Extra Questions, Notes, Assignment and study material for Class 12th as Per CBSE Syllabus
By – Jack Finney
Introduction of the lesson- Third Level
This is a story about a commuter who discovers a train that runs between New York and the year 1894. Charley, a young New York commuter; wandering in the Grand Central station, accidentally finds a portal that leads to 1894. Seizing the opportunity, Charley attempts to escape from the rat race by buying a one-way ticket to his childhood town of Galesburg. Not having the proper currency for the period, he is forced to postpone his plans to escape to the past.
This short story is one of the best examples of a concise, entertaining story about time travel. In this, Finney manages not only to capture the reader’s imagination but also to provide a clear example of time travel that doesn’t confuse the reader.
Short and Simple Summary of the lesson in English– Third Level / Summary in simple Words/ Critical appreciation of the lesson – Third Level
Everyone thought that there were only two levels at the Grand Central Station. But Charley knew that there was a third level and according to him, if one could find it by taking the right twists and turns down corridors and stairs, one will discover that the third level transported one to 1894.
Both Charley’s wife and his psychiatrist were worried that he was losing his grip on reality. His friend, the psychiatrist, felt that it was a waking dream. He felt it was something that he longed to do in reality but could not. It was his way of seeking wish fulfillment. He continued saying that in the present world, people had insecurities, fears, wars, and worries which they wished to escape. This was a moment of escapism for Charley, he said. He supported his view by talking about Charley’s hobby of collecting stamps, which he felt was a ‘temporary refuge from reality’.
However, Charley did not agree with his psychiatrist’s view because he felt that his grandfather, who had also pursued the same hobby, didn’t need an escape from reality as things were quite peaceful then, and neither did President Roosevelt, who also collected stamps.
According to Charley, it had all happened the previous summer when he had worked late at the office and was in a hurry to get back home to his wife, Louisa. Hence, he decided to take the subway from Grand Central because it was faster than the bus. The narrator then introduces himself as an ordinary guy named Charley, thirty-one years old, wearing a tan gabardine suit and a straw hat with a fancy hand. He turned into Grand Central, went down the steps to the first level, and then another flight of stairs to the second level, where he went through an arched doorway towards the subway and got lost. This was not unusual as in Grand Central he was always colliding into new doorways, new stairs, and corridors. Once earlier he had got into about a mile-long tunnel and had come out into the lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel and another time he had come out in an office building on Forty-sixth Street. He had felt that Grand Central was like a tree, from where new corridors and staircases emanated like roots. Hence, when he hit this tunnel, there was nothing unusual about it. He felt that for many people, Grand Central was an exit, a way of escape though he had never told his psychiatrist friend about it.
The corridor he was in, kept angling left and slanting downward but he kept walking. There was not a person around and the only sound that he could hear was of his footsteps. However, soon he heard a hollow roar which was an indication of open space and people talking.
Then, the tunnel turned sharply to the left from where he went down a flight of stairs and reached the third level of the Grand Central Station. For just a moment he thought he was back on the second level, but realized that the basic structures were different. The room was smaller, there were fewer ticket windows and train gates, and the information booth in the centre was wooden and old-looking. He, then, noticed the man in the information booth wore a green eyeshade and long black sleeve protectors, which he realized were because of the open-flame gaslights.
Charley noticed brass spittoons on the floor. He also saw that a man was pulling a gold watch from his vest pocket. He wore a derby hat, a black four-button suit with tiny lapels, and he had a big, black handlebar moustache. But then, everybody at the station was dressed similarly. He felt that he had been transported to the 1890s. The locomotive also seemed to belong to the same era. To ascertain what he was thinking, he walked up to a newsboy. The newspaper was The World that had not been published for years. The lead story about President Cleveland and the date, June 11, 1894, confirmed his thoughts.
He went to the ticket window to buy tickets that would take Louisa and him to Galesburg, Illinois. He wanted to visit that wonderful town with big old frame houses, huge lawns, and fabulous trees that roofed the streets. And on summer evenings, in 1894, people sat out in their lawns, the men smoking cigars and talking quietly, the women waving palm-leaf fans, with the fire-flies all around, in their peaceful world.
But, the clerk did not accept his currency. He felt that Charley was trying to con him. Charley retreated quickly as the idea of going to jail terrified him. This was his experience at the third level.
The next day, he bought old-style currency at a premium. That worried his psychiatrist friend. He had got fewer old-style bills-200 old-style bills for 300 dollars but didn’t care as things were cheaper in 1894. But he never again found the corridor that led to the third level at Grand Central Station. He tried many times to locate the same place but could not.
Louisa was worried and did not want him to look for the third level anymore. She felt that he was losing his sanity. Charley stopped looking for it and went back to his old hobby of stamp collection. But much to their surprise, Louisa and Charley got proof of the existence of the third level, with the disappearance of their friend Sam Weiner.
