Uncle Podger Hangs a Picture by Jerome K Jerome


Jerome K. Jerome  is a satirist, journalist, editor, and lecturer. Jerome is best known for his work Three Men in a Boat. The narrative “Uncle Podger Hangs a Picture” is an excerpt from Three Men on a Boat. The narrator reffered to as J, recalls a humorous episode involving his Uncle Podger’s attempts to hang a portrait. The story begins with the arrival of a picture in a frame. Uncle Podger offers to put it up. A sequence of incidents unfold, involving the entire family. Uncle Podger demonstrates that he is completely incapable of performing even the most basic duties, such as nailing a picture to the wall. The story’s hilarity stems from Uncle Podger’s unwavering belief in his ability to complete any task. Even his failures become everyone else’s responsibility!

The narrative is amusing to read because of the author’s clever use of farce in the novel’s writing. The seriousness with which the narrator handles the subject contributes to its inherent hilarity. He has used literary strategies such as extravagant hyperbole, vivid metaphors, and humorous exaggeration to make something spectacular out of an ordinary, daily experience.

Uncle Podger is a typical patriarch with an inflated sense of self. He believes that the house and all of its occupants are fully reliant on him for every little work. The storey is a comedic deconstruction of his overblown sense of self. The first sign of his ineptness is his inability to elevate the frame. He struggles to lift it and eventually drops it, shattering the glass. He wounds himself and shouts for the handkerchief in his coat. He sits waiting for his family to retrieve his coat, blaming them for not performing their job properly. When he realises he has been sitting on it the entire time, he tries to justify it by claiming that he had to do everything himself and that no one could help him because they are all inefficient!

Then, when a new glass is put on the picture, a whole new set of misfortunes begins. The nail is lost and found, then the hammer is lost and found, all while Uncle Podger stands on the chair watching the rest of the family scramble around hunting for the tools. Uncle Podger overbalances and lands on the piano, playing all the keys at once! The picture is only hung by midnight, with the wall full of holes and scratches and the image hanging crooked and threatening to fall off soon.

The family is sick of scurrying around looking for tools, getting reprimanded and damaged by flying hammers and nails, or just being around Uncle Podger. Uncle Podger, on the other hand, walks away, stating that he is being asked to do unnecessary work. Uncle Podger is blissfully unaware of the chaos and devastation he has caused and takes great satisfaction in his work.

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Questions and Answers

Q.  Name the children of Uncle Podger.
Answer. Maria, Tom,  and Will are Uncle Podger’s children
Q. What did Uncle Podger ask the children to bring for him?
Answer. Uncle Podger asks the children to fetch nails, a hammer, a ruler, a step ladder, a kitchen chair, a spirit level, and a picture cord. He requires the object in order to hang the picture on the wall.

Q. How did Uncle Podger cut himself?
Answer.  When Uncle Podger lifted the picture to hang it, it slid out of his grasp and fell out of the frame. He cut himself while attempting to salvage the glass.

Q. Why did Uncle Podger want his coat?   
Answer.  When Uncle Podger cut himself with the glass, he asked people to look for his coat because he needed a handkerchief that was in its pocket.

Q. Where did he find his coat?
Answer. Uncle Podger found his coat under his seat

Q. What did Uncle Podger ask the maid to bring and what did he forget to tell her?
Answer: Uncle Podger enlisted the help of the entire family. He sent a girl out for sixpence nails, followed by one of the boys to instruct her what size to acquire. He instructed Will to get his hammer and Tom to bring the rule.

Q. What was the ‘job’ he undertook to do?
Answer.  The ‘job’ that Uncle Podger undertook was the hanging of a framed picture up on the wall.

b) How did he cause ‘commotion’ at home?
Answer. He (Uncle Podger) would create a ‘commotion’ by assigning each member of the family small errands to help him with his job, and he would make a shambles of it.

Q. List any five things/objects that Uncle Podger used for hanging the picture on the wall.
Answer.  The five things that Uncle Podger used for hanging the picture on the wall are nails, hammer, rule, step ladder and a kitchen chair.

Q. Why did Uncle Podger ask people to search for his coat?
Answer.  Uncle Podger asked that everyone look for his coat because he had cut his hand on a piece of shattered glass and needed to knot it with his handkerchief, which was in the coat’s pocket.

Q. Where was the coat found?
Answer. The coat was found under the seat. Actually, Uncle Podger was sitting on it.

Q. What does the incident tell you about Uncle Podger?
Answer.  This incident tells us that Uncle Podger does not have a good memory.

