The Pedestrian Summary Explanation


ICSE Class 10 English The Pedestrian Summary and Lesson Explanation with difficult word meanings


The Pedestrian – Are you looking for Summary and Explanation for ICSE Class 10 English Poem The Pedestrian from Treasure Chest (A Collection of ICSE Poems and Short Stories) book. Get notes, summary of the poem followed by line by line explanation of the lesson along with the meanings of difficult words.

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The Pedestrian ICSE Class 10 English 

By Ray Bradbury


The Pedestrian Introduction

The story is set in the future years of 2052-53. The main character is a man named Leonard Mead. He loves to walk and walks for several hours every night. One evening, an incident takes place when he is out for a walk. The author tells us the incident in the story.


Theme of the Poem

The story was written way back in 1951 and reflected upon the future. The author questions the technological advancements and brings forth the concern that such undue power of machines will destroy humanity. The main character goes for a walk which is not a threat to anyone but it is different from the normal activity of the people (who watch TV) and so, the AI-powered police car becomes suspicious. Thus, the writer wants to point out that such robots and AI-powered technologies will turn homes into graveyards and humans into phantoms. He also shows a love for nature versus city life. While all the people remain indoors and watch TV, Mead enjoys a walk, smells the leaves and likes to see things around. 

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Also See: ICSE Class 10 English Language and Literature Syllabus 2024-25

The Pedestrian Summary

On a cold November evening, Leonard Mead leaves his house at eight at night, to go for a walk. He walks on the concrete pavement and, at times, steps on the uneven surfaces and edges of grass. He enjoys the walk and at times walks for up to four hours. At times, he stands on the crossroads and wonders which direction to walk in. As he is alone, it does not matter and so, he decides on a direction and walks towards it, his warm breath is like someone is smoking a cigar. At times, he walks for several hours and returns home past midnight. On the way he sees cottages and houses. The dark windows make them look like graveyards. Just like in a graveyard the slight shine of the firefly is visible, similarly in these houses, one gets to see a faint light. The shadows of people inside the houses are visible through the windows whose curtains are open. They are dark, like ghosts. He gets to hear whispers of people talking if the windows of the tomb-like houses remain open.

On hearing the sounds, he would stop for a moment, tilt his head to listen and then walk ahead. His feet would make a sound on the uneven concrete surface. He had started wearing sports shoes to avoid the noise of his footsteps. Earlier he would wear high heeled shoes but the noise would attract the street dogs who would bark and chase him. This would attract the neighbourhood, they would turn on the lights and on seeing a lonely person out on a walk on a cold night, they would get suspicious of him. 

Mead walked towards the west, where the hidden sea was located. The air was frosty and as he breathed it, his lungs seemed to be on fire. The fire was turning off and on like the lights on a Christmas tree. He enjoyed nature, the soft sound of his feet trampling the fallen leaves, made a soft whistling sound, examined the fallen leaves, the pattern of their veins and smelled them.

As he passed a house, he called in – what were the inmates watching that night – was it channel number 4, 7 or 9. Perhaps they were watching a cowboy show and he would ask where the cowboys were rushing to. If they were watching the rescue operation done by the soldiers, then he would ask himself of he could see them climb the next hill. 

The lanes had no sign of life and Mead’s shadow was the only movement there. It was like the shadow of a hawk flying over the vast empty countryside. If Mead stood still and closed his eyes, he could feel as if he was standing in the middle of the cold Arizona desert. The presence of the houses around him was of no significance. It felt as if there was a dry river bed, the road. He saw the time was half past eight. Then he wondered that the inmates were busy watching TV, perhaps a murder mystery or a quiz show, a theatrical performance or a comedy. He heard faint sounds of laughter from a house, and paused but when nothing else happened, he walked ahead. Mead tripped over a part of the sidewalk where the path was damaged. It had been ten years since he had started the routine of evening walks and he had never met another person walking. 

Mead reached an intersection which was in the shape of a cloverleaf. It was a big crossroad. During the daytime, the roads would be very busy. The rows of cars seemed to be like insects rushing towards something and the exhausts from the vehicles were like incense. However, at night, the roads were like dry river beds with the moon shining above. 

He turned back home and was a block away from his house when he was stopped by a police car. The lights on top of it were flashing and a computerized voice came from within. Mead was ordered to stop, and raise his hands, or else he would be shot at. The city had a population of around 3 million and only 1 police car because the crime rate had decreased. The voice asked his name and he replied it was Leonard Mead. It asked if he was into a business or a profession and he replied that he could be called a sort of a writer. The metallic voice sounded as if it were talking to itself that that was no profession. The light from the car was like a spotlight in the museum which falls on the specimen which is kept in its place by a needle inserted in its chest.

Mead replied that they could say that it wasn’t a profession because he had not written since the last few years. Now magazines and books did not sell because everyone only watched TV. People sat in front of them like ghosts, the lights of the TV fell on their faces but the content never reached their minds because they were not watching intently.

