The Selfish Giant, Class 8 English It so Happened Book Lesson 3 Explanation, Summary, Difficult words

The Selfish Giant Class 8 English It so Happened Book Lesson 3– Detailed explanation of the lesson along with meanings of difficult words. Given here is the complete explanation of the lesson, along with the summary. All the exercises and Question and Answers given at the back of the lesson have been solved.


 

Class 8 English (It so Happened Book) Lesson 3 – The Selfish Giant

By Oscar Wilde

 

lesson 3 the selfish giant

 

The Selfish Giant- Introduction

 

The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde is a story about a Giant who disliked anyone playing in his garden. Upon finding the children playing in his garden, he scared them away, built high walls around it and put up a notice board saying “TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED”. The story tells us about the Giant’s transformation from being selfish to kind and how he earned himself a place in paradise.

 

The Selfish Giant- Summary

 

The Selfish Giant owns a garden where every afternoon after the school, children would come and play. It was a large garden with soft green grass, twelve peach trees that bore fruit in autumn and flowers that came out of the grass. The birds would sing in the garden and children would stop their games in order to listen to them. Suddenly, the Giant came back one day, and scared all the children away. He had been on a visit to his friend, the Cornish Ogre for seven years. As he saw the children playing, he told them that no one except him can play in the garden and built huge walls around it. He put up a notice board saying “TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED”. Poor children had nowhere to play. They tried playing on the road but it was too dusty and filled with hard rocks. The children began to remember how happy they were, when they played in the  garden. 

Then came the spring season, all across the country but in the Giant’s garden, it was still winter. The only residents in his garden were Frost and the Snow that covered the trees and grass. They invited the North Wind over who came wrapped in fur and roared all day about the garden. They thought it was a delightful place and invited the Hail who came dressed in grey. The Giant wondered when the Spring would come in his garden while the Frost, the Snow, the North Wind and the Hail stayed happily. Even Autumn refused to come as he thought that the Giant was too selfish. 

One morning, as the Giant laid awake in his bed, he heard some mesmerising music. He thought that the King’s musicians were passing by but in actuality, it was the linnet’s song that sounded so sweet.  As the Giant woke up to see, he saw the most wonderful sight. The children had crept in through a small hole in the wall. With them in the garden, the trees were happy, the birds had come back, the flowers grew out of the ground and the Spring finally came. But in the farthest corner of the garden, there was still winter. As he tried to look, he saw a little boy who was so short that he couldn’t reach till one of the branches of the tree. The Giant ran to help him but instead, scared all the kids away. Only the boy in the farthest corner had stayed because he could not see the approaching Giant because his eyes were filled with tears. The Giant helped him climb the tree and the little boy hugged and kissed him in return. Upon seeing the transformed behaviour of the Giant, the rest of the kids returned back and with them.

The Giant broke down the wall and opened the garden for kids. Every afternoon, children would come to play with him after school. The Giant kept looking for that boy he once helped but unfortunately, he never came and no one knew about him.

Years passed by, and the Giant grew old and weak. He now only watched the children play. One winter morning, as he looked out of his window, he saw a marvellous sight. In the farthest corner of the garden, the tree was covered with white blossoms. Its branches were golden and it bore silver fruit. Underneath the tree, he saw the little boy that he once helped. Joyously, he went downstairs and into the garden to meet him but as soon as he went near him, the Giant grew angry. The child had imprints of two nails on his hands and two on his little feet. The Giant asked the kid the name of the person who wounded him. The child told him that those were the Wounds of Love. Instantly, the Giant was struck with awe and he knelt before the child. The little child told him that once he allowed him to play in his garden, now it was time for the Giant to come in his garden, which is paradise. In the afternoon, when the children came to play in the Giant’s garden, they found the Giant lying lifeless on the ground with white blossoms all over him.

 

The Selfish Giant- Lesson and Explanation

 

I

EVERY afternoon, as they were coming from school, the children used to go and play in the Giant’s garden. It was a large lovely garden, with soft green grass. Here and there over the grass stood beautiful flowers like stars, and there were twelve peach-trees that in the springtime broke out into delicate blossoms of pink and pearl, and in the autumn bore rich fruit. The birds sat on the trees and sang so sweetly that the children used to stop their games in order to listen to them. 

