“The Last Lesson” English class 12 NCERT Summary and Question answers

Estimated Reading Time: 9 minutes

THE LAST LESSON (Alphonse Daude)


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The story opens up with little Franz being late for school. The boy who is also a narrator of story, is a resident of Alsace-Lorraine district of France that has lately been occupied by the Prussians. The story takes place near the beginning of the Prussian occupation of Alsace and Lorraine, about 1873.

As Franz was late for school on this beautiful warm morning, he rushes to school. He was scared that Monsieur Hamel, his French teacher, will scold him because he is not only late and but also has not prepared his French lesson on participles. On his way to school, Franz passes through the town square, and in front of the town hall he sees a small group of people reading notices posted on a Bulletin Board. These are notices posted by the Prussians concerning orders issued from headquarters. While Franz is running Across the square, Wachter, the blacksmith, calls to him that there is no need to run to school he’ll be on time. Franz thinks that Wachter is making fun of him. Out of breath, he arrives at M.Hamel garden. To his dismay, there was unusual silence and everything was as quite as Sunday morning. He saw his classmates sitting in their place through window. Frightened and Red-faced, he enters the classroom; and to his surprise instead of getting harsh scolding from M. Hamel, he , in a very kind and calm voice asked Franz to grab his seat.

Once settled, Franz begins to notice the differences like M. Hamel is all dressed up in his Sunday best, the clothes that he wears when prizes are given or on inspection days. Franz’s classmates are especially solemn this day. Then his attention is drawn to the back of the room, where villagers are seated, and to Hauser, there With his old primer spread across his knees. He couldn’t understand until M. Hamel Announced the notice which was served from Berlin that now onwards no French would be taught in schools of Alsace and Lorraine, only German would be taught in the schools of these two French cities and he emotionally requested students to be more attentive for their last French lesson. Franz now realized that what was there on notice board in Town Hall. These words of notice fell on Franz like a thunder clap. He couldn’t believe it would be his last French lesson that day.

He was badly repenting that why he didn’t learn, never paid attention to his lessons. He hardly knew how to read and write French. He was repenting that instead of studying he would go for other pleasant and tempting activities. His book that seemed burden to him while ago now to same appeared to him like old friends. Even his thoughts for his teacher M. Hamel changed as he realized that he would never see him again as it was his last day in the School. He forgot about his cranky nature and his cruel ruler. He also understood why older people were present in class as they were repenting why they never bothered to go to school they were there to show their respect to their teacher, who served them for forty years.

When Franz’s name was called to recite the lesson, he made mistake and could even speak few words but M. Hamel did not scold him rather he told him that one should not waste his precious time just by living under the impression that there is plenty of time and postponing the important things for next day. How would they feel when the Germans will make fun of them that they were not able to speak or write the French despite of being Frenchmen? Teacher did not put all blame on Franz, but he also blamed the parents who never bothered to send their children to school to study, instead they put their children to work on farms and in mill to earn extra money. Even he blamed himself that he often would send his pupils to water his plants instead of study at school and he would declare a holiday whenever he wanted to go for fishing. Teacher further said about the French language that it was the most beautiful, clearest and most logical language of the world. People should stick with their language it will prove to be a key to their prison in case they are enslaved. A magic had happened that day in class the students understood everything very well, because they were more attentive and teacher was more patient and polite on that day.

 Finally, the clock struck to twelve M Hamel stood up from his chair and started to say something but stopped and walked to the black board, took a chalk and wrote on it “Vive La France” which means “Long Live France” and made a gesture with his hands saying , the class is dismissed, you may go.



Linguistic chauvinism is the irrational belief that one’s language is superior to that of others. ‘The Last Lesson’ very prominently highlights the destruction of languages and cultures by the colonial and imperial powers by imposing their language on colonized country and their notion of superiority complex. Linguistic chauvinism is the overt preference for one language over others. Language is not only medium of communication but it is

considered to be the cultural identity of a particular group of people who use it. Hence, imposing some other language on the people hammers their emotions and is a step to annex their relationship with their culture. The language of any country is the pride of that country. People of Lorraine and Alsace are the victims of linguistic chauvinism. They are forced to learn German.


The story also has moral instruction of not procrastinating tasks.

When the young student narrator Franz wakes up, the worst thing in the world to him is having to face his teacher’s lesson on participles that he neglected to study for. But at school he got to know that the lesson no longer matters because the French language is no longer going to be a subject taught in the school. Overnight, the requirement to learn to French has disappeared, but ironically Franz’s urge to learn it has exploded. He was remembering the days when he bunked school and didn’t care for studies. Also his French teacher M. Hamel highlights that how procrastination of students and as well his, could be hindrance in the development.

