Class 10 English The Dear Departed Summary and Important Questions

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SUMMARY OF THE LESSON

The play 'The Dear Departed' exposes the pettiness, greed, selfishness and hypocrisy of ungrateful children like Amelia and Elizabeth towards their parents. Mr. Abbel Merryweather is considered to be dead. Mrs. Slater and Henry lose no opportunity to grab as many things of grandfather as they can before the arrival of the Jordans. The Jordans are equally insensitive and greedy. No one has genuine love for the old man except his grand-daughter Victoria. For them mourning for the old man is limited to wearing mourning dresses only. In the end, the 72-years old grandfather pays the mind the same coin. He decides to change his will. He decides to go to St. Philip's church to get married to Mrs. John Shorrocks who keeps the 'Ring-o'-Bells'.
 
When Mrs. Slater and Mrs. Jordan get to know that their father is dead, they concentrate on grabbing his things. Mrs. Slater asks Henry, her husband, to help her in shifting father's bureauand taking his clock before her sister comes . She ask shim to wear father's slippers so that they should be his before her sister Mrs. Jordan comes. She orders for the mourning dress. Regarding Mrs. Jordan, she and her husband come to the Slaters. Both discuss about sending the obituary to the press but desist seeing the cost. Then they want to make a list of ' things like jewellery, insurance etc, to be divided after that. Mrs. Jordan sees the bureau and gets angry. She calls it Mrs. Slater's 'thieving'. Both start fighting and accuse each other over'keeping there father in the past. They are amazed when Victoria, Mrs Sipter's 10 year old daughter says that grandfather is getting up. The old man gets up while this goes on . He is just unable to understand what this is all about. However, he takes no time in understanding the truth when Mrs. Jordan tells him that Mrs. Slaler shifted his bureau. Mrs. Slater rebukes her while Mrs , Jordan calls her 'double-faced'. He 'Silences them saying that he will make a new' will leaving all his things to whomever he would be living with when he dies. But he causes the lightning fall 'ori both his daughters. when he says that next Monday he will do three things. First, he will change 'his wilL Second, he will pay his 'insurance premium. Third, he would get married to Mrs. John Shorrocks, owner of 'Ring-o-Bells'. He thanks Mrs. Slater that it was good she brought the bureau downstairs. It would be ea sy to carry it from there.
 
 
SOLVED QUESTIONS

Q.1: Why does Mrs. Slater scold Victoria ?
Ans. Mrs. Slater is in a hurry. Elizabeth and Ben have been informed of grandfather's death and will be there soon. Victoria is gallivanting about in the street with her grandfather lying dead upstairs. Mrs. Slater wants her to go away and change her dress before her Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle Ben come. They would not like to see her in a colourful dress on the day of mourning. He should wear her white frock on with a black sash.
 
Q.2: Why is Mrs. Slater so much anxious and worried about Elizabeth's coming and how does she prepare to counteract her presence ?
Ans. Elizabeth and Ben have been informed of grandfather' death by a telegram. The can be expected at any moment. Mrs. Slater knows that her sister is very "sharp". "She'll come fast enough after her share of what grandfather's left". She can be very hard when she likes. She'll drive a hard bargain as she has "a low money grubbing spirit". So she prepares herself by grabbing as many things of the 'dead' man as she can before her arrival.
 
Q.3: Mrs. Slater accuses her sister Elizabeth of having a low money grubbing spirit but indigestion 'pinching ' before the Jordans come. Describe this 'double-dealing' of Mrs. Slater.
Ans. Mrs. Slater knows that her sister Elizabeth is 'sharp' and she'll drive a hard bargain over the things left by the 'dead' grandfather. She can be hard when she likes. Mrs. Slater accuses Elizabeth of having a low money grubbing spirit. But she herself is a vulgar woman who is prepared to do anything to get her own way. She has no less money grubbing spirit' then Elizabeth's. She grabs the bureau, clock and even new slippers of grandfather before the Jordans come. Her talks and behaviour are just contradictory.
 
Q.4: How does Henry react when Mrs. Slater asks him to wear grandfather's new slippers. What does it show about Amelia's character?
Ans. Mrs. Slater is meant, vulgar and hypocirte. She wants to grab as many things of the 'dead' man as she can before the arrival of the Jordans. She insists that Henry should wear the slippers of the old man. He is "lucky" that he has got a new pair. Henry is reluctant to do such a thing. He thinks that they will be very small for him. But his cunning wife tells him that they will stretch and she is "not going to have them wasted."
 
Q.5: How does Mrs. Slate grab the bureau of grandfather?
Ans. After grabbing a pair of new slippers of grandfather. Mrs. Slater's eyes fall on the bureau of the old man. She "always wanted to have it after he died ". Henry suggests that she must "arrange" with Elizabeth when she is dividing things up". She tells him that Elizabeth is very she'll drive a hard bargain over it. She forces Henry to help her to bring the bureau downstairs before Eligabeth comes. She'll never guess it wasn't their own.
 
