On the face of it CBSE Class 12 English (Vistas) Lesson, Explanation, Summary, Difficult words
CBSE Class 12 English Lesson 6 On the face of it Explanation, Notes
On the face of it CBSE Class 12 NCERT English (Vistas) Lesson 6 - Detailed explanation of the Lesson along with meanings of difficult words. Also, the explanation is followed by a Summary of the Lesson. All the exercises and Question and Answers given at the back of the lessons have been covered.
Class 12 English (Vistas) Chapter 6 On the face of it
by Susan Hill
About the Author
Susan Hill is an English author of fiction and nonfiction works. Her novels include the ‘woman in black’, ‘The mist in the mirror’ and ‘I’m the king of the castle’ for which she received the Somerset Maugham award in 1971.
On the face of it Introduction to the lesson
The story is about a teenage boy, Derry, who has a burnt face and Mr. Lamb who is a disabled old man with an artificial leg made of tin. Derry accidently enters his garden so that he can hide himself from people who hate him because of his ugly face. Mr. Lamb not only welcomes him in his garden but also encourages him to lead a normal life, leaving behind his past.
On the face of it Summary
The story begins with a teenage boy entering a garden. His face is burnt on one side due to an accident when acid fell on half of his face. He has gone there to hide himself as he is afraid of facing people. He fears being teased by others for having such a face. But when he enters, he finds someone already present there. He tries to leave the place but he is stopped by the old man, Mr. Lamb, the owner of the garden. Derry feels guilty for entering the garden without permission. Mr. Lamb welcomes him and tells him not to leave just because of his presence. Derry wants to leave as he thinks people don’t like his face and moreover ,they get afraid of his looks. But Mr. Lamb insists him to stay there. They enter into a conversation that how Derry is not liked by anyone and how he hates people behaving like this with him. Mr. Lamb tries to console him. He tells him that he has a tin leg and kids make fun of him. Still he is not depressed and enjoys his life. They both talk about various things and this leads to revelation of Derry’s fear, depression and hatred about his being in such condition. But Mr. Lamb keeps on telling him to think of the positive things. Soon they become friends and Mr. Lamb asks him to help him in plucking the crab apples of his garden. Derry tells him that he had come too far from his home and hadn’t told anything about this to his mother. Mr. Lamb tells him to take permission from his mother. Derry finds it difficult and this leads to a small quarrel between both of them. At last Derry tells him that he would come back after taking his mother’s permission. His mother does not want him to go back but he comes back again to fulfill his promise. Meanwhile Mr. Lamb climbs the ladder on his own to pluck the crab apples as he was sure that Derry would not return. He was disabled and it was difficult for him to climb. Mr. Lamb falls from his ladder and dies. Derry, on the other hand, returns to the garden to help him. When he enters the garden, he sees Mr. Lamb lying on the ground. Derry tries hard to make him move but did not get any response from him. Finally he comes to know that he is dead and starts crying.
On the face of it Lesson and Explanation
Mr. Lamb’s garden [There is the occasional sound of birdsong and of tree leaves rustling. Derry’s footsteps are heard as he walks slowly and tentatively through the long grass. He pauses, then walks on again. He comes round a screen of bushes, so that when Mr. Lamb speaks to him he is close at hand and Derry is startled]
Rustling: whisper, low sound
Tentatively: hesitantly, without confidence
Startled: feeling a sudden shock
The narrator describes the setting of scene 1. The location is Mr. Lamb’s garden. One can occasionally hear the birds singing and the low sound of the tree leaves. Derry, a young boy enters the garden hesitantly. When he comes out of the bushes, he is surprised to hear Mr. Lamb talking to him.
MR LAMB: Mind the apples!
DERRY: What? Who’s that? Who’s there?
MR LAMB: Lamb’s my name. Mind the apples. Crab apples those are. Windfalls in the long grass. You could trip.
DERRY: I....there....I thought this was an empty place. I didn’t know there was anybody here....
MR LAMB: That’s all right. I’m here. What are you afraid of, boy? That’s all right.
DERRY: I thought it was empty....an empty house.
MR LAMB: So it is. Since I’m out here in the garden. It is empty. Until I go back inside. In the meantime, I’m out here and likely to stop. A day like this. Beautiful day. Not a day to be indoors.
DERRY: [Panic] I’ve got to go.
Crab apples: a small sour apple
Windfalls: unexpected gain, jackpot
MR LAMB: Not on my account. I don’t mind who comes into the garden. The gate’s always open. Only you climbed the garden wall.
DERRY: [Angry] You were watching me.
MR LAMB: I saw you. But the gate’s open. All welcome. You’re welcome. I sit here. I like sitting.
DERRY: I’d not come to steal anything.
MR LAMB: No, no. The young lads steal....scrump the apples. You’re not so young.
DERRY: I just....wanted to come in. Into the garden.
MR LAMB: So you did. Here we are, then.
DERRY: You don’t know who I am.
MR LAMB: A boy. Thirteen or so.
