1.From where did the peddler get the idea of the world is a rat trap?
Ans. The peddler lived a dull and monotonous life. He had no family, no money and no relatives. He was a vagabond. So, being alone most of the time, he used to go on thinking. While thinking about the rattrap, he suddenly got the idea of the world being a rattrap.
2. Why was the peddler amused by this idea?
Ans. The peddler had never been treated well by the world. So he felt happy thinking ill of the world. That is why he was amused by the idea that the whole world around him was nothing but a big rat trap.
3. Did the peddler expect the kind of hospitality that he received from the crofter?
Ans.No, the peddler did not expect the kind of hospitality that he received from the crofter. He was always refused whenever he asked anyone for any kind of kindness. Thus, he had expected the same, but, to his surprise, the crofter treated him very kindly and gave him food and shelter.
4. Why was the crofter so talkative and friendly with the peddler?
Ans. The crofter was a lonely man. He had no one in his house to give him company. He had no wife, no children. So when he saw the peddler, he was very happy to get someone to talk to.
5. Why did he show the thirty kronor to the peddler?
Ans. The crofter narrated his story of living a comfortable life and having a good reasonable income that he made due to his extraordinary cow that gave a lot of milk. He told the peddler that he had earned thirty kronor last month. But the peddler expressed his disbelief. In order to make him believe, the crofter opened the pouch and showed the tramp the money.
6. Did the peddler respect the confidence reposed in him by the crofter?
Ans.No, the peddler did not live up to the confidence reposed in him by the crofter. In fact, he abused the trust of the crofter. He returned after some time, opened the window of the cottage and stole the crofter’s hard-earned money.
7. What made the peddler think that he had indeed fallen into a rat trap?
Ans. After stealing the crofter’s money, the peddler avoided the road and walked through the forest. Soon the night fell and he could not find his way out. He walked and walked without coming to the end of the wood. He finally realised that he was walking round and round the same spot. This made him frustrated and tired. Now he realised that he had indeed fallen into a rattrap.
8. Why did the ironmaster speak kindly to the peddler and invite him home?
Ans. The ironmaster mistook the peddler to be his old acquaintance Nils Olof who was a captain and had resigned from the regiment long back. The ironmaster thought that the man was going through a bad phase in his life and so invited him home, especially as it was Christmas Eve.
9. Why did the peddler decline the invitation?
Ans. The peddler declined the invitation, as he had stolen the money and was afraid of being caught. Accepting the invitation would be like throwing oneself voluntarily into a lion’s den.
10. What made the peddler accept EdlaWillmansson’s invitation?
Ans. EdlaWillmansson came to invite the peddler with her fur coat and a valet. She spoke in a very friendly manner and he felt confident in her. She persuaded him to come home and promised him that he would be allowed to leave whenever he would like to.
11. What doubts did Edla have about the peddler?
Ans. Edla noticed that peddler was very scared. She thought he could either be a thief or an escapee from prison.
12. When did the ironmaster realize his mistake?
Ans. When the peddler was given a bath, a haircut and had a shave, the ironmaster realised that the tramp did not look like his regimental comrade. So the next day, at the breakfast table ironmaster realised his mistake.
13. Why did Edla entertain the peddler even after she had known the truth about him?
Ans. Edla was a kind lady. She empathized with the poor peddler and understood how difficult his life had been. She was able to understand his loneliness and poverty. She entertained him even though she knew who he was.
14. Why was Edla happy to see the gift left by the peddler?
Ans. Edla was happy to see the gift left by the peddler because it was symbolic of the positive change in the peddler. He had left the stolen thirty kronor in the rattrap along with a letter. He had requested that the money is returned to the crofter. Edla was happy to know that love and respect given to the peddler by her had made him realise his mistake and make amends.
15. Why did the peddler sign himself as Captain von Stable?
Ans. The peddler was accepted and welcomed to the house as Captain von Stahle. Edla gave the peddler a kind treatment and in spite of knowing the reality, she treated him like a captain. This awakened the latent goodness of his heart and he also behaved in a dignified manner and signed himself as Captain von Stable.
