By Ruchika Gupta
Two Gentlemen of Verona Summary, Explanation,Difficult Words
CBSE class 10 English Chapter 1 Two Gentlemen of Verona
CBSE Class 10 English Chapter 1 Two Gentlemen of Verona detailed explanation of the story along with meanings of difficult words. Also, the Summary is followed by a Explanation of the lesson . All the exercises and Question and Answers given at the back of the lesson have also been solved.
About the author:
- Archibald Joseph Cronin (1896-1981)
- Scottish novelist, physician dramatist and a non-fiction writer.
- After the great success of his first novel Hatter’s Castle (1931), he pursued writing as a career.
- His most famous novel is The Citadel. The Key of the Kingdom and The Spanish Gardener are also among his best- known novels.
- His works were largely adapted for screenplays and cinemas.
See Video for Explanation and Summary of the Lesson
Two Gentlemen of Verona Summary
Two Gentlemen Of Verona is the inspirational story of two brothers aged 12 and 13 – the younger one Jacopo’s nature is childish and lively while the elder one, Nicola’s nature is serious and mature. The author met them in the town of Verona. A.J.Cronin used the title “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” in an ironic manner, as at a very young age they faced the hardships of life, their mother died early in their life, their father was a well-known singer but became a victim of the early war. Their village suffered due to German occupation. They got homeless as their home got destroyed, and suffered starvation and the cold winter. The family struggled for life, they lived in the shelter made of broken building walls and bricks. After the war, they got back to their sister, and found her suffering from tuberculosis of spine, which was another shock to these poor kids. As they were the only family of their sister, they had to work and arrange money for her medical treatment. Despite facing so many problems in their early life, the boys did not lose hope, the brothers’ positive approach and determination to get their sister cured had helped the staff treat her well. Despite having a scarcity of jobs in town, they managed to give their sister the best they could. On the contrary they lived a very poor life, their clothing and eating habits portrayed it. To earn their living they shined shoes, sold fruit, hawked newspapers, and even worked as tourist guides. Going through so much in life, they never tried to take anyone’s sympathy, instead they worked hard. These two young boys have every quality of being called gentlemen, their positivity and selflessness inspired the narrator. The narrator felt that such a humble youth gives our society hope for a better tomorrow. In such times of war, weapons and hatred, still, there is hope for humanity.
Two Gentlemen of Verona Explanation Video:
Two Gentlemen of Verona Explanation
The detailed explaination of Chapter 1 Two Gentlemen of Verona is given here. Read the linke by line explanation on this.
As we drove through the foothills of the Alps two small boys stopped us on the outskirts of Verona.
The narrator describes about two boys he met on the foothills of Alps (Great mountain range of Europe) while on his journey to Verona (a city in Italy).
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.
Luigi, the driver clearly suggested the narrator not to buy strawberries from those boys, as they were dressed poorly, and his body language showed his disapproval. Also, he suggested that better quality fruits were available in town.
One boy had on a worn jersey and cut-off khaki pants; the other a shortened army tunic gathered in loose folds about his skinny frame. Yet, gazing at the two little figures, with their brown skins, tangled hair and dark earnest eyes, we felt ourselves strangely attracted.
Despite the strong disapproval from Luigi, the narrator and his companion continued to stare at those young boys, as they somehow felt attracted to them.
Narrator also describes the physical appearance of the two boys; one was slim while both of them had uncombed hair and brown skin. Their eyes were sincere and serious, which attracted the attention of the travellers.
My companion spoke to the boys, discovered that they were brothers. Nicola, the elder, was 13; Jacopo, who barely came up to the door handle of the car, was nearly 12. We bought their biggest basket, then set off toward town.
Narrator’s companion talked to the boys, and he came to know that they were brothers. They bought the biggest basket from the brothers, “the biggest basket” here tells us that narrator and his companion showed a good and helpful gesture.
Next morning, coming out of our hotel, we saw our friends bent over shoeshine boxes beside the fountain in the public square, doing a brisk business.