DERRY: Fourteen. [Pause] But I’ve got to go now. Good-bye.
MR LAMB: Nothing to be afraid of. Just a garden. Just me.
DERRY: But I’m not....I’m not afraid. [Pause] People are afraid of me.
MR LAMB: Why should that be?
DERRY: Everyone is. It doesn’t matter who they are, or what they say, or how they look. How they pretend. I know. I can see.
MR LAMB: See what?
DERRY: What they think.
MR LAMB: What do they think, then?
DERRY: You think.... ‘Here’s a boy.’ You look at me...and then you see my face and you think. ‘That’s bad. That’s a terrible thing. That’s the ugliest thing I ever saw.’ You think, ‘Poor boy.’ But I’m not. Not poor. Underneath, you are afraid. Anybody would be. I am. When I look in the mirror, and see it, I’m afraid of me.
Scrump: steal from garden
Pretend: to behave as if something is true when you know that it is not
Underneath: directly below
Mr. Lamb tried and to stop him and said that there was no need to leave the garden just because of him. He also told him that he kept the gate open for people it was only Derry who jumped the wall. Derry got angry for being pointed at like that. He also clarified that he hadn’t come to steal anything from there. Mr. Lamb agreed by saying that at many times, apples had been stolen by young boys and that Derry was not so young. But still, Derry wanted to leave. Mr. Lamb told him not to be afraid of him and asked him to stay there for a while. Derry told him that he was not afraid of anyone; rather people were afraid of him. Lamb asked him the reason for that. He told him that he knew what people thought and how they behaved in front of him. Mr. Lamb questioned him about what others thought of him. Derry said that people got scared on seeing his face. Some considered it bad or ugly while some even took pity on him by saying that he was a poor boy. He added that they were fake. Actually, they all were afraid of his face. He even got scared of his own face when he looked into the mirror. He added that Mr Lamb will also pity him but in his heart, he will also be scared of Derry.
MR LAMB: No, Not the whole of you. Not of you.
MR LAMB: Later on, when it’s a bit cooler, I’ll get the ladder and a stick, and pull down those crab apples.
They’re ripe for it. I make jelly. It’s a good time of year, September. Look at them....orange and golden. That’s magic fruit. I often say. But it’s best picked and made into jelly. You could give me a hand.
DERRY: What have you changed the subject for? People always do that. Why don’t you ask me? Why do you do what they all do and pretend it isn’t true and isn’t there? In case I see you looking and mind and get upset? I’ll tell....you don’t ask me because you’re afraid to.
MR LAMB: You want me to ask....say so, then.
DERRY: I don’t like being with people. Any people.
MR LAMB: I should say....to look at it.... I should say, you got burned in a fire.
DERRY: Not in a fire. I got acid all down that side of my face and it burned it all away. It ate my face up. It ate me up. And now it’s like this and it won’t ever be any different
Mr. Lamb said that he wasn’t afraid of Derry. Derry was shocked to hear that. Then Mr Lamb told him that he would bring a ladder and stick and pick fine and ripe crab apples as they made a good jelly. He also told him that in September, they get ripe and become a magic fruit having orange and golden colour. He also asked him to join him in doing so. Derry pointed him for changing the topic just like other people did. He added that Mr. Lamb didn’t ask him about his face because he was afraid of asking about it. Derry got annoyed and said that he did not like the company of people. Mr. Lamb guessed that may be his face got burnt in some fire. Derry told him that it was due to acid that had burned half of his face. He was so grieved (sad) that he kept on repeating that acid ate his face and that it would never get cured.
MR LAMB: No.
DERRY: Aren’t you interested?
MR LAMB: You’re a boy who came into the garden. Plenty do. I’m interested in anybody. Anything. There’s nothing God made that doesn’t interest me. Look over there....over beside the far wall. What can you see?
MR LAMB: Rubbish? Look, boy, look....what do you see?
DERRY: Just....grass and stuff. Weeds.
MR LAMB: Some call them weeds. If you like, then....a weed garden, that. There’s fruit and there are flowers, and trees and herbs. All sorts. But over there....weeds. I grow weeds there. Why is one green, growing plant called a weed and another ‘flower’? Where’s the difference. It’s all life.... growing. Same as you and me.
DERRY: We’re not the same.
MR LAMB: I’m old. You’re young. You’ve got a burned face, I’ve got a tin leg. Not important. You’re standing there.... I’m sitting here. Where’s the difference?
DERRY: Why have you got a tin leg?
MR LAMB: Real one got blown off, years back. Lamey-Lamb, some kids say. Haven’t you heard them? You will. Lamey-Lamb. It fits. Doesn’t trouble me.
DERRY: But you can put on trousers and cover it up and no one sees, they don’t have to notice and stare.
MR LAMB: Some do. Some don’t. They get tired of it, in the end. There’s plenty of other things to stare at.
DERRY: Like my face.
MR LAMB: Like crab apples or the weeds or a spider climbing up a silken ladder, or my tall sun-flowers.