“How happy we are here!” they cried to each other.

Every day in the afternoon, when the school got over, the children used to go to the Giant’s garden to play. It was a big and beautiful garden with soft and fresh green grass. To make the garden more beautiful, the grass had flowers at some distance that looked like stars. There were twelve peach trees that blossomed in the spring season and turned into flowers of pink and pearl and would turn into fruits in autumn. The birds that sat on the trees sang so melodiously that even the children would stop their play to listen to them. The children used to tell each other how happy they were while they played in the Giant’s garden. 

One day the Giant came back. He had been to visit his friend, the Cornish ogre, and had stayed with him for seven years. When he arrived he saw the children playing in the garden. 

“What are you doing here?” he cried in a very gruff voice, and the children ran away. 

children playing in the garden

“My own garden is my own garden,” said the Giant; “anyone can understand that, and I will allow nobody to play in it but myself.” So he built a high wall all round it, and put up a notice-board: 

TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED 

He was a very selfish Giant. 

Cornish Ogre- a giant of Cornwall (in the U.K.)

Ogre- (in legends and fairy stories) a cruel giant who eats people; (in common usage) a very frightening person

Gruff- rough; surly

Trespassers-  a person entering someone’s land or property without permission

Prosecuted- tried in a court of law (here, punished)

The Giant had not been at his home for seven years. He was at his friend, the Cornish ogre’s place. When he came back, he saw the children playing in the garden. This made the giant angry and he asked the children what they were doing in his garden in an extremely rough voice that scared the children away. He further claimed that his garden is his property and he will not allow anyone but himself to play in it. To implement this, he constructed a high wall around the garden and set up a notice board that said “TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED” which meant that anyone who entered his garden without permission will be taken action against. The giant was selfish and lacked consideration for others. 

The poor children had now nowhere to play. They tried to play on the road, but the road was very dusty and full of hard stones, and they did not like it. They used to wander round the high walls when their lessons were over, and talk about the beautiful garden inside. “How happy we were there!” they said to each other. 

The children were left with no place to play. They  considered playing on the road but it was filled with dust and hard stones which they did not like. So after the school, they would go and walk around the high walls that the giant had built as they talked about the lovely garden inside them. They would remember how happy and delightful they were when they played in the garden. 

Then the Spring came, and all over the country there were little blossoms and little birds. Only in the garden of the Selfish Giant it was still winter. The birds did not care to sing in it as there were no children, and the trees forgot to blossom. Once a beautiful flower put its head out from the grass, but when it saw the notice-board it was so sorry for the children that it slipped back into the ground again, and went off to sleep. 

In the entire country, the winter was succeeded by spring whereas in the Giant’s garden, it was still winter. Everywhere in the country, the trees were covered with little blossoms and tiny birds could be seen everywhere. But in the Selfish Giant’s garden, the birds were reluctant to sing in the absence of children whereas the trees failed to remember how to blossom. However, one flower grew his head out of the grass but upon seeing the notice board that the Giant had put, the flower felt bad for children and went back into the ground to sleep.

The only people who were pleased were the Snow and the Frost. 

“Spring has forgotten this garden,” they cried, “so we will live here all the year round.” The Snow covered up the grass with her great white cloak, and the Frost painted all the trees silver. Then they invited the North Wind to stay with them, and he came. He was wrapped in furs, and he roared all day about the garden, and blew the chimney-pots down. 

‘‘This is a delightful spot,” he said, “we must ask Hail on a visit.” So the Hail came. Every day for three hours he rattled on the roof of the castle till he broke most of the slates, and then he ran round and round the garden as fast as he could go. He was dressed in grey, and his breath was like ice.

