Summary of The Last Lesson of The Afternoon
The Last Lesson of the Afternoon by David Herbert Lawrence (1885-1930) expresses a mood of bitter desperation and disappointment at the lack of gratitude for a teacher’s work. The poet, who also happens a teacher, compares his students to hounds because they hate chasing knowledge. The teacher tried hard to motivate the students to learn, but he could not inspire them to learn. He feels that his teaching and the learning of the students are both useless because he can no longer haul them and urge them.
The poet describes very strongly what he feels and the inner turmoil he suffers. Finally, he thinks he won’t waste his soul and strength in teaching those students who show so much indifference to the study.
Question: Write an account of your opinion /idea about this poem.
Answer. The poem “Last Lesson Of Afternoon” by David Herbert Richards Lawerence reflects the viewpoint of a teacher who feels that his hard attempt at teaching a class of sixty students is an exercise in futility. The poem expresses a mood of anger and bitter desperation at the thanklessness of a teacher’s work. The teacher is tired of his students and are not interested in the quest or ‘hunt’ for knowledge and are unruly in their behaviour.
The teacher is waiting for the last bell to ring to get rid of these stubborn things. The poem teacher is a pessimist, in my opinion. Lawrence was supposed to care for him because he was a teacher at the time, but he felt that his time at school was futile. His final determination is to sit out, wait for the clock and not drain his strength but keep it alive. He stopped trying.
In making the teaching-learning process a success, a teacher should first of all create a home atmosphere in the school that is conducive to learning and not an abnormal environment. Students must be eager to attend school rather than tug the leash. If a teacher fails in his first or second attempt, he must not lose his heart but try again. After all, students are human beings with a developed brain. If you want to change them, they can be changed.
Textbook Questions of The Last Lesson Of Afternoon
Question No.1 What is the tone in the opening line of the poem?
Answers. The poem, in the opening line, contains a tone of bitter desperation and disappointment at the thanklessness of a teacher’s work. His students are not interested in the quest or ‘hunt’ for knowledge and are unruly in their behaviour.
Question No.2 Who is the speaker of the poem?
Answer. The poet who also happened to be a teacher is the speaker of the poem.
Question No.3 What are the pupils regarded as? Why has the teacher failed to ‘ haul them and urge them’ any more?
Answer. The pupils are regarded as uncontrolled hunting dogs(unruly hounds). The teacher has failed to haul them or urge them any more because the pupils have no interest in learning. One can take a horse to the river but twenty can not make him drink.
Question No. 4 Which words or phrases in stanza 2 convey the mood of the speaker?
Answer. The speaker is feeling angry, impatient and desperate in stanza 2. The expressions that convey the mood of the speaker are:
No longer now can I endure……
I am sick…..
What on earth is good of it all?
What good to them (his students) or me, I cannot see.
Question No.5 Why doesn’t the speaker want to consume his fuel anymore?
Answer. The speaker does not want to waste the last dear fuel (energy) of his life anymore because he feels that it is mere wastage of time and energy to teach knowledge to the students who hate to chase knowledge.
Question No.6 What do you think ‘take the toll of their punishment ‘means?
Answer. This means that he has sunk to the very lowest point of his life, and cannot sink any further or take this kind of life anymore. He has attempted his level best to mould the students but in turn, he does not gain any positive results. Hence he feels insulted. He feels that he has been rewarded with punishment(their slovenly work). He decides here that he will not take this any longer.
Question No.7 Why does the teacher feel that his teaching and the pupils’ learning are both purposeless? Pick out words and phrases which show that he shares his pupils’ indifference to their work.
Answer. The teacher feels that his teaching and the pupils’ learning are both purposeless because in spite of hard efforts to teach knowledge to the students he has failed to obtain any positive outcomes from them. Here are are some words and phrase showing that he shares his pupils’ indifference to their work:
i) ‘I will not!’ ‘I will not waste my soul…’ ‘I do not and will not…
ii) ‘ It all goes down the same abyss.’
Question No.8 Do you find any connection between the beginning and the ending of the poem?
Answer. There is a well-knit connection between the beginning and the ending of the poem. In the beginning, the teacher has been shown a pessimist who does not want to teach his students because they are unwilling to learning. But in the middle, he becomes a little optimistic and wants to utilize his energy to teach them. But again at the end, he gets a negative response from them and becomes pessimistic again. His final resolve is to sit it out, wait for the bell, and not drain his strength but keep it to live for his own life. He has given up trying.
Learning about the Literary Devices
Question No.09 What is the metaphor used by the poet in stanza 1?
Answer. In stanza 1, the poet uses the metaphor of a pack of hounds (his pupils) tugging at their leashes and straining. He also utilizes the metaphor by using words/ expressions such as ‘quarry’ (prey) of knowledge they hate to hunt(quest).
Question No.10 Identify the metaphor in stanza 3.
Answer. In stanza 3, the poet uses the metaphor of the last dear fuel of life(his energy and what is left to him of his life)
and the toll of insults( their slovenly work) as punishments.
Question No 11 Pick out some instances of alliteration in the poem.
Answer. Some instances of alliteration in the poem are given as;
1. When will the bell ring, and end this weariness?
2. they hate to hunt,/ I can haul them…
the brunt / Of the books
3. my soul and my strength for this.
4. A description of a dog,