The voice repeated that he had no profession and asked what he was doing out at that hour. Mead replied that he was walking. He said that he was just walking and he felt his face was cold. The voice found this strange and asked where and what for was he walking. Mead replied that he was walking to get fresh air and to look around. It asked his address and he said it was Eleven South Saint James Street. The voice said that he had air in his house, he had an air conditioner and he replied that he had it. It asked if he had a viewing screen in the house and he said that he did not have it. The voice made a cracking sound on hearing this as if it felt that Mead was accusing it for he did not have a viewing screen at home. The voice wants to tell him that if he wants fresh air, it is available inside his house through the air conditioner. Similarly, if he wants to look around, he can use the viewing screen to look around, from inside the house. The police wanted to tell him that these are invalid reasons for him being out. The voice asked if he was married and he replied that he wasn’t. The voice said not married and the flashlight was blinking. The moon was visible among the stars and the houses were dark and quiet. Mead added that nobody wanted him to marry. The police ordered him to speak only when asked to. Mead got quiet and waited. The voice said that was he just walking. Mead confirmed. The voice added that he had not given any convincing reason and he said that it was for air, to look around and to walk. The voice asked if he had done this earlier and Mead replied that he had been doing this every night for several years. The police voice said well and Mead asked if the inquiry was over. It replied it was over. Then there was a sound of a deep breath followed by a pop sound. The back door of the car was opened and the voice ordered Mead to get in. He revolted because he had not done anything. He was forced but he protested. Mead started walking as if he was drunk. He crossed the front of the car and peeped inside to see the occupants but there was no one inside. It ordered him to sit inside. He gripped the door and peeped in the back of the car. It was a small cell like a cell in the jail. He could smell soldering of steel and antiseptic. The inside was hard and metallic. The voice said that if he had a wife, he could make an excuse for not being taken away. He asked where they were taking him. The car paused, there was a slight whirring sound and a click, as if information was added to a card. It said that he was being taken to a psychiatric center. His behaviour did not match his age. He behaved like children and so, he showed Regressive tendencies. 

The door closed softly. The car drove through the dark lanes and the light flashed on top of it. They passed several houses, all were dark. Then they reached a brightly lit house, each window shone a bright yellow light. Mead said that it was his house. The voice did not reply. It drove ahead through the empty lanes which resembled the dry river beds. There was no sound or movement on that cold November night.



The Pedestrian Summary in Hindi


नवंबर की ठंडी शाम को, लियोनार्ड मीड टहलने के लिए रात आठ बजे अपने घर से निकलते हैं। वह कंक्रीट के फुटपाथ पर चलता है और कभी-कभी असमान सतहों और घास के किनारों पर भी कदम रखता है। वह पैदल चलने का आनंद लेते हैं और कभी-कभी चार घंटे तक चलते हैं। कभी-कभी, वह चौराहे पर खड़ा होता है और सोचता है कि किस दिशा में चलना है। चूँकि वह अकेला है, इससे कोई फर्क नहीं पड़ता और इसलिए, वह एक दिशा तय करता है और उसकी ओर चल देता है, उसकी गर्म साँसें ऐसी होती हैं जैसे कोई सिगार पी रहा हो। कभी-कभी, वह कई घंटों तक चलता है और आधी रात के बाद घर लौटता है। रास्ते में उसे कुटिया और घर दिखाई देते हैं। अँधेरी खिड़कियाँ उन्हें कब्रिस्तान जैसा बनाती हैं। जिस तरह कब्रिस्तान में जुगनू की हल्की सी चमक दिखाई देती है, उसी तरह इन घरों में भी हल्की सी रोशनी देखने को मिलती है। घरों के अंदर के लोगों की परछाइयाँ उन खिड़कियों से दिखाई देती हैं जिनके पर्दे खुले हैं। वे भूतों की तरह काले हैं। कब्र जैसे घरों की खिड़कियाँ खुली रहने पर उसे लोगों की बातें करने की फुसफुसाहटें सुनाई देती हैं।

आवाजें सुनकर वह एक पल के लिए रुकता, सिर झुकाकर सुनता और फिर आगे चल देता। उसके पैर ऊबड़-खाबड़ कंक्रीट की सतह पर आवाज करते थे। अपने कदमों की आवाज़ से बचने के लिए उन्होंने स्पोर्ट्स जूते पहनना शुरू कर दिया था। पहले वह ऊँची एड़ी के जूते पहनता था लेकिन शोर सड़क के कुत्तों को आकर्षित करता था जो भौंकते थे और उसका पीछा करते थे। इससे आस-पड़ोस के लोग आकर्षित होंगे, वे लाइटें जला देंगे और ठंडी रात में किसी अकेले व्यक्ति को टहलते हुए देखकर उन्हें उस पर संदेह हो जाएगा।