We watched for a few moments; then as trade slackened we went over. They greeted us with friendly faces.
The narrator here, talks about the two young boys by addressing them as friends, a repeated good gesture. The next morning narrator finds the two young boys shining shoes in a very fast or a quick manner. When the rush on their shoeshine box slowed down, the boys greeted them with friendly faces, as they recalled that these were the same travellers who bought the biggest basket of strawberries yesterday.
"I thought you picked fruit for a living," I said.
"We do many things, sir," Nicola answered seriously.
Narrator asked the boys that he thought they just picked fruits for a living, on which young boys replied that they did many things, with a serious face, which tells us that, there singular source of income was not enough to meet their needs.
He glanced at us hopefully. "Often we show visitors through the town to Juliet’s tomb and other places of interest."
"All right," I smiled. "You take us along."
Noticing the good gesture of the travellers, the young boy looked at them hopefully and tells them that they work as tourist guides and show visitors around the town of Verona. They show them places of tourist interest like Juliet’s tomb (from the famous play ‘Romeo Juliet’ written by Shakespeare)
On which the travellers smiled and asked them to be their guide.
As we made the rounds, my interest was again provoked by their remarkable demeanor. 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.
The author noticed their appearance, as childish, simple and innocent. Here, the author uses a simile and compares Jacopo to squirrel, as he feels that the little boy is full of life and energy like a squirrel. On the other hand Nicola was serious and mature. The narrator draws a comparison between the two boys – the younger one Jacopo is childish and lively while the elder one, Nicola is serious and mature.’
Even though the boys had a childish face, yet there was a seriousness in their eyes which was way beyond their age(way beyond their age means that although they were just 12 and 13 years of age respectively, but their facial expressions were of much older people), which tells that they are burdened with a lot of responsibilities, and faced the harshness of life at such a young age.
If we wanted a pack of American cigarettes, or seats for the opera or the name of a good restaurant, Nicola and Jacopo could be relied upon to satisfy our needs. What struck one most was their willingness to work. During these summer days, under the hot sun, they shined shoes, sold fruit, hawked newspapers, conducted tourists round the town, and ran errands.
This shows that the narrator trusts the innocent boys with their suggestions and advices, and is amazed to see their desire to do work. And the paragraph also describes the busy routine and variety of work they do.
“Hawked newspapers” means to sell newspapers by calling out loud in the street.
One night, we came upon them in the windy and deserted square, resting on the stone pavement beneath the lights. Nicola sat upright, tired. A bundle of unsold newspapers lay at his feet. Jacopo, his head resting upon his brother’s shoulder was asleep. It was nearly midnight.
The paragraph illustrates that one night after a tiring day, the narrator saw the boys resting on a stone pavement with a bundle of newspapers, in an isolated place which had no people.
"Why are you out so late, Nicola?"
"Waiting for the last bus from Padua. We shall sell all our papers when it comes in."
"Must you work so hard? You both look rather tired."
"We are not complaining, sir."
This conversation explains the dedication and the willingness to work even after a full working day, it shows the hope they hold to gain the maximum of what they can.
When enquired Nicola immediately clarified that he had absolutely no problem in working this late, despite being tired.
But next morning, when I went over to the fountain to have my shoes shined, I said, "Nicola, the way you and Jacopo work, you must earn quite a bit. You spend nothing on clothes. You eat little enough — when I see you have a meal it’s usually black bread and figs. Tell me, what do you do with your money?"
He coloured deeply under his sunburn, then grew pale. He looked to the ground.
"You must be saving up to emigrate to America," I suggested. He looked at me sideways, spoke with an effort.
"We should greatly like to go to the States. But here, at present, we have other plans."
He smiled uncomfortably. "Just plans, sir," he answered in a low voice.
On seeing them working so hard, yet dressed shabbily, and eating relatively lower nutritious meal, the narrator asked Nicola “you must earn quite a bit, where do you spend your money?”. This question initially made him blush, (the pink colour on his face was so prominent that it was visible through his dark sun burnt skin.) after the initial blush, Nicola had an after thought which made him sad and depressed. The blush on his face disappeared all of a sudden and it became pale, as he got reminded of his miseries and problems which made him work so hard.