Understanding the Text
16. How does the peddler interpret the acts of kindness and hospitality shown by the crofter, the ironmaster and his daughter?
Ans. The peddler was a vagabond who had no house, no family. He used to sell rattraps. One evening when he was trudging along the road, he saw a cottage by the roadside. He knocked at the door and asked for permission for a night stay at the forge. The owner of the cottage, gave him shelter, food, tobacco the and his company and confidences. He even showed him the thirty kronor that he had saved. But the peddler stole the money the next day, violating the trust of the crofter. Later, the peddler realised that the crofter’s hospitality was bait for him to be trapped.
Similarly, the ironmaster’s hospitality also didn’t impress the peddle much because he was kind to him only because he thought him to be his old acquaintance. But on the contrary, Edla’s kindness and hospitality stirred up the essential goodness in him because her kindness was without any selfish motive in it like the crofter who wanted a company and the ironmaster who wanted to help his old friend. Edla wanted to give some comfort and happiness to the peddler even though she knew that he was a tramp.
17. What are the instances in the story that show that the character of the ironmaster is different from that of his daughter in many ways?
Ans. The ironmaster was the owner of Ramsjo Ironworks. He wanted to send good quality iron to the market. He was a very vigilant observer and hardworking and used to visit his mill even at night for supervision. He was kind and sympathetic to the peddler. But his kindness to him is due to the fact that he mistook the peddler to be his old regimental comrade Nils Olof. That is why when he came to know the truth about the peddler, he got angry and threatened to call the sheriff.
On the contrary, Edla is more observant than her father. When she saw him for the first time, she thought the peddler was either a thief or a jailbreaker. But she was unlike her father. She had special sympathy for the unfortunate people. When her father, knowing the reality of the tramp, asked him to leave, Edla insisted him to stay to spend the Christmas with them. She knew that the peddler didn’t have any place in the world and so she invited him to celebrate Christmas with them. It was only her tenderness and kind behaviour that aroused the essential goodness in the peddler.
18. The story has many instances of unexpected reactions from the characters to other’s behaviour. Pick out instances of these surprises.
Ans. ‘The Rattrap’ deals with human emotions. These emotions, at times, emote unexpected behaviour. One of the most important such unexpected reactions is of the crofter towards the peddler. When the peddler asked him for shelter in the night, he welcomed him and gave him food, tobacco and company. The crofter bestowed so much confidence in the peddler that he even showed him the thirty kronor that he had saved.
In another instance, the peddler was first persuaded by ironmaster to come to his home and when he realised his mistake he got furious and threatened to call the sheriff. Yet another and most unexpected reaction is that of EdlaWillmansson. When the peddler was asked to leave immediately, Edla closed the door and insisted that the tramp stays at their home for Christmas. She showed extraordinary kindness to him. This reaction was completely unexpected and brought out the essential goodness in the peddler and he left the home leaving behind a gift for Edla along with the money he had stolen.
19. What made the peddler finally change his ways?
Ans. It was ironmaster’s daughter Edla’s kindness and empathy that changed the peddler. Throughout his life, the peddler had never received such kindness. Initially, when Edla invited him home, she gave him the freedom to leave whenever he wanted.
Later, when the ironmaster realised his mistake, he wanted to call the sheriff but out of kindness allowed him to leave. But Edla closed the door and insisted on him to stay for Christmas. Her kindness brought out the essential goodness in the tramp. Edla not only served him good food and looked after him very well, but she also offered him to come to their house every Christmas. This generous and kind nature worked as a catalyst to bring about a positive change in the peddler. Thus, by returning the stolen money along with a rat trap as a Christmas present along with a note for Edla, the peddler left the house honourably.
