Two Gentlemen of Verona is a heart-warming story of human relationships and family ties. In the story set in Italy against the backdrop of the Second World War, the two gentlemen of Verona, the brothers, Nicola and jacopo, take care of their sister Lucia who is suffering from tuberculosis. The boys are poor and wear shabby clothes. Their father was a famous singer and a hard worker who had died in the war. The boys willingly take on the responsibility of providing for their ailing sister, in the absence of their father. While driving through the foothills of the Alps to Verona, the narrator was stopped by two small boys selling wild strawberries. The boys were dressed shabbily in old clothes that were too large for them. The two were dark-skinned and thin, with tangled hair and dark eyes, which had a serious expression. Though their driver tried to dissuade them from buying the strawberries, the narrator and his companion bought the biggest basket the boys had for sale because they were attracted to them. The boys were brothers. Nicola, the elder, was 13 and jacopo, the younger one, was nearly 12. The next morning, the narrator found the two shining shoes outside their hotel. The boys told him that besides picking fruit and shin ing shoes, the two boys also worked as tour guides.
As the boys showed the narrator and his companion around the town, he noticed the boys were childish and innocent. But even though jacopo was lively, and Nicola had a charming smile, both the boys appeared to be very serious.
During the week that the narrator and his companion spent in Verona, they often saw the boys who were always ready to do chores for the two men.
One night, they were surpri sed to see the boys in the windy and deserted square, resting on the stone pavement beneath the lights. It was nearly midnight, and though he looked tired, Nicola sat upright while jacopo slept with his head resting on his brother's shoulder. They were waiting for the last bus from Padua so that they could sell the newspapers.
The narrator was surprised at how hard the boys worked and when he questioned Nicola about it the next morning, he looked ashamed and tongue-tied. The narrator presumed the boys worked so hard and spent frugally as they were saving up to emigrate to America. Nicola expressed a desire to go to the States but said they had plans in Italy at the moment. The narrator then offered help before he left for the United States on the following Monday. Nicola declined the offer, but jacopo readily took him up on it and asked him if they could go to Poleta, 30 kilometres from Verona, in the narrator's car. The narrator readily agreed to drive the boys there himself. He assured Nicola, who appeared to be angry with his brother that it wouldn't be any trouble to do so.
The following afternoon they drove to the tiny village set high upon the hillside. At Poleta, Jacopo directed him to a large red-roofed villa, surrounded by a high stone wall. As soon as the car came to a halt, the two boys jumped out and telling the narrator they would be back in an hour, they entered the villa.
After a few minutes the narrator followed the boys inside. When he rang the bell, a nurse opened the door. He asked her about the two boys. She led the narrator through the hospital and stopped near the door of a little cubicle. Through the glass partition, the narrator saw the boys sitting next to a girl of about twenty who, sat propped up on pillows listening to their chatter, her eyes soft and tender. He realized at once she was their sister from their resemblance to another.
The nurse told him that the children, who had lost their mother earlier, lost their father in the war. He had been a well-known singer. Shortly afterwards, a bomb had destroyed their home. As a result, the three children were left homeless and destitute. The children who had always known a comfortable and cultured life, suffered from lack of food and cold. For months they lived in a shelter they bu ilt with their own hands amidst the rubble. Then for three years the Germans ruled the city. The boys grew to hate the Germans. When the resistance movement began secretly to form they were among the first to join. When the war was over, and there was peace at last, they came back to their beloved sister. Lucia, who had earlier been training as a singer had developed tuberculosis of the spine.
The boys did not give up. They brought her to the hospital. Lucia had been in the hospital for twelve months and was making good progress. One day she would walk-and sing-again. The boys, in the meantime, struggled hard to pay for her treatment.
The narrator went back outside and waited until the boys came out. Then he drove them back to the city. He did not let them realize he knew their secret though he was very impressed by their devotion. War had not broken their spirit. Their selfless action brought a new nobility to human life, gave promise of a greater hope for human society.
Q.1: They were selling wild strawberries. "Don't buy," warned Luigi, our cautious driver. "You will get fruit much better in Verona. Besides, these boys ..................... "
He shrugged his shoulders to convey his disapproval of their shabby appearance.
(a) Who were selling wild strawberries?
(b) Why does the narrator call Luigi a cautions driver?
(c) What did Luigi want to convey and why?
Ans. (a) Two brothers Nicola (13) and Jacopo (12) were selling wild strawberries.