मीड पश्चिम की ओर चला, जहाँ छिपा हुआ समुद्र स्थित था। हवा ठंडी थी और जैसे ही उसने उसमें सांस ली, उसके फेफड़ों में आग लग गई। आग क्रिसमस ट्री पर लगी रोशनी की तरह बार-बार बंद हो रही थी। उन्होंने प्रकृति का आनंद लिया, गिरे हुए पत्तों को रौंदते हुए उनके पैरों की धीमी आवाज सुनाई दी, हल्की सीटी की आवाज आई, गिरे हुए पत्तों, उनकी नसों के पैटर्न की जांच की और उन्हें सूंघा।

जैसे ही वह एक घर से गुज़रा, उसने अंदर बुलाया – उस रात वे  क्या देख रहे थे – क्या यह चैनल नंबर 4, 7 या 9 था। शायद वे एक काउबॉय शो देख रहे थे और उसने पूछा कि काउबॉय कहाँ भाग रहे हैं। यदि वे सैनिकों द्वारा किए गए बचाव अभियान को देख रहे होते, तो वह खुद से पूछते कि क्या वह उन्हें अगली पहाड़ी पर चढ़ते हुए देख सकता है ।

गलियों में जीवन का कोई निशान नहीं था और मीड की छाया ही वहां एकमात्र आवाजाही थी। यह विशाल खाली देहात पर उड़ते हुए बाज़ की छाया की तरह था। यदि मीड स्थिर खड़ा रहता और अपनी आँखें बंद कर लेता, तो उसे ऐसा महसूस होता जैसे वह ठंडे एरिज़ोना रेगिस्तान के बीच में खड़ा है। उसके आसपास मकानों की मौजूदगी कोई मायने नहीं रखती थी।  ऐसा लग रहा था जैसे कोई सूखी नदी की तलहटी हो, सड़क हो। उसने देखा समय साढ़े आठ बज रहे थे। फिर उसे आश्चर्य हुआ कि लोग टीवी देखने में व्यस्त थे, शायद कोई मर्डर मिस्ट्री या क्विज़ शो, कोई नाटकीय प्रदर्शन या कॉमेडी। उसने एक घर से हँसी की हल्की-हल्की आवाजें सुनीं और रुक गया, लेकिन जब और कुछ नहीं हुआ तो वह आगे बढ़ गया। मीड फुटपाथ के एक हिस्से पर फिसल गया जहां पथ क्षतिग्रस्त हो गया था। दस साल हो गए थे जब से उसने शाम की सैर की दिनचर्या शुरू की थी और उसे कभी कोई पैदल चलने वाला व्यक्ति नहीं मिला था।

मीड एक चौराहे पर पहुंचा जो तिपतिया घास के पत्ते के आकार का था। यह एक बड़ा चौराहा था. दिन के समय सड़कें बहुत व्यस्त होंगी। कारों की कतारें कीड़ों की तरह किसी चीज़ की ओर दौड़ती हुई लगती थीं और गाड़ियों से निकलने वाला धुआं धूप की तरह।  हालाँकि, रात में, सड़कें सूखी नदी के तल की तरह थीं और ऊपर चाँद चमक रहा था।

वह घर वापस मुड़ा और अपने घर से कुछ ही दूर था जब एक पुलिस की गाड़ी ने उसे रोका। उसके ऊपर की लाइटें चमक रही थीं और भीतर से एक कम्प्यूटरीकृत आवाज़ आ रही थी। मीड को आदेश दिया गया कि वह रुके और अपने हाथ ऊपर उठाए, अन्यथा उसे गोली मार दी जाएगी। शहर की आबादी लगभग 30 लाख थी और केवल 1 पुलिस कार थी क्योंकि अपराध दर कम हो गई थी। आवाज़ ने उसका नाम पूछा और उसने उत्तर दिया कि यह लियोनार्ड मीड है। इसमें पूछा गया कि क्या वह व्यवसाय या पेशे में हैं और उन्होंने जवाब दिया कि उन्हें एक तरह का लेखक कहा जा सकता है। धात्विक आवाज ऐसी लग रही थी मानो वह खुद से बात कर रही हो कि यह कोई पेशा नहीं है। कार से निकलने वाली रोशनी संग्रहालय में एक स्पॉटलाइट की तरह थी जो उस नमूने पर पड़ती है जिसे उसके सीने में सुई द्वारा अपनी जगह पर रखा गया है।

मीड ने उत्तर दिया कि वे कह सकते हैं कि यह कोई पेशा नहीं है क्योंकि उन्होंने पिछले कुछ वर्षों से नहीं लिखा है। अब पत्रिकाएँ और किताबें नहीं बिकती थीं क्योंकि हर कोई केवल टीवी देखता था। लोग भूतों की तरह उनके सामने बैठे रहते, टीवी की रोशनी उनके चेहरे पर पड़ती लेकिन सामग्री उनके दिमाग तक कभी नहीं पहुंची क्योंकि वे ध्यान से नहीं देख रहे थे।