20. How does the metaphor of the rattrap serve to highlight the human predicament?
Ans. The story deals with the metaphor of ‘Rattrap’. It refers to the theory that life is one big attract. It exists for a purpose to set baits for people. It offers riches and joys, luxuries and comforts, food and shelter, heat and clothing exactly as a rattrap offers cheese and pork. The moment anyone lets himself be tempted to touch the bait, it closes on him and then everything comes to an end. The peddler in the story was caught into the trap by the hospitality received at the crofter the trap by the hospitality received at the crofter. His extreme poverty forced him to steal the money. He was at this moment caught into the trap of his own guilt. Even at the ironmaster’s house, he is caught in his own trap. But it is Edla’s extreme kindness and generosity which enabled him to come out of quiet this trap of his and he left the house as a freeman, after confessing his wrong deed and leaving the stolen money. Thus, the metaphor of rattrap very applies highlighted the fact that if you take something you want wrongfully, you will usually get trapped in life by your own consequences.
21. The peddler comes out as a person with a subtle sense of humour. How does this serve in lightening the seriousness of the theme of the story and also endear him to us?
Ans. The peddler is one of the most amusing characters. His theory of rattrap itself is an excellent example of humour in the story. The very idea of comparing a man’s greediness for money and wealth to a rat which hungrily looks around for food and finally gets in the trap evokes humour. Moreover, the tramp himself committed the same error by stealing the crofter’s money is so ironical. The peddler’s attempt not to undeceive the ironmaster, in spite of being afraid to accept the invitation, is very comical. Some of the other funny scenes are when he displayed his smartness after he was recognised by the ironmaster. The display of his anger and frustration at the point when the ironmaster threatened to call the police is also very humorous. In spite of all the things that he did, he came out to be a very lovable character and endears us when he confessed his guilt and left the house in an honourable manner leaving the stolen money, a note and a Christmas gift for Edla.
Talking About The Text
22. The reader’s sympathy is with the peddler right from the beginning of the story. Why is this? Is the sympathy justified? [HOTS]
Ans. ‘The Rattrap’ is written in the backdrop of the industrial revolution in Sweden in the second half of the nineteenth century. Many families were displaced by the growing industry and some people were reduced to a life of extreme poverty. The peddler in the story was a victim of such an economic change. He managed his life by begging and stealing. The pitiable state in which he was living evokes the sympathy of the reader. Even when he stole the money of the crofter, we don’t consider him to be a criminal. It was taken as a normal reaction of a poor man when he saw so much money easily available to him.
Thus, the peddler’s extreme poverty and the circumstances in which he lived, make the reader sympathetic to him from the beginning of the story which is quite justified.
23. The story also focuses on human loneliness and the need to bond with others.
Ans.No doubt the story focuses on the human loneliness and the need to bond with others. The protagonist of the story, i.e. the peddler was a vagabond who had no family and led a lonely life. As he had no companion to talk to he was left to own meditation. The crofter was also a lonely man with no wife or children. When he saw the peddler, he was happy to get someone to talk to and that is why treated him with good food and tobacco. Moreover, ironmaster and his daughter Edla too were leading a lonely life. The ironmaster’s wife died long ago and his sons lived abroad. They had no family and friends to celebrate Christmas.
Thus, the story deals with the loneliness of human beings in different situations and their struggle to cope with loneliness.
24. The story is both entertaining and philosophical.
Ans. The Rattrap’ has both entertaining and philosophical aspects. The very title of the story is metaphorical. it refers to the theory that life is a big rattrap and sets baits for people. Instead of cheese and pork, life offers riches and joys, luxuries, food, shelter, etc. As soon as a human being gets tempted to touch the bait, it closes on him. The peddler got trapped in such a situation when he stole the money of the crofter. Despite the philosophical aspect of the story, it always remains entertaining and binds the reader till the end. The character of the peddler is so entertaining and comical. The very idea of the peddler himself falling into the trap is humorous. The story has a clear and excellent progression of the theme. There is always an element of curiosity. The climax of the story is enthralling. When Edla and ironmaster come back from the church with an idea that the peddler must have taken away all the silver, they find a gift and the stolen money left by him. Thus the story is narrated in such a style that it entertains the reader, besides providing a philosophical insight into life.