THE DEAR DEPARTED
REFERENCE TO CONTEXT – MCQs
Read the following extracts and choose the correct option.
1. Mrs Slater : “I’m amazed at you, Victoria, I really am. How can you go gallivanting about in the street with your grandfather lying dead and cold upstairs, I don’t know. Be off now, and change your dress before your Aunt Elizabeth and your uncle Ben come. It would never do for them to find you in colours.”
(i) Mrs Slater is angry with Victoria because
(a) she is moving around too much
(b) she is wasting time in the street
(c) she hasn’t changed her dress
(d) she’s not bothered about her grandfather’s death
(ii) Aunt Elizabeth and Ben are paying a visit to
(a) offer condolence for the old man’s death
(b) check upon the old man
(c) lay their hands on his belongings
(d) to show to Mrs Slater their sorrow over the death
(iii) Mrs Slater appears to be a lady who is very particular about
(a) Ceremonies (b) relatives (c) condolence (d) mourning dresses on death
Answer : (i) (c) (ii) (d) (iii) (d)
2. Mrs Slater : My heart’s fit to break when I see the trifles that belonged to grandfather lying around, and think he’ll never use them again. Here! you’d better wear these slippers of grandfather’s now : It’s lucky he’d just got a new pair.
(i) Mrs Slater is very disturbed because
(a) her father is dead (b) his things are lying scattered
(c) she has to make arrangements (d) she cannot afford to have his things wasted
(ii) Mrs Slater is very resourceful as
(a) she manages to make all the arrangements (b) she is able to use her father’s slippers
(c) she has managed to inform her sister (d) she has managed to get tea ready for relatives
(iii) From the above statement it is clear that Mrs. Slater was
(a) resourceful (b) miserly (c) greedy (d) vain
Answer : (i) (d) (ii) (b) (iii) (c)
3. Victoria : Are we pinching it before Aunt Elizabeth comes?
Henry : (Shocked) No, my child. Grandpa gave it to your mother before he died.
(i) Victoria’s remarks reflect upon the behavior of the adults that they are
(a) hypocrites (b) mercenary (c) greed-driven (d) clever
(ii) Henry proves to be __________ from his statement.
(a) submissive (b) gullible (c) hen-pecked (d) vulnerable
(iii) Such pretensions and manipulative behaviour ends up __________ the lives of children like Victoria
(a) benefiting (b) guiding (c) harming (d) confusing
Answer : (i) (a) (ii) (c) (iii) (d)
4. Mrs. Slater : I could never fancy buying ready made things.
Ms Jordan : No? For myself its such a relief to get into the black.
(i) The above conversation reveals that both the daughters are not __________ at the death of their father.
(a) emotional (b) grief-stricken (c) sad (d) concerned
(ii) Death has become an occasion for only
(a) sad expressions (b) flaunting mourning dresses (c) funeral services (d) prayers
(iii) The above conversation reveals that both the sisters are
(a) Jealous (b) Competitive (c) Vicious (d) Concerned
Answer : (i) (b) (ii) (b) (iii) (c)
5. Mrs Jordan : I like ‘Never Forgotten’. Its refined
Henry : Yes, but it’s rather soon for that.
Ben : You couldn’t very well forget him the day after.
(i) Do you believe the conversation taking place above is
(a) emotional (b) authentic (c) genuine (d) pretentious
(ii) The comment of Ben is
(a) humorous (b) pretentious (c) ironical (d) satirical
(iii) The relatives above are discussing about __________ to be given in the newspaper.
(a) obituary (b) announcement (c) tribute (d) notice
Answer : (i) (d) (ii) (d) (iii) (a)
6. ‘She’s never been here since grandfather brought it. If it was only down here instead of in his room, she’d never guess it wasn’t our own.
(i) These words are said by
(a) Victoria (b) Amelia (c) Elizabeth (d) Henry
(ii) The word ‘it’ referred to here is
(a) the ornaments (b) the clock (c) the chest of drawers (d) bureau
(iii) The speaker is planning to
(a) steal the clock before her sister comes (b) bring the bureau down
(c) send the child up to bring the keys (d) sell the old chest of drawers
7. (Chirpily) “Now, Amelia, you mustn’t give way. We’ve all got to die sometime or other. It might
have been worse.”
