|A face in the dark|
(i). Who was Mr. Oliver? What was his usual activity during the evening?
Ans. Mr. Oliver was an Anglo-Indian teacher, who was teaching in a school, which is located three miles away from Shimla. He was a bachelor and was probably staying alone in the school premises. He usually used to walk down to the Shimla Bazar and would return after dark by taking a shortcut through the pine forest.
(ii). What was called ‘Eton of the East’? Why?
Ans. The all-boys school in Shimla, in which Mr. Oliver was a teacher has been called ‘Eton of the East.’ Eton College is one of the most reputable and expensive English boarding school for boys in Eton, Berkshire, near Windsor(UK). It was called 'Eton of the East' because it was one of the most reputed schools in Shimla, the children of wealthy family come here to study.
(iii) What kind of weather was there on the night when Oliver was returning to his school? How does it add to the setting of the story?
Ans. According to the spirit of the story, the author has created an eerie atmosphere in the story. It was night time and a strong wind was blowing, the pine trees were making mysterious sounds, indicating that something evil was likely to happen. The batteries of Oliver’s torch were running down, creating an atmosphere of fear and suspense.
(iv) What did Oliver encounter while coming back to school one night? What did he do after that?
Ans. While walking back to school one night, he encountered a boy sitting alone on a rock whose head was hung down, whose body shook convulsively and whose face was held in his own hands. After seeing the boy, Oliver stopped near the boy and asked him what he was doing there and why he was crying and ask the reason to him for staying there in the dark.
(v) What kind of man was Oliver as described at the beginning of the story? How did he prove himself opposite of this description?
Ans. At the beginning of the story, the Author describes Oliver to be a courageous man who did not believe in the existence of supernatural things. He was the only person who could dare to take shortcut route through the pine forest late in the night, even in the stormy weather.
Later towards the end of the story, Oliver saw the boy with a featureless face, he was horrified and seemed to be in the grip of unknown fear. The torch he was holding fell from his trembling hand and he ran blindly through the trees calling for help. This incident shows that when Oliver was in real danger, he got overwhelmed with an unknown fear, could not think rationally and reacted like a coward. His behaviour was quite the opposite of what was portrayed earlier about him being a daring personality.
(i) Where did Mr. Oliver find the boy? What did he notice about the boy?
Ans. Walking through the pine forest to return to school, Oliver found the boy sitting on a rock. He noticed that the boy was crying with his head hung down, body shook convulsively and his face held in his hands.
(ii) Why do you think the boy was called a miscreant? In what condition was he found by Oliver?
Ans. A miscreant is a person who has done some mischief. Boys were not supposed to be out after dark. Thus the boy sitting alone on the rock in the night forced the author to call him a miscreant. He found the boy in a strange, soundless weeping, and distinctly uneasy condition.
(iii) How did Mr Oliver express his concern for the boy? How did the boy react to it?
Ans. By asking to him that what he was doing there and why he was crying, Mr. Oliver express his concern for the boy. The boy did not respond and continued to sob. Oliver again enquired what was troubling him and asked him to look up.
(iv) How can you explain the boy’s "strange, soundless weeping"?
Ans. The boy's weeping can be explained in the following ways: the boy was weeping a soundless weeping. the soundless weeping of the boy frightened Mr. Oliver although he was a very brave man because that was unusual for anyone to see such a scene as every person makes noise while weeping. anyone in Mr. Oliver's place would have been shocked and frightened. although Mr. Oliver's still proves his bravery because if anyone else would have been there would have choked to death.
(v) What strange revelation took place when the boy finally looked up at Oliver? How did Mr. Oliver react to it?
Ans. When the boy finally looked up at Oliver, it was revealed that the boy had no face. The face was without eyes, ears, nose or mouth. It was just a round head with a school cap on it.
When Oliver saw the boy's face in the light of the torch, he was shocked. The suspense is further heightened when Mr. Oliver started running away from the faceless boy.
(i) Whose "trembling hand" is referred to in the above extract? Why was it trembling?
Ans. