Question 1: Who is Mr. Lamb? How does Derry get into his garden?
Answer: Mr. Lamb is an old man who lived in a big house with a huge and beautiful garden. He had lost one of his legs due to a bomb explosion and it had now been replaced with a tin leg. He liked to talk to people and make them his friends, and so, he kept the gates of his garden always open.
Derry was a fourteen-year-old boy who was low on self esteem and liked to stay alone. Considering the garden to be empty, he jumped over the wall to hide away from the rest of the world.
Question 1: This is a play featuring an old man and a small boy meeting in the former’s garden. The old man strikes up a friendship with the boy who is very withdrawn and defiant. What is the bond that unites the two?
Answer: Derry jumped over the wall and sneaked into the garden of Mr. Lamb. He did not want to be noticed by anyone. His burnt and distorted face made him want to run away from the society. On the other hand, Mr. Lamb who had a tin leg was a topic of mockery for everyone. People came to sit in the beauty of his garden, ate apples, pears and toffees, yet he was a non-entity for them. Thus, although different, both Derry and Mr. Lamb were bound by a single cord. The old man was able to understand the lonely boyâ€™s feelings because he himself was lonely, living in a huge but â€˜emptyâ€™ house. Also, he could make out the reason behind this loneliness very easily, which was their deformed body part.
Derry was told by many to look at the positive side but he was not able to overcome his grief and self contempt. However, when Mr. Lamb said the same, Derry noticed the different perspective and the underlying empathy which brought him closer to Lamey-Lamb.
Question 1: Do you think all this will change Derry’s attitude towards Mr. Lamb?
Answer: Derry’s burnt face made him the center of ridicule. Although people sympathized with him, it was never a heartfelt one. This resulted in his pessimistic approach towards life. He thought that everyone detested and despised him. On the contrary, Mr. Lamb did not show any pity towards him. He considered Derry to be his equal and welcomed him in his garden. He helped the boy to love and live life happily without any contempt for his own self. Derry had initially considered the old man to be like others, but he gradually started respecting and liking him for what he said.
Question 1: What is it that draws Derry towards Mr. Lamb in spite of himself?
Answer: Derry was a young boy whose half of the face had been disfigured by acid. His shattered self confidence did not allow him to face the world. As a result, he tried to be only in secluded places. Mr. Lamb did not show any dislike or horror at the way Derry looked, which surprised him. Although Derry wanted to leave the garden the moment he noticed that he was not alone, the old man’s interesting and peculiar conversation kept him glued.
Also, Derry noticed that like him, the old man also had a disfigured body part which attracted mockery. Yet, he did not give in and was living his life happily. Mr. Lamb spoke words of encouragement, hope and zest for life, which no one had ever spoken to him. He makes the boy aware of his physical strength and explains the importance of emotional well-being. This realization draws him closer to the old man.
Question 2: In which section of the play does Mr. Lamb display signs of loneliness and disappointment? What are the ways in which Mr. Lamb tries to overcome these feelings?
Answer: Although the loneliness of Derry dominates the play, there are evident traces of Mr. Lamb’s loneliness throughout the first scene of the play. The old man says that having heard the bees for a long time he knows that they sing, not buzz. It not only depicts how his perception was different from others but also illustrates that he was lonely and that he did not have any one to be with.
Another evidence of his loneliness is the fact that whole day he sat in the sun and read books. This proves that books were his only true friends. He says that his â€œempty houseâ€ is full of books, underlining the way in which the void of his empty life was filled in by books.
By the end of this scene, it becomes even clearer that he is lonely and sad when he mutters to himself that no one comes back to him after the first meeting. Likewise, he did not expect Derry to return. He was so sure that Derry would never return that he climbed the ladder to collect all the apples himself, although Derry had offered to help him after informing his mother. Ironically, the old man would have died unnoticed if Derry had not returned to fill the emptiness of his own life.
Question 3: The actual pain or inconvenience caused by a physical impairment is often much less than the sense of alienation felt by the person with disabilities. What is the kind of behavior that the person expects from others?