(i) Who speaks these words?
(a) Ben (b) Mrs. Slater (c) Mrs. Jordan (d) Victoria
(ii) The speaker is prompted to utter these words to Amelia so that / because
(a) she should not cry. (b) she need not show off.
(c) he knew her real nature and wanted to caution her that when they would face such a situation, it would be still worse.
(d) He wanted to be lively and humorous in that grim situation.
(iii) The literary device used in the given lines is :
(a) Personification (b) Irony (c) Alliteration (d) Metaphor
Answer : (i) (a) (ii) (c) (iii) (b)
Short Answer Type Questions (Extract Based)
Read the following extracts and answer the questions that follow :
1. “It would never do for them to find you in colours.”
(I) Identify the speaker and the listener.
Ans : The speaker is Mrs. Slater and the listener is her daughter Victoria.
(ii) Who is referred to as ‘them’ in the above statement?
Ans : ‘Them’ refers to Mrs. and Mr. Jordan.
(iii) Explain – ‘in colours’.
Ans : Victoria is wearing colourful clothes, whereas she should be wearing a mourning dress.
(iv) What is the context of the above remark?
Ans : Victoria’s grandfather is supposed to be dead.
2. “Elizabeth’s that sharp she’ll see I’m after it and she’ll drive a hard bargain over it. Eli, what it is to have a low money grubbing spirit?”
(i) What is Elizabeth’s relation with the speaker?
Ans : Elizabeth is the speaker Mrs slater’s sister.
(ii) What bargain is being discussed here?
Ans : The plan of shifting the grandpa’s bureau before Elizabeth arrives.
(iii) Explain – low money grubbing spirit.
Ans : It refers to money-mindedness, or greed to possess things.
(iv) What do the above remarks reflect about the speaker’s attitude and nature?
Ans : The speaker herself is very mean, manipulative and clever.
3. “No, my child, Grandpa gave it to your mother before he died.”
(i) Identify the speaker and the listener.
Ans : The speaker is Henry Slater and he is addressing his daughter.
(ii) What does ‘it’ refer to?
Ans : ‘It’ refers to the ‘bureau’
(iii) What impression do you form of the speakers from the above statement?
Ans : Both the Slaters are greedy and great hypocrites.
(iv) What do you think will be the impact of the above statement on the listener?
Ans : Victoria will end up losing respect for her parents.
4. “He is too honourable to have gone without paying his premium.”
(i) Who is the speaker and who is the listener?
Ans : Mrs. Jordan is the speaker and her sister is the listener.
(ii) Who is “He” in the above statement?
Ans : ‘He’ is Abel Merryweather, Mrs Slater and Mrs Jordan’s father.
(iii) What is the speaker’s relation with the person mentioned.
Ans : She is Abel’s daughter.
(iv) What is the speaker’s conception of ‘honour’?
Ans : ‘Honour’ refers here to ‘paying one’sinsurance premium.’
5. “I like ‘Never Forgotten’. It’s refined.”
(i) Who is the speaker?
Ans : Mrs Jordan is the speaker.
(ii) What is the context of the above remark?
Ans : The discussion is regarding the obituary to be put in the newspaper.
(iii) For whom is ‘Never forgotten’ used?
Ans : For Abel Merryweather.
(iv) Point out the irony inherent in the above remark.
Ans : It was only in words that he was not forgotten in its reality both the daughters had forgotten him already.
6. “He’s done it on purpose, just to annoy us.”
(i) Identify ‘He’ and ‘us’.
Ans : ‘He’ is Abel Merryweather and ‘us’ means the Jordans and Slaters.
(ii) Mention the context of the above remark.
Ans : The discussion is whether Abel has paid his insurance premium or not.
(iii) What mistake has the person mentioned made?
Ans : Abel appears to have deliberately messed out paying the premium.
(iv) Do you think the speakers and the others like him deserve that kind of treatment?
Ans : Yes, they do because they are all very greedy.
7. “Drat me if that isn’t my clock too. What the devil’s been going on in the house?”
