / Postmodern fiction focuses on the state of mind of the characters.

Theme is the significant / salient idea that emerges from a literary work / a topic recurring in a no of literary works. The subject of a work is described concretely in terms of its action (the adventures of a newcomer in a big city); its theme / themes will be described in more abstract terms (eg: love, betrayal, revenge). The theme of a work may be directly stated like in a fable; or it emerges indirectly through the recurrence of symbols and images (eg :the line ‘Big Brother’ is watching you’ in Orwell’s 1984).

POINT OF VIEW – the position from which the story is presented.

First-person narrative/point of view or the ‘I /we’ perspective narrator. It recollects his/her own part in the events related either as a witness of the action/ as an important participant in it. It is restricted to his / her partial knowledge and experience on access to other characters’ thoughts;

Second-person narrative/ point of view addressed to someone; referred to as ‘you’; very rare.

Third-person / omniscient narrator/ an all-knowing narrator/he, she it; has no bias or preferences. It has full knowledge of all the characters and situations and shows an unrestricted knowledge of the story’s events from outside. So it is the most objective and trustworthy viewpoint.

Setting / Milieu is the space in which a story takes place. It can be : (a) physical, that is, the geographical location where the story happens; eg: the real places like the city of London in Dickens’ novels or imaginary locales like R.K. Narayan’s ‘Malgudi.’(b) temporal, that is, chronological or historical period; time of day, year; weather conditions, rainy, sunny, stormy. (c) social which evokes a particular atmosphere and has a distinct language eg: a novel set among miners. Social phenomena – war, revolution – also form the backdrop of the story. Setting enhances the emotional appeal of the story eg: the eerie atmosphere in Gothic fiction.

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS is a phrase used by William James to describe the unbroken flow of perceptions, thoughts and feelings in the waking mind. Later the term was
applied to the literary technique of representing the continuous flow of a character’s mental process – sense perceptions, conscious and half-conscious thoughts, memories, expectations and feelings – often by using continuous unpunctuated sentences. The term is often used as a synonym for the term interior monologue. It is an important device of modernist fiction especially psychological novel. Dorothy Richardson pioneered the technique which was later developed by James Joyce (Ulysses) and Virginia Woolf (Mrs Dalloway).

META FICTION /SELF-CONSCIOUS NOVEL is fiction about fiction, openly comments on its own fictional status. Attention is directed to the process of fictive composition. It is a novel about a novelist writing a novel; the protagonist shares the name of the creator and each book has the same title. Example: Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook & John Fowles’s  The French Lieutenant’s Woman.

Essay 1: Francis Bacon’s “Of Studies”

Francis Bacon transplanted the essay into England and gave the genre an impersonal turn. He entertains readers with ‘counsels, civil and moral.’ These counsels are conveyed in short, crisp sentences that read like aphorisms. “Of Studies” is one of Bacon’s most popular essays. In it he gives sound ideas about the uses and limitations of studies, the proper ways of studying and utilizing the knowledge gained from books and the remedies that studies can provide for mental defects.

Study of books is useful in three aspects. It gives pleasure, it has an ornamental value and it increases a person’s practical ability. Books delight a man in his hours of leisure when he has no company and is on his own. The illustrations, quotations and anecdotes he gets from books add a sparkle and charm to his conversation. He also develops the ability to make accurate judgements in his day-to-day affairs and manages them well. Experienced men are able to deal with particular matters as they come along. But the planning of an overall strategy can be done only by a person who has gained knowledge from extensive reading. All the same, the pursuit of book-learning must be in moderation. Spending too much time in reading makes a person lazy. The excessive use of learning to garnish his conversation will make a person a pedant. A person who decides everything on the basis of the knowledge gained from books shows the eccentricity of a scholar.

Studies and practical experience go hand in hand. Study of books makes good the natural deficiencies of a person. Bacon compares natural abilities with a natural plant; just as a plant left to nature needs to be trimmed, a man’s natural abilities are to be shaped by the study of books. The knowledge obtained from books will be useful only with the help of the insight gained from practical experience.

It is essential to have the right attitude to reading. We should not read only to contradict others; nor should we believe in everything we read. Instead we should critically consider the significance of what we have read. All books need not be read with the same thoroughness. Some books can be read quickly while only parts of some books are worth reading. But the really valuable books should be read carefully and with full attention. We may read only the summary of those books that deal with unimportant topics.

Bacon quotes the Roman poet Ovid’s statement that studies pass into character to foreground the fact that reading enriches a person’s mind. Reading fills a person’s mind with new thoughts and ideas and develops his personality. Discussions make him alert and quick- witted and he is never at a loss for words. The habit of taking down notes makes a person systematic and precise in his thought and expression.

Different disciplines influence a person in different ways. For example, history makes a person wise; poetry makes him imaginative, philosophy makes him profound and logic and rhetoric make him able to contend. The discipline we choose for study will subtly influence our character. Just as deficiencies of the body can be cured by physical exercise, mental faculties can be improved by studies. For example, mathematics strengthens the powers of concentration. Medieval philosophy sharpens a person’s discrimination. Legal knowledge enables a man to examine a case carefully and find suitable prior examples. Thus there is a solution to every defect of man.

In his characteristic aphoristic style, Bacon has expressed his ideas drawing comparisons the everyday and familiar experiences of life making his essay the storehouse of infinite riches in a little room.