(b) Luigi was quite cautions about what to buy and whom to buy fruit from.
(c) Luigi wanted to convey his disapproval of the shabby appearance of the boys and buying strawberries from them.
Q.2: They were childish enough, and in many ways quite artless. Jacopo was lively as a squirrel. Nicola's smile was steady and engaging. Yet in both these boyish faces there was a seriousness which was far beyond their years.
(a) Why does the narrator call them 'childish' and 'artless"?
(b) Contrast two different styles of Nicola and Jacopo.
(c) What brought a 'seriousness' for beyond their years' on their boyish faces?
Ans. (a) The narrator calls Nicola and Jacopo 'childish' and 'artless' because they were free from cunningness and had 'innocence' of childhood in them.
(b) The younger brothers Jacopo was full of life and energy and he was active like a squirrel. The elder brother Nicola was composed and constant.
(c) Heavy burden of responsibilities brought a 'seriousness' far beyond their years on their boyish faces.
Q.3: "Won't you go in?" The nurse murmured. "Lucia will be pleased to see you." I shook my head and turned away. I felt I could not bear to intrude upon this happy family party. But at the foot of the staircase I drew up and begged her to tell me all she knew about these boys.
(a) What did the nurse ask the narrator to do?
(b) Why did the narrator turn away and didn't go inside?
(c) What did he ask the nurse to do?
Ans. (a) The nurse asked the narrator to come inside the cubicle and meet the boys and their sister Lucia there.
(b) The narrator turned away as he didn't want to intrude upon the party and privacy of the happy family.
(c) He begged the nurse to tell him all she knew about those boys and their family.
Q.4: I waited outside until the boys rejoined me, then drove them back to the city. They sat beside me not speaking. For may part, I did not say a word – I knew they would prefer to feel that they had safely kept their secret. Yet their devotion had touched me deeply. War had not broken their spirit. Their selfless action brought a new nobility to human life, gave promise of a greater hope for human society.
(a) How did the narrator and the boys behave while they were in the car?
(b) What was their secret and what would they prefer to feel?
(c) How were the boys a hope for humanity?
Ans. (a) The boys sat beside the narrator and spoke nothing. The narrator also didn't utter a word to them.
(b) The boys wanted to feel that they had succeeded in keeping their secret from the narrator that they were working hard and saving money for the treatment of their sister.
(c) Their selfless action, sacrifice, sincerity and devotion to the cause gave a new hope for humanity.
Q.5: Where did the narrator find the two young boys and what were they doing there?
Ans. The narrator and his driver Luigi were driving through the foothills of the Alps. Two young boys stopped them on the outskirts of Verona, a city in Italy. They were selling wild strawberries. They stopped them considering them their prospective customers.
Q.6: Why did the 'cautious' driver show his disapproval of the two small boys selling wild strawberries?
Ans. The two young boys were selling wild strawberries. The cautions driver Luigi conveyed his disapproval of buying strawberries from them on two grounds. The boys looked shabby in their appearance. Moreover, they could get much better fruit in Verona, which was not far away from there.
Q.7: Describe the physical appearance of Nicola and Jacopo as they are described by the narrator.
Ans. Nicola, the elder brother was 13 and was more composed and steady than his younger brother Jacopo who was 12 and was as lively as a squirrel. One boy was wearing a worn jersey and cut-off khaki pants. The other was wearing a shortened army tunic gathered in loose folds over his skinny frame. The two brothers had brown skins, tangled hair and dark earnest eyes.
Q.8: Why did Nicola smile uncomfortably when the narrator asked them about their future 'plans'? Why was Nicola evasive?
Ans. The narrator thought that the two young boys were saving money to emigrate to America. Nicola replied that for the time being they had 'other plans' than going to the States. The narrator wanted to know about their future plans. Nicola was evasive on this question. He didn't want a stranger to know their immediate family plans. They saved money to pay for the treatment of their ailing sister. Hence.He was evasive and only uttered "Just Plans, sir and smiled uncomfortably".
Q.9: Luigi might have the Sunday off. Even then why did the narrator agree to drive them to Poleta?
Ans. The narrator told the boys that they were leaving Verona on Monday. He asked if he could do anything for them before going. Nicola remained silent but Jacopo burst out. He asked if he could drive them to Poleta, 30 kilometres from Verona on Sunday. The narrator knew that Luigi might have the Sunday off. Still he was so much impressed by the sincerity and devotion of the boys that he agreed to drive them himself to Poleta on Monday.