Q.6: How does Henry try to resist the mean and low spirit of grabbing petty things of the dead' grandfather? Is he free from all blemishes and blames ?
Ans. Certainly. Henry is a different human being than his wife Amelia. He is not so mean, greedy and vulgar as his wife is. He is not enthusiastic to wear the new slippers of the old man. They will be "very small" for him. He suggests that Mrs. Slater "must arrange with Elizabeth" when they are dividing things up. When his wife asks him to help her in bringing the bureau of the old man down he says "I wouldn't care to." Mrs. Slater taunts him of being "so daft". But he doesn't think it "delicate, somehow". But he eventually surrenders to his more dominating wife and becomes an accomplice, though reluctantly.
 
Q.7: How do Elizabeth and Ben react when Mrs. Slater describes how the old man died ?
Ans. Mrs. Slater, like a good actress, 'sniffs back a tear' and utters. "Yes, he's gone." He was 72. A fortnight last Sunday. Ben consoles Amelia and then philosophises like a feelingless man : We've all go to die sometime or the other". It might have been worse if any one from them had died. Mrs. Slater considers that mourning is confined to getting "into the black".
 
Q.8: What do the Salters and the Jordans talk about the old man's insurance ?
Ans. Mrs. Slater informs the Jordans that grandfather went to pay his insurance after the breakfast. Ben supports his act as a "good thing" that he did. Mrs. Jordan considers her father "too honourable to have gone" without paying the premium. But later on they doubt that "he's not paid it". Ben calls him "the drunken old beggar". He blames him for doing it " on purpose" just to "annoy" them. Mrs. Slater calls it "nothing short of swinding".
 
Q.9: Describe what the Slaters and the Jordans talk about the announcement' in the papers, regarding the death of grandfather.
Ans. Henry wants them to decide about the announcement in the newspapers. Mrs. Slater wants "At the residence of his daughter .... etc. "in the papers. Mrs. Jordan likes "Never Forgotten" is refined. Henry cares for "a bit of poetry". Then Mrs. Slater wants the words, "A loving husband, a kind father, and a faithful friend." In the end Henry quotes a verse. "Despised and forgotten' but Mrs. Jordan wants a verse that may say how much they loved him. No one is genuinely mourned or grieved. All compete to show off their love for the 'dear departed'.
 
Q.10: Describe the reaction of the Slaters and the Jordans when they come to know that the old man might not have paid the premium. What does this incident show about them ?
Ans. Everybody thinks like Mrs. Jordan that grandfather was "too honourable to have 'gone' without paying his premium. However, they change their tones when they feel that he might have not paid the premium. Ben calls him "the drunken old beggar". Mrs. Slater thinks that "it's nothing short of swindling". This incident shows that grandfather's daughters and Ben were selfish, greedy and hypocrites. They had no love or concern for the old man but always cared for their own petty interests.
 
Q.11 Why does Victoria come down shouting "Mother! Mother ?"
Ans. Mrs. Slater asks Victoria to run upstairs and fetch the bunch of keys lying on grandpa's dressing table. Victoria is reluctant to go upstairs. Soon she returns very scared. She closes the door after her. She should "Mother! Mother" Grandpa's getting up." Everyone thinks that the child is crazy. He again repeats that she saw him getting up. Mrs. Slater and Henry go upstairs. Henry draws back terrified to see Abel Merryweather coming down.
 
Q.12 How do his daughters and their husbands react after seeing Henry alive ?
Ans. When Victoria gives the news that she saw her grandfather getting up, everyone thinks that she's crazy. Mrs. Slater and Henry go up and soon Henry draws back terrified. Abel sees Ben and Mrs. Jordan and asks, "Hello! What brings you here?" Mrs. Slater "pokes him with her hand to see if he is solid." Victoria says "Oh, Grandpa, I'm so glad you're not dead". Abel sees Elizabeth and Amelia in blacks ans asks "Who's gone dead ? It's someone in the family."
 
Q.13 How do Henry and Amelia (Mrs. Slater) try to defend themselves when Elizabeth exposes them before grandfather ?
Ans. Mrs. Jordan leaves no opportunity to humiliate Amelia and Henry. She tells her father what was going on in the family when he was 'dead'. It was "nothing short of robbery." She tells him that Henry try to silence Elizabeth. Mrs. Slater reminds her that she is in her house and can't speak like that, Mrs. Jordan refuses to be silenced. Henry and Mrs. Slater only request, "Hush! Quiet, Elizabeth!"
 
Q.14 Why does grandfather think of destroying the old and making another will ? What does he intend to do.
Ans. When Henry asks grandfather if he made a will, Abel replies that it was locked up in the bureau. But that doesn't matter now. He is thinking of destroying it and making another. He doesn't want to be hard on any one. He will make a new will leaving all his belonging to whomever he is living with when he dies. He will not live alternatively with one of the daughters as he has been doing since his wife died.
 