Weed: unwanted plant
Stare: to look at
Mr. Lamb did not agree with him. Derry thought that he was not interested in his story. To this, Mr. Lamb said that he was interested in each and every creation of God. He pointed out at a wall and asked him what did he see beyond it. Derry replied that there were weeds or unwanted plants. Mr. Lamb explained that there were a number of plants in his garden. There were flowers, trees and herbs - some plants were considered good and some were called ‘unwanted plants’ (weed). It was not because they were different, all of them were green in colour. It was about how people considered them to be- herbs or weeds. In reality, they all were same just like Derry and himself. Derry did not agree to this. Mr. Lamb told him that there was no difference. He was young and Mr. Lamb was old. He had a burned face and Mr. Lamb had a tin leg. These things were not so important and so, they didn’t make any difference. Derry asked him the reason behind his tin leg. He replied that it got damaged in an explosion many years ago. Kids teased him by calling him ‘Lamey- lamb’. Derry said that he could cover the tin leg with his trousers so that no one could see it. Mr. Lamb said that it did not bother him much as one day, people would get tired of teasing him and would start discussing something else. Derry showed his face in reply to Lamb’s statement. Mr. Lamb suggested that things like crab apples, weeds, spiders and the tall sunflowers could also be some of the other things that people would probably look at and discuss.
MR LAMB: It’s all relative. Beauty and the beast.
DERRY: What’s that supposed to mean?
MR LAMB: You tell me.
DERRY: You needn’t think they haven’t all told me that fairy story before. ‘It’s not what you look like; it’s what you are inside. Handsome is as handsome does. Beauty loved the monstrous beast for himself and when she kissed him he changed into a handsome prince.’ Only he wouldn’t, he’d have stayed a monstrous beast. I won’t change.
MR LAMB: In that way? No, you won’t.
DERRY: And no one’ll kiss me, ever. Only my mother, and she kisses me on the other side of my face, and I don’t like my mother to kiss me, she does it because she has to. Why should I like that? I don’t care if nobody ever kisses me.
MR LAMB: Ah, but do you care if you never kiss them.
MR LAMB: Girls. Pretty girls. Long hair and large eyes. People you love.
DERRY: Who’d let me? Not one.
MR LAMB: Who can tell?
Derry commented that the other things mentioned by Mr Lamb were things i.e. they were non - living. Mr. Lamb replied that all the things were related to each other. Just like beauty is related to the beast i.e. a beautiful creation is related to ugliness. Derry was confused. Mr. Lamb asked for Derry’s opinion. Derry replied that often he had heard people saying that beauty is not related to one’s appearance, rather, inner beauty is our real beauty. Even a handsome man is the one who does something good rather than one who looks good. He said that once, a beautiful girl loved a beast for who he was and kissed him which turned the beast into a handsome prince. He wouldn’t have changed, if she hadn’t kissed him. But then he said that he won’t change. Mr. Lamb said that Derry was right at that. Derry said that no one would kiss him ever because of his face. Even his mother kissed him on the good side of his face. He did not like this at all. He said he didn't care even if nobody kissed him. Mr. Lamb asked him that did Derry ever want to kiss someone. Derry asks him what he was talking about. Mr. Lamb said that probably Derry wanted to kiss pretty girls who had long hair and large eyes or other people whom Derry loved. Derry replied that no one would ever allow him to do so. Mr. Lamb said that this was unpredictable.
DERRY: I won’t ever look different. When I’m as old as you, I’ll look the same. I’ll still only have half a face.
MR LAMB: So you will. But the world won’t. The world’s got a whole face, and the world’s there to be looked at.
DERRY: Do you think this is the world? This old garden?
MR LAMB: When I’m here. Not the only one. But the world, as much as anywhere.
DERRY: Does your leg hurt you?
MR LAMB: Tin doesn’t hurt, boy!
DERRY: When it came off, did it?
MR LAMB: Certainly.
DERRY: And now? I mean, where the tin stops, at the top?
MR LAMB: Now and then. In wet weather. It doesn’t signify.
DERRY: Oh, that’s something else they all say. ‘Look at all those people who are in pain and brave and never cry and never complain and don’t feel sorry for themselves.’
MR LAMB: I haven’t said it.
DERRY: And think of all those people worse off than you. Think, you might have been blinded, or born deaf, or have to live in a wheelchair, or be daft in your head and dribble.
MR LAMB: And that’s all true, and you know it.