Essay 2: Joseph Addison’s “Sir Roger at the Assizes”

Addison published the periodical The Spectator in collaboration with his friend Richard Steele. In The Spectator Addison adopted the persona of the fictional Mr. Spectator, to givehis observations on the members of the Spectator Club. The best known of them is Sir Roger de Coverley who is loved and respected by everyone. In his essays Addison has presented Sir Roger in different contexts in order to bring out the traits in his character that endear him to everyone. The essay “Sir Roger at the Assizes” emphasizes the fact that a man enjoys peace of mind when his conscience is clear and when his community appreciates his conduct by giving an account of Sir Roger at a country sessions court. The portrait of Sir Roger is completed with the episode at the inn which exposes a slightly ridiculous aspect of Sir Roger’s character.

The narrator states that Sir Roger’s kindness and pleasing behaviour endeared him to his neighbours. He is not only at peace within himself but is also loved and respected by the world at large. Sir Roger has the distinction of being a man whose conscience is clear and who has won the good-will and affection of the public. The narrator then describes the occasion when Sir Roger took him and Will Wimble to attend the country assizes. As they rode they came across two gentlemen. Sir Roger gave the narrator a vivid account of them when Will Wimble and the two men rode a little ahead.

One of them was an honest yeoman (a land-owning farmer) with an annual income of a hundred pounds which brought him within the Game Act and entitled him to hunt hares, partridges and pheasants. He was a good shot and could shoot flying birds. Being a sensible man he would have been a good neighbour but for the fact that he shot down too many partridges for food.

The other man, Tom Touchy, was notorious for his habit of taking legal action against everybody. He even went to the extent of filing a suit against the widow whom Sir Roger had wooed in vain for more than thirty years. He prosecuted two honest men for trespassing and destroying one of his hedges. In the end he had to sell the land the hedge enclosed in order to meet the cost of the lengthy prosecution. His numerous litigations reduced his annual income from eight hundred pounds to thirty pounds; but that did not deter him from further litigation.

Will Wimble and Tom Touchy requested Sir Roger to settle their dispute regarding Wimble’s fishing in the river. Sir Roger assumed a solemn air and told them that ‘much might be said on both sides.’ This verdict which did not pronounce either person guilty, satisfied both of them. By the time Sir Roger and his companions reached the court its proceedings had already begun. Towards the close of the session, Sir Roger made a short and insignificant speech intended merely to impress the narrator and the gathering and not to convey any information.

On their way back they stopped and refreshed themselves at an inn, run by a former servant of Sir Roger. As a mark of respect to his master the innkeeper had painted Sir Roger’s head on the inn’s signpost without Sir Roger’s knowledge. When he came to know of it Sir Roger arranged a painter to alter the features and make the painting resemble a frowning Saracen. The altered painting was shown to them; despite the alterations it still resembled Sir Roger. When Sir Roger asked the narrator to tell him whether or not the monstrous painting looked like him, the narrator, adopting Sir Roger’s diplomacy, replied: ‘much might be said on both sides.’

Addison deserves credit for creating Sir Roger de Coverley, the epitome of a simple, whimsical, compassionate and charitable gentleman whose popularity has stood the test of time.

Essay 3: John Ruskin’s “On Books and Reading”

John Ruskin was a leading art critic of the Victorian era. He wrote on a wide range of subjects — architecture, geology, botany, ornithology, education, political economy and literature. He strongly criticized the evils of capitalism. It is well known that Mahatma Gandhi formulated his principle of ‘sarvodaya’ under the inspiration of Ruskin’s work, Unto this Last. Ruskin’s social thought foresaw modern environmental concerns and popular non- governmental administrative structures. He is credited with the coining of the term ‘pathetic fallacy.’

The essay “On Books and Reading” is a condensed version of his lecture, ‘Of King’s Treasuries’ published in his book, Sesame and Lilies. In his essay Ruskin has focused on cultural values, literature, public education and the practice of reading. He makes a distinction between valuable and useless books and stresses the importance of reading in the shaping of a person’s personality.

At the outset Ruskin states that since our life is short and time so precious we cannot waste time reading useless books. We should read only the best books which he insists should be clearly printed on the best paper, strongly bound and should be at an affordable price. He urges all young men to build a library in their homes and to replenish it with a steadily increasing stock of books and also to inculcate the habit of reading in their children.

Ruskin’s connection with schools for different classes of youth brought him into contact with parents who wanted him to suggest the kind of education that would enable their children to  advance in life. He believes that they should realize that getting a genuine education itself is a sign of success and that it can be achieved by reading good books.

In Ruskin’s view, a book is essentially a written thing; it is a permanent record of a writer’s insight from his experience in life — his most valuable thoughts. He feels that we should learn from the writer and not waste our time finding echoes of our thoughts in the writer’s work. A writer’s most profound thoughts are not expressed simply and directly but indirectly in parables. We have to go deep into it to get at its meaning. His wisdom is like precious gold that Nature hides in fissures under the earth. People have to dif deep in order to extract gold from the mines. Likewise, if the reader wants to understand the meaning hidden in a good book he will have to probe into it using his intellect and imagination.