(i) What is the confusion regarding the clock?
Ans : Abel Merryweather’s clock has been pinched by his daughter.
(ii) What exactly has been going on in the house?
Ans : Mrs. Slater, the daughter, thought that her father was dead and she was taking away his things.
(iii) Who is the speaker and whom is he addressing?
Ans : The speaker is Abel and he is addressing his daughters.
(iv) What do the above remarks reflect about the listeners?
Ans : The listeners are very greedy and not attached to their father.
8. Mrs Jordan, “You know father, it’s quite time you come to live with us again we’d make you very comfortable.”
(i) What has brought about the above change in the speaker’s attitude?
Ans : The father’s new terms for the will has brought about this change.
(ii) What about the above turn of events?
Ans : Abel has announced that his money will go to the daughter with whom he would be staying at the time of his death.
(iii) Who is instrumental in this change and why?
Ans : The greedy nature of his daughters has brought this change.
(iv) What does it reflect about Mrs Jordan’s character?
Ans : Mrs. Jordan is very mercenary, greedy and opportunistic.
9. I felt I was bit of a burden to you, so I found someone who’d think it a pleasure to look after me.
(i) For whom is the speaker supposed to be a burden?
Ans : Abel is supposed to be a burden for his daughters.
(ii) Who is the speaker and who are the listeners?
Ans : Abel is the speaker and both the daughters and their husbands are the listeners.
(iii) Who has the speaker found to look after him?
Ans : Abel has found a widow, Mrs Shorrock, to look after him.
(iv) How does the speaker’s decision affect the listeners?
Ans : The daughters are denied all the rights to the property and money of their father.
10. I’ll tell you what I’ve got to do. On Monday next I’ve got to do three things.
(i) Who is the speaker?
Ans : Abel Merryweather, the father.
(ii) What has he decided to do?
Ans : He has decided to marry Mrs Shorrod, a widow, who runs a school in the neighbourhood.
(iii) Why did he take such a decision?
Ans : He took such a decision so that Mrs. Shorock would take care of him. His own daughters were very greedy and were not attached to him.
Short Answer Type Questions-
1. Why does Mrs Slater instruct Victoria to change her dress?
Ans : Mrs. Slater is very particular about mourning dresses. Since her father has expired, she instructs her daughter Victoria to quickly change her colourful dress into something sober, before the guests and relatives arrive.
2. Why were Mr and Mrs Jordan visiting the Slaters after so many years?
Ans : Since Mr Abel Merryweather had expired, Mrs. Jordan, the daughter, was visiting her sister’s family, to look after the arrangements to be made for the father’s death.
3. Henry says, “I suppose it’s in the family.” Why does Henry make this comment and what does it reflect about the two sisters?
Ans : Henry is well aware that both the sisters Mrs Slater and Mrs. Jordan are very mean and calculative, so they will not lose any chance to pinch things belonging to their family. When his wife brings the new slippers of her father and gives to Henry, he makes this humorous comment.
4. “Mother and me is going to bring grandfather’s bureau down here.” Who makes this remark and in what context? What does this reflect about the speaker?
Ans : Henry Slater tells his daughter Victoria that they were shifting grandfather’s bureau down because he had gifted it to them. Victoria cannot believe it. This remark depicts that Henry is not only a hen-pecked husband but also a hypocrite, who just does what his wife tells him. He has no individuality of his own.
5. “For myself it’s such a relief to get into the black.” Who makes the above remark and what is the context?
Ans : Mrs Jordan makes the above remark because she got delayed due to a new mourning dress for herself. She was not bothered about her father but worried about appearing in a new mourning dress. This indicates her pretentious nature without any thought for her father.
6. Mrs Slater says, “he must have gone round to the ‘Ring-O-Bells’ afterwards, for he came in as merry as a sand boy” regarding Abel Merryweather. Do you think this remark is a prediction of the things to come?
Ans : Yes, this remark is a death-knell on the plans forged by the two sisters to grab their father’s money. The
fact that Abel is going there too often and is looking extremely pleased is a prediction of the future course of things.