Answer: A person with any physical impairment can live life with respect and honour, if he is not ridiculed and punished with heartless pity. He expects empathy rather than sympathy. If everyone looks down at him with a pessimistic approach, he may never be able to come out of his sorrow, and consequently, recline to his own secluded world. He is already in tremendous mental and emotional pressure. So, he expects others to be understanding rather than remind him of his disability.
In the play, Derry and Mr. Lamb, both are caught in a similar situation. Mr. Lamb, as an adult, is able to cope with such problems, but Derry, being a child, is not able to untangle this web alone. He develops a strong liking for this old man because he spoke the words a person, with such problem, would want to hear.
Question 4: Will Derry get back to his old seclusion or will Mr. Lamb’s brief association effect a change in the kind of life he will lead in the future?
Answer: The brief association of Derry with Mr. Lamb boosted his self-confidence and helped him to respect his own self. The manner in which the old man made Derry realize the importance of his being self-dependent, of respecting himself and of holding on to hope helped Derry undergo a remarkable change. The new found self-esteem makes him tell his mother that his looks are not important.
It is not likely that the death of Mr. Lamb would take him back to his secluded life. This big change is definitely here to stay and would not be undone due to setbacks.
Question 1: Use your imagination to suggest another ending to the above story.
Answer: This story could have had another ending where, after falling, Mr. Lamb gets seriously injured and Derry calls an ambulance and takes him to a hospital. When his mother comes to know of the accident, she allows Derry to take care of him in the hospital as well as after being discharged. While his stay with the old man, he reads his books, takes care of the garden and makes friends for life which changes his perspective to life completely. Later, he befriends a boy whose father is a plastic surgeon, who operates on him and makes his life return to normal.
SHORT ANSWER TYPE QUESTIONS
Q1.“Mind the apples!”, says Mr Lamb. Why do you think, does he issue this instruction, to whom and how many times?
Ans. Mr Lamb issues this instruction to Derry, a boy of fourteen, who climbs over the garden wall and enters the garden. He asks Derry twice to mind the apples which have been blown down by the wind from the trees and strewn in the grass. He (Derry) could put his foot on some apple, fall down and hint himself.
Q2. What is the attitude of Mr Lamb to the small boy who comes to his garden ?
Ans. Mr Lamb’s attitude to the small boy is quite gentle, protective and accommodating. Like an elder in the family offering advice and instructions to the younger members, Mr Lamb advises the young boy to mind the apples lest he should trip. He also advises the boy not to feel afraid.
Q3. What explanation does the small boy offer for coming into the garden? How does Mr Lamb react to it?
Ans. The boy thought that this was an empty place. He did not know there was anybody there. Mr Lamb assures him that it is all right. He asks the boy what he is afraid of. He tells the boy that the house is empty as he is in the garden and is likely to stay there. Such a beautiful day should not be wasted indoors.
Q4. “T ‘m not afraid. People are afraid of me,” says Derry. What do people think on seeing his face? How do they react then?
Ans. On looking at Derry’s face they find it bad and frightful. They think that it is the ugliest thing they have ever seen. They call him a poor boy as one side of his face has been burnt by acid. Some of them are afraid of his ugly and horrible face.
Q5. How does Mr Lamb change the subject from ugly face to ripe apples?
How does Mr Lamb keep himself busy when it is a bit cooler ?
Ans. There is a momentary pause in the conversation. Then Mr Lamb changes the subject. He says that when it is a bit cooler, he will get the ladder and a stick. Then he will pull down those ripe crab apples. He makes jelly. He calls these orange coloured and golden apples magic fruit. September is a good time to make jelly. He tells the boy that he could help him.
Q6. Why, according to Derry, has the old man changed the subject?
Ans. Derry says that people always change the subject. They don’t ask him about his physical impairment. They simply pretend that it is not true and isn’t there. They don’t want the boy to mind and get upset. He thinks that the old man has changed the subject because he is afraid to ask him about his burnt face.
Q7. “You got burned in a fire,” says Mr Lamb. What do you think, had happened to Derry’s face?
