Third Thoughts: Summary and Question Answers
About the Essay
The essayist claims that when one’s mind is taken over by selfishness, there is no end to consider and reconsider. The narrator rightly admits that the story principle lies in dealing with his own soul. The essay also discusses the realistic human psychology that rules the world of business, where the seller and the buyer are trying to find themselves
The essay ‘Third Thoughts’ a gentle satire on our civilization wherein money – making has become the main motto of modern man, appeared in The Phantom Journal and
Other Essays and Diversions in 1919. The title of the essay ‘Third Thoughts’, a humorous and ironical coinage is based on the idiom ‘second thought’ which means a rethinking of an opinion. The essayist claims that when one’s mind is taken over by selfishness, there is no end to think and rethink. The narrator rightly admits that the motto of the narrative lies in bargaining with his own soul. The essay also pinpoints the practical human psychology that governs the world of trade where the seller and the buyer try to befool each other.
The narrator is the author’s friend and the essay is written in the first-person narrative. The Essay brings out the qualities of gentle and delightful humour.
This story was told to the author by one of his friends. The friend said that it is only one ‘s destiny that can be bought and sold at the cheapest price in the most expensive markets. A friend was dealing with decorative items. Usually, he had to sell them at such a lower price than it seemed to him that by accepting the item at such a lower rate, the buyer was giving him a special favour. But the other day was a very lucky day for him to bring him an unexpected earning.
Drifting around the old curiosity shops of the Cathedral City, he came across a portfolio of watercolour drawings. Among these, Turner’s drawing attracted him a lot. He asked the dealer for his price, and the dealer said it only cost ten shillings. He paid ten shillings to the dealer and bought it from him, and then sold it at a price of fifty pounds the next time, and thus made a huge profit, exactly forty-nine pounds ten, and was duly enriched.
Thereupon, his thoughts ran thus; that the dealer must also participate in the profit. He had behaved him very well and he ought to behave well to him. Hence, it would be fair to send him half of the earning. After having decided thus, he sat down and wrote a little note saying that the potential Turner drawing turned out to be authentic and he had great pleasure in enclosing half of the proceeds. As he had no stamps and was late by an hour, he could not post the letter and went to bed. He woke up at about 3.30 a.m. and began to review his life’s errors. This process of evaluation and review led him to examine and cross-examine the contents of the letter. His thoughts ran why he should give half of the proceeds to the dealer as it was useless to be quixotic in this modern world. It was only his eyes that detected the probability of this business in which he had remained a complete failure and thus why he should put a premium for ineptitude. And a present of ten pounds would be more than enough. Then he took a storybook and read one as sleep was refusing to oblige him. His thoughts ran thus why he should send ten pounds even. It will only give the dealer a wrong idea of his customers; none other would be so fair and sporting to him. He will expect every day such a letter and this
will make him disappointed. Thus, he will get embittered and become miserable. It was a crime to injure his existing nature. Five pounds would be plenty.
He thought about the dealer again when he was dressing the next morning. His thoughts ran like this, why he was supposed to bring a financial coup in his life by giving away such a large part of his money, and he was supposed to control his feelings. At last, he decided to send a pound with a brief note. The note contained that he had sold the drawing to a profit – which made it possible for him to make a present because his old belief is that good luck must be shared. He had an envelope containing a check and a brief note in his pocket when he reached the club for lunch.
He played bridge so disastrously that he was glad he didn’t post it. Because in the last one, he decided not to send anything to the dealer, thinking that buying and selling was a perfectly straight-forward affair between the dealer and the customer. The dealer asks as much as he thinks he can urge, and the customer who paid the price is not under the obligation of the dealer. The incident was closed.
Important Questions and Answers
Q. Who is the narrator in the story?
Ans. Author’s friend is the narrator in the story.
Q. What was the opinion of the dealer about the drawing?
Ans. The opinion of the dealer about drawing was “If it were a genuine Turner, it would be worth anything”.
Q. What price did the narrator pay for the drawing to the dealer? How much profit did he gain by selling it?
Ans. Ten shillings. He achieved a profit of forty-nine pounds ten and was very happy.
Q. Why did the narrator think of sending some amount of the profit to the dealer?
Ans. The dealer behaved very well to him and he ought to behave well to him. Therefore, he thought that it would be fair to give him half.
Q. How many times did he think about the dealer? Did he change his thoughts each time?
Ans. First, he thought that he would give the dealer fifty per cent of his profit; the second time he reduced it to ten pounds; the third time he decided to give five pounds; then the thought that he would send the dealer one pound accompanied by a brief note of thanks. Finally, he dropped the idea of sending any share from his profit to the dealer.
Q. Why did he not post the letter after having written the first note?
Ans. As he played bridge disastrously, he could not post the letter.
Q. Comment on the title ‘Third Thoughts’?
Ans. The title is apt and suggestive of the fact that there is no end to consideration and reconsideration when one’s mind is taken over by selfish thoughts.