Important Videos Links
The narrator sarcastically asks if he is saving up to move to America. On being asked about his plans he got uncomfortable and was reluctant to answer. He did not want to share his problems with anyone and so he spoke in a low voice.
"Well," I said, "we’re leaving on Monday. Is there anything I can do for you before we go?"
Another good gesture by narrator, as he wanted to help the pre-matured gentlemen.
Nicola shook his head, but suddenly Jacopo said, "Sir," he burst out, "every Sunday we make a visit to the country, to Poleta, 30 kilometres from here. Usually we hire bicycles. But tomorrow, since you are so kind, you might send us in your car."
I had already told Luigi he might have the Sunday off. However, I answered, "I’ll drive you out myself."
Despite the mild refusal by his brother, Jacopo out of innocence asked if the narrator could help them to get to Poleta in his car. This shows the contrast between the behavior of the two brothers, one showing maturity, while the other showed innocence and childishness.
On which the narrator agreed, despite the fact the driver was unavailable, another example of his kindness.
There was a pause. Nicola was glaring at his young brother in vexation. "We could not think of troubling you, sir."
"It won’t be any trouble."
He bit his lip, then, in a rather put out tone, he said, "Very well."
Nicola gave an annoying look to Jacopo, and asked the narrator not to worry for them, but the narrator insisted.
Nicola was not comfortable with this plan as he did not like taking help and sympathy, but he agreed.
The following afternoon we drove to the tiny village set high upon the hillside. I imagined that our destination would be some humble dwellings. But, directed by Jacopo, we drew up at a large red-roofed villa, surrounded by a high stone wall. I could scarcely believe my eyes and before I could recover breath my two passengers had leaped from the car.
"We shall not be long, sir. Perhaps only an hour. May be you’d like to go to the cafe in the village for a drink?" They disappeared beyond the corner of the wall.
The narrator had thought that the boys would be heading to some shabby huts, according to the conditions in which they lived and worked in Verona. He was shocked to see that their destination in the village of Poleta was a large villa.
Narrator was amazed to see the large villa, by the time he could recover from the shock, the boys had jumped out of the car and rushed inside the villa, as they didn’t want the narrator to know where they were going, and suddenly they disappeared.
After a few minutes I followed. I found a grilled side-entrance and, determinedly, rang the bell. A pleasant-looking woman with steel-rimmed spectacles appeared. I blinked as I saw that she was dressed in the white uniform of a trained nurse.
Upon entering the villa the bell was answered by a nurse. He realized that it had been converted to a hospital.
"I just brought two small boys here."
"Ah, yes." Her face lit up; she opened the door to admit me. "Nicola and Jacopo. I will take you up." She led me through a cool, tiled vestibule into the hospital — for hospital the villa had become. At the door of a little cubicle the nurse paused, put her finger to her lips, and with a smile bade me look through the glass partition.
Upon hearing about Nicola and Jacopo, the nurse smiled, which tells us that she knows them really well, and she took the narrator through an entrance lobby into the hospital to a small room.
The two boys were seated at the bedside of a girl of about twenty who, propped up on pillows, wearing a pretty lace jacket, was listening to their chatter, her eyes soft and tender. One could see at a glance her resemblance to her brothers. A vase of wild flowers stood on her table, beside a dish of fruit and several books.
The above paragraph tells us that the boys were visiting their sister. The girl was well dressed, there was a vase of wild flowers on the table which was not essential for living, which tells us how much she was loved by her brothers, along with a dish of fruits and books, which tells us that how well those two gentlemen took care of their sister, she was living in no shortage, which is in contrary to how those boys lived their life.
"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.
The narrator refused to go in as he thought he would disturb the family time, but he now really started respecting them, he wanted to know everything about them, so he begged the nurse to tell her.