Signify: be a sign of
Daft: silly, foolish
Dribble: to fall slowly
Derry said that he will never look different. When he will be as old as Mr. Lamb then also he will have only half a face. Mr. Lamb said that yes he will always have half a face but the world was full of so many things to look at. So, he must look at its beauty. Derry questioned him that was the garden the whole world for him. Lamb said that when he was present in the garden, then the garden was his world. He then questioned him whether his leg hurt. Lamb replied that tin didn’t hurt, it never pained. Derry asked him if he suffered pain when he lost his leg. Lamb said that it pained back then. He then asked him if it pained now, where the artificial leg stuck into the real one. Lamb said that sometimes it pained in wet weather but it was not that important. Derry said that he could understand what he meant by all this as he had heard people saying that you should take a lesson from those who suffer in pain and never cry or complain about their problems. Mr. Lamb said that he didn’t say so. Derry continued that people told him to look at those people who were in worse conditions than him. They told him that he might have become blind, be born deaf or be handicapped and have to remain in a wheelchair. He may even have been born with mental disorder. Mr. Lamb said that yes it was true and that Derry knew so much.
DERRY: It won’t make my face change. Do you know, one day, a woman went by me in the street — I was at a bus-stop — and she was with another woman, and she looked at me, and she said.... whispered....only I heard her.... she said, “Look at that, that’s a terrible thing. That’s a face only a mother could love.”
MR LAMB: So you believe everything you hear, then?
DERRY: It was cruel.
MR LAMB: Maybe not meant as such. Just something said between them.
DERRY: Only I heard it. I heard.
MR LAMB: And is that the only thing you ever heard anyone say, in your life?
DERRY: Oh no! I’ve heard a lot of things.
MR LAMB: So now you keep your ears shut.
DERRY: You’re....peculiar. You say peculiar things. You ask questions I don’t understand.
MR LAMB: I like to talk. Have company. You don’t have to answer questions. You don’t have to stop here at all. The gate’s open.
DERRY: Yes, but...
MR LAMB: I’ve a hive of bees behind those trees over there. Some hear bees and they say, bees buzz. But when you listen to bees for a long while, they humm....and hum means ‘sing’. I hear them singing, my bees.
DERRY: But....I like it here. I came in because I liked it....when I looked over the wall.
MR LAMB: If you’d seen me, you’d not have come in.
MR LAMB: No.
Whispered: To say something very slow
Peculiar: strange, unusual
Hive: dome shaped structure in which bees live
Derry said that all this would not change his face. One day as he was waiting at a bus stop, a woman passed by him. He heard her telling another woman that he had such a terrible face that only his mother could love him and no one else could. Mr. Lamb asked him did he believe what he heard. Derry stressed that he heard it. Mr. Lamb asked that was this the only thing he had heard from someone. Derry said that no, he had heard many other things too. Lamb suggested him to shut his ears i.e., he should ignore all this. Derry found Lamb’s words strange and added that he couldn’t understand his questions. Mr. Lamb said that he liked to talk and also liked the company of others. He also told him that there was no need to answer him and as the gates were open, he could leave if he wanted to. Derry did not leave and he seemed unsure of it. Mr. Lamb said that there was a beehive in one of the trees. People considered the buzzing sound of the bees to be a noise but for him it was a song sung by the bees. Derry explained that he had liked the place from outside and so, had entered the garden. Mr. Lamb questioned that would he have entered had he seen Mr Lamb to which Derry replied in the negative.
DERRY: It’d have been trespassing.
MR LAMB: Ah. That’s not why.
DERRY: I don’t like being near people. When they stare....when I see them being afraid of me.
MR LAMB: You could lock yourself up in a room and never leave it. There was a man who did that. He was afraid, you see. Of everything. Everything in this world. A bus might run him over, or a man might breathe deadly germs onto him, or a donkey might kick him to death, or lightning might strike him down, or he might love a girl and the girl would leave him, and he might slip on a banana skin and fall and people who saw him would laugh their heads off. So he went into this room, and locked the door, and got into his bed, and stayed there.
MR LAMB: For a while.
DERRY: Then what?
MR LAMB: A picture fell off the wall on to his head and killed him.
[Derry laughs a lot]
MR LAMB: You see?
DERRY: But....you still say peculiar things.
MR LAMB: Peculiar to some.
Trespassing: enter without permission
Derry said that if he would have entered his garden even after knowing that he was there, it would have been without his permission. Mr. Lamb said that was not the real reason. Derry said that he did not like going near people as they got afraid of him and stared at him. Mr. Lamb suggested that he could lock himself in a room forever. He then narrated a story about the man who locked himself in his room as he was afraid of everything. The man thought that he would meet with an accident with a bus, he would catch infection from someone, a donkey would kick him to death, the lightning may hit him or he may die because the girl whom he loved may leave him or he may even slip off a banana and people would laugh at him. In order to safeguard himself from all such incidents, he locked himself in his room. Derry surprisingly asked Mr. Lamb if he locked himself forever. He replied that no, he did so for a while. Derry asked him what happened next. Mr Lamb replied that a picture fell on his head and he died. This made him laugh a lot and he said that Mr Lamb narrated strange talks. Mr. Lamb said that they were strange for some people.
DERRY: What do you do all day?
MR LAMB: Sit in the sun. Read books. Ah, you thought it was an empty house, but inside, it’s full. Books and other things. Full.
DERRY: But there aren’t any curtains at the windows.
