“The Pendulum” is the story of a couple who lived in Frogmore flats. John Perkins, who commuted to work by train, got out at the eighty-first street station in Manhattan and walked slowly towards his flat. As he walked home he was bored for he knew exactly how he was going to pass his evening. He had been married to Katy for two years. Their life had settled into a definite routine and moved in a definite rut. It never changed. His wife would greet him with a kiss at the door, she would smell of cream and butter-scotch. Then he would take off his coat and settle down to read the newspaper. For dinner he would get pot roast, a salad with sauce, stewed rhubarb, and strawberry marmalade.
At half-past seven, a man in the flat overhead would start vigorous physical exercises. They would spread newspaper over the furniture to catch pieces of falling plaster. Exactly at eight, Hickey-Money of the vaudivelle in the flat across the hall would very excitedly begin to overturn the chairs. Then a gentleman across the airshaft would begin to play his flute. At quarter past eight, john would take courage and reach for his hat, read to leave for a game or two of pool at McCloskey’s. his wife would ask complaininolv where he was going. He would return at ten or eleven and find Kat asleep or waiting or waiting to have a fight with him. This had been going on for the past two years and he did not expect any change in that routine. one night when john Perkins reached his flat, there was a great change. The situation was totally different. Katy was not there at the door to greet him with her affectionate kiss; the three rooms were in disorder with things lying scattered here and there. Shoes lay in the middle of the floor. Tongs, hair-brows, comb, powder box, red apron etc. also lay jumbled together on the dresser and the chair. The things revealed that there had occurred some unusual hurry as Katy always put things where they belonged. John Perkins found a note which read that she had received a telegram that her mother was very sick, so she had taken the 4.30 train and gone to see her.
It was the first time that Perkins and Katy had been separated since their marriage and Perkins felt orphaned. Katy’s things lay scattered here and there. Everything in the room spoke of a loss, of an essence gone, of the soul and life departed. He stood there with a strange of desolation. He had never thought what life would be without Katy. Then he took the cold mutton out of the ice box and had a lonely meal. He felt tempted to go out. The night was his. He would enjoy his bachelorhood as best as he could. Now there was no fear of Katy.
While perking like this, he realized that Katy was essential to his happiness. Now he felt guilty for having treated Katy the way he had. He was sorry that he was playing pool with his friends while kitty suffered from loneliness at home and nothing to amuse her. He realized how hard she had been working for his happiness. He was filled with remorse and resolved to make up for his neglect. He would take Katy out and let her see some amusement when she came back. He wouldn’t go to McCloskey’s from that evening.
Just then the door opened and Katy walked in. john Perkins stared at her stupidity. Katy told him that her mother was not seriously ill. She had taken ill for a short spill and got well soon. So she took the next train back and now she was glad at home.
Katy got busy to set everything in place and soon everything was in proper order. John perking looked at the clock. It was 8.15. he reached for his hat and walked to the door. Katy was angry as usual and asked him where he was going. Perkins replied that he would drop into McCloskey’s to play pool with his fellows.
SHORT ANSWER TYPE QUESTIONS:
Comment on the opening of the story. What does the comparison reveal?
Ans. The story begins in a very interesting manner. The train conductor in his blue uniform is called a shepherd in blue. The commuters are called’ a flock of citizen sheep’. The passengers who got down are called ‘the released flock’. They scramble out and scrambled abroad.
‘To-night john Perkins encountered a tremendous upheaval of the common place when he reached his door’. What upheaval was Perkins faced with ? What was responsible for this extraordinary occurrence?
Ans. When perking returned home, he didn’t fined Katy, his wife. Also the room was in a mess. Katy had gone to visit her mother who was sick. She had left her a note behind for Perkins with some instructions. Katy’s things were lying all over the room in disorder. For Perkins it was unusual and unexpected.
John Perkins looked at the clock. It was 8.15: why is the time significant?
Ans. The time 8.15 is very significant. John Perkins is quite punctual in his life and work. He is leading a monotonous, dull life. His effort to add a little pleasure to it has also become mechanical. He used to go to McCloskey every evening at the same time. He thinks about his routine after looking at the watch. Thus it shows that he was a person with an unstable mind who couldn’t stick to his resolutions even for a day.
What resolutions does Perkins make while tidying up his room ? Does he stick to these resolutions?
Ans. As he tidied the room, he felt guilty for having treated Katy the way he had. He was sorry that he was playing pool with his friends while Katy suffered from loneliness at home with nothing to amuse her. He was filled with remorse and resolved to make up for his neglect. He decided to change himself and be punctual in retuming home in future when his wife eventually returned. He would make up for all his neglect. He would take Katy out and let her see some amusement when she came back. He wouldn’t go to McCloskey’s from that evening. But as soon as Katy arrived in, Perkins relapsed to his former behavior. He picks up his hat and walks to the door; ready for McCloskey’s to play a game of pool with his fellows.
What is the greatest instance of irony in this lesson ?
Ans. The greatest irony is that john could have enjoyed himself in his wife’s absence without having to face her anger yet he chose to stay back and mourn her going away. And when she returned he picked up his hat and left, forgetting all his good resolution and intentions.
The relationship between the man and his wife has been described as being “like the air he breathed necessary, but scarcely noticed’. What is the literary device used here ? How does the device drive home the meaning forcefully?
