On the face of It Vistas English class 12 NCERT Summary and Question answers

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

On the face of It (Susan Hill)


On The Face of It, written by Susan Hill, is a play that depicts the fears of the handicapped of being isolated and discarded from mainstream society. The play centers around two characters, Derry and Mr. Lamb. Derry is a small boy of fourteen years old who got his face burnt on one side due to spilling of acid. Mr. Lamb is an old man who lost his leg in a bomb explosion during the war.

The play opens up with the garden of Mr.Lamb, there is an occasional sound of bird song and of tree leaves rustling. And same time Derry footsteps are heard, he was walking slowly and cautiously. Suddenly he got startled by a voice offering him apples. Mr. Lamb tried to reassure him and also cautioned him to save himself from the fallen apples otherwise it may cause him to trip. Derry gets scared and told him that he was not expecting anyone to be there. Mr. Lamb reassured him and welcomed him to the garden. Mr. Lamb further said that the gate is always open. It was only Derry who climbed the garden wall. Derry got angry because the man had been watching him. Derry explains that he had not come to steal anything. Mr Lamb assures him that he hadn’t. He further adds that only the young lads steal. They steal apples from the garden. He is not that young. Derry explains that he just wanted to come into the garden. He wants to go and says goodbye.

Mr Lamb tells him that there is nothing to be afraid of. It is just a garden and only one person, that is, he himself is there. Derry then says that people are afraid of him. He asks Mr Lamb to look at him and after seeing his face he might think that he is the most frightful and ugliest thing. Derry says that when he looks in the mirror and sees his face, he is afraid of it. Mr Lamb says that the whole of his face is not frightening.

There is pause. Mr Lamb now changes the topic. Mr. Lamb said that he would get the ladder, pluck apples and make some jelly. This makes Derry think that even Mr. Lamb is trying to avoid the conversation like others. He asked Mr. Lamb if he was not interested in knowing about what happened to his face. To this Mr. Lamb replied that he was interested in everything God has made and outer beauty or physical appearance is inconsequential. When Derry says that they are not the same, Mr Lamb says that there is no difference. He is old, Derry is young and has got a burned face. The old man has got a tin leg. His real one got blown off years back in the war. Some kids call him Lamey-Lamb but it doesn’t disturb him. There are plenty of things other than his leg to stare at. He refers to Beauty and the Beast. Derry says that no one will kiss him. He won’t change. Derry then discusses that he heard two women talking and they were discussing about his face. Mr. Lamb explains to him that he should not listen to everything said by others and concentrate on good things in life. He must think about people who are worse off than him. Derry repeats that he doesn’t like being near people: specially when they stare at him and when he sees them being afraid of him. Mr Lamb then tells him the story of a man who was afraid of everything in the world. So he locked himself in his room and stayed in his bed. A picture fell off the wall onto his head and killed him. Derry says that the old man said peculiar things. Then he asks what he does all day. Mr Lamb replies that he sits in the sun. He reads books. His house is full of books. His house has no

curtains as he does not like shutting things out. He likes the light and the darkness. He hears the wind from the open window. Derry too hears the sound of rain on the roof, when it is raining. Mr Lamb observes that if he hears things, he is not lost. Derry says that people talk about him downstairs when he is not there. They seem to be worried about him and his future. Mr Lamb gives him a very inspiring advice. He will get on the way he wants like all the rest as he has all the God-given organs. He could even get on better than all the rest, if he determined to do so. Mr Lamb tells Derry that he has hundreds of friends. The gate is always open. People come in. Kids come for the apples, pears and for toffee. He makes toffee with honey. Sometimes his friendship may be one-sided. Even if Derry might never see him again, Mr Lamb would be still his friend.

He tells Derry that hating others is bad. It harms more than any bottle of acid. Everything is the same, but everything is different. This conversation infused the spirit of overcoming the challenges in Derry. He goes back home and tells his mother that he is going back to Mr. Lamb. But this time his will was very strong. In spite of his mother’s objection he goes back to Mr. Lamb only to find him unconscious/dead. Mr. Lamb had fallen from the ladder and did not respond to his voice. Seeing him in this state Derry begins to cry.

In conclusion, On The Face of It is a play that explores the inner fears and loneliness of the handicapped, and how they can overcome them. The play highlights the fact that the sense of rejection and alienation is more painful than physical impairment. It is a powerful and thought-provoking play that is sure to leave a lasting impression on its audience.

On the face of It (Susan Hill) Imp Questions and Answers

Q. What is it that draws Derry towards Mr Lamb in spite of himself?

Ans. Derry observes that Mr. Lamb is unique from other people. When Mr. Lamb sees Derry’s scared face, he displays courage. Instead, he talks to him tenderly. Derry believed that his issue was significant enough to make him the world’s most depressed person. However, after speaking with Mr. Lamb, he realises that his issue is minor and begins to oversee Mr. Lamb. I think Derry has been drawn toward Mr. Lamb despite himself because of their peculiar dialogue.

Q. 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?

Ans. The opening scene of the story begins with Mr. Lamb displaying signals of loneliness and dissatisfaction. Even though Derry’s alone dominates the drama, Mr. Lamb’s loneliness is clearly there when the play is first seen. When Derry claims that he had heard to many passive things about Mr. Lamb, Mr. Lamb exhibits signs of separation. By listening to the song of the bees in the beehive on the tree in his garden, Mr. Lamb chooses to get rid of those feelings. These are the methods Mr. Lamb employs to combat his loneliness.

Q. 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 behaviour that the person expects from others?

Ans. If they are not exposed and treated with cruel pity, people with physical disabilities can live honourable lives and be treated with respect. He doesn’t want sympathy; he wants compassion. Not being human does not entail having a weakness. It is a person with a very minor flaw. The exclusion of disabled individuals is not necessary. Despite their limitations, functioning normally with them would be a terrific way to assist them in developing their capabilities. That is what they would anticipate from us.

Q. 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?

Ans. No, Derry won’t return to his privacy. Derry’s tenuous connection to Mr. Lamb boosted his confidence and inspired him to value himself. I believe Derry’s brief interaction with Mr. Lamb will have an impact on the life he leads going forward. It’s because Mr. Lamb quickly made him feel content and at ease. He has also instilled in Derry the desire to work hard rather than dwell on his fractured face. This will undoubtedly alter Derry’s perspective on other people and have an effect on the kind of life he leads moving forward.

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