On the Face of It
By- Susan Hill
Important Long/ Detailed Answer Type Questions- to be answered in about 100 -150 words each
Q1. Compare and contrast the characters of Mr Lamb and Derry.
Ans.Both Mr Lamb and Derry suffer from a physical impairment. Mr Lamb has an artificial leg made of tin and Derry has a severely burnt face — both the experiences have been terribly painful for the respective sufferers.
Apart from this Mr Lamb does not bother about his lameness or that children make fun of him. He takes life as it comes without grumbling. He keeps the gates of his house and windows open. Mr Lamb loves all the creatures of God and states, ‘There’s nothing God made that doesn’t interest me’. Weeds and flowers demonstrate life and growth. If one isolates oneself; one might suffer like the man in Mr Lamb’s story who died when a picture fell off the wall and killed him.
Derry, on the other hand, is a young boy of fourteen who is conscious of his ugly face and is full of bitterness. Deny is withdrawn and complexed. He hates meeting people. He suffers on account of the pain caused by his notions of how much people hate him and are repulsed by him. Deny is forced by MrLamb to see that actions are more important than looks and even weeds have their value. Mr Lamb’s positive attitude changes Derry and inspires him to rush back and face the world.
Q2. What is the theme of the play ‘On the Face of it’? How has it been worked out?
Ans. ‘On the Face of it’ deals with the theme that appearances are deceptive. Derry’s mother has been warned about Mr Lamb and Deny is seen as a repulsive, ugly boy. Mr Lamb, on the contrary, is a kind and generous man who has a positive and practical outlook. Derry is a vulnerable boy who desires love and acceptance.
The play also deals with the consequences of physical impairment on a person’s emotions. People need love and not pity. This theme has been brought out through the positive attitude of Mr Lamb who draws Deny out of his shell. He tells Derry that acid only burns the face but isolation and withdrawing from the world consumes the whole being. Mr Lamb illustrates that scars do not change a person. On the face of it, people may appear differently abled but they are all the same. They are God’s creations like the weeds and the flowers. It is life. The theme has been woven into the play through the interaction of the two characters.
3. What benefits did Derry reap from his association with Mr Lamb?
Ans. Derry was a fourteen year’s old boy whose one side of the face was burnt because a bottle of acid fell on him. As a result, he became conscious of his ugly face. He found that people either ridiculed him pity on him. He developed a negative attitude towards life. He became frustrated. But when he met Mr Lamb, he got inspiration from him to live life as it comes. Derry was encouraged by Mr Lamb to Look at the world around him and to find many interesting things around him. He found truth, sense and inspiration in Mr Lamb’s words. He learnt to handle the handicap and loneliness from Mr Lamb. In fact, it was Mr Lamb who brought Derry back to life. Deny learnt the way to live life fully by dealing with his infirmity in an appropriate manner.
4. What was Derry’s infirmity? How had it made him withdrawn and defiant?
Ans. Deny was a fourteen-year-old boy. Half of his face was burnt as acid fell on it. This made him look so ugly that everyone either showed pity or ridiculed him. This kind of attitude of people made him bitter. He detested the world and suffered from a lack of self-respect and rejection.
Derry’s infirmity made him so much frustrated that he evaded people. He came to Mr Lamb’s garden because he thought it to be empty. When he saw Mr Lamb, he wanted to go away. He was extremely sensitive and even had a grudge against his mother for kissing him only on the other side of his burnt face.
Thus, due to his infirmity of the burnt face, Deny became defiant and withdrawn. He was frustrated by the rejection of the people and became so much withdrawn that he didn’t want to meet and talk to anyone.