She was eager to do so. They were, she explained, quite alone in the world, except for this sister, Lucia. Their father, a widower, a well-known singer, had been killed in the early part of the war. Shortly afterward a bomb had destroyed their home and thrown the three children into the streets. They had always known a comfortable and cultured life — – Lucia had herself been training as a singer — and they had suffered horribly from near starvation and exposure to the cold winter.
The nurse told the family history of those boys, that their mother died early in their life, their father was a well-known singer but became a victim of the early war. They got homeless as their home got destroyed, and suffered starvation and the cold winter.
She also tells him that at that time Lucia had been training to be a singer
For months they had barely kept themselves alive in a sort of shelter they built 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 we had peace at last, they came back to their beloved sister. And they found her ……suffering from tuberculosis of the spine."
The family struggled for life, they lived in the shelter made of broken building walls and bricks.
The boys hated Germans as they were the reason for their drastic and miserable change of life, which also made them stand against them as rebels.
After the war, they got back to their sister, and found her suffering from tuberculosis of spine, which was another shock to these poor kids.
She paused, took a quick breath.
"Did they give up? I do not have to answer that question. They brought her here, persuaded us to take her into the hospital. In the twelve months she has been our patient she has made good progress. There is every hope that one day she will walk – and sing – again."
"Of course, everything is so difficult now, food so scarce and dear, we could not keep going unless we charged a fee. But every week, Lucia’s brothers have made their payment." She added simply, "I don’t know what they do, I do not ask. Work is scarce in Verona. But whatever it is, I know they do it well."
Despite facing so many problems in their early life, the boys did not lose hope, the brothers’ positive approach and determination to get their sister cured had helped the staff treat her well.
The nurse, explained the helpless state of the hospital, that there is less availability of food, therefore they could not treat her for free and they had to charge a fee to keep things going.
The nurse, was even shocked as so less work was available in Verona, still the boys manages to pay the fees.
"Yes," I agreed. "They couldn’t do it better."
On which the narrator agreed as he actually knew that the boys really worked hard to get the money for their sister’s treatment.
I waited outside until the boys rejoined me, then drove them back to the city. They sat beside me, not speaking. For my 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.
The narrator was touched by the love and devotion with which the boys worked for their sister. Hardships and sadness had not deterred them.
The narrator had understood their character really well, and he knew they won’t like being sympathized. Therefore he did not confront the boys.
They did not bother about their needs but worked so hard to provide the best to her. This showed their selflessness.
The narrator felt that such a humble youth gives our society hope for a better tomorrow. In such times of war, weapons and hatred, still there is hope for humanity
- Shrugged: To raise and lower your shoulder in order to show disapproval.
- Shabby: Poor condition especially dressed in old and worn clothes.
- Earnest: A serious mental state.
- Brisk: Quick, fast.
- Slackened: Slowed down or less active.
- Demeanour: A person’s appearance or behavior.
- Hawked: To offer for sale by calling out in the street.
- Errands: Short work or business trip.
- Deserted: Empty or sparsely occupied.
- Emigrate: Leave one’s own country in order to settle permanently in another.
- Vexation: Annoyed state.
- Humble Dwellings: A simple living space
- Steel-rimmed: The upper or outer edge of an object, especially when curved or circular.
- Vestibule: An entrance hall inside a building.
- Intrude: To interrupt someone’s privacy.
- Rubble: Waste or rough fragments of stone, brick, concrete, etc., especially as the debris from the demolition of buildings.
- Scarce: Very small in amount.
Question and Answers
Question 1: What are the qualities of a "gentleman"?
Answer 1: The qualities of a gentlemen are:
Question 2: Does a gentleman have consideration for others and their feelings?
Answer 2: Yes, a gentleman has consideration for others and their feelings. A real gentleman is one who is sensitive and thoughtful towards the people around him.
Question 3: Based on your reading of the story answer the following questions by ticking the correct options.