Snow, Frost, North Wind, Hail- All these have been presented as characters or persons. North Wind is the chilly wind, and Hail is the hailstorm 

Cloak- a sleeveless outdoor overgarment that hangs loosely from the shoulders; cape

Chimney pots- an earthenware or metal pipe or deflector, often cylindrical, fitted on the top of the chimney to increase draft and reduce or disperse smoke

Rattled- make or cause to make a rapid succession of short, sharp knocking sounds

Slate- a fine-grained grey, green, or bluish-purple metamorphic rock easily split into smooth, flat plates

With the children away from the garden, the only people that seemed to be delighted were the Snow and the Frost. They discussed among themselves how they will live in the garden for the entire year now that the spring had forgotten to arrive. The Snow is told to have put her white cape all over the grass while the Frost coloured all the trees in silver. Both of them even invited the North Wind (signals cold weather) to stay with them and it came over in his furs. He moved at high speed in the garden making loud prolonged sounds and removing the chimney pots. The North Wind thought it was a great spot for them to stay and invited the Hail over. Thus, the Hail came. It would make loud noises by striking on the roof of the castle till he broke most of the slates. Once he was done on the roof, he would come to the garden and go round about it at an extremely fast speed. He wore grey coloured clothes and his breath was as cold as ice.   

“I cannot understand why the Spring is so late in coming,” said the Selfish Giant, as he sat at the window and looked out at his cold, white garden; “I hope there will be a change in the weather.”

But the Spring never came, nor the Summer. The Autumn gave golden fruit to every garden, but to the Giant’s garden she gave none. “He is too selfish,” she said. 

So it was always Winter there, and the North Wind and the Hail, and the Frost, and the Snow danced about through the trees.

The Selfish Giant failed to understand the reason behind the delay in the arrival of Spring. As he sat at the window and gazed at his cold, white garden, he hoped for a change in the weather. But the Spring never visited and nor did the Summer.  In other gardens, Autumn granted golden fruits all over but did not give any to the Giant’s garden because she felt he was too selfish.

Thus, in the Giant’s garden, it was always cold and the Winter persisted. It was great news for the North Wind, the Hail, the Frost and the Snow as all of them enjoyed and danced around the trees.

One morning the Giant was lying awake in bed when he heard some lovely music. It sounded so sweet to his ears that he thought it must be the King’s musicians passing by. It was really only a little linnet singing outside his window, but it was so long since he had heard a bird singing in his garden that it seemed to him to be the most beautiful music in the world. Then the Hail stopped dancing over his head, and the North Wind ceased roaring, and a delicious perfume came to him through the open casement. 

“I believe the Spring has come at last,” said the Giant; and he jumped out of bed and looked out.

Linnet- a brownish songbird found in Europe 

Casement- window that opens on hinges like a door

One fine morning, as the Giant was lying in his bed, he heard a music that felt so lovely to his ears that he thought it was the King’s musicians that were passing by. Actually, it was a little bird, linnet that was singing outside his window. It had been long since he heard any bird singing, it felt extremely melodious to his ears. He felt as if it was the most beautiful music in the world. By then, the Hail had stopped bothering him and the North Wind had stopped making noises. Instead, he could feel a pleasant fragrance that came inside through the window. He said to himself that he thought to himself it might have been Spring that had finally shown up at his Garden. The Giant grew excited and leaped out of his bed to check.

 

II

He saw a most wonderful sight. Through a little hole in the wall the children had crept in, and they were sitting in the branches of the trees. In every tree that he could see there was a little child. And the trees were so glad to have the children back again that they had covered themselves with blossoms, and were waving their arms gently above the children’s heads. The birds were flying about and twittering with delight, and the flowers were looking up through the green grass and laughing. It was a lovely scene.

children in the garden

Crept- move slowly or carefully in order to avoid being heard or noticed 

Twittering- (of a bird) give a call consisting of repeated light tremulous sounds; chirp

After so long, the Giant saw an amazing view. He witnessed little children sitting on the branches of the trees. They had come inside the  garden carefully without getting noticed through a little hole in the wall. The Giant could see the trees covered with blossoms as they were so happy that the children were back. The trees even caressed the children’s heads with their branches. The birds had returned and were flying and chirping around with great pleasure. The flowers had come out of the ground and as they peeped through the grass, they felt joyous at the sight of children playing. The whole scene was a feast to the eyes. 

Only in one corner it was still winter. It was the farthest corner of the garden, and in it was standing a little boy. He was so small that he could not reach up to the branches of the tree, and he was wandering all round it, crying bitterly. The poor tree was still covered with frost and snow, and the North Wind was blowing and roaring above it. “Climb up, little boy!” said the Tree, and it bent its branches down as low as it could; but the boy was too tiny. 