Ans. The author has used’ Simile’ to drive home the meaning forcefully. John Perkins realized Katy’s role in his life only when she was away. She had become an intrinsic part of his life – fused and woven into the pattern or incorporated intrinsically. Now she had vanished as if she had never existed. He realized the keynote of his discomfort as he sat in parlour without Katy. His feeling for her had been lulled into uncon sciousness by the dull round of domesticity. It was the loss of her presence that sharply stirred the feeling that she was necasary to his happiness. The comparison makes the meaning cleverer.
LONG ANSWER TYPE QUESTIONS:
Describe the character sketch of Katy on the basis of your reading of the story, “The Pendulum”
Ans. Katy was a simple lady who was completely devoted to her husband and home. Though loving and caring, she did not fully appreciate her husband john Perkins interests and likings. Like traditional housewives who in the satiety of their married life grow complacent and indifferent to looks and lifestyle, Katy, too, never made any special efforts to true Perkins through winsome manners or any other charming womanly ways. Perkins resented the ‘butter-scotch flavored’ kiss that she showered upon him every evening on his retum home. He hardly ever found the dinner tempting or inviting. Bored with the monotony of his routine, he would leave for a game of pool at McCloskey’s at 8.15 every evening. She would question him about in a querulous tone as she felt neglected and lonely but wouldn’t be able to express her needs and feelings softly to him. However, she was a loyal wife and was fully sensitive to the fact that with the constraints and hardness of his daily routine, Perkins wouldn’t be able to manage the household chores without her. Therefore, she returned home the same day as soon as she got the news that her mother’s condition was stable. Only a little more concern for each other’s tastes and needs would have filled their with charm and sweetness.
Justify the title, “The Pendulum”
Why has the lesson been called The Pendulum’? What are the features common to a pendulum and the main character of the story—Mr. John Perkins Given character sketch of Mr. John Perkins.
Ans. It has been so called because the main character of the story, john Perkins, is a person who is fickle-minded and one changes his stand very easily. Just like a pendulum that never stays in one place this man changes his mind depending on the situation. For instance in the story we see that when his wife goes away to visit her sick mother he is so shaken that he realizes that he had been neglecting her by going out every evening. In the process annoying her. He decides to make amends and pay more attention to her. Yet the moment she returns, he forgets all his good intention and leaves the house to spend the evening playing pool with his friends as usual.
Write a diary entry on behalf of Katy after she returned from her mother’s house.
Ans. 12th July 200X
Wednesday, 8.30 p.m.
What a day! It started off with mother’s urgent telegram. It frightened the daylights out of me. It also left me thoroughly confused because I did not even have the opportunity of consulting john who was at work, it was the first time that I was going out of the housed without his knowledge or without him. I was hoping it wasn’t her quinsy again because that would have meant a lot of care and hence a longer absence from home. But thank God she recovered sooner than I expected. So I took the next train back home.
I had expected a cup of coffee on returning home. Of course that was wishful thinking because the moment I returned john picked up his hat and went out to meet his friends as usual. Really, the man has lost all the feelings ha once had for me. He did not even miss me. His face was as emotionless as usual. He hardly spends time with me these with me these days. He doesn’t even take me anywhere. I really wonder why I love him so much and take care of all his needs. He really upsets me so much at times.
Katy and john visit the Marriage Counselor who gives them some advice. Write out the advice given by the consider
Ans. Well, Mr. and Mrs. Perkins, I have been listening to your problems. I would like to point out that you are not the first couple to face problems so please don’t lose heart. Even the best of marriages have to face ups and downs. It is all a matter of adjusting to one another’s needs. However I have some suggestions for both of you which I’m sure will not require much effort.
Firstly, Mr. Perkins you will have to stop going out ever night. You must realize that as a married man you have some responsibilities towards your wife. You must make it a point to take your wife out more often and buy her small gifts to make her feel loved and appreciated. You should spend more time with her at home also and help her with the household chores. A cup of coffee prepared for her once in a while will work wonders for your marriage. You have to be more caring and loving towards Katy.
As for you Mrs. Perkins, you cannot look untidy all the time. You should also keep the house spic and span. Also please change the cream you use since it irritates your husband so much.
I am quite sure that if you follow my suggestions you will once again discover the love that you once felt for one another.
Imagine you are john Perkins. Make a diary entry recording how much you felt when Katy left home. Also mention the resolution you made it make her happy.
12th July 200X 7.30 p.m.
Today I realized what place Katy holds in my life. I have always taken her for granted.. after coming home, I find everything so desolate. Without her the room seems to have lost its soul. How efficiently she runs the house. Everything is in apple-pie order when she is present. Every evening she waits eagerly for my arrival. But how ungrateful creature I am I I don’t relish even the dinner she prepares so painstakingly for me. I care for my amusement only. I never take her out. Rather much to her annoyance, I leave her alone and go out to play at McCloskey’s. I have realized my brutish behavior. I have neglected her. Now I’ll be more caring and loving towards her. I’ll take her out and make her happy as I can. I’ll stop going to McCloskey’s and spend the evening with her. I’ll help her in her household chores. I have realized that she is the essence of my life. I really miss her a lot. It is never too late to mend and make amends. I’ll many a new beginning. When she returns back, she ‘ll find me a different person—loving , sharing and caring.