आवाज़ ने दोहराया कि उसका कोई पेशा नहीं है और पूछा कि वह उस समय क्या कर रहा था। मीड ने उत्तर दिया कि वह चल रहा था। उन्होंने कहा कि वह बस चल रहे थे और उन्हें लगा कि उनका चेहरा ठंडा है। आवाज को यह अजीब लगा और उसने पूछा कि वह कहां और किसलिए चल रहा है। मीड ने उत्तर दिया कि वह ताज़ी हवा लेने और चारों ओर देखने के लिए चल रहा था। इसने उसका पता पूछा और उसने कहा कि यह इलेवन साउथ सेंट जेम्स स्ट्रीट था। आवाज़ ने कहा कि उसके घर में हवा है, एयर कंडीशनर है और उसने उत्तर दिया कि यह उसके पास है। इसने पूछा कि क्या उसके घर में देखने के लिए कोई स्क्रीन है और उसने कहा कि उसके पास नहीं है। यह सुनते ही आवाज में कर्कश ध्वनि आई, मानो ऐसा लगा कि मीड उस पर यह आरोप लगा रहा है कि उसके पास घर पर देखने वाली स्क्रीन नहीं है। आवाज उसे बताना चाहती है कि अगर उसे ताजी हवा चाहिए तो वह उसके घर के अंदर एयर कंडीशनर के माध्यम से उपलब्ध है। इसी तरह, यदि वह चारों ओर देखना चाहता है, तो वह घर के अंदर से, चारों ओर देखने के लिए व्यूइंग स्क्रीन का उपयोग कर सकता है। पुलिस उसे बताना चाहती थी कि उसके बाहर रहने के ये अमान्य कारण हैं। आवाज ने पूछा कि क्या वह शादीशुदा है और उसने जवाब दिया कि वह शादीशुदा नहीं है। आवाज में कहा गया कि शादी नहीं हुई है और टॉर्च जल रही थी। तारों के बीच चाँद दिखाई दे रहा था और घर अँधेरे और शांत थे। मीड ने कहा कि कोई नहीं चाहता था कि वह शादी करें। पुलिस ने उसे पूछने पर ही बोलने का आदेश दिया। मीड शांत हो गया और इंतजार करने लगा। आवाज़ आई कि क्या वह बस चल रहा था। मीड ने पुष्टि की।  आवाज में कहा गया कि उन्होंने कोई ठोस कारण नहीं बताया और उन्होंने कहा कि यह हवा के लिए, चारों ओर देखने और चलने के लिए था। आवाज़ ने पूछा कि क्या उसने पहले ऐसा किया है और मीड ने जवाब दिया कि वह कई सालों से हर रात ऐसा करता आ रहा है। पुलिस की आवाज़ अच्छी थी और मीड ने पूछा कि क्या पूछताछ ख़त्म हो गई है। इसने उत्तर दिया कि यह ख़त्म हो गया है। तभी एक गहरी सांस की आवाज आई और उसके बाद पॉप की आवाज आई। कार का पिछला दरवाज़ा खोला गया और आवाज़ ने मीड को अंदर आने का आदेश दिया। उसने विद्रोह कर दिया क्योंकि उसने कुछ नहीं किया था। उन पर दबाव डाला गया लेकिन उन्होंने विरोध किया. मीड ऐसे चलने लगा मानो वह नशे में हो। उसने कार के सामने से होकर अंदर झाँका और उसमें बैठे लोगों को देखा, लेकिन अंदर कोई नहीं था। इसने उसे अंदर बैठने का आदेश दिया। उसने दरवाज़ा पकड़ा और कार के पीछे झाँका। यह जेल की कोठरी की तरह एक छोटी सी कोठरी थी। उसे स्टील की सोल्डरिंग और एंटीसेप्टिक की गंध आ रही थी। अंदर का हिस्सा सख्त और धात्विक था। आवाज में कहा गया कि अगर उसकी पत्नी होती तो वह उसे न ले जाने का बहाना बना सकता था। उसने पूछा कि वे उसे कहां ले जा रहे हैं। कार रुकी, हल्की सी घरघराहट और क्लिक की आवाज आई, मानो किसी कार्ड में जानकारी जोड़ दी गई हो। इसमें कहा गया कि उसे एक मनोरोग केंद्र ले जाया जा रहा है। उसका व्यवहार उसकी उम्र से मेल नहीं खाता था।  उन्होंने बच्चों की तरह व्यवहार किया और इसलिए, उन्होंने प्रतिगामी प्रवृत्तियाँ दिखाईं।