Ruskin holds the view that a thorough reading involves paying attention to every letter in the text; he remarks that that is why a scholar is called a ‘man of letters.’ Reading just ten pages of a book thoroughly makes a person ‘literate’ and it is more useful than reading many books superficially which makes the reader an ‘illiterate’ or uneducated person. A well educated person may not know many languages and may have read only very few books. But he knows precisely the correct pronunciation of every word in the in the language he knows. A person might know several languages; but a single spoken sentence will reveal the level of his education. Ruskin stresses the fact that it is worthwhile to read a few books thoroughly rather than skimming through a large number of books. He believes that a good reader should devote time to find out the origin, history and value of every word he uses; he should also learn other languages, use dictionaries and read the works of noted scholars like Max Muller. It is undoubtedly hard work; but the person who undertakes it reaps rich benefits.

Good reading enables us to enter not only into the thoughts of great authors, but also into their hearts. Despite the outcries against passion, the truth is that men are distinguished from beasts by their ability to feel and imagine, and by their sensibilities. Ruskin looks upon insensitivity as the essence of vulgarity. A ‘vulgar’ person is incapable of sympathy; he lacks finesse and the god given passion of humanity. He is capable of every sort of bestial crime without horror and without pity.

So we read great authors to discover the truth and to refine ourselves. Just as we discipline and test our knowledge, we have to learn to control our passions. We have to realize that the feelings of wonder and curiosity are base or noble according to the meanness or grandeur of their objects. Unfortunately people seem more interested in cheap sensation today.

Ruskin’s insightful views on reading provide readers with ample food for thought; they also foreground the ennobling influence of books on us.

Essay 4: Charles Lamb’s “Dream Children”

Charles Lamb continued the tradition of the familiar essay, set by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele, and characterized by the informal tone of narration and the expression of the writer’s personality. He dealt with everyday topics with a reassuring tone of intimacy. Many of his essays are autobiographical pieces which provide a substantial account of a large part of his life. Dream Children is one of the most autobiographical of his essays in which he invokes actual facts about his boyhood, his brother John Lamb and also about his grandmother, Mrs. Field.

In the essay, Lamb narrates a daydream in which he amuses his imaginary children, John and Alice with stories about their great-grandmother, Mrs. Field. She was the caretaker of the mansion of a rich nobleman in Norfolk. This mansion was believed to be the location of the cruel murder of the children narrated in the ballad of the Children of the Wood. The story of the murder was carved out in wood on the chimney-piece which hung in the great hall. But later, it was pulled down by a foolish person and replaced by a marble piece without the rich history of the earlier one. When the narrator’s daughter Alice heard this she made an expression of annoyance which resembled that of her mother. Mrs. Field was a very pious and god-fearing lady who was loved and respected by everybody. When she died both the poor and the rich neighbours attended her funeral. In her youth she was a tall, upright, graceful person and also the best dancer in the county. Alice was impressed to hear this and unconsciously moved her right foot. Unfortunately, she was afflicted with cancer which put an end to her dancing. It bowed her down with pain but her good spirits did not flag. Mrs. Field used to sleep alone in the big mansion without any fear, though she believed that the children in the ballad haunted it and could be seen climbing up and down the staircase at midnight.

Lamb told the children that as a boy he used to visit the mansion during his holidays. He used to gaze at the statues of the twelve Caesars that adorned the room or watched the fish in the pond. At times he would stroll among the fruit trees in the garden but would never pluck a fruit because it was forbidden. At this John quietly replaced the grapes he had taken from the plate in front.

Mrs. Field was fond of all her grandchildren but she had a special love for their uncle John because he was handsome, smart and brave. He was a good rider and hunter. John was very kind to Lamb and once, when Lamb had hurt his foot, John used to carry him on his shoulders. In later life John also became lame-footed; but Lamb remembered with regret that he did not show any sympathy or consideration when John was impatient and in pain. Lamb also recalled how he missed his brother’s kindness, even his crossness when he died and realized how much he had loved John. Alice and John became very upset when they heard about John’s death and began crying. They asked their father to tell them about their mother.

Lamb then told them how he had courted Alice W—- for seven long years, sometimes hoping, at other times, despairing. He told them how she had denied his love in her maidenly coyness and as he looked at his daughter he realized, with a start, that Alice was the reincarnation of her mother.

As he stood gazing, the children faded away, receding further and further making all that had happened before nothing but a pleasant reverie and revealing to him the harsh reality. From a great distance, they seemed to tell him that they were not his children but mere apparitions, a dream of what could have been and that the children of Alice called Bartrum father. Lamb woke up and realized that he had fallen asleep in his bachelor arm-chair, with his faithful sister, Bridget nearby.

The essay revives Lamb’s memories of childhood with a tinge of pathos. It also brings out the underlying sadness of his life which could not find fulfillment in love and parenthood.

Essay 5: William Hazlitt’s “On Familiar Style”

William Hazlitt was the foremost literary critic of the early 19th century and has authored many humanistic essays. Hazlitt’s essays deal with a wide variety of subjects in a vigorous and clear style and are both personal and analytical.

Hazlitt explains that a familiar style is plain but not vulgar. It requires precision and purity of expression. It avoids pompous words and irrelevant allusions. It uses the best words in common use and is the language of a person speaks with ease, force and clarity and does not parade his knowledge. The person who uses the plain style steers a middle course between the solemnity of a preacher and the level of the uneducated and vulgar man.

