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On the Face of It
By- Susan Hill
Short and Simple Summary of the lesson in English– On the Face of It/ Summary in simple Words/ Critical appreciation of the lesson – On the Face of It
The play is about the friendship between an old man, Mr Lamb, and a young boy, Derry, who is withdrawn and defiant. The child is very disturbed because of his scarred face and feels that people do not want to associate with him. He drifts into Mr Lamb’s garden which looks very inviting but Derry panics when he meets the old man. The latter tries to make him feel at ease and advises him to accept life as it comes. Mr Lamb’s philosophy is to celebrate life in all its forms. To him, the difference is a part of life — a flower and a weed are the same, both signs of life, of growth. Having an artificial or a ‘tin leg’, he has had to cope with the cruelty of others but has taken it in his stride. He has a positive and optimistic attitude to life. He tells Derry to live life to the full and to avoid bitterness which can be more destructive than the acid that destroyed his face. He advises Derry to accept life without any pre-conceived notions. The power of choosing what one wants lies in one’s hands. Derry is extremely sensitive about his scarred face and has a fixed opinion that he is repulsive and ugly. He locks himself in a world of his own and avoids contact with others. But inspite of his attitude, he is moved by the old man’s spirit. This is evident from the fact that he defies his mother and returns to the garden, though sadly a little too late. Derry’ s face is scarred while Mr Lamb’s leg is an artificial one, a tin leg’ as he calls it. Both have to cope with the cruelty of others. While Derry withdraws into his shell, Mr Lamb takes it into his stride. One gets glimpses of the loneliness the old man faces in spite of his outward bravado in the scene when he talks to the bees. From Derry’ s point of view also it is sad that when he finally makes an effort to come out of his shell, he is confronted by the loss of the only person who had befriended him.
Summary (2) :
The play revolves around two characters, Deny, a small boy of fourteen years and Mr Lamb, an old man. Deny got his face burnt on one side due to acid and Mr Lamb lost his leg in a bomb explosion during the war. Deny is repulsive and has a very negative attitude towards life, whereas Mr Lamb is optimistic.
One day Deny stole inside Mr Lamb’s garden and found him there. They both start talking. Mr Lamb tried to comfort Derry and asked him not to fear anything. To this, Deny said that he was not afraid instead people were afraid of him due to his burnt face. They either ignored him or pitied him. They called him ugly and made fun of him. Mr Lamb consoled Deny by giving his own example. He said children called him Lamey Lamb’ but he didn’t feel bad about it. He asked Derry to face the harsh realities of life bravely.
Mr Lamb tried to convince Derry that it is the inner beauty of a person that matters. But Derry didn’t agree. He said that even his mother kissed him on the other side of the face. He showed his regret for the fact that he would spend all his life with a half face. Mr Lamb told him that his entire body is in perfect working condition. So he should not feel handicapped due to his half burnt face.
Mr Lamb told Deny to look around to find so many interesting things that he could do. He gave his own example. In order to remain occupied, he looked at the buzzing bees and flowers in the garden. He listened to the sound of birds and insects and enjoyed sitting in the sun. Deny, at this time, got inspired and said that he also wanted to have a big house with a big lawn. Mr Lamb offered him to stay with him but Deny left as his mother was waiting. But before leaving he promised to come back.
Derry went home and told his mother about Mr Lamb. She warned him not to go to meet him. But Derry was determined to come back. In the meantime, Mr Lamb climbed up a ladder to pluck crab apples from the tree. He fell down and died. When Deny came back he found him lying dead on the ground. Though Derry lost his only friend, yet he became strong and positive to face the world with his disfigured face.