दरवाज़ा धीरे से बंद हो गया। कार अँधेरी गलियों से गुज़री और उसके ऊपर रोशनी चमक उठी। वे कई घरों से गुज़रे, सभी अंधेरे थे। फिर वे एक चमकदार रोशनी वाले घर में पहुँचे, प्रत्येक खिड़की पर चमकदार पीली रोशनी चमक रही थी। मीड ने कहा कि यह उसका घर था। आवाज ने उत्तर नहीं दिया. वह खाली गलियों से होकर आगे बढ़ी जो सूखी नदी तल जैसी लग रही थीं। नवंबर की उस ठंडी रात में कोई आवाज़ या हलचल नहीं थी।



Title Analysis of the Poem The Pedestrian

The title “The Pedestrian” is fitting as it indicates the protagonist, Leonard Mead, who is the only individual out for a walk on a cold November night while the rest of the population is indoors, engrossed in watching television shows. The story begins with Leonard leaving his home for his customary evening stroll along the sidewalk, a routine that he has been following for a long time. He stands out as the solitary pedestrian, taking in the sights and sounds of the open air.


Setting  of the Poem The Pedestrian

The story is set in the future, specifically on a night in the month of November, in the year 2053. Despite being written in the year 1951, the narrative offers a speculative glimpse into a world that has changed by rapid technological and social advancements. It envisions a society where television ownership and network programming are ubiquitous, which will change the basic lifestyle after a century. This future is portrayed as dystopian, with the city bustling during the day but descending into a sense of numbness and complacency at night, as the majority of people consume their favorite TV shows.


Narrative Style of Poem The Pedestrian

The story “The Pedestrian” uses a first-person point of view, allowing the main character, Leonard Mead, to voice his disdain for the dehumanizing effects of technological and social progress. Through detailed descriptions of the outside world, the author contrasts Mead’s vibrant individuality with the passive, almost lifeless inhabitants of the indoor world. Mead’s house stands out as the only one that is lit up, symbolizing that he is different from others.

Rich in imagery and literary devices, the story explores themes of individuality, alienation, loneliness, and the dehumanizing impact of technology, particularly television and robots. Various sensory images are employed, from the tactile feel of frost in the air to the visual beauty of autumn leaves. Mead’s walks in nature are described with a spiritual undertone, such as when his lungs “blaze like a Christmas tree inside,” suggesting a deep connection with the natural world.

The opposition between Mead’s satisfaction in nature and the superficial engagement of those indoors, whose faces are illuminated by television light but are “never really touching,” highlights the emotional depth of the narrative. The police car symbolizes the dehumanization of society, suggesting that machines or robots are more effective at ensuring conformity, even at the cost of individual freedom.



The Pedestrian Poem Explanation

To enter out into that silence that was the city at eight o’clock of a misty evening in November, to put your feet upon that buckling concrete walk, to step over grassy seams and make your way, hands in pockets, through the silences, that was what Mr. Leonard Mead most dearly loved to do. He would stand upon the corner of an intersection and peer down long moonlit avenues of sidewalk in four directions, deciding which way to go, but it really made no difference; he was alone in this world of A.D. 2053, or as good as alone, and with a final decision made, a path selected, he would stride off, sending patterns of frosty air before him like the smoke of a cigar.

Word meanings:
Buckling: Crumpling, collapsing
Concrete walk: Walkway made of cement, sand and small stones
Seams: Junctions
Intersection: Crossing
Peer: Peep
Avenues: Pathways
Stride off: Walk away with long steps

The author tells the story of a man named Leonard Mead. In the cold misty evenings in November, Mr Mead would go out for a walk at eight o’clock, when there was silence all around. He would place his hands in his pockets and would place his feet on the crumbling paths made of concrete and on the edges which had grass. He enjoyed going for such walks. Mead would stand on the intersections of paths, deciding which way to go. He would look at the paths which were lighted by the moonlight. All the paths appeared the same. He was in future times, the year 2053, all by himself. Finally, he would decide on a path and start. The exhaled breath would form a pattern in the air just like the smoke emitted from the mouth of one who smokes a cigar.


Sometimes he would walk for hours and miles and return only at midnight to his house. And on his way he would see the cottages and homes with their dark windows, and it was not unequal to walking through a graveyard where only the faintest glimmers of firefly light appeared in flickers behind the windows. Sudden gray phantoms seemed to manifest upon inner room walls where a curtain was still undrawn against the night, or there were whisperings and murmurs where a window in a tomblike building was still open.