He feels that it is easy to use difficult words and to affect a pompous style but it is difficult to choose the right word to fit the context. He objects to Dr. Samuel Johnson’s style because he uses ‘tall, opaque words,’ and polysyllabic and Latinized words. A truly familiar style uses plain words and popular mods of construction and has universal appeal and has universal appeal. It is not the result of disagreeable associations and so is never vulgar.  Hazlitt also censures words used by small groups of people amongst themselves or those used for private use. The merit of a word lies not in itself but in its appropriate usage. Through the use of correct words the expression must be suitably adapted to the idea so that the writer’s meaning becomes clear. The strength of a book’s binding depends not on the glossiness of the materials but on their fitting in place correctly. Likewise, good style depends not on the length and showiness of the words used, but on their being appropriate to the writer’s intentions.

Hazlitt disapproves of the use of too many obsolete or old-fashioned words but allows for the occasional use of archaisms. He cites Charles Lamb as the single exception. He says that Lamb has so deeply identified himself with earlier writers that even his awkward and old-fashioned style appears natural and spontaneous. He looks upon Lamb’s essays as models of pure idiomatic English. Hazlitt observes that Lamb’s ideas are so radical that they would appear out of place if they were expressed in the prevailing style. He believes that the use of an archaic style neutralizes their impact. He observes that they have the same charm as the work of the renowned Renaissance scholar, Erasmus.

The florid or gaudy style where words are employed to conceal the absence of substance is the antithesis of the familiar style. The gaudy style is characterized by the use of pompous and pedantic expressions and it does not appeal to the heart of the reader.

Essay 6: Robert Lynd’s “Indifference”

Robert Lynd is an accomplished Irish literary and political essayist. He is best known as a literary essayist and Irish nationalist. His essays are distinct in their easy, conversational style. He could write on any topic and find something worthwhile even in apparently trivial subjects. He is the representative of the English familiar essay in the 20th century.

The essay “Indifference” focuses on the universal phenomenon of indifference or lack of interest. It is innate in us and there is no escape from it.

At a casual gathering of Cambridge scholars Lynd asked a brilliant novelist whether he would go to watch the Rugby match between Oxford and Cambridge that was to be held the following week. The novelist was totally unaware of the match and passed on the question to the host. The host, too, was in the dark about the match. Another scholar had heard about some important match that was going to be played somewhere; but he was ignorant of the teams or the game or its venue. Lynd found it odd that these learned scholars who were well- versed in the age old bloody battles in the Greek city states of Athens and Sparta or between Rome and Carthage were indifferent to and unconcerned with the exciting and harmless Rugby match in their neighbourhood. Lynd could pardon a stockbroker’s indifference to a football match but not that of a university scholar who was trained in the humanities.

On later reflection Lynd came to the conclusion that everyone is indifferent to something or the other. Each of us is destined to concentrate on certain things; we can concentrate on them only if we are indifferent to other things. For example, a missionary’s vocation is to convert unbelievers. He cannot afford to be preoccupied with money and so he is indifferent to stock market shares. He has also to be indifferent to worldly pleasures and to cookery books if he is to do justice to his missionary work. Similarly a philosopher, too, is compelled to avoid pleasures which other people value.

Our indifference is a factor that shapes our personality. It is humanly impossible to be interested in everything under the sun. Well-known men like Savonarola (religious reformer), Garibaldi (Italian military leader), Diogenes (Greek philosopher) and Bernard Shaw (Irish dramatist) became what they were by ignoring many things that others prized.

Lynd asserts that we cannot escape from indifference. Nature implanted our indifference in us before we were born. It is an incredible fact that indifference to music is a
fairly common characteristic of the great and the good. Great men like Dr. Johnson, William Morris and Lord Tennyson were insensitive to the charm of music. William Butler Yeats, too, had no ear for music for he was unable to distinguish the national anthem of Great Britain from that of the Irish Free State. Indifference to poetry is another conspicuous characteristic of the human race, even though the genre of poetry is universally acclaimed as the greatest achievement of the human mind.

In his boyhood, Lynd despised anyone who was indifferent to the things he was interested in be it a writer or seaside resort or politics. All the same, he outgrew his dislike for other people’s indifference. The truth is that all of us want other people to share our tastes. Lynd has observed that the gourmet strongly dislikes those who are indifferent to food. Among his friends there are many who are indifferent to birds, others who are indifferent to the sea or to cats or even to their native land. Eventually he has come to the realization that there is not enough room in the human spirit to like everything. It is only natural that if we like something we are bound to dislike certain other things.

Thus in his inimitable style Lynd justifies indifference and comes to terms with this characteristic trait of the human race.

Essay Question: Consider Animal Farm as a political satire.

Satire is a literary form that ridicules the follies of man, his political behaviour and institutions in order to provoke readers into changing their opinion of it. In their attack on human folly, satirists usually imply their own opinions on how the thing being attacked can be remedied. Animal Farm is about a crucial political phenomenon of our time: the rise of the totalitarian state. Orwell was appalled by the evils of autocratic rule in the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, and Spain (which he experienced first-hand), and strongly wanted to protest against it. Animal Farm is his protest against autocracy, despotism, and totalitarianism.

Mr. Jones, the owner of Manor Farm, has not been a very responsible farmer. Since he drinks heavily and neglects his farming chores the animals of Manor Farm have always been miserable. They accept their difficult lives as part of the natural order of things. His careless attitude makes Old Major, the prize-winning Berkshire boar, share his dream with the other animals; he incites them to rise up against Jones. Old Major calls for a meeting of the farm animals in the barn and tells them that the cause of all their suffering is man. With man gone, the animals would enjoy the abundance the land provides and build a new society based on equality. He says that Jones has no concern for the animals—that he uses them until they are no longer productive. He butchers the pigs and drowns the dogs when they get old. Old Major encourages the animals to work for this revolution. He warns them never to become like man and to always treat each other as equals. He also inspires the animals with his song ‘Beasts of England.’ Three nights later, Old Major dies and the pigs undertake the task of preparing the animals for the revolution.