Ans. Derry’s face did not get burned in a fire. He got acid all down that side of his face and it burned it all away. Derry says that this acid not only ate his face up, it also ate him up. One side of his face is ugly and it won’t ever be any different.
Q8. How does Mr Lamb react to Derry’s query: ‘Aren’t you interested’?
Ans. Mr Lamb tells Derry that he is interested in anybody and anything. There’s nothing God made that does not interest him. Fruit and flowers, trees and herbs, grass and weeds all interest him. Even stuff or rubbish is interesting. He finds no essential difference between a “weed’ and another ‘flower’ as both represent life—developing or growing.
Q9. “We’re not the same”, says Derry. How does Mr Lamb try to convince him that there is no essential difference between them?
Ans. Derry and Mr Lamb are both of the same species. They represent various stages of growth. Derry is young, Mr Lamb is old. Both suffer from the same physical impairment. Derry has a burnt face. The old man has got a tin leg. But this physical disability is not important. What is important is that both are alive. Derry is standing there whereas Mr Lamb is sitting.
Q10. How, according to Derry, does the tin leg not trouble Mr Lamb? What explanation does the old man offer?
Ans. Derry thinks that the old man can put on trousers and cover up his tin leg. Then no one sees it. So, people don’t have to notice and stare at, as they do at his face. Mr Lamb replies that some people do notice and stare at his disability. Some don’t. In the end, they get tired of it. Moreover, there are plenty of things to stare at.
Q11.“There’s plenty of other things to stare at.” Which ‘things’ are worth staring at and why?
Ans. According to the old man there are plenty of things to stare at. These include crab apples or the weeds or a spider climbing up a silken ladder, or his tall sun-flowers. All of them are beautiful and ‘growing’. Derry is surprised at the mention of ‘things’. Mr Lamb tries to convince him that it is all relative. Then he mentions ‘Beauty and the Beast’.
Q12. How does Derry interpret the fairy stoiy ‘Beauty and the Beast’? What does he feel about himself?
Ans. Derry says that he has been told that story before. It teaches us that outward appearance does not matter. It is what one is inside that is important. Handsome is that handsome does. Beauty loved the monstrous beast for himself. When she kissed him, he changed into a handsome prince. No one except Derry’s mother kisses him. She too kisses him on the other side of the face. He has developed a negative attitude and says he does not care ’ “if nobody ever kissed” him.
Q13. How, according to Derry, do people try to console those suffering from some physical impairment?
Ans. They ask the person to look at all those people who are in pain and brave. They never cry or complain. They don’t feel sorry for themselves. Then the person is asked to think of all
those persons worse off than him. One might have been blinded or bom deaf, or confined to a wheelchair, or be crazy and dribble. Since Derry has none of these disabilities he is far better placed.
Q14. Why do these arguments fail to console Derry ?
Ans. Derry has developed negative attitude. He says that the arguments to console him will not make his face change. He feels more hurt and pained by the comments of persons or what he overhears. Once he heard a woman in the street whispering to another, “Look at that, that’s a terrible thing. That’s a face only a mother could love.” Derry calls it cruel of them.
Q15. How does Mr Lamb try to remove the baseless fears of Derry’?
Ans. Derry has developed withdrawal symptoms. He doesn’t like being near people. Mr Lamb tells him the story of a person who was afraid of everything in the world. So he went into his room and locked the door. He got into his bed and stayed there for a while. Then a picture fell off the wall on to his head and killed him.
Q16. Which fears did the man suffer from? What is the common factor in all of them?
Ans. The man feared that a bus might run him over, or a man might breathe deadly germs onto him, or a donkey might kick him to death or lightning might strike him down, or he might love a girl and the girl would leave him, and he might slip on a banana skin and fall and people who saw him would laugh their heads off. Most of these fears are imaginary.
Q17. What peculiar things does Derry notice about the old man?
Ans. Derry thinks that the old man is peculiar. He says peculiar things. He asks questions which Derry does not understand. There are no curtains at the windows in his house. He likes the light and darkness and hears the wind with the windows open.
Q18. What does Derry listen about himself? How does he react to it?