The Last Lesson – Imp Question and answers


Q1. The people in this story suddenly realise how precious their language is to them. What shows you this? Why does this happen?

With the invasion of Prussians in the town of Alsace and Lorraine, the order came of replacing French with German. The feeling that their language is snatched away from them and a new, foreign language is forced upon made them realise how precious is their language to them. M.Hamel praised French as the most beautiful, the clearest and most logical language in the world. He said that for the enslaved people, their language was the key to their prison. Language creates the sense of unity and nationalism. Snatching away one’s language is like erasing one’s identity which can make people emotional like M.Hamel was at the end of the story. This shows people’s love for their own culture, traditions and country. Pride in one’s language reflects pride in the motherland.

Q2. Franz thinks, “Will they make them sing in German, even the pigeons?”. What could this mean?

This comment of Franz shows his anger to the imposition of German language . As being deprived of the learning of mother tongue would mean cutting bonds with the motherland. Teaching the pigeons to sing in German indicates how far the invaders would go in their attempts of linguistic chauvinism.


Q1. “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.”Can you think of examples in history where a conquered people had their language taken away from them or had a language imposed on them?

In India, Britishers used ‘Divide and Rule’ policy they divided Indian people based on their language so deeply that it’s still impactful, people in India are still fighting over language. There are numerous examples where the victorious nations have imposed their own language on the conquered people and taken away their own language from them. The Romans conquered many parts of Europe and replaced the local languages by their own language— Latin. Later on Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and French developed from Latin.

Mother tongue helps a person to express his feelings and thoughts most lucidly and intimately.

Conquerors try to subdue and control the people of the enslaved territory by enforcing many measures such as use of force to crush dissent and imposing their own language on them.

Q2. What happens to a linguistic minority in a state? How do you think they can keep their language alive? For example: Punjabis in Bangalore; Tamilians in Mumbai; Kannadigas in Delhi; Gujaratis in Kolkata

In India, the language differ from state to state. The linguistic minorities in any state are easily marked usually when they speak. Somewhere they might be discriminated but in most of the places they are welcomed with warm heart. However, the linguistic minority tries to preserve its identity through an intimate contact, interaction and preservation of their language in social get-togethers, family functions and festivals of their own region. Adherence to social customs and traditions in family gatherings/group meetings of women also promote the unity between members of the linguistic minority.

Q3. Is it possible to carry pride in one’s language too far? Do you know what “linguistic chauvinism” means?

 Linguistic chauvinism is the irrational belief that one’s language is superior to that of others. This shows an excessive or prejudiced support for one’s own language. When the sense of belonging to one’s own language crosses the thin line between ‘pride’ and ‘proud’, it becomes linguistic chauvinism. If people feel good about their languages and traditions, they must have tolerance for other languages too. Everybody has the right to follow the religion as well as speak the language as per his/her desire.


1.What was Franz expected to be prepared with for school that day?

M. Hamel, the French language teacher had said that he would questions them (the students) on participles but Franz didn’t know a word about them.

2 . What did Franz notice that was unusual about the school that day?

As Franz was late for school, he hurriedly reach at the garden of M. Hamel but to his surprise there was silence as Sunday morning .Usually, when school began, there was a great bustle, which could be heard out in the street, the opening and closing of desks, lessons repeated in unison, very loud, with our hands over our ears to understand better, and the teacher’s great ruler rapping on the table.

3 . What had been put up on the bulletin-board?

The bulletin- board in the town hall was the epicentre of the bad news for the villagers. While passing through it, Franz notices crowd over there and thought, “What can be the matter now?” The notice from the headquarters put up on bulletin- board was for replacing of French language with German in schools.

4.What changes did the order From Berlin cause in school that day?

The day, the last lesson of French was very different from a regular day at school. The school environment was noise free and in the classroom, the villagers were sitting quietly like students on the back benches that were always empty. M. Hamel was wearing his beautiful green coat, frilled shirt, and the little black silk cap, all embroidered, that he never wore except on inspection and prize days. The change in the teacher’s attire and in the environment of school was due to the order from Berlin to teach only German in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine. During the last French lessons the students were very attentive and solemn and the teacher explained everything with so much patience.

5.How did Franz’s feelings about M. Hamel and school change?

When Franz got to know that it was the last French lesson, he was so shocked and surprised. Everything flashed before his eyes that how he missed school for seeking birds’ eggs and going sliding on the Saar. His heavy books felt like old friends that he couldn’t give up now. And the idea that M. Hamel is going away and he’ll be not able to see him again, made him forget all about his ruler and how cranky he was.

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