Notes - The Last Lesson

Notes - The Last Lesson

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The Last Lesson


Chapter Summary



The story represents the days of Franco-Prussian was. After gaining vectory over Alsace and Lorraine in France, Berlin had ordered that only German will be taught in the schools of France.


Franz is Reluctant to go to School

Franz had started for school very late that morning. He was afraid of a scolding from his teacher as his French teacher, M Hamel, had announced that he would question the class on participles. As a result Franz thought of running away and spending the day outside. But, he hurried to school. On his way to school, Franz passed the town hall and noticed

a crowd in front of the bulletin board.


M Hamel's Strange Behaviour and Many Unusual Things

When Franz reached the school, he was very surprised to find that everything was quiet. Franz noticed that all of his classmates were already in their seats and M Hamel was walking up and down with his iron ruler under his arm. Instead of scolding him, M Hamel spoke very kindly to him and told him to take his seat. After Franz had calmed down, he noticed that M Hamel was wearing a special attire, which he wore only on special occasions. He was surprised to see the village people sitting quietly on the back benches. They all looked very sad.


The Order from Berlin

M Hamel mounted on his chair and made the dreadful announcement. He told the class that it was their last French lesson.

The order had come from Berlin to teach only German in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine and he would be leaving the school the next day. These words were a shock to little Franz.

Now he remembered the gathering at the town hall. He regretted not having learnt his lessons when there was still time.

Now, he will never be able to learn them. The thought that M Hamel was going away and

Franz would never see him again, made him forget all about how cranky M Hamel was. Franz was feeling very sorry for him.

It was in honour of his 'last lesson’ that he had put on his fine clothes, and the village people had gathered there to express their gratitude towards him, and to show their respect for their country and their language.



M Hamel Criticises Himself and the People of Alsace

While Franz was thinking of all this, he heard his name called out; it was his turn to recite.

But unfortunately, he got mixed up on the first words. He was ashamed and stood holding his desk. M Hamel said that he would not scold him. He criticised the people of Alsace for their habit of putting off learning for some time in the future. He blamed their parents for not taking interest in their studies. He also blamed himself for this.


Importance of Mother Tongue

M Hamel then talked about the French language. He called it the most beautiful, the clearest and the most logical language in the world.


The Last Lesson

M Hamel opened a grammar book and taught them their last lesson. Franz was amazed to see how well he understood everything. After that they had a lesson in writing.


The Final Good Bye

All this while, M Hamel sat motionless in his chair. Franz thought that M Hamel wanted to imprint this classroom scene in his mind. Everybody became emotional towards the end; some even started crying, but M Hamel had the courage and patience to hear every lesson to the last.

Finally, as the church-clock struck twelve, M Hamel stood up. He tried to speak, but choked. Then he turned to the blackboard and wrote as large as he could 'Vive La France! which means 'long live France5. He then dismissed the class, signaling everyone to leave.

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