Ans. Derry listens to what his parents talk about him downstairs when he is not there. They seem to be anxious about him and his future. What he will ever do and how will he ever get on in that world. What is going to happen to him with that bum mark on his face. They say what is going to happen to him when they have died.
Q19. In what ways does Mr Lamb inspire Derry to overcome his physical disability?
Ans. Mr Lamb tells Derry that he ‘has got two arms, two legs and eyes and ears. He has got a tongue and a brain. He will get on the way he wants, like all the rest. And if he chooses and sets his mind to it, he could get on even better than all the rest.
Q20. “People are never just nothing. Never.” Why does Mr Lamb say so? Why does he advise Derry not to hate anyone?
Ans. Mr Lamb says that he has friends every where. Derry says that the people passing us in the street are not our friends. Mr Lamb tells him that they are not enemies either. When Derry says they are “Just nothing”, Mr Lamb makes this remark. He tells Derrry that hatred does more harm than any bottle of acid. Acid only bums the face, but hatred may bum a person away inside.
Q21. How should people be judged?
Ans. People should not be judged by what they look like. They must be judged by their actions. Appearances may be deceptive. On the other hand, people with physical impairments overcome their disabilities and perform wonderful feats in different spheres.
Q22. How, according to Mr Lamb, can one overcome of sense of hurt or humiliation caused by remarks at one’s physical disability?
Ans. Mr Lamb does not provide a straight forward solution. He says that in the street kids shout “Lamey-Lamb” at him. Still they come to his garden. They are not afraid of him because he is not afraid of them. He simply ignores their comments. He concentrates on other things which are encouraging and positive.
Q23. What possibility does Derry indicate in the old man’s act of getting the crab apples down? What is its dramatic importance?
Ans. Derry says that if the old man fell down the ladder and broke his neck, he might lie on the grass and die, in case he was alone in the garden. This observation proves prophetic. The last scene shows the ladder falling back with Mr Lamb. The playwright uses the device of foreshadowing to prepare us for the eventual end.
Q24. What does Deny want to know? How, according to the old man, can he know that?
Ans. Derry wants to know what he could do. The old man tells him that he does not know everything. He can’t tell the boy what to do. He has to find it out himself by waiting, watching, listening sitting here or going there. Derry says that he wants something no one else has got or ever will be. Something just his own.
Q25. What makes Derry think that the old man is always alone and miserable? What does he tell the old man?
Ans. Derry asks Mr Lamb whether the persons who come there talk to him and ask him things. As usual, Mr Lamb says that some do, some don’t. He asks them as he likes to learn. This makes Derry think that nobody ever comes there.
He tells the old man that he is there all alone by himself and miserable. He says no one would know if he were alive or dead and nobody cares.
Q26. Why does Derry’s mother oppose his going back to the old man’s garden?
Ans. Derry’s mother tells him that she has heard things about the old man. In fact, she has been warned. Though they have lived there for three months, she knows what is worth knowing and Derry is not to go back there.
Q27. What argument does Derry give to convince his mother why he wants to go to the old man’s garden?
Ans. Derry says that the old m^n has a tin leg. He lives in a huge house without curtains. He has a garden. Derry wants to be there and listen to things that matter. Things nobody else has ever said. Things he wants to think about. They are not about his face and how he looks.
Q28.What makes Derry resolve to go to the old man?
Ans.He no longer cares about his face and looks. He is more concerned with what he thinks and feels, what he wants to see and find out and hear. He knows that if he does not go back there, he will never go anywhere in that world again. He wants the world. He no longer shuns it or avoids the people.
Q29. Comment on the ending of the play ‘On The Face Of If.
Ans.The play has a pathetic but dramatic ending. Mr Lamb who works actively in spite of his physical disability loses balance and falls down along with the ladder. Derry enters and tries to converse with Mr Lamb, who does not respond. Mr Lamb’s “exit” is exactly the same as envisaged by Derry earlier in the play.
Q30.What other ending would you suggest to the above story ?
Ans.I would like the play to end on a happy note. Derry’s efforts will revive the old man. After regaining his consciousness, Mr Lamb will grant permission to Derry to live with him and see, hear and learn things.