While the rest of the garden was blooming, there was one little corner, where there was still winter. It was at a great distance and there stood a little boy. He was so tiny that he couldn’t climb the branches of the tree. The boy couldn’t reach it even when the tree bent itself to let the little boy on because he was so short. The boy was wandering around it as he cried where the frost, the snow and the North Wind still covered the tree. 

And the Giant’s heart melted as he looked out. “How selfish I have been!” he said; “now I know why the Spring would not come here. I will put that poor little boy on the top of the tree, and then I will knock down the wall, and my garden shall be the children’s playground for ever and ever.” He was really very sorry for what he had done.

The sight of the little boy struggling and crying melted the Giant’s heart. He realised how self-absorbed he had been all throughout. He understood the reason behind the absence of Spring in his garden. He wanted to put the poor little boy on the tree. He finally decided to break the wall and open the garden for children forever. He felt extremely bad for his behaviour and actions. 

So he crept downstairs and opened the front door quite softly, and went out into the garden. But

little boy and the giantwhen the children saw him they were so frightened that they all ran away, and the garden became winter again. Only the little boy did not run, for his eyes were so full of tears that he did not see the Giant coming. And the Giant stole up behind him and took him gently in his hands, and put him up into the tree. And the tree broke at once into blossom, and the birds came and sang on it, and the little boy stretched out his two arms and flung them round the Giant’s neck, and kissed him. And the other children, when they saw that the Giant was not wicked any longer, came running back, and with them came the Spring.

Stole up- to move somewhere quietly and secretly

Once he decided to help the little child, he went downstairs carefully, gently opened the front door and entered the garden. The children were so scared of him that they ran away as soon as they saw him. Winter came into the garden again. Everyone had left except that tiny child in the farthest corner because he could not see the approaching Giant due to his teary eyes. The Giant went near him quietly so as to not scare away the little boy. He gently held him into his hands and helped him sit on the tree. The tree instantly blossomed and attracted birds that began singing. This made the boy extremely happy and he stretched out his hands to hug the Giant around his neck and kiss him. Upon seeing the changed behaviour of the Giant from evil to gentle, the children came running back. The Spring followed them. 

“It is your garden now, little children,” said the Giant, and he took a great axe and knocked down the wall. And when the people were going to market at twelve o’clock they found the Giant playing with the children in the most beautiful garden they had ever seen

The Giant told the children that the garden is theirs’ and it is open for them to play. He took the wall down with a huge axe. The sight of the Giant playing with the little children in the lovely garden was a feast to the eyes of people who were on their way to market near twelve o’clock.

All day long they played, and in the evening they came to the Giant to bid him good-bye. “But where is your little companion?” he said; “the boy I put into the tree?” The Giant loved him the best because he had kissed him. 

“We don’t know,” answered the children. “He has gone away.” 

“You must tell him to be sure and come tomorrow,” said the Giant. 

But the children said that they did not know where he lived, and had never seen him before; and the Giant felt very sad.

The children would play in the garden all day long and would meet the Giant to say goodbye to him in the evening. The Giant searched for the little boy he had helped. He was the dearest of them all as he had kissed the Giant. Unfortunately, the children didn’t know anything about the child and told him that he had gone away. The Giant asked the children to tell the little boy to come with them tomorrow. To his displeasure, the children were not aware about the whereabouts of the little kid and had never seen him before. This made the Giant unhappy.

Every afternoon, when school was over, the children came and played with the Giant. But the little boy whom the Giant loved was never seen again. The Giant was very kind to all the children, yet he longed for his little friend, and often spoke of him. “How I would like to see him!” he used to say. 

Longed- have a strong wish or desire

After attending their lessons, the children would come to the garden and play with the Giant in the afternoon. The Giant could not find the little boy who was extremely close to his heart. He showed kindness towards all the children but still yearned to see the little boy. He would often speak of how he would like to see him again. 

Years went by, and the Giant grew very old and feeble. He could not play about anymore, so he sat in a huge armchair, and watched the children at their games and admired his garden. “I have many beautiful flowers,” he said; “but the children are the most beautiful flowers of all.”

Feeble- weak

As the years passed by, the Giant grew into a weak old man. He was not in a condition to be able to play with children anymore. Thus, he sat in his extremely large armchair as he watched the children play games and looked at his garden with pleasure and satisfaction. He was grateful for the beautiful  flowers in his garden and he considered the children as the most beautiful flowers of them all.