MR LAMB: I’m not fond of curtains. Shutting things out, shutting things in. I like the light and the darkness, and the windows open, to hear the wind.
DERRY: Yes. I like that. When it’s raining, I like to hear it on the roof.
MR LAMB: So you’re not lost, are you? Not altogether? You do hear things. You listen.
DERRY: They talk about me. Downstairs, When I’m not there. ‘What’ll he ever do? What’s going to happen to him when we’ve gone? However will he get on in this world? Looking like that? With that on his face?’ That’s what they say.
MR LAMB: Lord, boy, you’ve got two arms, two legs and eyes and ears, you’ve got a tongue and a brain. You’ll get on the way you want, like all the rest. And if you chose, and set your mind to it, you could get on better than all the rest.
MR LAMB: Same way as I do.
Deery asked what Mr Lamb did all day. He replied that he sat in the Sun, reading books. He said that the house was full of books. Derry looked at the house and said that there weren't any curtains on the windows. Mr Lamb replied that he did not like curtains. He liked transparency- light, darkness and the wind too. Derry added that he also liked all of them and he also liked the sound of the rain falling on the roof of his house. Mr Lamb commented that Derry was present minded as he could hear. Derry said that his family worried about him that what would he do in the future with a burned face. Mr Lamb said that Derry had everything - two arms, two legs, two eyes, two ears, etc. He wanted to make Derry realize that he had so much which many other people were deprived of. He added that Derry could accomplish a lot if he determined to do so. Derry asked how was it possible and Mr Lamb replied that the same was as he did.
DERRY: Do you have any friends?
MR LAMB: Hundreds.
DERRY: But you live by yourself in that house. It’s a big house, too.
MR LAMB: Friends everywhere. People come in.... everybody knows me. The gate’s always open. They come and sit here. And in front of the fire in winter. Kids come for the apples and pears. And for toffee. I make toffee with honey. Anybody comes. So have you.
DERRY: But I’m not a friend.
MR LAMB: Certainly you are. So far as I’m concerned. What have you done to make me think you’re not?
DERRY: You don’t know me. You don’t know where I come from or even what my name is.
MR LAMB: Why should that signify? Do I have to write all your particulars down and put them in a filing box, before you can be a friend?
DERRY: I suppose...not. No.
MR LAMB: You could tell me your name. If you chose. And not, if you didn’t.
DERRY: Derry. Only it’s Derek....but I hate that. Derry. If I’m your friend, you don’t have to be mine. I choose that.
MR LAMB: Certainly.
DERRY: I might never come here again, you might never see me again and then I couldn’t still be a friend.
MR LAMB: Why not?
DERRY: How could I? You pass people in the street and you might even speak to them, but you never see them again. It doesn’t mean they’re friends.
Derry asked if Mr Lamb had any friends and he replied that he had a few hundred of them. Derry further said that still he lived alone in such a big house. Mr Lamb said that everyone was his friend- many people visited the garden. The gate remained open. They sat there, by the fire in winter season. Kids came to pick apples and pears and to take the honey toffees made by him. Derry said that he wasn't a friend of Mr Lamb's. He said that Derry was a friend because he had not done any such thing that should cease their friendship. Derry said that they did not know each other well to become friends. Mr Lamb did not consider that to be important. He did not need Derry's particulars before becoming friends with him. Mr Lamb said that if he wished, he could tell him his name. Deery replied that his name was 'Derek' but he disliked it and wanted to be called 'Derry' instead. He added that he might not visit the place in future and then they would not remain friends anymore. Mr Lamb asked the reason and Derry replied that one crosses many people while walking down the street, might speak to a few of them and never see them again. This did not mean that they had become friends.
MR LAMB: Doesn’t mean they’re enemies, either, does it?
DERRY: No they’re just....nothing. People. That’s all.
MR LAMB: People are never just nothing. Never.
DERRY: There are some people I hate.
MR LAMB: That’d do you more harm than any bottle of acid. Acid only burns your face.
MR LAMB: Like a bomb only blew up my leg. There’s worse things can happen. You can burn yourself away inside.
DERRY: After I’d come home, one person said, “He’d have been better off stopping in there. In the hospital. He’d be better off with others like himself.” She thinks blind people only ought to be with other blind people and idiot boys with idiot boys.
MR LAMB: And people with no legs altogether?
DERRY: That’s right.
MR LAMB: What kind of a world would that be?
DERRY: At least there’d be nobody to stare at you because you weren’t like them.
MR LAMB: So you think you’re just the same as all the other people with burned faces? Just by what you look like? Ah....everything’s different. Everything’s the same, but everything is different. Itself.
DERRY: How do you make all that out?
MR LAMB: Watching. Listening. Thinking.
DERRY: I’d like a place like this. A garden. I’d like a house with no curtains.
MR LAMB: The gate’s always open.
DERRY: But this isn’t mine.
MR LAMB: Everything’s yours if you want it. What’s mine is anybody’s.