Q.10: Did Nicola like Jacopo's asking the narrator to drive them to Poleta on the coming Sunday? If not,why did he glare his brother in vexation?
Ans. Both the boys were self-respecting and hardly look for favours from other persons. However, jacopo, the younger brother showed a little weakness. He got ready to take a little favour from the narrator. The narrator asked if he could do anything for them before leaving Verona on Monday. The younger brother wastempted to ask if he could drive them to Poleta on Sunday. The self respecting and proud Nicola didn't relish it. He didn't want to take favour or put others in trouble for them. He looked glaringly at Jacopo in vexation.
Q.11: What did the narrator see when he looked through the glass partition?
Ans. The nurse bade the narrator to look through the glass partition. He saw the two boys seated at the bedside of a girl. The girl propped on the pillows listening to their chatter. She resembled her brothers.
Q.12: Why did the nurse put her fingers to her lips? Why did she ask the narrator to go in after some tie?
Ans. The nurse took the narrator to the door of a little cubicle. Reaching there she paused and put her fingers to her lips. She asked the narrator to look only through the glass partition. The calling girl Lucia was talking to her Brothers sitting at the bedside. The nurse didn't want to alarm them. She assessed the situation and allowed the narrator to go on after some time.
Q.13: Why didn't the narrator go in to see the boys and their sister in the cubicle inspect of the nurse's insistence on it ?
Ans. The nurse asked the narrator to go inside as Lucia would be pleased to see him. But the narrator dropped the idea of going inside of going inside. He shook his head and turned away. He didn't want to intrude upon that happy family party and privacy.
Q.14: Why did the boys grow to hate the Germans?
Ans. The Germans were responsible for their ruin. They brought troubles for their family. Their father, a wellknown singer, died in the early part of the year. Their mother had died much earlier. The bombing destroyed their house. The Germans occupied the city for three years. The boys hated the Germans. They were among the first to join the resistance movement against the Germans.
Q.15: What did Nicola and Jacopo do for her ailing sister? How could they manage to pay off the hospital bills?
Ans. Nicola and Jacopo did everything to make her ailing sister comfortable and happy. Lucia was suffering from tuberculosis of the spine. They got her admitted in a hospital. They visited her on Sunday every week. They worked very hard and did all kinds of jobs to earn money. But they didn't give up and arranged to pay the bills regularly. They hoped that she would be able to walk and sing again one day.
Q.16: Describe and justify the title: 'Two Gentlemen of Verona'.
Ans. The story has been aptly and logically titled 'Two Gentlemen of Verona. The title of the story is that of one of the early plays of Shakespeare. In the story the two gentlemen are Nicola and Jacopo. They are through gentlemen because they are gentle, cultured and human. They do all kinds of jobs to earn a living and make others extremely comfortable. They can be relied up onto give any kind of service. Their selfless sacrifice and devotion to their cause raise them to human heights and dignity.
Q.17: Give pen-portraits of two brothers, Nicola and Jacopo highlighting their main traits and virtues in your own words.
Ans. Nicola and jacopo were two young boys. Nicola, the elder brother was 13. Jacopo who barely came up to the handle of a car, was nearly twelve. One by was shown wearing a worn jersey and cut-off khaki pants. The other wore a shortened army tunic. They hand brown skins, tangled hair and dark earnest eyes. Even Luigi conveyed his disapproval of their shabby appearance.
The poor boys were the victims of the German war. The Germans brought disaster and destruction of their family. Their mother had died much earlier. The father, who was a well-known singer, died in the early part of the war. They were left as shelterless orphans as their house was destroyed by a bomb.They hated the Germans and were among the first to join the resistance movement against them. They had no one to call their own except their sister Lucia. They met their beloved sister after the war.
And they found that she was suffering from tuberculosis of the spine.
Nicola and Jacopo were real fighters, heroes. Even the worst kinds of difficulties and the war could not break their spirit. They continued their struggle against heavy odds. They were self-respecting and never complained or asked for favours from anybody. They saved every penny which they could earn. They spent little on their food and clothes. But they never forgot to make their payment of the hospital bills every week. They got their sister admitted to a hospital and visited her on Sundays. They hoped that one day she would be able to walk and sing again. Their selfless action, sacrifice and devotion to the cause give a new hope for humanity.