Three young pigs — the intellectual Snowball, the domineering Napoleon and the eloquent Squealer — organize Old Major’s dream of the future into a political philosophy called Animalism. When the drunken Mr Jones fails to feed the animals one night, the animals drive him and his men off the farm. They change the name to “Animal Farm,” and the pigs, who seem to have assumed leadership, write the principles of Animalism, reduced to Seven Commandments, on the barn wall. These are to be the unalterable rules by which the animals will live ever after:

  1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
  • Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
  • No animal shall wear clothes.
  • No animal shall sleep in a bed.
  • No animal shall drink alcohol.
  • No animal shall kill any other animal.
  • All animals are equal.

At first the revolution seems to be a success. Directed and supervised by the pigs, all the animals work hard to bring in the harvest. But the pigs treat themselves specially; they remain the supervisors, doing no physical labour, and they take extra food for themselves instead of sharing with the others. They change the commandments to suit their own desires. Napoleon and Snowball vie with each other for leadership. Meanwhile Jones, with the aid of his neighbours, tries to retake the farm. They are driven off at the “Battle of the Cowshed” by the military tactics of Snowball and the strength of Boxer. Both are decorated as heroes for their roles in the victory.

After the battle, the rivalry between Napoleon and Snowball comes out in the open. Snowball’s plan of building the windmill is declared as ‘nonsense’ by Napoleon. He also chases Snowball out of the farm with the help of his fire dogs. He then puts forth the windmill project as his own and gives orders to the animals to begin the work on the windmill. When a storm blows the windmill down, Napoleon blames the exiled Snowball and condemns him as an enemy. Napoleon exploits the animals’ fear that Jones will return and their fear of his fierce dogs to consolidate his power. He uses his henchman Squealer to lie to the animals and convince them that the rules must be changed to prevent Jones from returning to control the farm. As work on the second windmill begins, Napoleon and the pigs become more and more corrupt. They change the commandments, move into Jones’s house, and drink whisky. Napoleon even kills other animals who dare to stand up to his authority. The second windmill is blown up in an attack by Frederick, a neighbouring farmer, called the Battle of the Windmill against the animals. But Napoleon pronounces this defeat to be a great victory, and work begins on a third attempt to build a windmill. None of the promises of leisure time and comfort come true.  In fact, life grows harder for all of the animals, except the pigs, and food is scarcer. When Boxer, the hardest worker on the farm, is hurt, Napoleon sells him to the horse slaughterer. Squealer convinces the others that Boxer died in the hospital after getting the best treatment.

Reconstruction of the windmill brings about prosperity, but not for all the animals; the pigs are the only beneficiaries. Ironically, the pigs now resemble the humans that they hated. They carry whips and walk upright on their hind legs. They violate and change each of the Seven Commandments. Ultimately, these commandments are erased and replaced with the only rule, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” The novel ends with Napoleon entertaining his human neighbours, Frederick and Pilkington; it is impossible to distinguish the pigs from the men. The name is changed back to “Manor Farm,” and a new level of understanding is reached between pig and man.

One of Orwell’s goals in writing Animal Farm was to portray the Russian (or Bolshevik) Revolution of 1917 as one that resulted in a totalitarian govt. Many of the characters and events parallel those of the Russian Revolution. Manor Farm is a model of Russia, and old Major, Snowball, and Napoleon represent the dominant figures of the Russian Revolution. Mr. Jones is modelled on Tsar Nicholas II (1868-1918), the last Russian  emperor. During his reign, the Russian people experienced terrible poverty and upheaval. Inthe Bolshevik Revolution that followed, Nicholas, like Jones, was removed from his place of rule and then died shortly thereafter.

Old Major is the animal version of V. I. Lenin (1870-1924), the leader of the Bolshevik Party that seized control in the 1917 Revolution.  Old Major outlines the principles of Animalism, a theory holding that all animals are equal and must revolt against their oppressors; whereas Lenin was inspired by Karl Marx’s theory of Communism, which urges the “workers of the world” to unite against their economic oppressors. Lenin was responsible for changing Russia into the U.S.S.R., as old Major is responsible for transforming Manor Farm into Animal Farm. One of Lenin’s allies was Leon Trotsky (1879-1940), another Marxist thinker. His counterpart in Animal Farm is Snowball; Snowball’s plans for the windmill reflect Trotsky’s intellectual character and ideas about the best ways to transform Marx’s theories into practice. Eventually, Trotsky was exiled from the U.S.S.R. and killed by the agents of Joseph Stalin (1979-1953), as Snowball is chased off of the farm by Napoleon, Orwell’s stand-in for Stalin. Like Napoleon, Stalin did not care for debates and ideas. Instead, he valued power for its own sake and by 1927 had assumed complete control of the Communist Party through acts of terror and brutality. Squealer, Napoleon’s henchman, represents the Communist propaganda machinery, especially the servile Soviet Press.

