Born –
October 5, 1943
He is a
novelist, short story writer and playwright.
works –
a) Friend or foe (1977)
b) War house (1982)
c) Why the whales came (1985)
d) Waiting for Anya (1990)
Awards – a) Blue Peter Book Award – 2003
              b) Hampshire Book Award – 2005
              c) Prix Sorcieres – 1999
Some Information and meanings
Bridport – A market
town in Dorset, England, situated approximately 1.5 miles inland from British
Junk Shop _
A shop selling miscellaneous secondhand or old out of use materials.
Clumsily – An award
movement lacking skill or care.
Crisp – (here)
cool and fresh.
No man’s land
– A piece of land which falls in the middle of the borders of two countries.
– A long overcoat usually heavy and runs below knee.
Parapet – A low
protective wall at the edge of the trench.
Sausage – Finely
chopped and seasoned meat, especially pork, usually stuffed into a prepared
animal intestine or other casing and cooked.
– Capital city of the fireman state of north Rhine – Westphalia.
Thomas Hardy
– Famous English Novelist, (June 2, 1840 – 11 January  1928)
Far From The Madding Crowd – fourth novel of Thomas Hardy, published on
Bathsheba Everdene, the beautiful young heroine of Far From The Madding Crowd.
Gabriel oak
a farmer, shepherd Gabriel oak is the hero of Far From The Madding Crowd.
Sergeant troy
Sergeant Francis Troy, the villain of far from the Madding Crowd.
Run ration
it is the daily amount of runs given to a soldier (approx 70 milliliters per
Lopsided – Smaller
than the other.
Mince pie
– A small British fruit based mince meat sweat pie traditionally served during
– A room having glass roof and walls typically attached to a house on only one
Wicker chair
– A chair made of wicker and is thus ventilated and useful under not or humid
Page – 10
Comprehension check
1)   What did the author find in
a junk shop?
Ans: The author was desirous
to possess a roll top desk. But he could not buy the roll top desk for high
price. One day coincidently he found one roll top desk in a junk shop. Though
the roll top desk needed a lot of repair, the author bought it as it was going
for little money.
2)   What did he find in a secret
drawer? Who do you think had put it in there?
Ans: While repairing the
roll – top desk, the author found a black tin box which was well hidden in a
secret drawer. On the top of the black tin box he discovered a paper sellotaped
and written. “Jim’s last letter, received January 25, 1915  to be buried with me when the time comes.”
     Undoubtedly, the lined note paper was written by Mrs. Jim
Macpherson and she herself had put the letter in it. We are fully ascertained
about this when we come across the name and address of Mrs. Jim Macpherson on
the envelope.
Page – 14
Comprehension Check-
1)   Who had written the letter
to whom and when?
Ans: Jim Macpherson, husband
of Connie Macpherson had written the letter on 26 December 1914 during the First
World War. The letter was written to Jim’s dearest wife, Connie Macpherson.
2)   Why was the letter written –
what was the wonderful thing that had happened?
Ans: Jim Macpherson could
not control himself from sharing his experience of 25th December 1914.
He had experienced and had been a part of the best Christmas observation of his
life. To share his feeling and every detail of the incident, he had written
this letter.
     Indeed, the incident had been wonderful. The ever blood thirst
enemies, the British and Germans had forgotten their enmity in the battlefield.
Like friends, they made peace in the middle of the battlefield and enjoyed the
Christmas in the most unique way.
3)   What jobs did Hans Wolf and
Jim Macpherson have when they were not soldiers?
Ans: Both Hans wolf and Jim
Macpherson had not been professional soldiers. In the dire necessity of the
country they appeared in the battlefield. Hans wolf was from Dusseldorf and
used to play cello in the orchestra. Whereas Jim Macpherson was  from Dorset and was a school teacher by
4)   Had Hans wolf been to Dorset?
did he say he knew it?
Ans:      No, Hans wolf had never visited to England or Dorset.
     He learnt all about England, Dorset and English from school and
reading books in English.