DERRY: So I could come here again? Even if you were out....I could come here.
MR LAMB: Certainly. You might find others here, of course.
MR LAMB: Well, that needn’t stop you, you needn’t mind.
DERRY: It’d stop them. They’d mind me. When they saw me here. They look at my face and run.
Mr Lamb commented that it did not mean that strangers were enemies, if not friends. Derry said that they were nothing, just people. Mr Lamb said that it could not be that people were nothing to each other. Derry said that there were some people whom he hated. Mr Lamb replied that hatred would harm him more than the acid that had 'only' affected his face. Derry commented that 'only' his face. Mr Lamb said that a bomb explosion blew up his leg but there were worse things that could happen - one could burn himself up from the inside by the negative feelings. Derry said that when he had returned from the hospital, a person had said that it was better if he had remained there with people like him. He added that people think all disabled people should remain together at one place. Mr Lamb added this meant that people without legs should remain together and the world would become imbalanced that way. Derry said that at least no one would stare at the other because all of them were similar. Mr Lamb asked Derry that did he mean that he was like all other people with burned faces just because they had similar appearance. He added that everything was different. Although all things are the same, yet they are different. Derry was confused. Mr Lamb said that our habits of watching, listening and thinking differently made us different from each other. Derry said that he liked Mr Lamb's house and garden. He replied that Derry was always welcome there. Deery said that the place was not his. Mr Lamb said that everything was his if he wanted it to be. He added that all his possessions were for everyone. Derry asked if he could visit the place again and Mr Lamb replied that he could and he would find company too. He added that Derry needn't mind other people, no one would stop him from entering the premises. Derry said that they probably would not like to enter the place upon seeing him. Maybe they would look at his face, get scared and run away.
MR LAMB: They might. They might not. You’d have to take the risk. So would they.
DERRY: No, you would. You might have me and lose all your other friends, because nobody wants to stay near me if they can help it.
MR LAMB: I’ve not moved.
MR LAMB: When I go down the street, the kids shout ‘Lamey-Lamb.’ But they still come into the garden, into my house; it’s a game. They’re not afraid of me. Why should they be? Because I’m not afraid of them, that’s why not.
DERRY: Did you get your leg blown off in the war?
MR LAMB: Certainly.
DERRY: How will you climb on a ladder and get the crab apples down, then?
MR LAMB: Oh, there’s a lot of things I’ve learned to do, and plenty of time for it. Years. I take it steady.
DERRY: If you fell and broke your neck, you could lie on the grass and die. If you were on your own.
MR LAMB: I could.
DERRY: You said I could help you.
MR LAMB: If you want to.
DERRY: But my mother’ll want to know where I am. It’s three miles home, across the fields. I’m fourteen. but they still want to know where I am.
MR LAMB: People worry.
DERRY: People fuss.
MR LAMB: Go back and tell them.
DERRY: its three miles.
MR LAMB: It’s a fine evening. You’ve got legs.
DERRY: Once I got home, they’d never let me come back.
MR LAMB: Once you got home, you’d never let yourself come back.
DERRY: You don’t know....you don’t know what I could do.
MR LAMB: No. Only you know that.
DERRY: If I chose....
MR LAMB: Ah....if you chose. I don’t know everything, boy. I can’t tell you what to do.
Fuss: show of anger, worry
Mr Lamb replied that they might or might not run away and that he had to take a chance on that. Derry said that Mr Lamb had to choose out of him and the other people as visitors because no one liked to remain near him. Mr Lamb would lose all his friends if he had Derry in his garden. Mr Lamb said that he was there and did not run away on seeing Derry. He added that when he went out on the street, kids teased him although they visited his garden and his house. It was like a game. They were not scared of him because he was not scared of them. Derry asked that did his leg get injured in the war and Mr Lamb replied that it did so. Derry asked that how would he climb up the ladder to pluck the apples. He replied that there were a lot of things that he had learned to do. Derry added that if he climbed the tree alone, fell from it and broke his neck, he would lie on the grass, dead. Mr Lamb said that it could happen. Derry asked if he could help him pluck the apples. Mr Lamb said that he could help him if he wanted to. Derry said that his mother would be waiting for him. His home was five miles away, across the fields. He was fourteen years of age but still he was supposed to tell her where he was. Mr Lamb added that people had the habit of worrying. Derry added that actually they were in the habit of fussing. Mr Lamb asked Derry to go home and inform his mother of his whereabouts. His house was three miles away. As the weather was fine and he had legs, he could easily go home, tell them and return. Derry said that once he went home, he would not be allowed to return. Mr Lamb added that once home Derry himself would not feel like coming back. Derry said that Mr Lamb did not know what all he could do. Mr Lamb said that only Derry knew what he could do. Derry started to say that if he chose... but was interrupted by Mr Lamb. He said that Derry had to choose and he could not tell him what to do.
DERRY: They tell me.
MR LAMB: Do you have to agree?