7. Mrs Jordan, “we want a verse that says how much we loved him and refers to all his good qualities and says what a heavy loss we’re had.” Point out the irony in this remark.
Ans : Mrs. Jordan, the daughter, wishes to show to the world how much they all loved their father, by choosing such words for his obituary. But the irony is that in reality, they do not love him nor do they care for any of his good qualities.
8. “After all I’ve done for him, having to put up with him in the house these three years. It’s nothing short of swindling” who makes this remark and what does this reflect about the speaker’s attitude?
Ans : Mrs. Slater makes the above remark in great agitation when Abel states that his entire property will go to the person with whom he would be staying, at the time of his death, Mrs. Slater feels cheated. She believes that looking after her father for these years has not benefitted her at all.
9. Describe the reaction of all Slaters and the Jordans when Abel Merryweather walks in the parlour?
Ans : Both the Jordans and the Slaters are too shocked. There are no gasps of relief, none of them heaves a sigh of happiness. Both the sisters are displeased to see their father alive. They had spent quite some money on their mourning dresses. Mrs. Jordan had made this visit only because of her father’s death.
10. Why are Amelia and Elizabeth reluctant to tell the truth to their father regarding their mourning dresses? What stories do they cook up to convince their father?
Ans : Abel Merryweather is shocked to see his daughters in mourning dresses and when he wishes to know the reason, he is told that Ben’s brother has expired. They further tell lies that the brother was in Australia and he was older by five years.
11. Why does Mr Abel Merryweather decide to make another will? What is the reaction of the others?
Ans : Abel notices how his things are pinched away and his daughters are wearing mourning dresses, without even going and looking him up. Mrs Slater is shocked and even after keeping father for three years, Abel has decided to gift his money to the daughter, who will be with him at the time of his death. Both the daughters fight with each other to keep him.
12. What is the most surprising announcement made by Mr Abel in the end? How does it affect the other characters?
Ans : Abel makes a very dramatic announcement in the end that he is going to marry Mrs. Shorrocks who keeps the ‘Ring-O-Bells’. Moreover he is going to take away his things and leave nothing for his daughters.
LONG ANSWER TYPE QUESTIONS
1. You are a neighbour of Mrs Slater on Upper Cornbank Street. You have witnessed the indifferent and insensitive manner in which Mrs Slater looks after her father and how the poor father contrives ways to stay out of the house. Write a letter to a friend expressing your grave concern at the way in which the elderly people are neglected.
Ans : Post office Road,
30 March, 2010
With a heavy heart, I am writing this letter as I fear for our advancing age. The Slaters are our neighbours and Mrs. Slater treats her father so badly, that I fear how our old age will fare. The old father is very sporting, friendly and happy-go-lucky and still treated badly. He is not the demanding type, but still Mrs. Slater is always cribbing about keeping him. Mr. Abel that is his name, hardly stays at home and goes about to visit people even when he is sick and should be tended. His granddaughter Victoria is the only one who cares for him but a child cannot have her way. Mrs. Slater is always trying to take away Mr. Abel’s things, one way or the other. These days he appears to be looking better because I have heard in the neighbourhood, that he is apparently seeing some old widow Mrs. Shorrock. At least there is some light in his life, some flicker of hope. God save us from such children. I hope we do not face any such problems. Do write to me.
2. Discuss the character-sketch of Mrs Jordan and Mrs Slater as opposed to the characters of their husbands.
Ans : Mrs. Slater is clever, manipulative and mean, much like her sister Mrs. Jordan. Their aim in life is to do nothing for their father and derive maximum benefit. If Amelia takes away her father’s slippers, bureau and clock, Elizabeth wants to take away her father’s watch. Both the ladies spare no thought for their father and worry about outdoing each other in wearing mourning dresses. For them the death of their father is like a drama that needs to be staged with best outfits. Both the husbands are henpecked and they go according to their wives. Henry knows that his wife is an opportunist but he assists her in carrying the bureau down. The husbands have no individualities except to pamper the whims of their wives.
