The Last Lesson is the first chapter of Class 12th book Flamingo. it has been written by Alphonse Daudet. This story signifies the importance of learning one’s own language. This article includes a detailed summary of The Last Lesson with the most important word meaning. After you have completed the summary test your knowledge with 22 MCQ quiz questions at last.
Writer- Alphonse Daudet.
“My imagination doesn’t require anything more of the book than to provide a framework within which it can wander.”
The Last Lesson is written by french novelist Alphonse Daudet who was born in 1840 and saw the Franco-Prussian war himself. The lesson has the background of the Franco-Prussian war and it explores the theme of linguistic chauvinism.
The story is narrated by Franz and it revolves around the interaction between Franz and his French teacher, M. Hamel on his last day as a teacher. In this chapter, you will find out what happened on that day, the importance of learning your own language, and what caused it to be M. Hamel’s last day as a French teacher?
The Last Lesson Summary
It was like any usual day in Alsace but Franz was hurrying towards school as he was late that morning. On his way, he was thinking about things he could rather do than going to school like watching birds in the forest or soldiers drilling. He was afraid to go to school as he knew his teacher, M. Hamel would be asking questions on participles.
As he passed across the town hall he saw a crowd in front of the bulletin board and he started wondering about what could be the matter? The blacksmith, Wachter who was reading the bulletin board told him not to so fast as he had plenty of time to reach school. Franz thought he was making fun of him.
Usually, the school was very loud due to students repeating lessons together, desks opening and closing, and other noises. But that day as Franz reached the school everything was quiet and he could not go to his seat unnoticed.
NCERT Textbooks in English for class 12 – Flamingo and Vistas
Franz was very frightened to go to his seat as he thought he would be scolded by M. Hamel. But to his surprise, when he entered the class M. Hamel told him to go to his seat. When he sat down he noticed that his teacher was wearing his beautiful green-colored coat, frilled shirt, and black embroidered hat that he only wore on inspection and prize days.
When Franz looked at the backbenches he saw that old Hauser(who had bought a primer), the former mayor, the former postmaster, and many others were sitting there. As he was wondering about all this M. Hamel said that this was his last lesson as a french teacher. He added that a new order had come from Berlin and now only German would be taught in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine.
Now he would be replaced by a new German teacher who would be coming tomorrow. Franz was shocked after hearing that and now he knew everyone was reading about this new order at the town hall.
He was having a deep regret that this was his last French lesson yet he wasn’t able to read or write it.
Then he thought of all the times in the past when he did not pay any importance to it. The thought of giving up his books, history, and grammar frightened him. He also forgave how cranky M. Hamel was as now he was going away.
Now Franz felt very sad for his teacher as he knew that his teacher had worn his special clothes in honor of the last lesson he is about to give. All the elders of the village were there to pay their respects to the teacher for his forty years of service.
After a while, it was Franz’s turn to answer his question on participles. As he was standing he wished that he could answer the question easily but he got stuck. While answering, his heartbeat increased and he kept standing with his head down.
Then M. Hamel told him that he was not going to scold him. He knew that people in Alsace had always procrastinated about learning and they must blame themselves for this.
He said that the Prussians would question them. they would ask how can we call ourselves French when we can’t even speak or write the language?
Then he told Franz that even his parents and M. Hamel himself were to blame as they had sent him to do other things when he should have been learning.
Then he praised the French language for its clarity and logic and explained how language is the key to freedom for enslaved people.
After that, he started reading a lesson from the grammar book and Franz was amazed to see how clearly he understood it. He felt like he had never listened to him before.
It seemed that M. Hamel wanted to give all his knowledge in that one lesson. After grammar, they started writing in the new copies that M. Hamel had got them with France, Alsace- written over them.
Now everyone was so busy writing that they did not pay any attention to the Beetles or the pigeons on the roof. Franz was wondering that if the Prussians will make even the pigeons sing in German too?
Whenever Franz looked up to M. Hamel, he was sitting motionless and observing everything in the class. He wanted to fix it all in his mind before leaving the country the next day while his sister was packing the trunks in the room above.
After writing they had a history lesson. Now the old Hauser stood up. He wore glasses and started reading the primer. His eyes were full of tears and his voice was trembling. Everyone in the room wanted to laugh and cry at the same time.
As it was 12 o’clock one could hear the prayers and the Prussian soldiers drilling at the same time. Now M. Hamel stood up and started to speak. It seemed like his throat was choked and he couldn’t say a word. He turned towards the blackboard took a piece of chalk and wrote -“Viva la France” as large as he could. Then he leaned against the wall and made a gesture with his hand that “school is dismissed – you may go.”
The main theme of the chapter is how people suffer when their language is taken away from them as their language is a part of their identity and freedom. Throughout the chapter, it is seen how the people of Alsace are trying to adjust to the fact that their language has been taken away from them.
The sub-theme of the chapter is the attitude that is taken by both teacher and student towards learning. We can see how both Franz and M Hamel used to procrastinate at learning but when they realized that French would no longer be taught in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine there was a deep sense of regret and loss.
The Last Lesson Summary-
- Participles- a topic of Grammar
- Drilling- to practice military exercises
- Apprentice- a person learning a skill from an employer
- Bustle- to be full of people and noise
- Unison- simultaneously
- Rapping- to hit a hard object multiple times quickly
- Commotion-great noise or excitement
- Blushed- to become red in the face when you feel embarrassed
- Fright- a sudden feeling of fear
- Solemn- serious
- Hauser- an old farmer
- Primer- a small book
- Wretches- pain and suffering
- Reproach- to blame somebody
- Round Hand- a type of handwriting
- Hopvine- the stem of the hop plant
- Twined- to wrap around a thing several times
- Angelus- a catholic prayer