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On the Face of It
By- Susan Hill
Moral/ Message of the lesson – On the Face of It
The message woven into the plot of the play is that scars do not change a person and handicaps must be accepted by individuals and society.”With a burned face, Deny had to face discrimination, because of which he had turned pessimistic. He had started hating being around people and had concluded that everyone hated him too because of his face. Then Derry meets Mr Lamb, a person who looks at things with a “half full” perspective. He points out that how one green plant is considered desirable and how the other (weed) is undesirable and how the sound made by the bees may be noise to some and music to others. He teaches Deny not to look at his burned face as a disability and try to overcome it just as Mr Lamb had dealt with his tin leg. The moral is very loud and clear that people who are physically disabled should not be isolated, we should help them expand their social interactions and help them fight loneliness, depression and disappointment. Mr Lamb tells Derry that it all depends upon people’s individual perceptions. A thing is a beauty for one while that beauty may be a beast for others.
Reasons for Mr Lamb’s positive influence on Derry
1. Mr Lamb himself was physically handicapped and had also been laughed at and rejected. It was easier for Derry to accept what he said.
(i)Mr Lamb is not scared or repulsed by him. He accepts him and treats him like a normal person.
(ii) He seems to understand Derry and his anguish and doesn’t pity him.
(iii) He does not lecture or moralise.
(iv) He has a positive attitude toward everything. Even feeling that bees sing and do not buzz.
(v) The fact that he doesn’t get angry or put off by Derry’s rudeness and doesn’t force him to stay or listen to him.
3. His views, which are so different from those held by others:
(i) He lets him see he can lead a normal life, unlike Derry’s overprotective parents and others who have isolated him with their negative comments about his appearance.
(ii) He tells Derry he can have the world; that it is in his hands.
(iii) Makes him realise that handicaps are not an obstacle.
(iv)Tells him that all were similar and that there was no difference between him and others who were not handicapped. That beauty was relative.
(v) He also emphasizes that people cannot be grouped together on the basis of their impairments. Each person is different.
(vi) Lets him see that people are important and that you cannot reject them or be afraid of them for then they will do the same.
(vii) Makes him realize that you cannot just remember the bad things people say. That one should remember that good thing.
(viii) Tells him that he feels everyone is a friend till proved otherwise.
(ix) The fact that he opens the world to him by telling him to just wait, watch and listen. He doesn’t expect him to do anything difficult.
1.Scared of meeting people as he hates seeing their fear of him and facing their rejection.
2.Very sensitive—people’s comments hurt him deeply.
3. Upset with parents’ overprotectiveness and mother’s revulsion with his face.
4. Defiant, rude as he is too scared to talk to people.
5. Negative about everything – sees everything in a bad light.
6. Indulges in self-pity over his face.
7. Hates sympathy.
8. Hates the world and keeps away from it.
9. Inner deep desire to be accepted which he hides under an abrasive exterior.
10.Change in the end after listening to Mr Lamb. Ready to face the world and overcome obstacles to do so. Finds courage and strength to get what he wants.
1.Very positive in his outlook. Sees the beauty in everything, including weeds.
2 .Doesn’t let physical handicap prevent him from living life to the fullest.
3. Very friendly, opened his doors to the world.
4. Sees the world is important and that people are important.
5. Strong; doesn’t let people’s negative comments hurt him.
6. Practical; knows one’s life is in one’s own hands.
7.Understanding of Derry’s problems.
Things which hurt Derry
1. His mother kissing him on the good cheek and not the burnt one.
2. Parents talking about what he would do after they died with his face.
3. Parents’ overprotectiveness and making him feel he could not live a normal life.
4. A woman saying only a mother could love him.
5. The person saying he would be better off with people of his own kind.
6. People scared of him.
Meaning of Title
1. On the surface, both Mr Lamb and Derry are similar as both have a handicap, but there are differences in their outlook on life.
2.Mr Lamb is positive about everything and remains happy. He likes people and lives a full life and does not think handicaps are obstacles.
3. But Derry is bitter, hurt at people’s comments, hates the world and isolates himself.