Q. ‘Oh, you leave that to me. Don’t you, any of you, worry yourselves about that. I’ll do all that ‘.
Does Uncle Podger do all the work? What really happens in the story?
Answer.  Uncle Podger does not do all of the work. He directs that everyone in his family – including the boy, girl, and charwoman – undertake the work, such as getting the nails, finding the hammer, and so on. As a result, he enlists the help of all family members in the work of hanging the picture on the wall.

Q. Uncle Podger makes several attempts to hang a picture. Here are a few statements about it. Say whether they are True or False.
a) In the first attempt, Uncle Podger broke the glass and cut himself. True
b) When he attempted to hang the picture the second time, he lost sight of the mark he had made on the wall. False
c) He finally managed to put the picture in the third attempt. False

Q. How did the family feel after the picture was finally put up? Happy and relieved? Tired and miserable? Give reasons for your answer.
Answer.  The family felt tired and miserable after the picture was finally put up. It took a long time and Uncle Podger actually made the task very exhausting for everyone.

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Q. What did Uncle Podger ask Martha?
Answer.  Uncle Podger told his wife not to worry about him hanging the painting. He would gradually work his way down and begin the entire house.

Q. How did he cause ‘commotion’ at home? Answer. He (Uncle Podger) would cause a ‘commotion’ by assigning every member of the house little errands to help him with his job and he would make a mess of it.

Q. What was the commotion all about in Uncle Podger’s house?
Answer. When Uncle Podger began the job, he made a commotion. He removed his coat and began working on the painting. First, he dispatched the maid to bring sixpence worth of nails. Then he dispatched one of the boys to find her and tell her the size of the nail.

Q. Did Uncle Podger believe he was taking help?
Answer. No Uncle Podger never approved that he was taking the help. As shown in the story he needed at least 6 people to just hammer a nail. He got tired after doing nothing.

Q. What was the effect of Uncle Podger’s venture on his family?
Answer. He makes all the other family members get involved in petty jobs of bringing things and holding hammers. For any mistake done by him, he would bluntly blame the other people in the house.

Q. Who was Mr goggles?
Answer. Mr Goggles is uncle Podger’s family member.

Q. What happened when Uncle Podger slid on the piano?
Answer. After uncle Podger would fall on the piano it created a musical sound and he would argue with aunt Podger that she makes a fuss over everything while picking himself up.

Q. How are Maria the girl and Tom related to Uncle Podger?
Answer. Mr Goggles was probably a neighbour; Maria was Uncle Podger’s wife. Tom and Jim’s relationship with Uncle Podger hasn’t been highlighted in the chapter, probably they were his sons.

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Q.  What happened every time uncle Podger undertook to do a job?
Answer. He created a great commotion in the house.

Q. Why could uncle Podger not find his handkerchief?
Answer.  He could not find his handkerchief because it was in his coat pocket and he was sitting on the coat.

Q. Describe how the whole family would help the injured Uncle Podger in hanging the picture a second time.
Answer. They would assist in the recovery of the missing hammer. They would try to help him in locating the missing mark where the nail had to be inserted. They would also attempt to assist him in measuring the distance between the nail and the corner.

Q. What was Aunt Maria’s reaction to Uncle Podger’s hanging the picture?
Answer: Aunt Maria replied to Uncle Podger’s nail and hammer adventure by declaring that the next time a nail needed to be hammered by Uncle Podger, she would go to her mother’s house for a week until the nail was pounded into the wall.

Q. What did all the members of the family have to do to help Uncle Podger hang the picture?
Answer. They bring him a rule, a stepladder, a spirit level supplied by Mr Goggles, Maria holds the light for him and brings him a picture cord, and Tom hands him a picture. Two people hold a chair, a third helps him up on it, a fourth hands him a nail, and a fifth hands him a hammer.

Q. What would Uncle Podger say at the end?
Answer. When any work had to be done, he used to say that the work is very easy and he can do it with ease. He also said that the members can depend on him and leave that work on him and he can do it alone.

Q. What made Uncle Podger speechless Why?
Answer. Uncle Podger had convinced himself that anytime he misplaced something, it was the fault of everyone else in the home except himself. He was always blaming them for his problems and was never grateful to anyone for their assistance.

Q. Multiple Choice Questions

Choose the correct answers from the given alternatives:

(a) The thing which would have come home from the frame-makers is

(i) a picture √
(ii) a carving on wood
(iii) a picture drawn on a piece of cloth

(b) Uncle Podger would take off his
(i) vest
(ii) tie
(iii) coat √

(c) Uncle Podger would ask
(i) the boy
(ii) the girl √
(iii) the charwoman, for sixpence worth of nails.

(d) Uncle Podger, at first, would drop the
(i) picture √
(ii) hammer
(iii) nail

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