Animal Farm also satirizes politicians, specifically their ability to manipulate others, and their insatiable lust for power. Napoleon is the epitome of a power-hungry individual who masks all his actions with the excuse that they are done for the improvement of the farm. Animal Farm, known at the beginning and the end of the novel as the Manor Farm, symbolizes Russia and the Soviet Union under Communist Party rule. But more generally, Animal Farm stands for any human society whether it is capitalist, socialist, fascist, or communist.

Animal Farm successfully combines the characteristics of three literary forms- the fable, the satire, and the allegory to satirize the process by which a revolution is effected and by which it is afterwards betrayed. As Christopher Hollis has rightly observed: “The lesson of Animal Farm is clearly not merely the corrupting effect of power when exercised by Communists, but the corrupting effect of power when exercised by anybody.”

MAJOR: Old Major is a twelve-year old wise and persuasive Berkshire Boar. He is an idealist and visionary; he shows the animals how their lives are miserable and unhappy under the cruelty of Farmer Jones and inspires them to revolt against him. It is he who provides the political philosophy on which Animal Farm is founded. His philosophy of Animalism is a mixture of Marx and Lenin. Out of his philosophy come the original animal rebellion and Seven Commandments. His dream to establish a utopian society on the farm, a heaven on earth, where the animals live happily in equality, freedom, and plenty does not come true. The flaw in old Major’s thinking is that he places total blame on man for all the animals’ ills. According to him, once they “remove Man from the scene,” then “the root cause of hunger and overwork” will be abolished for ever. Old Major believes that man is capable only of doing harm and that animals are capable only of doing good. He forgets the fact that the desire for power is inherent in all living things. Ironically old Major warns the animals: “Remember also that in fighting against Man, we must not come to resemble him.” Napoleon and the other pigs ignore this warning; by the end of the novel, they completely resemble their human masters. Old Major dies at the end of the first chapter and is buried on the farm. After the animal rebellion, the animals dig up his skull and pay weekly tributes by for a period of time.

SNOWBALL: Snowball is one of the pre-eminent pigs who is a contender for leadership of Animal Farm. He is ‘’a more vivacious pig than Napoleon, quicker in speech and more inventive.’’ He is a genuine revolutionary who is concerned about the general welfare of all the animals. He makes the animals literate so that they can better grasp the principles of Animalism by reading the Seven Commandments he paints on the barn wall. He also reduces the Commandments to a single precept (“Four legs good, two legs bad”) so that even the least intelligent animals can understand the farm’s new philosophy. Snowball proves that he is a good thinker, an efficient military strategist, effective organizer and planner. He shows a great understanding of strategy during the Battle of the Cowshed, when his scheme of operations defeated the attempt made by Jones and his men to recapture the farm. He corrects Mollie’s mistaken ideas during the discussion on Animalism and devises the flag which symbolizes the animals’ hopes. He also organizes various committees and classes, and physically changes the name of Manor Farm to Animal Farm. He dreams of a world of practicality and machines, symbolized by the windmill, which he believes will make life easier for all the animals. But the windmill becomes the bone of contention between him and Napoleon. In the end, Snowball is defeated by Napoleon and sent into exile. Once off the farm, Napoleon makes the exiled pig his scapegoat, blaming him for all the ills on the farm. Snowball is modelled on Trotsky, who was the planner and spokesman of the Russian Revolution.

NAPOLEON: Orwell presents Napoleon as a “fierce-looking” boar “with a reputation for getting his own way.” Throughout the novel, Napoleon’s method of getting his own way involves a combination of propaganda and terror that none of the animals can resist. He is not interested in creating a utopian society for the animals; his only interest is in seizing power for himself. As soon as the revolution is won, Napoleon’s true nature is seen when he seizes the cows’ milk and apples for the pigs. He proves himself to be a schemer when he hides nine puppies and trains them as his band of killer guard dogs. He forces confessions from innocent animals and then has them killed before all the animals’ eyes.

Napoleon is obviously a plotter who knows that he must rid the farm of Snowball, his contender. He outwits Snowball through a power play and quickly sets himself up as the dictatorial ruler of Animal Farm. Then he begins to shower himself with special privileges. He gives himself more food than the other animals, changes the Seven Commandments to meet his own wants and needs, makes all pigs into a special, ruling class, presents himself with titles and medals, and seizes the farmhouse for his own quarters. Napoleon knows that he must divert attention away from what he is doing and uses several different tactics. He forces the animals to work harder than ever. In addition to their normal six-day work week, he insists that they do “voluntary” work on Sunday afternoons. He sets Snowball up as his scapegoat and blames any ill fortune on the farm on him. He holds constant ceremonies and parades in which he is presented as the benevolent ruler. He uses Squealer to constantly spread propaganda that Napoleon is working for the good of all the animals.

Napoleon’s greatest crime, however, is his complete transformation into Jones. By the end of the novel, Napoleon is sleeping in Jones’ bed, eating from Jones’ plate, drinking alcohol, wearing a derby hat, walking on two legs, trading with humans, and sharing a toast with Mr. Pilkington. His final act of propaganda—changing the Seventh Commandment to “ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL / BUT SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS”— reflects his unchallenged belief that he belongs in complete control of the farm. His restoration of the name Manor Farm shows just how much Napoleon has wholly disregarded the words of old Major.

Orwell intended Napoleon to be a reflection of Stalin. Orwell has portrayed in Napoleon a classic example of the modern dictator, corrupted by the absolute power he wields, who is prepared to stoop to the lowest depths of physical cruelty, hypocrisy and deception to gain his political and personal ends.