1. The driver did not approve of the narrator buying fruit from the two boys because
- the boys were untidy and poorly dressed
- the strawberries were not fresh
- they were asking for a heavy price
- the driver did not approve of small boys who worked
Answer: (a) the boys were untidy and poorly dressed
2. The narrator was most impressed by the boys’
- desire to earn money
- willingness to work
- ability to perform many tasks
- sense of fun
Answer: (b) willingness to work
3. Nicola was not pleased when Jacopo asked the narrator to drive them to Poleta as he
- did not want a stranger to become involved with their plans
- preferred going to Poleta by train so that he could enjoy the scenery
- did not want to ask anyone for favours
- did not want to take help from someone he did not know well
Answer: (c) did not want to ask anyone for favours
4. The narrator did not go inside Lucia’s room as
- he did not want to intrude into their privacy
- he thought that the boys would object
- Lucia would not welcome a stranger
- the boys would feel he was spying on them
Answer: (a) he did not want to intrude into their privacy
5.The boys were the first to join the resistance movement against the Germans because
- the Germans had hurt their sister
- the Germans ruled the city
- the Germans had ruined their family
- the Germans had destroyed their home
Answer: (d) the Germans had destroyed their home
6. The author did not speak to the boys on their return journey because
- he thought the boys would prefer to keep their secret
- he thought the boys were ashamed of their sister’s condition.
- he thought they wouldn’t tell him the truth
- he thought the boys might ask him for money for their sister
Answer: (a) he thought the boys would prefer to keep their secret
Question 4: What do you understand by the following statements
1."We do many things, sir," Nicola answered seriously. He glanced at us hopefully.
Answer: The boys, Nicola and Jacopo did various jobs in order to earn money. Nicola was serious about the work they did which reflects their willingness to work and gather money.
He looked at the narrator hopefully as he wished that the narrator would also engage them in some work.
2. He coloured deeply under his sunburn, then grew pale.
Answer: Upon hearing the narrator’s question, Nicola became cheerful and excited. He blushed suddenly. The pink colour on his face was so prominent that it was even visible beneath his dark sun burnt skin. Just then he had an afterthought which aroused emotions in him. He was reminded of his ailing sister. They were collecting money for her treatment. This thought of his sister’s ailment made him sad and his face turned pale, dull and colourless.
3. He smiled uncomfortably. "Just plans, sir," he answered in a low voice.
Answer: Nicola is uncomfortable while answering personal questions asked by the narrator. He does not want to share his problems with anyone. His reluctance is evident from his short reply and low voice. Neither does he want to disclose his reality to the narrator nor does he want to lie to him, so, he speaks in a low voice.
4. Yet in both these boyish faces there was a seriousness which was far beyond their years.
Although the boys were childish, simple and natural; there was a grave seriousness on their faces. This was indicative of the rude and harsh life which they had faced at such an early age. As they had lost their parents and home; and their sister was battling an ailment, the young boys were serious towards life. They had lost their childhood.
This expression of seriousness was in contrast to their young age and their otherwise childish behavior.
Question 5: Answer the following questions briefly
Q1. Why didn’t Luigi, the driver, approve of the two boys?
A1. Luigi the driver did not approve of the boys because of their appearance. The boys were untidy and poorly dressed and so he frowned upon them.
Q2. Why were the narrator and his companion impressed by the two boys?
A2. The narrator and his companion were attracted to the boys. The boys’ had seriousness towards their work which was unusual for their age. The narrator and his companion were also impressed by their eagerness to work. The boys’ childish behaviour and their natural reactions drew the narrator close to them.
Q3. Why was the author surprised to see Nicola and Jacopo working as shoeshine boys?
A3. The narrator was surprised to see Nicola and Jacopo working as shoe shine boys because he thought they picked fruit for a living. The day before the narrator had bought strawberries from them. So, the next day he was in for a surprise to see the shining shoes.
Q4. How were the boys useful to the author?
A4. The boys helped the author in many ways- they fetched American cigarettes for him, bought him seats for the opera and even told him the name of a good restaurant in the town.
Q5. Why were the boys in the deserted square at night? What character traits do they exhibit?