It happened one night when Charley among his oldest first-day covers, found an unfamiliar one. It carried his grandfather’s address of his home in Galesburg on the cover. The envelope was stamped on July 18, 1894, but Charley didn’t seem to remember it at all. Opening it, he found a letter inside that was addressed to him.
It was from Galesburg and was written on July 18, 1894. It was from his friend Sam, the psychiatrist. It said that he had found the third level and had been there for two weeks. He wanted Charley and Louisa to keep looking for the third level and find it as it was worth the trouble that they would take to find it.
Charley went to the stamp and coin store where he found out that Sam had bought $800′ worth of old-style currency. It was enough to help him settle there in the feed and grain business. He had always wanted to do that. Most importantly, he could not be practicing psychiatry in 1894.
Important Long/ Detailed Answer Type Questions- to be answered in about 100 -150 words each
1.What discovery did Charley make? How?
Ans:- It was common knowledge that there were only two levels at Grand Central Station—New York Central and New York. But Charley was convinced of a third level at the Grand Central Station.
He had often lost his way, though he been in and out of Grand Central hundreds of times because there were so many doorways, stairs, and corridors. He felt that Grand Central was growing like a tree, pushing out new corridors and staircases like roots.
Once, walking down a corridor that seemed to be angling left and slanting downward, he reached a short flight of stairs beyond which he reached the third level at Grand Central Station. After some time had elapsed in confusion, he realized that he was in Galesburg and it was June 11, 1894.
2. What did Charley’s friends and doctor say about the third level? How did his wife react? What was Charley’s reaction to them?
Ans:- When Charley told his psychiatrist friend, Sam, about the third level, he explained it was a waking dream, a wish-fulfillment. He said that Charley was unhappy. This infuriated his wife. But Sam explained that in the modern world, people were insecure, afraid, and anxious. They wanted to escape the stress-ridden world. When he said that his stamp collecting hobby was also a ‘temporary refuge from reality’, all his friends agreed. They found the argument very logical. However, Charley felt that all the people he had known wanted to escape but they didn’t wander down into any third level at Grand Central Station. Second, he felt that it was his grandfather who had put him to his hobby of stamp collection, but in his days, things were pretty nice and peaceful and people didn’t need any refuge from reality unlike in the present day.
3. Reaching the third level was just a coincidence. This was not the first time that he had lost the way. Justify.
Ans:- The Grand Central had so many stairs, doors, and corridors that Charley had lost his way earlier as well. Though he had been in and out of Grand Central hundreds of times, he was always bumping into new doorways, stairs, and corridors. Once, he got into a tunnel about a mile long and came out into the lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel. Another time, he came up in an office building on Forty-sixth Street, three blocks away.
The day he reached the third level, he had gone down the steps to the first level, where trains were like those in the 20th century, and then further walked down another flight to the second level, from where the suburban trains left. Then he went through an arched doorway for the subway and got lost. When this led him to an unknown place that seemed distant in time, he realized that he had reached the third level.
4. How was the third level at Grand Central Station different from the other two?
Ans:- The third level at Grand Central Station was smaller, there were fewer ticket windows and train gates, and the information booth in the centre was wooden and old-looking. The man in the booth wore a green eyeshade and long black sleeve protectors. The open-flame gaslights were dim and sort of flickering. There were brass spittoons on the floor.
The people on the station were dressed like in the 1890s. They had beards, sideburns, and fancy moustaches. Charley saw a man pull a gold watch from his vest pocket. He wore a derby hat, a black four-button suit with tiny lapels. A woman wore a dress with leg-of-mutton sleeves and skirts to the top of her high-buttoned shoes. The locomotive was a very small Currier & Ives locomotive with a funnel-shaped stack.
5. What confirmed the fact to Charley that he was on the third level? Why did Charley wish to go to Galesburg?
Ans:- Charley, at the station, felt that the people were dressed like they did in the 1890s and the locomotives too seemed to be of that period. They were very small Currier & Ives locomotives with a funnel-shaped stack. But what confirmed his suspicions was a newsboy with a stack of papers at his feet. The paper was The World, which hadn’t been published for years. The lead story was about President Cleveland and on it, the date printed was June 11, 1894. At the ticket windows, Charley wanted two tickets to Galesburg, Illinois but the currency he had was not accepted.
Galesburg was a wonderful town even in the 20th century, with big old frame houses, huge lawns, and tremendous trees whose branches met overhead and roofed the streets. And in 1894, summer evenings were twice as long and people sat out on their lawns, the men smoking cigars and talking quietly, the women waving palm-leaf fans, with the fire-flies all around, in a peaceful world.
6. What was the reaction of the clerk at the ticket counter to Charley? Why?
Ans:- After Charley decided to go to Galesburg, he counted out the money that was needed and gave it to the clerk. The clerk stared at him. He looked at the money and nodded. He said that wasn’t a currency that he recognized. He felt that Charley was trying to trick him. He told Charley that if he were trying to trick him, he wouldn’t succeed. He glanced at the cash drawer beside him that had old-style money. Charley understood that if he did not leave, he would be handed over to the police and there was nothing nice about jail, even in 1894.