Q.18: The boys were willing to undertake any job not only for making a living but also for a nobler cause. They had to save their beloved sister. This made their struggle and sacrifice quite ennobling and unique.
Ans. Nicola and Jacopo were fighting against heavy odds. Their family was completely destroyed in the war. They had lost their shelter and parentage. Now they were orphans. They had none in this world who they could call their own except their beloved sister Lucia. And even she was suffering from the tuberculosis of the spine. Their struggle for existence is long but heroic. They were forced to shoulder much bigger responsibilities at a very tender age. They were innocent and artless. They sold fruit, hawked newspapers, conducted tourists round the town, shined shoes and ran errands. They proved extremely useful to anyone and could be relied upon to satisfy the needs of their patrons. They remained awoke till midnight on a chilly wintry night waiting for the last bus from padua. They did all this not only to buy food and clothes. Actually. They spent little money on them. They worked so hard not to emigrate to the States. They were struggling and saving every penny for a nobler cause. They had to pay the hospital bills every week. They had to save their beloved sister Lucia. She was in the hospital. She had been there for the last few months. Life was very hard in Verona. They had no regular job or any source of income. However, they didn't give in. Their devotion and selfless sacrifice bore the desired results. Lucia had shown a lot of progress. It was hoped that she would be able to walk and sing again one day.
Their selfless struggle and sacrifice to save their beloved sister made them real heroes. Their self-respect and pride in themselves and their cause lifted them to human heights. They did so without complaining or without asking for any favour from anyone.
Q.19: The narrator was highly impressed by the selfless struggle of Nicola and Jacopo for their existence. But what touched him most was their sense of self-respect and their devotion to their sister. He makes a diary entry in about 120 words. Reproduce that entry here in your own language.
Ans. 20th March, 1947. Verona.
Life throws many surprises. When I first encountered Nicola and Jacopo on the outskirts of Verona, I took them just two ordinary boys and nothing more. They were selling wild strawberries. My driver Luigi did not approve of their shabby appearance but I bought the biggest basket. Soon I found them shining shoes in the public square. They did so many things to earn a living. They shined shoes, hawked newspapers, conducted tourists round the town and ran errands. Very soon they proved very useful to us. If we needed a pack of American cigarettes, seats for the opera or the name of a good restaurant, we could rely on them to satisfy our needs. One day I saw them resting on a stone pavement on a windy and chilly night waiting for the last bus from Padua. They wanted to sell their unsold newspapers to the passengers.
I came to know of their selfless sacrifice and devotion rather late. I thought they were saving money to emigrate to the States. They were self-respecting boys who never troubled others or asked for any favours from anyone. When I drove them to Poleta, I didn't know why they came there. I could know only from the nurse how the war made them homeless orphans. Their only sister Lucia was suffering from tuberculosis of the spine. Now I could understand why they spent little money on their food or clothes. They saved every penny for the treatment of their sister. They didn't want to make their personal pains and grief public to anyone. They were proud to keep their family secrets only to themselves. Their selfless love and devotion to the cause give a new hope to all of us and to humanity.
Q.20: How did the 'Two Gentlemen of Verona', Nicola and Jacopo give promise of a greater hope for human society. Justify the title. What message does the story give to the readers?
Ans. A.J. Cronin titles the story 'Two Gentlemen of Verona'. A title of one of the early plays of Shakespeare. The story is aptly and rationally titled. Really the two small boys, Nicola and Jacopo, have all the virtues and gentlemanly grace and grandeur. Their selfless action, Their sacrifice and total devotion to their cause make them noble characters. They were totally ruined by the war. The war left them as homeless orphans. They had no one in the world to call their own except their homeless orphans. They had no one in the world to call their own except her sister. And she was suffering from tuberculosis of the spine. Both Nicola and Jacopo showed rare courage and determination to fight against heavy obstacles that came in their way. They undertook all kinds of work not only to earn a living but also to save money for the treatment of lucia. They spent little on their food or clothes. They saved every penny so that they could pay the bills of the hospital every week. Their selfless sacrifice, sincerity and devotion to their cause earn our respect, sympathy and love for them. They were too self-respecting and proud to show their personal troubles or grief to any outsider. Nor they ever asked for any favour from any one. They didn't want anyone to intrude upon their family's secrecy. Nor could they imagine to trouble others for their own advantage. They were the finest specimen of humanity and their example gives promise of a greater hope for human society.