Q.15 How do Amelia and Elizabeth compete with each other to keep grandfather with them after they come to know of the terms of the new will ?
Ans. Amelia and Elizabeth come to know that grandfather will leave all his belongings to whomever he is living with when he dies. Now they compete with each other to keep the old man with them. Henry thinks that "it's a bit of a lottery -like." Mrs. Jordan assures that they will make him "very comfortable." She says that grandfather will not live with Amelia and Henry "after what's happened" that day. Mrs. Slater hits back, "No. If I'm not to have him, you shan't either". She tells grandfather that Elizabeth "said she'd enough" of him and didn't want to keep him any more.
 
Q.16 Why does Abel Merryweather say, "It's a bit late to say it (sorry) now ?"
Ans. It is only during the quarrel of his daughters that grandfather comes to know the truth. He feels that neither of them has any cause to feel proud about the way they have treated him. Mrs. Slater and Mrs. Jordan feel sorry if they have done anything wrong. Abel reminds them that "it's a bit late to say it, now." Neither of them cared to put up with him. Now they want to keep him as he has told them about leaving his money. He makes it clear that since they don't want him, he'll go to "someone that does".
 
Q.17 What three things will grandfather intend to do on Monday next ?
Ans. Abel Merryweather unfolds what he is going to do on Monday next. First of all, he will go to the lawyer and alter his will. Then he will go to the insurance office and pay his premium. In the end, he will go to St. Phillip's Church to get married. He is going to marry Mrs. John Shorrocks who keeps the "Ring-O-Bells".
 
Q.18 how does Mr. Abel Merryweather unfold his plan of marriage ? What is the reaction of the Slaters and the Jordans when they hear this news ?
Ans. Mr. Abel Merryweather declares that he is going to St. Phillip's Church on Monday to get married . He will marry Mrs. John Shorrocks who keeps "Ring-O-Bells". They have had it fixed up a good while he was keeping it for a pleasant surprise. He was a burden to them, so has found someone who will think it a pleasure to look after him. Ben and Henry shout. "What!" Mrs. Jordan cries in disbelief, "Get married!" Mar. Slater thinks that the old man has gone "out of his senses."
 
Q.19 Describe 'The Dear Departed' as a humorous play.
Ans. In the play. 'The Dear Departed' the writer Stanley Houghton uses suggestive humorous dialogues to highlight the characters and situations. The title itself is ironical and humorous. The man who lay asleep in the bed was though to be dead. Then Mrs. Jordan's remarks, "For myself it's such a relief to get into the black" reveals her character. It is humorous that for the Slaters and the Jordans 'mourning' means "getting into the blacks". When the Jordans and the Slaters explain why they were in blacks and tell after lies, they look very comical and humorous. Equally humorous is their long discussion regarding "the announcement" in the papers.
 
Q.20 Bring out the irony in the title of the play and justify the title.
Ans. Stanley Houghton very appropriately and logically titles the play. "The Dear Departed". It is quite ironical that the departed one is not at all 'dear' to anyone except Victoria. He is a burden and nobody is ready to put up with him. It is quite ironical that for Mrs. Slater, Elizabeth and Ben 'mourning' means only "getting into" their "blacks". They have no love or genuine feelings for "The Dear Departed". Ben ironically remarks "It might have been one of us" bring out the ironical behaviour of the Slaters and the Jordans.
 
Q.21 How does Mrs. Slater grabs old man's belongings before the arrival of Mrs. Jordan and Ben? What is the rode of her husband in all such actituties ?
Ans. Stanley Houghton introduces Mrs. Slater as a 'vigorous, plump, red -faced vulgar woman. She is ready to do any amount of straight talking to get her own way. When the play opens she is seen in black but not in complete mourning. She doesn't show any feeling for the 'dead' man but is determined to put up a good show before Elizabeth comes there with Ben. She asks Victoria to put on a white frock with a black sash. But she is more concerned about grabbing the old man's belongings before the arrival of the Jordans. Her "heart's fit to break" when she sees the "little trifles" that belonged to grandfather lying around. She doesn't leave even new slippers of the 'dead' man and asks Henry to wear them. Then her eyes fall on the bureau of grandfather that is lying in his bedroom. She always "wanted to have it after he died". She knows that her sister Elizabeth is sharp and will drive a hard bargain over it. She asks Henry to help her to bring the bureau downstairs. Henry doesn't find it "delicate" but she chides him for being 'so daft." She finds the clock of the old man very appealing and she brings it down as well. Victoria asks her mother if they were "pinching things before her Aunt Elizabell comes. She warns her not to breathe a word to her about the bureau and the clock. She also asks Victoria not to open the door till she comes down.
 
No doubt, Henry is not so mean-minded and greedy as Mrs. Slater. He doesn't think it a 'delicate' act to wear the 'dead' man's slippers. He suggests Mrs. Slater to "arrange" with Elizabeth when they are dividing things among them. But his wife asks him not to so daft. He is timid, surrenders and becomes a partner in stealing, though, reluctantly.
 
Compare and contrast Amelia and Elizabeth. Support your answer with evidence from the play.
 

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