One winter morning he looked out of his window as he was dressing. He did not hate the winter now, for he knew that it was merely the Spring asleep, and that the flowers were resting.

Suddenly he rubbed his eyes in wonder and looked and looked. It certainly was a marvellous sight. In the farthest corner of the garden was a tree quite covered with lovely white blossoms. Its branches were golden, and silver fruit hung down from them, and underneath it stood the little boy he had loved.

Marvellous- extremely good or pleasing; splendid 

The Giant’s perspective towards the winters had changed. He knew it was temporary and only meant that Spring was asleep as the flowers were resting. One morning in the winter season, he glanced out of the window while getting ready. He couldn’t believe what he saw and thus, rubbed his eyes as he continued staring at the pleasant scenario. In the farthest corner of the garden, the tree was covered with beautiful blossoms. The tree had golden branches and bore silver fruit. Above all, under the tree, his eyes fell upon the tiny boy he loved and longed for.

gaint watch children play games at his garden

Downstairs ran the Giant in great joy, and out into the garden. He hastened across the grass, and came near to the child. And when he came quite close his face grew red with anger, and he said, “Who hath dared to wound thee?” For on the palms of the child’s hands were the prints of two nails, and the prints of two nails were on the little feet. 

“Who hath dared to wound thee?” cried the Giant; “tell me, that I may take my big sword and slay him.” 

Hastened- move hurriedly 

Hath- an old-fashioned third person singular form of the verb ‘have’

Thee- an old-fashioned word for ‘you’

Slay- kill someone in a violent way

As soon as he saw the boy, he ran speedily down the stairs in great delight and entered the garden. He ran across the grass to be near the boy as soon as he could. Upon coming closer to the boy, the Giant’s face turned red and he grew angry. He asked the boy “Who dared to hurt you?”. The boy’s hands were imprinted with two nails and so were his tiny feet. The Giant asked him again, “Who dared to hurt you?”. He asked the boy to tell him the one responsible for it as he would kill him with his big sword.

Giant lying dead under the tree

“Nay!” answered the child: “but these are the wounds of Love.” 

“Who art thou?” said the Giant, and a strange awe fell on him, and he knelt before the little child. 

And the child smiled on the Giant, and said to him, “You let me play once in your garden; today you shall come with me to my garden, which is paradise.” 

And when the children ran in that afternoon, they found the Giant lying dead under the tree, all covered with white blossoms. 

Nay- no 

Art- here, are

Awe- a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder

The child told him that those are the “wounds of Love”. The Giant asked the child, “Who are you?”. As he asked this, he got filled with astonishment and he knelt before the little child. The child smiled upon him and told him that the Giant let him play in his garden once, so now it was time for the Giant to play in the little boy’s garden, which is paradise.

The very same afternoon, when the children came into the garden to play, they saw the Giant lying lifeless under the tree and he was covered with white blossoms.

 

The Selfish Giant- Question and Answers

 

Comprehension Check

1. Why is the Giant called selfish? 

A. The Giant is called selfish because he did not want anyone else to take delight in his lovely Garden. He scared all the kids away. To keep his Garden to himself, he built high walls around it and even put up a notice-board that said: TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED. 

 

2. On one occasion the children said: “How happy we are here!” Later they said: “How happy we were there!” What are they referring to in both the cases? 

A. When the children said “How happy we are here!” on one occasion and “How happy we were there!” on another, they were referring to the selfish Giant’s beautiful Garden where they used to play before the Giant kicked them out.

 

3. (i) When spring came, it was still winter in the garden. What does winter stand for or indicate here? 

A. When spring came all over the country, it was still winter in the Giant’s garden. The persistent winter marked the gloomy or sad atmosphere that the garden had due to the absence of playing children. The birds did not care to sing in it as there were no children and the trees forgot to blossom.  

 

(ii) Winter has been presented like a story with its own characters and their activities. Describe the story in your own words. 