DERRY: I don’t know what I want. I want....something no one else has got or ever will have. Something just mine. Like this garden. I don’t know what it is.
MR LAMB: You could find out.
MR LAMB: Waiting. Watching. Listening. Sitting here or going there. I’ll have to see to the bees.
DERRY: Those other people who come here....do they talk to you? Ask you things?
MR LAMB: Some do, some don’t. I ask them. I like to learn.
DERRY: I don’t believe in them. I don’t think anybody ever comes. You’re here all by yourself and miserable and no one would know if you were alive or dead and nobody cares.
MR LAMB: You think what you please.
DERRY: All right then, tell me some of their names.
MR LAMB: What are names? Tom, Dick or Harry.
[Getting up] I’m off down to the bees.
DERRY: I think you’re daft....crazy....
MR LAMB: That’s a good excuse.
DERRY: What for? You don’t talk sense.
MR LAMB: Good excuse not to come back. And you’ve got a burned-up face, and that’s other people’s excuse.
DERRY: You’re like the others, you like to say things like that. If you don’t feel sorry for my face, you’re frightened of it, and if you’re not frightened, you think I’m ugly as a devil. I am a devil. Don’t you?
[Mr Lamb does not reply. He has gone to his bees.]
DERRY: [Quietly] No. You don’t. I like it here.
[Pause. Derry gets up and shouts.] I’m going. But I’ll come back. You see. You wait. I can run. I haven’t got a tin leg. I’ll be back.
[Derry runs off. Silence. The sounds of the garden again.]
MR LAMB: [To himself] There my dears. That’s you seen to. Ah....you know. We all know. I’ll come back. They never do, though. Not them. Never do come back.
[The garden noises fade.]
Derry said that his family forced him to do things their way. Mr Lamb said that it was Derry's wish to agree with them or not. Derry was confused about what he wanted, something that was only his, and no one had it - like the garden. Mr Lamb said that he could find out what he wanted. Derry asked how he could do that. Mr Lamb told him to wait, watch and listen. He added that he had to see the bees. Derry asked that did the other visitors talk to Mr Lamb. Mr Lamb replied that some did while some did not. Derry said that he did not believe that someone ever visited the place. Mr Lamb lived alone all by himself. No one cared for him. Mr Lamb said that Derry could think as he pleased. Derry asked him the names of some of the visitors. Mr Lamb said that names were nothing. They could be like Tom, Dick or Harry. He left to see the bees. Derry said that perhaps Mr Lamb was mentally challenged. Mr Lamb said that was a good excuse for Derry but Derry said that Mr Lamb did not talk sense and that's why he said so. Mr Lamb repeated that it was a good excuse for not returning to the garden. Derry's face was burned which was other people's excuse for not seeing Derry. Derry said that Mr Lamb was like other people. If he was not sorry that his face was burned, then maybe he was scared of it. If not that, then maybe he thought that Derry was as ugly as a devil. He added that he was a devil. Derry shouted. Mr Lamb did not reply. He had gone to see the bees. Derry became calm and said that Mr Lamb did not think him to be a devil. He liked to be in the garden. Derry got up and shouted that he was leaving and that he would return to see him. He did not have a tin leg, could run and would be back soon.
Derry ran off. The place was silent with the sounds of the creatures of the garden.
Mr Lamb talked to the bees that they saw all that happened. They all knew that no one ever returned to the garden.
Scene 2: At Derry’s house
MOTHER: You think I don’t know about him, you think. I haven’t heard things?
DERRY: You shouldn’t believe all you hear.
MOTHER: Been told. Warned. We’ve not lived here three months, but I know what there is to know and you’re not to go back there.
DERRY: What are you afraid of? What do you think he is? An old man with a tin leg and he lives in a huge house without curtains and has a garden. And I want to be there, and sit and....listen to things.
Listen and look.
MOTHER: Listen to what?
DERRY: Bees singing. Him talking.
MOTHER: And what’s he got to say to you?
DERRY: Things that matter. Things nobody else has ever said. Things I want to think about.
MOTHER: Then you stay here and do your thinking. You’re best off here.
The second scene is at Derry’s house and Derry is talking to his mother.
His mother asked what did Derry think of her. She had already heard about Mr. Lamb. Derry told her not to believe what others said but she warned him that she knew what was required to be known about any person and therefore, asked him not to go back. Derry asked her the reason of her fear. He told her that Mr Lamb was just an old man with a tin leg and had a big house without curtains and a garden. He said that he wanted to go back and listen to things. His mother was curious to know what was it that he wanted to listen. He replied that he wanted to hear bees singing and wanted to listen to what Mr Lamb said. But she didn’t find it suitable and so she told him to stay at home and think about what he wanted to.
DERRY: I hate it here.
MOTHER: You can’t help the things you say. I forgive you. It’s bound to make you feel bad things....and say them. I don’t blame you.
DERRY: It’s got nothing to do with my face and what I look like. I don’t care about that and it isn’t important. It’s what I think and feel and what I want to see and find out and hear. And I’m going back there. Only to help him with the crab apples. Only to look at things and listen. But I’m going.
