– May 13 1840, France
– December 16 1897, France.
was a famous Novelist, short story writer, playwright and a poet.
works –

a) Le petit chose
b) Les Amoureuses
c) Letters de Tarascon
d) Contes du Lundi


The last lesson
– Historical Background.

The story is set in the days of Franco – Prussian war. This war
continued from 19 July 1870 to May 10 1871. In this war Germans were victorious
which led them to “Treaty of Frankfurt”. One of the main tenets of the treaty
was the annexation of Alsace and Lorraine. This war was the revenge of the
Germans against the French as Napoleon – I had smashed the German provinces
during early Napoleonic wars.

The last lesson
– Alsace and Lorraine

     On 10th May 1971 by the Treaty
of Frankfurt’ 93% of Alsace and 26% of Lorraine had been annexed. Until October
1, 1872 the residents of Alsace and Lorraine were given option to choose
between emigrating to France or to stay in Alsace – Lorraine. Around one lakh
residents had emigrated to France.

The last lesson
– Language, the Identity of A nation

     A nation is known by its language. They
take pride on their language. Here the story “THE LAST LESSON” acquaints us
with the innate feelings of the inhabitants of Alsace and Lorraine who are
ordered to stop learning French in the schools and adopt German instead. The school
teacher M. Hamel makes us feel the very painful last day of the school. Little
Franz and others felt to the core that they were dominated and as  Frenchmen their identity was in danger. With a
morose heart the teacher, the students and the inhabitants lamented as their
mother tongue French was banned by Germany.


1.   “For
the last two years all our bad news had come from there – the lost battles, the
draft, the orders of the commanding officer – and I thought to myself, without
stopping , “What can be the matter now?”

     The bulletin – board had been the source of
all of their negative news. Whenever they got a new bulletin, they would reckon
that to be misfortune for them. They received the news of the defeat of their
Army in the Franco – Prussian war; the news the “The Treaty of Frankfurt”; the
news of the annexation of Alsace and Lorraine and the news of the death bell
for French language.

2)   “Don’t
go so fast, dub; you’ll get to your school in plenty of time”

     Watcher, the blacksmith made this scorning
remark to Franz. Ironically he indicates that his going to school is futile.
The bulletin board has brought news for them. Franz’s hurrying towards school
is going to meaningless as the school will lose the relevance to inhabitants of
Alsace and Lorraine.

3)   What
a thunder cap these words were to me!”
     At the news of the last lesson, little
Franz had become positively happy for he had been feeling blah towards studies.
His getting rid of the studies made him mirthful. But he could not assess that
what that actually meant. Almost immediately he envisaged the loss of his

4)   “Vive La France ………………School is dismissed – you may go.”

     This concluding sentences are most
emotional extending ourselves to feel the very pang of the French people of
Alsace and Lorraine as they are ordered to change their heart, i.e. their
mother tongue. In spite of being ruled by the Germans, all the villagers and M.
Hamel are true patriots when they utter “Vive La France” i.e. long live France.
The order of the dismissal of the school implies the final dismissal for the
school and learning.

Important questions –

1) Bring out the symbolical
importance of the bulletin board.
2) How the language of country
is is the identity.
3) Acquaint us with the back
ground of the story.
4) What difference did Franz
find in the atmosphere of the school?
5) What changes did Franz find
in the class room?
6) What was Franz’s reaction
when he heard that it was the last day for the school?
7) How was the performance of
Franz on the last day?
8) Whom did M. Hamel criticize
for the failure of little Franz in acquiring the lessons ?
9) “……….we must guard it,
because when a people are enslaved, as long as they hold fast to their language
it is as if they had the key to their prison”

Explain the line.

How did M. Hamel teach on last day and how did Franz learn on
last day?
“Will they make them sing in German, even pigeons?” – Explain.

  12.How did the last lesson end?