A. With the children away from the garden, the only people that seemed to be delighted were the Snow and the Frost. They discussed among themselves how they will live in the garden for the entire year now that the spring had forgotten to arrive. The Snow spread her white cape all over the grass while the Frost coloured all the trees in silver. Both of them even invited the North Wind to stay with them and it came over, wrapped in his furs. He moved at high speed in the garden making loud prolonged sounds and removing the chimney pots. The North Wind thought it was a great spot for them to stay and believed that they should invite the Hail over. Thus, the Hail came. It made loud noises by striking on the roof of the castle till he broke most of the slates. Once he was done on the roof, he would come to the garden and go round about it at an extremely fast speed. He wore grey coloured clothes and his breath was as cold as ice. Thus, in the Giant’s garden, it was always cold and the Winter persisted. It was great news for the North Wind, the Hail, the Frost and the Snow as all of them enjoyed and danced around the trees.

 

4. Was the Giant happy or sad over the state of the garden? 

A. The Giant was extremely unhappy about the prolonged winter in his garden. He often wondered why spring did not come in his garden and hoped for a change in the weather soon.

 

5. What effect did the linnet’s song have over Hail and the North Wind?

A. Upon hearing the linnet’s song, the Hail stopped dancing over the Giant’s head, and the North Wind ceased roaring.

 

6. (i) The giant saw a most wonderful sight. What did he see?

A. The Giant saw the most wonderful sight. Through a little hole in the wall the children had crept in, and they were sitting in the branches of the trees. In every tree that he could see there was a little child. And the trees were so glad to have the children back again that they had covered themselves with blossoms, and were waving their arms gently above the children’s heads. The birds were flying about and twittering with delight, and the flowers were looking up through the green grass and laughing. It was a lovely scene.

 

(ii) What did he realise on seeing it?

A. Upon seeing the most wonderful sight, the Giant realised how selfish he had been. He came to know about the reason why Spring had not come. He felt very sorry for what he had done to the children.

 

7. Why was it still winter in one corner of the garden?

A. Only in one corner of the garden, it was still winter. It was the farthest corner of the garden, and in it was standing a little boy. He was so small that he could not reach up to the branches of the tree, and he was wandering all round it, crying bitterly. The poor tree was still covered with frost and snow, and the North Wind was blowing and roaring above it. “Climb up, little boy!” said the Tree, and it bent its branches down as low as it could; but the boy was too tiny.

 

8. Describe the first meeting of the little boy and the Giant.

A. Upon seeing the Giant entering the garden, the children ran away as they were frightened. Only the little boy did not run away because he could not see the approaching Giant with his teary eyes. The Giant went near him quietly so as to not scare away the little boy. He held him softly into his hands and helped him sit on the tree. The tree instantly blossomed and attracted birds that began singing. This made the boy extremely happy and he stretched out his hands to hug the Giant around his neck and kiss him.

 

9. Describe their second meeting after a long interval.

A. One morning in the winter season, the Giant glanced out of the window while getting ready. He couldn’t believe what he saw and thus, rubbed his eyes as he continued staring at the pleasant scenario. In the farthest corner of the garden, the tree was covered with beautiful blossoms. The tree had golden branches and bore silver fruit. Above all, under the tree, his eyes fell upon the tiny boy he loved and longed for. 

As soon as he saw the boy, he ran speedily down the stairs in great delight and entered the garden. He ran across the grass to be near the boy as soon as he could. Upon coming closer to the boy, the Giant’s face turned red and he grew angry. He asked the boy “Who dared to hurt you?”. The boy’s hands were imprinted with two nails and so were his tiny feet. The Giant asked him again, “Who dared to hurt you?”. He asked the boy to tell him the one responsible for it as he would kill him with his big sword.

The child told him that those are the “wounds of Love”. The Giant asked the child, “Who are you?”. As he asked this, he got filled with astonishment and he knelt before the little child. The child smiled upon him and told him that the Giant let him play in his garden once, so now it was time for the Giant to play in the little boy’s garden, which is paradise.

The very same afternoon, when the children came into the garden to play, they saw the Giant lying lifeless under the tree as he was covered with white blossoms.

 

10. The Giant lay dead, all covered with white blossoms. What does this sentence indicate about the once selfish Giant?

A. The children found the Giant dead, all covered with white blossoms. The little child had taken him to his garend, which is paradise. This indicates that the Giant who was once selfish, had been forgiven. He helped the little boy to climb the tree once and provided a place for the children to play in his garden, thus, he had become a better man.