7. What was Charley’s reaction after coming back from the third level?
Ans:- Charley returned from the third level—the same way he had entered. The next day, during lunch break in his office, he drew $300 out of the bank and bought old-style currency. Although his $300 bought less than 200 in old-style bills, he didn’t care as he was going into an era that was much cheaper than the present times. One could buy a great deal more with the same amount of money. But unfortunately, he never again found the corridor that led to the third level at Grand Central Station, although he tried often.
8. What convinced Louisa and Charley about the existence of the third level?
Ans:- Initially, Louisa was quite worried when Charley told her of the third level. She didn’t want Charley to look for the third level anymore, so after a while, he stopped. But one day, his friend Sam Weiner disappeared. Nobody knew of his whereabouts till one day Charley found an envelope in his collection with an unfamiliar first-day cover. It had been mailed to his grandfather at his home in Galesburg and had been there since July 18, 1894, according to the postmark. The stamp was a six-cent, dull brown one, with a picture of President Garfield. But when he took it out and opened it, inside lay Sam’s letter addressed to him from Galesburg dated July 18, 1894.
9. What is a first-day cover? How did it assume importance in the story?
Ans:- A first-day cover is the first day of the issue of a stamp or the day on which the postage stamp is used to mail self-addressed stamped envelopes. The postmark indicates the city and date on which the item was first issued, and the ‘first day of issue’ is used to refer to this postmark. A first-day cover is an envelope containing blank paper on which the postage stamps have been used on their first day of issue.
In the story, Charley found one that shouldn’t have been there. It dated back to July 18, 1894. It was authenticated by the government. The stamp was a six-cent, dull brown one, with a picture of President Garfield. It had been mailed to his grandfather on the same date by his friend, Sam. The note inside was addressed to Charley.
10. Imagination is a ‘temporary refuge from reality’. Explain.
Ans:- Imagination is the process of forming mental images or concepts of what is not present to the senses. We spend more time imagining than most people ever realize. Within our imaginary world, we create our ideals, role models, heroes, love concepts, perceptions on how to live and survive in life, plans, goals, ideas of pleasure, ideas of fun, and concepts of pain, insult, offence, etc. In other words, we form our personalities and life concepts around our imagination. On one hand, we escape from the harsh realities into our imaginary world, while life remains as it is. If we can derive our pleasure in this tension-ridden age, from our imaginary activities, it would add both to our mental and emotional health.
On the other hand, imagination, as an escape from reality, can become addictive and debilitating. Indwelling too long in our fantasy world we run the risk of losing touch with the real world. And if everyone goes there, who will remain to straighten up the problems of this world? Just as it seems wrong, for example, to prevent terminally ill patients from finding some escape through the use of medical marijuana, it seems a graver mistake to simply pump everyone in pain full of morphine instead of seeking a cure. If at least some of us don’t stay grounded in this world to deal with the real problems of disease, suffering, poverty, and war, the world would truly become a hopeless place.
12. Imagine that you encountered a time machine. Relate your experience.
Ans:- In the summer of 2007, wanting to know whether man would become superhuman, striding ahead in this scientific world, I stepped in the time machine to travel to the end of the century. Sure enough, it took me there. I reached this so-called new universe which was full of possibilities of discoveries and adventures. It was a world of untapped potential and a new, often frightening, world order. The old heroes and the traditional governments in most countries were replaced by corporate entities. There was an increased stratification of the classes: the low was lost in the canyon depths of colossal buildings, while the upper class soared to the heavens. The new drugs preyed upon the weak; hired police forces lent their services only to those who could pay. Money was of paramount importance, technological advances were created but released only if the profit was worth it, no matter how beneficial. The milk of human kindness had gone sour. In this post-apocalyptic Earth bereft of superheroes in the late 20th century, people were yearning and making plans to go back a few centuries. All had learned their lesson in the world of … 2099.
13. What was the psychiatrist’s analysis of Charley’s description of the third level at the Grand Central Station?
Ans:- When Charley described the third level at the Grand Central Station to Sam, a psychiatrist, he said it was a waking dream, a wish-fulfillment. He felt that Charley was unhappy like most in the modern world which were full of insecurity, fear, war, worry, etc. and like most, Charley wanted to escape. Charley admitted to the concerns of the modern world but he did not accept the rest of Sam’s theory as one did not hear of people wandering into any third level at Grand Central Station due to stress.
Sam also felt that most hobbies, like Charley’s stamp collecting, were a ‘temporary refuge from reality’. Charley refuted that as well because his grandfather, who had started the collection, didn’t need any refuge from reality as things had been pretty nice and peaceful in his day.