MOTHER: You’ll stop here.
DERRY: Oh no, oh no. Because if I don’t go back there, I’ll never go anywhere in this world again.
[The door slams. Derry runs, panting.]
And I want the world....I want it....I want it....
[The sound of his panting fades.]
Derry said that he hated to remain at home. His mother excused him for speaking wrong because he felt bad and so spoke that way. Derry said that it had nothing to do with is face. The important thing was how he thought and what he saw or heard. He announced that he would go back into the garden to help Mr. Lamb with the crab apples. His mother tried to stop him but he ran away shutting the door behind him.
Mr Lamb’s garden [Garden sounds: the noise of a branch shifting; apples thumping down; the branch shifting again.]
MR LAMB: Steady....that’s....got it. That’s it... [More apples fall] And again. That’s it....and....
[A creak. A crash. The ladder falls back, Mr Lamb with it. A thump. The branch swishes back. Creaks. Then silence. Derry opens the garden gate, still panting.]
DERRY: You see, you see! I came back. You said I wouldn’t and they said....but I came back, I wanted....
[He stops dead. Silence.]
Mr. Lamb, Mr....You’ve.....
[He runs through the grass. Stops. Kneels]
Mr Lamb, It’s all right....You fell....I’m here, Mr Lamb, It’s all right.
I came back. Lamey-Lamb. I did.....come back.
[Derry begins to weep.]
Creak: a harsh sound of wood
Swish: a hissing sound
Panting: quick breaths
Source: NCERTThe third scene is in Mr. Lamb’s garden. There was the sound of branches. Mr. Lamb was talking to himself while he was plucking the apples. Suddenly a harsh sound of the cracking wood was heard and the ladder fell on the ground. Mr. Lamb fell too. Derry opened the gate, he was still breathing rapidly and declared to Mr. Lamb that he had returned. He looked at him and found him lying on the ground. He went near him and tried to talk to him but no one replied. Derry kept on calling him by his name and suddenly started crying. He did so because he realized that Mr. Lamb was dead.
On the face of it Question and Answer
Q1- What is it that draws Derry towards Mr Lamb inspite of himself?
A1- Both Derry and Mr. Lamb are disabled. Derry has a burnt face and Mr. Lamb has a tin leg. Derry is depressed because of his ugly face. People don’t like him or are afraid of him. His parents also think that he will not be able to do anything after their death. Such things have made him so sad and depressed that he has started to hate people. Mr. Lamb discovers this about him while talking to him. He encourages him to lead a normal life and suggests him to watch and listen to everything in order to enjoy life. He gives him his own example that people tease him for his tin leg but he doesn't care about this. Such positive things draw Derry towards Mr. Lamb.
Q2- In which section of the play does Mr Lamb display signs of loneliness and disappointment? What are the ways in which Mr Lamb tries to overcome these feelings?
A3- In the middle part of the first scene, we observe that Mr. Lamb is lonely. He tells Derry that when it is a bit cooler, he will get the ladder and a stick, and pull down those crab apples. He makes jelly with them. Derry could help him. He also tells him that he is interested in anybody or anything that God has created. It may be a person, flower, fruit, grass, weeds or rubbish. He also tells him that he sits in the sun and reads books and that he does not use curtains in his house because he wants to enjoy both light and darkness. These all are the signs of his loneliness and also his ways of overcoming it.
Q3- The actual pain or inconvenience caused by a physical impairment is often much less than the sense of alienation felt by the person with disabilities. What is the kind of behaviour that the person expects from others?
A3- The story reveals the bitter truth of a life led by a disabled person. They not only suffer physical pain but also suffer emotionally due to the absurd behavior of people. They are teased and disliked by others. Derry has a burnt face and people don’t like him for being ugly. Some get afraid of him which does not allow him to stay with them. On the other hand, Mr. Lamb has a tin leg and is teased by kids as ‘Lamey Lamb’. He lives alone in his big house and has no one in his life. Such instances show that the sense of alienation that these people feel causes them constant pain. Such persons expect cooperation from others. They do not want sympathy but just a reasonable behavior just like normal people get from their counterparts.
Q4- Will Derry get back to his old seclusion or will Mr Lamb’s brief association effect a change in the kind of life he will lead in the future?
A4- Derry will not get back to his old seclusion because Mr. Lamb had changed his way of thinking. He told him that hating people and living alone is more harmful then what acid did to him. He told him to take risk and face people. He also suggested that it’s just his face that has disfigured. He has legs, arms, heart and brain and he could do whatever he wants to do in his life. He also says that there are chances that Derry can achieve more than a normal person can if he makes a firm determination to achieve something. This surely had a great impact on him and this can be seen that he returned back to the garden though his mother was not ready to let him go. He decided to face it and live without fear of being disliked by anyone and therefore runs back to the garden in order to live those moments again which he liked when he was in the company of Mr. Lamb.
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