Word meanings:
Glimmers: Gleams/Flashes
Firefly: A glowing worm
Flickers: Flashes
Phantoms: Spirits of dead persons
Manifest: Show clearly

Mr Mead would walk for hours and would cover several miles of distance. It would be past midnight when he would return home. On the way, he would see many cottages and homes. It would be quite late so the lights would be off and Mead would find the area similar to a graveyard. The slightest shine of fireflies in the sky if seen in the graveyard was just like the slight shine of light seen through the window of such dark cottages. The shadows of the people inside the cottage would be visible if the curtain was left undrawn on a window. These shadows resembled the ghosts in the graveyards. He would hear the whispers of people talking if the window of a house that looked like a tomb (a tomb is a graveyard with a structure on it. The Taj Mahal is a famous tomb) was left open.

Mr. Leonard Mead would pause, cock his head, listen, look, and march on, his feet making no noise on the lumpy walk. For long ago he had wisely changed to sneakers when strolling at night, because the dogs in intermittent squads would parallel his journey with barkings if he wore hard heels, and lights might click on and faces appear and an entire street be startled by the passing of a lone figure, himself, in the early November evening.

Word meanings:
Cock: turned in a particular direction
March: here, walk
Lumpy: heavy movement
Sneakers: shoes for running
Intermittent: stopping at short intervals
Squads: groups
Startled: disturbed

On hearing the sound, Leonard Mead would stop, tilt his head to hear it and then walk ahead. His feet did not produce any sound on the uneven footpath. Since a long time, he had started wearing sports shoes when he went out for a walk. He had changed from the high-heeled shoes because they produced a lot of noise. This noise of his footsteps would attract the stray dogs who would bark at him. The residents of the houses would turn on the lights and come out to see the reason for such chaos and would feel shocked to see a man out for a walk at such late hour on a cold night.

On this particular evening, he began his journey in a westerly direction, toward the hidden sea. There was a good crystal frost in the air; it cut the nose and made the lungs blaze like a Christmas tree inside; you could feel the cold light going on and off, all the branches filled with invisible snow. He listened to the faint push of his soft shoes through autumn leaves with satisfaction, and whistled a cold quiet whistle between his teeth, occasionally picking up a leaf as he passed, examining its skeletal pattern in the infrequent lamplights as he went on, smelling its rusty smell.

Word meanings:
Blaze: burn with bright lights
Faint: slight
Skeletal: thin, frame of bones with bright lights

The author tells us about a particular evening when Mr Mead started to walk towards the west direction where the hidden sea was located. The air was cold and frosty. As the chilly air went through the nose, into the lungs, they seemed to be on fire, and like the Christmas tree, it felt as if lights were turning on and off inside the lungs. When he walked over the dry leaves that had fallen off the trees, he could hear the trampling sound made by his feet. He made a low whistling sound as he walked and at times, picked up a fallen leaf. Under the light of the street lamp, he checked out the pattern of the veins on the leaf and also took a whiff of the leaf’s rusty smell.

“Hello, in there,” he whispered to every house on every side as he moved. “What’s up tonight on Channel 4, Channel 7, Channel 9? Where are the cowboys rushing, and do I see the United States Cavalry over the next hill to the rescue?”

Word meanings:
Cavalry: Soldiers

As he crossed a house, he wished the inhabitants and asked about the family’s plans. He would ask them about what would they watch on TV – channel 4, 7 or 9. Would it be cowboy show or the documentary on how rescue is done by the soldiers.

The street was silent and long and empty, with only his shadow moving like the shadow of a hawk in midcountry. If he closed his eyes and stood very still, frozen, he could imagine himself upon the center of a plain, a wintry, windless Arizona desert with no house in a thousand miles, and only dry river beds, the streets, for company.

He walked along an empty lane. His only companion was his shadow which is compared to the shadow of a hawk that flies in the vast open countryside. Mead felt as if he was in the middle of a vast expanse of the Arizona desert which was cold and there was no wind. Where there was no sign of life in a range of a thousand miles. There were only river beds that had dried up and the empty lanes which gave him company.

“What is it now?” he asked the houses, noticing his wristwatch. “Eight-thirty P.M.? Time for a dozen assorted murders? A quiz? A revue? A comedian falling off the stage?”

Word meanings:
Assorted: Mixed
Revue: a theatrical performance dealing with topical issues

When he noticed the houses that did not indicate the presence of life, he wondered what time it was. He looked at his watch and said that it was half past eight. He thought that perhaps all the inhabitants were watching TV – maybe some murder mystery show or a quiz show or a theatrical drama or a comedy show.

Was that a murmur of laughter from within a moon-white house? He hesitated, but went on when nothing more happened. He stumbled over a particularly uneven section of sidewalk. The Cement was vanishing under flowers and grass. In ten years of walking by night or day, for thousands of miles, he had never met another person walking, not once in all that time.

He heard the sound of someone laughing from a house that was white like the Moon. He made a slight pause but continued his walk when nothing further happened. He tripped over a part of the path which was not even. The cementing had eroded off under the growth of grass and flowers. It had been ten years since Mead had this routine of walks but he had never met any other person out for a walk at that hour.