5)   Do you think Jim Macpherson
came back from war? How do you know this?
Ans: No, as per the
references from the text and based on intuitive fact we can conclude that Jim
Macpherson did not return. Following are the supportive facts.
     In the sellotaped notepaper it was written that the letter was
Jim’s last letter. Connie Macpherson did not receive any more letters from him.
It indicates Jim Macpherson’s demise.
     The incident took place around the earlier part of the world war
– I in which the Germans had been victorious which implies the defeat of the British
and the demise of Jim Macpherson.
Page – 15
Comprehension check
1)   Why did the author go to
Ans: The author was moved
with the content of the letter and apprehended that the letter is a big
treasure to a lady named Connie Macpherson. So to return the letter to its true
owner, the author decided to go to the address of Bridport.
2.   How old was Mrs. Macpherson
now? Where was she?
Ans: Mrs. Macpherson aged
one hundred and one years.
     After the fire incident, the muddle headed Mrs. Macpherson was kept
in Burlington house nursing home.
Page – 16
Comprehension check
1)   Who did Connie Macpherson
think her visitor was?
Ans: Connie Macpherson being
aged enough had lost her eyesight and had been a bit muddle headed. She could
not recognize the person. She mistook the author to be her husband, Jim
2)   Which sentence in the text
shows that the visitor did not try to hide her identity?
Ans: The author did not try
to hide his identity. The sentence which shows this is –
     “I explained about the desk, about how I had found it, but I
don’t think she was listening.”
     Working with the Text
1)   For how long do you think Connie
had kept Jim’s letter? Give reasons for your answer.
Aan: Connie Macpherson is
now one hundred and one years old. She had received the letter on 25th
January, 1995. This hits that she had kept the letter for a very long period
till the burning of her house.
2)   Why do you think the desk
had been sold and why?
Ans: It must be after the
fire accident in Mrs. Macpherson’s house. When her house was burnt the roll top
desk was also partially burnt. And after this incident the roll top desk might
have been sold to the Junk shop.
3)   Why do Jim and Hans think
that games and sports are good ways of resolving conflicts? Do you agree?
Ans: Jim and Hans opined
that games and sports are the best ways for resolving war because in games and
sports no one dies. No wives become widows no children become orphan. So games
and sports should be the sole way to solve disputes among countries.
     Yes, I do agree war destroys a country socially, culturally,
economically. War must be shunned by us.
4)   Do you think the soldiers of
the two armies are like each other or different from each other? Find evidence
from the story to support your answer.
Ans: Indeed booth the armies
were like each other. Following are the ways in which they are like each other
Both the
armies celebrated Christmas
Both the
armies shared their food and spent time together in smoking, laughing, talking,
drinking and eating.
They played
a football match and agreed that conflicts and disputes may be resolved by
football match
They agreed
about the negative aspects of war and longed peace.
exchanged carols and hoped to unite with the families again.
5)   Mention the various ways in
which the British and the German soldiers become friends and find things in common
in Christmas.
Ans:      The British and German soldiers enjoyed Christmas together. They
shared food and spent time in smoking, drinking, laughing, eating and talking.
They sang carols and exchanged carols. Both Jim and Hans talked about books.
Favourite writer and the characters of “Far from the madding crowd”. They
agreed about everything and of course agreed that war does not bring solution,
rather war means loss and destruction.
6)   What is Connie’s Christmas
present? Why is it ‘The best Christmas Present’ in the world?
Ans: To Connie she got the
best Christmas present in the form of the author whom she mistook to be Jim,
her husband. Since long she kept the letter with her and waited for her
husband. And on this Christmas along with missing letter she got her husba
nd back.
7. Do you think the title of this story is suitable for it? Can you
think of any other title(s)?
Ans;- Yes, there is no doubt that
the title of the story is appropriate. The whole story revolves around
Christmas observation in the battlefield and Connie Macpherson’s waiting for
her husband. At last coincidently on the Christmas the author returned her
precious letter and her considering author as her husband proved to be the best
Christmas gift. So the title is apt and appropriate.