5. Justify the title ‘On the Face of It’.
Ans. The title of the story ‘On the Face of It’ seems to be very appropriate. The idiom ‘On the Face of It’ means from appearance alone or apparently. In the play, Deny is frustrated and has lost self-esteem due to the others’ attitude towards him. Everyone thought that his burnt face was terrible and he was handicapped. Similar was the case of Mr Lamb. He lost his one leg in a bomb explosion. Apparently – both Mr Lamb and Derry had the deformity. But Mr Lamb enabled Deny to have faith in himself and look at the bright side of things and to learn to live with it. Their physical handicap was an apparent thing for them as well as for the world. But the most significant thing is the strength of one’s soul. Mr Lamb was a mentally strong person who handled his own handicap and loneliness very nicely. He became instrumental in making Deny change his views about himself and his deformity and started taking things positively. The chapter deals with the acceptance of the fact that it is not always the same as it appears, i.e., physical handicap has nothing to do with the mental strength and positive attitude towards life.
6. How do Mr Lamb and Derry differ in their thoughts, traits and attitude to life?
Both Deny and Mr Lamb suffer from handicaps, yet their outlook towards life is totally different. Discuss.
Ans. Mr Lamb and Derry both are handicapped. Mr Lamb has lost his one leg in a bomb explosion and Deny has a deformed face due to acid attack. They both differ in their thoughts, traits and attitude to life. Deny is not able to cope with his disfigured face and people’s uncharitable remarks. As a result, he keeps himself withdrawn and alienated from the world and has a very negative attitude towards life. Deny keeps to himself and is extremely sensitive. He can’t stand people staring at him. On the other hand, Mr Lamb is not much affected by his handicap. He enjoys reading books, tending plants and flowers. He has a positive attitude towards life and everything has it comes. He is open-minded and welcomes people. He is not affected when children call him ‘Lamey Lamb’.
Thus, both Derry and Mr Lamb are in contrast to each other and finally, Mr Lamb was able to inspire Derry and get his attitude towards life changed.
7. What kind of atmosphere is created by Mr Lamb to look welcoming and invite people to him?
Ans. Mr Lamb has a very positive attitude towards life. He kept the door of his home open to welcome people into his house. He always spoke in a positive manner. Many children used to come to his garden to steal apples. He never used to rebuke them but wanted to talk and spend time with them as he always used to overcast the mischiefs of others that is why he never got annoyed or disturbed on the comments of children who called him ‘Lamey Lamb’. He accepted life as it came to him. He never put curtains on his windows and used to make toffees and jelly for others. As a lovely man, Mr Lamb always wanted to have a company. He never disclosed his loneliness to anybody and always spoke encouraging words. It was due to the welcoming attitude of Mr Lamb that Deny promised to return to his garden.
8. How does Mr Lamb’s brief association with Derry affect the latter?
How did Mr Lamb’s meeting with Derry become a turning point in his life?
Ans. Deny was a fourteen years old boy whose face was burnt due to acid that fell at one side of his face. He was dejected. People pitied him. He felt pain due to the horror, disgust and pity displayed for him by the people. As a result, he had become alienated. He had withdrawn himself from the people and had developed a pessimistic attitude towards life.
When he met Mr Lamb and spent some time in his company, his entire perspective is changed. Mr Lamb was a person full of life. He told Deny not to be bothered about what people about him and embrace life fully. He advised him to keep his ears shut to what was unpleasant to hear but he should not shut himself in. He inspired Derry by keeping himself busy in spite of his tin leg and being open and cheerful.
Mr Lamb’s advice proved to be a great motivator for Deny and he came out from his shell of alienation. Thus it proves to be a turning point in his life.
9. What is the bond that united the two—the old man, Mr Lamb and Deny, the small boy?
Ans. Deny was a small boy who had a burnt face due to acid. He is very withdrawn and defiant. He runs away from the world as he hates others staring at him. He thinks people are afraid of his infirmity. Similarly, Mr Lamb to is a handicapped person. He had lost his one leg in a bomb explosion during war years ago. He lives alone in this world.
The two of them have infirmity and are rejected by the people. Both have a vacuum in their hearts for not having company. Mr Lamb is a man full of positive energy. When Derry met him to found him drawn towards him. Mr Lamb secured to be the only one who gave him a new line of thought about his physical infirmity.
Thus they both shared a bond that unites the two of them.