SQUEALER: Squealer is a small, fat pig with bright eyes and a happy spirit. He is an exceptional speaker and is the pig chosen by Napoleon to be his henchman. Throughout the novel, he serves as Napoleon’s propaganda spokesman.  Squealer has the ability of turning black into white; every time an act of Napoleon’s is questioned by the other animals he is able to convince the animals that Napoleon is only acting in their best interests. For example, after Squealer is questioned about Napoleon’s stealing the milk and apples, he explains that Napoleon and his fellow pigs must take the milk and apples because they “contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig.” He further explains that many pigs “actually dislike milk and apples” and tells the questioning animals, “It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples.” He faithfully executes the commands of his leader. He changes the Commandments to suit the needs of Napoleon, revises the history of Animal Farm to reflect what his leader chooses, constantly warns the common animals that Jones is an ever present threat, and generally keeps the masses under control. He excuses Napoleon’s tyranny and sullies Snowball’s reputation, just as Napoleon desires; he paints an affecting picture of Boxer’s death and convinces the animals that Boxer was taken to a veterinary hospital instead of the knacker’s. He misses no opportunity to inflate ‘’the Leader’s’’ (Napoleon’s) father-image in the eyes of the simple animals. He is an expert in the technique of lying with statistics. At the same time Squealer develops many of his master’s less pleasing character traits: he drinks himself into a stupor, shows complete cowardice during the Battle of the Windmill and becomes fat with over-eating. Squealer is the typical propagandist and sycophant who is always attached to a dictator.

BOXER: Horses are universally prized for their strength, and Boxer is no exception. The six- feet tall Boxer is a devoted citizen of the farm whose incredible strength is a great asset to the rebellion and the farm.  At the Battle of the Cowshed, Boxer proves to be a valuable soldier, knocking a stable-boy unconscious with his mighty hoof.  Nevertheless, he is not bloodthirsty and feels great remorse when he thinks he has killed the boy. He wakes up early in the morning to work on the farm and his personal maxim— “I will work harder”—reveals his devotion to the animals’ cause. He also proves himself to be the most valuable member of the windmill-building team.  Even when he collapses while rebuilding the windmill, his first thoughts are not of himself but of the work. He is not an intelligent animal; he is not able to learn any of the alphabet beyond the letter D. Therefore, he can only think in simple slogans, the second of which (“Napoleon is always right”) reveals his childlike dependence on an all- knowing leader. Though heroic and very faithful to Napoleon all his life, Napoleon has no intention of providing for an old, infirm horse. Even when he is being led to his death at the knacker’s, Boxer needs to be told of his terrible fate by Benjamin and Clover. He becomes wise to Napoleon’s ways too late, and his death is another example of Napoleon’s tyranny. Boxer’s fate symbolizes the position of the ordinary, decent-minded but simple worker under an oppressive totalitarian regime.

BENJAMIN: Benjamin, the donkey, is the oldest animal on the farm. He is bad-tempered, stubborn and cynical. He stubbornly refuses to become enthusiastic about the rebellion; he goes about his work in the same slow way and passes cryptic, cynical remarks like “Donkeys live a long time. None of you has ever seen a dead donkey.”  Benjamin can read as well as any of the pigs but he refuses to do so; he does his duty in the Battle of the Cowshed but refuses to side with either faction over the windmill since, windmill or no windmill, according to him, ‘’ life would go on as it had always gone on — that is, badly’’. But Benjamin is finally moved to action over the treatment meted out to Boxer. Though he does not openly admit it, he is devoted to Boxer; he warns Boxer to take care of his failing health and keeps the flies off him when he is taken ill. He bursts out in a great cry of indignation when Boxer is driven out in the knacker’s van and becomes more morose after Boxer’s death. Benjamin is the only animal on the farm which is not carried away by the fervour of the Rebellion and is not duped by the hypocrisy of the new regime. He symbolizes the more intelligent middle class society.

MR JONES: Mr Jones is the original owner of Manor Farm. He is an alcoholic who had once been a capable farmer but had lost money in a lawsuit and has ‘’taken to drinking more than was good for him’’. He neglects the farm, ill-treats the animals and fails to feed them properly. The animals expel Jones from the farm with his wife and servants. For a while he is content to sit in the Red Lion inn and complain to everyone about the ‘’monstrous injustice’’ he has suffered by being turned out of his own farm by a pack of animals. Eventually, with the support of his neighbours Frederick and Pilkington, Jones makes an attempt to recover the farm; but he is outwitted by Snowball and Boxer. He moves to another part of the country where he dies in an inebriates’ home. Between his final defeat in the Battle of the Cowshed and his death, Jones plays no active part in the story. But his memory is kept alive by the pigs, who hold the return of Jones as a constant threat over the animals’ heads to secure their docile acceptance of even the most vigorous hardships. As the years pass, Jones and all he stood for fade from the animals’ memories, so that they no longer have any basis of comparison between their present condition and what things had been like previously. Jones represents the pleasure-loving, indolent aristocracy of Tsarist Russia.