He came to a cloverleaf intersection which stood silent where two main highways crossed the town. During the day it was a thunderous surge of cars, the gas stations open, a great insect rustling and a ceaseless jockeying for position as the scarab-beetles, a faint incense puttering from their exhausts, skimmed homeward to the far directions. But now these highways, too, were like streams in a dry season, all stone and bed and moon radiance.

Word meanings:
Cloverleaf: a road arrangement devised for smooth traffic; it resembles a four leaf clover
Surge: strong and sudden movement
Scarab beetle: a beetle that lays eggs in dung
Puttering: kicking around
Skimmed: moved quickly
Radiance: brightness

Mead reached a road intersection that resembled the shape of a leaf of clover. The area remained busy during the day, with many cars moving, the busy gas station. They were like insects trying to get a place among a group of insects. The cars would release slight exhausts, which had a smell that has been said to be like that of an incense, as they moved towards their homes. But during the night, it was empty like a dry river bed. There was a road, side walks and the moonlight.

He turned back on a side street, circling around toward his home. He was within a block of his destination when the lone car turned a corner quite suddenly and flashed a fierce white cone of light upon him. He stood entranced, not unlike a night moth, stunned by the illumination, and then drawn toward it.

Word meanings:
Entranced: Spell-bound

Mead turned back on the sidewalk and started back home. He was just one block away from his house when a single car turned around a corner, appeared suddenly and threw a flash of white light on Mead. Mead stopped, attracted by the bright light. He was like a night moth insect that gets attracted to light and moves towards it.

A metallic voice called to him:
“Stand still. Stay where you are! Don’t move!”
He halted.
“Put up your hands!”
“But-” he said.
“Your hands up! Or we’ll Shoot!”

There was a metallic (non-human) voice that spoke from inside the car. It ordered Mead to stand still and not move. He stopped. Then he was ordered to raise his hands. He was hesitant and the voice forced him to obey, else they would shoot at him with a gun.

The police, of course, but what a rare, incredible thing; in a city of three million, there was only one police car left, wasn’t that correct? Ever since a year ago, 2052, the election year, the force had been cut down from three cars to one. Crime was ebbing; there was no need now for the police, save for this one lone car wandering and wandering the empty streets.

Word meanings:
Ebbing: Becoming less

It was the police but it was unbelievable that in a huge city that had a population of three million, there was only one police car. Last year i.e. in 2052, the elections had taken place. The police force had been reduced from three to only 1 police car. There was a reduction in crimes and police were no longer required. So, in the name of the police, there was this single police car that would move around on the empty streets of the town.

“Your name?” said the police car in a metallic whisper. He couldn’t see the men in it for the bright light in his eyes.
“Leonard Mead,” he said.
“Speak up!”
Leonard Mead!”
“Business or profession?”
“I guess you’d call me a writer.”
“No profession,” said the police car, as if talking to itself. The light held him fixed, like a museum specimen, needle thrust through chest.

The computerised voice from the police car asked Mead’s name. Mead could not see the men inside the car because the bright lights of the car blinded him. He replied that his name was Leonard Mead. They asked if he was into a business or a profession. He said that perhaps they could say that he was a writer. The voice replied as if to itself, that this was not a profession. The light of the car continued to fall on Mead and he felt that he was like a sample displayed in a museum and a needle was inserted through his chest so that he could not move.

“You might say that, “said Mr. Mead. He hadn’t written in years. Magazines and books didn’t sell anymore. Everything went on in the tomblike houses at night now, he thought, continuing his fancy. The tombs, ill-lit by television light, where the people sat like the dead, the gray or multicolored lights touching their faces, but never really touching them.

Word meanings:
Fancy: Imagination

Mead said that they were right in saying that writing was not a profession because he had not written in the recent past. Written material did not sell anymore. People consume more of TV. He was reminded of the houses which were like graveyards from inside which lights of the TV were visible. The people sat motionless like the dead as they watched the TV which gave out gray or multi-coloured lights. The lights reached the faces of the viewers but perhaps the message of the TV Programme never reached their minds.

“No profession,” said the phonograph voice, hissing. “What are you doing out?”
“Walking,” said Leonard Mead.
“Just walking,” he said simply, but his face felt cold.
“Walking, just walking, walking?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Walking where? For what?”
“Walking for air. Walking to see.
“Your address!”
“Eleven South Saint James Street.”
“And there is air in your house, you have an air conditioner, Mr. Mead?”
“And you have a viewing screen in your house to see with?”
“No?” There was a crackling quiet that in itself was an accusation.
“Are you married, Mr. Mead?”
“Not married,” said the police voice behind the fiery beam, The moon was high and clear among the stars and the houses were gray and silent.
“Nobody wanted me,” said Leonard Mead with a smile.

Word meanings:
Phonograph voice: a phonograph is an instrument that produces sound. Here, the phonograph voice means that it was not a human voice.