A5. They boys were waiting for the last bus from Padua and so they were in the deserted square at midnight. They wanted to sell all their unsold newspapers to the travelers in the bus.
The traits exhibited by the boys are that they were hard working and had self – determination.
Q6. The narrator asks the boys, "Must you work so hard? You both look rather tired.” The boys reply, "We are not complaining, sir." What do you learn about the boys from their reply?
A6. The boys’ reply shows that they were working hard because of their own will. It was not forced upon them. The boys were brave, courageous and had a strong will power to face the challenges which life threw upon them. They did not feel sad and dejected which indicates that they took every challenge in life confidently.
Q7. When the narrator asks the boys about their plans, they are evasive. Why don’t they disclose their problems?
A7. The boys are evasive and do not disclose their problems to the narrator. They do want sympathy and help from anyone. The boys are hard working and determined to fight their own battle of life. They do not want to feel weak and so do not disclose their problems to anyone problems?
Q8. Appearances are deceptive. Discuss with reference to the two boys.
A8. “Appearances are deceptive”, is appropriate for the boys. On the first glance, they looked childish, natural and simple. They were just like any other young boys who seemed to be doing petty jobs in order to earn their livelihood. When the narrator interacts with them he sees seriousness in their eyes. This serious expression is in contrast to their otherwise childish behaviour.
No one can make out the true purpose of their sincerity towards their work. It is only when the narrator visits the hospital and meets the nurse that he comes to know the harsh truth of their life. It is then that he discovers their purpose for gathering all the money they can by working continuously. The narrator is surprised by their devotion towards their elder sister which is unrealistic for such small children of their age.
Thus, the above mentioned words are appropriate for them.
Q9. Do you think the boys looked after Lucia willingly? Give reasons for your answer.
A9. Yes, I think the boys looked after Lucia willingly. The amount of hard work they did and the kind of sincerity and determination they had towards their work cannot be forced upon a person. It was their own dedication towards their sister and so they were willing to look after her.
Q10. How does the story ‘Two Gentlemen of Verona’ promise hope for society?
A10. The story ‘Two Gentlemen of Verona’ promises hope for the society. The boys Nicola and Jacopo were devoted and sincere towards the cause of their sister’s ailment. They were self sacrificing despite the harshness faced by them. This approach of theirs towards life shows positivity and nobility.
Despite all the negativity in the world like war, hatred, jealousy, rivalry and selfishness; the boys’ attitude indicated that goodness still persisted in some souls. It indicated that there was scope for the world to become a better place one day.
Question 6: Match the phrases to their meanings.
1. set up
a. to tolerate a situation or a person
2. break down
b. to start on a journey
3. set off
c. to try to get help/advice/ sympathy from someone
4. put up with
d. to meet or find by chance
5. put off
e. to start/ establish a company
6. put in
f. to lose control of your feelings and start crying
7. come in
g. to refuse/ reject
8. come across
h. to wear
9. come up against
i. to postpone
10. turn down
j. to be faced with or opposed by
11. turn in
k. to enter
12. turn to
l. to inform on or deliver up
1. set up
to start/ establish a company
2. break down
to lose control of your feelings and start crying
3. set off
to start on a journey
4. put up with
to tolerate a situation or a person
5. put off
6. put in
7. come in
8. come across
to meet or find by chance
9. come up against
to be faced with or opposed by
10. turn down
to refuse/ reject
11. turn in
to inform on or deliver up
12. turn to
to try to get help/advice/ sympathy from someone
Question 7: Use the phrases given in the previous question to complete the following sentences.
1) The landlord was suspicious of the two men staying in his flat so he called the police and _______ them ___.
2) Early in the morning we packed our bags and _______ for a hike over the mountain.
3) Janvi _______some photographs of her grandfather in the old trunk.
4) My father ______ his own business 10 years ago.
5) The Bank __________ Paul’s request for a loan.
6) The Corporation’s decision to reduce the leave of the employees ____________ a lot of opposition.
6.came up against
Important Questions Videos Links