THE WINDMILL: The windmill represents the massive infrastructure constructions projects and modernization initiatives that Soviet leaders instituted immediately after the Russian Revolution. In Animal Farm, the windmill also symbolizes the pigs’ totalitarian triumph. It gives the pigs, especially Napoleon and Squealer, a way to distract the animals with hopes of a better future that was never meant to be.The windmill also symbolizes the pigs’ manipulation of the other animals for their own gain. The pigs exploit Boxer and the other common animals by making them undertake backbreaking labour to build the windmill, which will ultimately earn the pigs more money and thus increase their power. The pigs’ declare that Snowball is responsible for the windmill’s first collapse. It indicates psychological manipulation, as it prevents the common animals from doubting the pigs’ abilities and unites them against a supposed enemy. The ultimate conversion of the windmill to commercial use is one more sign of the pigs’ betrayal of their fellow animals. From an allegorical point of view, the windmill represents the enormous modernization projects undertaken in Soviet Russia after the Russian Revolution.

THE BARN: The barn symbolically represents the collective consciousness of the working-class animals and their original vision of an egalitarian society. The barn is where old Major gives his passionate speech and establishes the principles of Animalism. The barn is also where Snowball teaches the animals the tenets of Animalism and is also used as a meeting place. In addition to holding Sunday meetings in the barn, the Seven Commandments are written on the wall.

Question 1: Give an account of the Holocaust

The Holocaust is the diabolical & systematic state-sponsored extermination of six million Jews and millions of other religious and ethnic groups in Europe by Nazi Germany led by Adolf Hitler, during World War II. The word ‘holocaust’ is of Greek origin and means complete burning. The Nazis found it the Final Solution to the Jewish problem. They blamed the Jews for all the ills the Germans suffered. Prominent Jews like Albert Einstein and Bertolt Brecht fled Germany and sought refuge in other countries. All opposition parties were ruthlessly suppressed by the Nazis. The Jews were forcibly deported to concentration and labour camps; they died of hunger, illness and exhaustion. Many were sent to gas chambers into which hydrogen cyanide was released, killing them within minutes.

Question 2: What prompted Anne to keep a diary?

There were about thirty people whom thirteen-year-old Anne could call friends. But she did not have a friend of her own. She had a good home comprising affectionate parents, a sixteen-year-old sister and loving aunts. She also had many admirers who couldn’t keep their adoring eyes off her. When she was with her friends she merely talked of ordinary everyday things. She was not able to get close enough to confide in any one of them. So she started the diary which she looked upon as her bosom friend and called her Kitty.    

Question 3: Give a brief sketch of her life.

Anne’s parents got married when her father, Otto Frank was thirty-six and her mother, Edith Hollander Frank was twenty-five. Anne looked upon her father as the most adorable father she had ever seen. The sisters, Margot and Anne were born in Germany in 1926 and 1929 respectively. In 1933 Otto became the Managing Director of the Dutch Opekta Company, which manufactured products used in making jam. But their Jewish lineage compelled them to immigrate to Holland in that year.  Her parents went to Holland in September leaving the children at Aachen with their grandmother. Margot went to Holland in December and Anne followed her in February. Anne started schooling straightway at the Montessori nursery school. She stayed there until the age of six when she started first grade. In sixth grade the principal, Mrs Kuperus was Anne’s teacher. At the end of that year both of them bid a tearful farewell because Anne got admission to the Jewish Lyceum, where Margot was studying. Meanwhile, their relatives in Germany were suffering under Hitler’s anti-Jewish laws. After the pogroms (organized      mass killings) in 1938, her two uncles (her mother’s brothers) escaped from Germany and sought refuge in North America. Her seventy-three old grandmother went to live with Anne and her parents. In the summer of 1941 Anne’s grandmother fell ill and had to have an operation; so Anne’s birthday was not celebrated. Her grandmother passed away in 1942. She loved her grandmother and missed her a lot. Her birthday in 1942 was celebrated to make up for her birthdays in 1940 & 1941.

Question 4: The plight of the Jews in Holland after the capitulation.

After May 1940 the war broke out and Holland surrendered to Germany. The arrival of the Germans spelt misery for the Jews. A series of anti-Jewish decrees were issued which severely restricted their freedom. The Jews were compelled to wear a yellow star in order to segregate them. They were forbidden to use street-cars; they were not allowed to ride in cars, even their own; they also had to turn in their bicycles. They were permitted to do their shopping only between 3 & 5pm. The streets were out of bounds for them between 8 pm & 6 am. They were forbidden to attend theatres, movies or any form of entertainment; they had to keep away from the swimming pools, tennis courts, hockey fields and such other athletic fields; they were not allowed to participate in any athletic activity in public.  They were also not permitted to sit either in their gardens or those of their friends after 8 pm; nor could they visit Christians in their homes. They could go only to barber shops and beauty parlours owned by Jews and their children had to attend Jewish schools. Poor helpless people were dragged out of their homes at any time, day or night; they were allowed to take only a knapsack and a little money with them and on the way they would be robbed. Families were torn apart; often when the children returned from    school they would discover that their parents had disappeared.  Women would return from shopping only to find their houses sealed and their families gone. Many of her family’s Jewish friends were arrested by the Gestapo  (the Nazi secret police) and deported to concentration camps in Drenthe. At these camps the Jews were inhumanely treated. They  were hardly given any food and drink. Water was available for only one hour a day and thousands of them had to manage with a single toilet and sink. Men and women had to share the same room; women and children had their heads shaved; because of their shorn heads escape was out of question for them. Thus by denying the Jews their freedom of movement and expression, by making their lives insecure and dangerous and also by ill-treating them at the concentration camps the Nazis made life a veritable Hell for the Jews.


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