The computerized voice repeated Mead’s words of no profession and asked what he was doing out at that hour. Mead replied that he was walking which surprised the computerised voice. Mead added that he was just walking and his face felt cold to him. The voice asked where he was going or what was the purpose of walking. He replied that he was walking for the air, to see the places. The voice asked for his address. Mead said that it was Eleven South Saint James Street. The voice asked if Mead had an airconditioner at home and he said that yes, he had one. Then it asked if he had a viewing screen in the house and he denied it. This was surprising for the computerised voice which made a crackling sound as if it were accusing Mead. Then it asked if Mead was married. His negative reply caused a shock to the voice. In the sky, the moon was clearly visible, and below, the houses were gray in colour and showed no sign of life. Mead smiled and said that nobody had wanted him to get married.

“Don’t speak unless you’re spoken to!”
Leonard Mead waited in the cold night.
“Just walking, Mr. Mead?”
“But you haven’t explained for what purpose.”
“I explained; for air, and to see, and just to walk.”
“Have you done this often?”
“Every night for years.”
The police car sat in the center of the street with its radio throat faintly humming.
“Well, Mr. Mead,” it said.
“Is that all?” he asked politely.
“Yes,” said the voice. “Here.” There was a sigh, a pop. The back door of the police car sprang wide. “Get in.”
“Wait a minute, I haven’t done anything!”
“Get in.”
“I protest!”
“Mr. Mead.”

Word meanings:
Humming: throbbing
Pop: appearing suddenly

The voice ordered him not to speak unless asked to. Mead waited in the cold night. The voice again asked him if he was just walking and Mead confirmed it. The voice asked him the purpose behind the walk and Mead replied that he had said that it was to get air and to see different things. He just wanted to walk. The voice asked if he had walked earlier too and Mead said that he had been walking every night for the past several years. The police car was stationed in the middle of the road and the radio was producing a light humming sound. It said “Well, Me Mead” and he asked if the enquiry was over. The voice said yes and then, said here, there was a sound of a deep breath and a popping sound, the back door of the car opened and the voice ordered Mead to sit inside the car. Mead opposed it and said that he had not done anything wrong. The voice ordered him to get in the car, Mead protested and the voice forced him.

He walked like a man suddenly drunk. As he passed the front window of the car he looked in. As he had expected, there was no one in the front seat, no one in the car at all.
“Get in.”
He put his hand to the door and peered into the back seat, which was a little cell, a little black jail with bars. It smelled of riveted steel. It smelled of harsh antiseptic; it smelled too clean and hard and metallic. There was nothing soft there.
“Now if you had a wife to give you an alibi,” said the iron voice. “But-”

Word meanings:
Antiseptic: A substance that stops or slows down the growth of microorganisms
Alibi: Excuse

Mead walked as if he was under the influence of alcohol. He peeped through the front window and as he had suspected, there was no person inside it. The voice ordered him to get inside the car. He peeped inside the back seat. It was a small cell (like a cell in the jail), black in color, and had bars around it. He could smell riveted steel, the smell of freshly beaten rivets to hold two sheets of steel together was still there. He could smell antiseptic as if it had been sanitized. The cell appeared clean, hard and metallic. There was nothing soft (which means no human touch). The voice said that Mead did not have any excuse to leave and if he had had a wife, he could have made a valid excuse not to sit in the car.

“Where are you taking me?”
The car hesitated, or rather gave a faint whirring click, as if information, somewhere, was dropping card by punch-slotted card under electric eyes. “To the Psychiatric Center for Research on Regressive Tendencies.”
He got in. The door shut with a soft thud.
The police car rolled through the night avenues, flashing its dim lights ahead.

Word meanings:
Whirring: rattling
Regressive: Opposite of Progressive

Mead asked where they were taking him. The police car moved reluctantly and it seemed that his words were being recorded because some machine made a sound like a card was dropped in a punch slot. It was as if some camera was watching him. The metallic voice replied that they were taking him to the psychiatry center because Mead’s behaviour was not fit for his age. He was behaving like children. As he sat, the door of the car shut with a soft sound. The car drove off in the dark lanes and the light on top flashed.

They passed one house on one street a moment later, one house in an entire city of houses that were dark, but this one particular house had all of its electric lights brightly lit, every window a loud yellow illumination, square and warm in the cool darkness.
“That’s my house,” said Leonard Mead.
No one answered him.

As the car crossed a house, several houses were dark and there was only one house that was brightly lit with every window showing a bright yellow colour which felt warm in the cool dark night.

The car moved down the empty river-bed streets and off away, leaving the empty streets with the empty side-walks, and no sound and no motion all the rest of the chill November night.

The police car drove on the empty roads which were like dry river beds, there was no sound or motion of living beings the entire night.

Also See: 

ICSE Class 10 English Summary, Explanation



ICSE Class 10 English Important Question Answers