3. Victoria is the only one who loves her grandfather. She is also a witness to the manipulations and the mercenary behaviour of her parents and her aunt and uncle. She writes a diary expressing shock at their attitude and the emotional loss she would undergo after her grandfather’s departure. [C.B.S.E. 2011 (T-1)]
Ans : Dear Diary,
Today is the worst day of my life, when Grandpa was supposed to have passed away. I am deeply shocked at the behaviour of my mother and father, who are pinching the belongings of my Grandpa. Imagine none even went to look up Grandpa. I know Grandpa was not happy living with us, I tried my best but mummy never listens. Even papa supports her. I am so ashamed to see their hypocrisy. I don’t know how they will expect respect from me, when they have behaved so abominably. I pity Grandpa for this treatment. Oh! how I wish I was grown up enough to look after him.
4. Many years have elapsed. Mr. Abel Merryweather passed away some years back. Mrs. Slater is old and she realises how greedily she had behaved with her father. She is grief-stricken and regrets her actions. She unburdens herself in a diary-entry. Compose this on her behalf.
Ans : Dear Diary,
I am so depressed because for a long time I have not received any letter from Victoria. Victoria has always been cold and unresponsive towards me. I know she will never forgive the treatment I gave to my father. The minds of young children are impressionable and she will never change her opinion or learn to respect me. I am sick, old, and I need care but do I deserve any care, after the way I treated my father. On God! I feel so guilty. I wish I could turn the clock back. I made my father most unhappy so ill-luck and misery has to happen to me. I wish I could make amends.
5. You are Abel Merryweather. Express your ideas/ feelings after you wake up and come to know about your daughter’s feelings/greed and intentions.
Abel in “The Dear Departed” is very upset at the behaviour of his family. He expresses his feelings to a close friend in a letter. As Abel, write this letter. [C.B.S.E. 2011 (T-1)]
Ans : Dear Anthony,
You must be surprised to get my letter after such a long time. But frankly speaking I did not find anyone in this whole world to become a witness to my marriage with Mrs. Shorrock, a widow, running a school in our neighbourhood. Don’t get shocked to hear about my marriage at this ripe age when I have a full fledged family of two children and grand children. I myself never thought of taking such a drastic step had I not got over drunk one night and slept till late in the morning. That was a blessing in disguise, I could see the hypocrisy of my daughters. My supposed death was no loss to them since they considered me a burden. My death became a kind of competition for both of them. They outshone each other in wearing the best mourning dresses and took away the things from my room in the presence of my supposed dead body and started accusing each other. It is only my granddaughter who has some feelings for me. Sensing the mercenary nature of my daughters, I have taken a stern decision, to spend the fag end of my life in good care. I have outwitted all of them and have planned to Marry Mrs Shorrock who would look after me better. Moreover, I am going to take away all my things and leave nothing for them. I hope you will appreciate my decision. Do come to St. Wilson church on Monday, the day I am getting married, at 11 a.m.
Your very own
6. Discuss the significance of the title of the play. Bring out the irony inherent in it?
[C.B.S.E. 2011 (T-1)]
In what way is the play satirical? Comment on the nature of its characters.
[C.B.S.E. 2011 (T-1)]
Ans. The title is very appropriate and packed with great irony and wit that makes a farce of all relationships that are most intense and pious. Children like the Slaters and the Jordans are a blot on humanity and on the bonds of love and affection. Both Amelia and her sister consider their father Abel Merryweather a burden and his death is no loss to them. The father is taken lightly. Immediately after Abel’s supposed death, the elder daughter pinches his slippers, clock and his bureau. For both the daughters, father’s death is a kind of competition to outshine each other. There is no mourning in their hearts, but both the daughters vie with each other to wear the best mourning dress. Mrs Jordan wants to have her tea and snacks rather than looking at her dead father. Accusations are hurled at each other, death announcement is planned but no one spares a thought for the father. An obituary should reflect their feelings, that are non-existent. It is only the granddaughter Victoria, who is a sole witness to this game of pinching things and benefits. In a lighter tone, Abel Merryweather had sensed the mercenary nature of his daughter so he outwits them in their planning. He finds a widow to marry who would look after him better. The lesson ends on a humorous note but outlines a very tragic and pathetic concern – care of the elderly that is a glaring and ugly reality of today’s world.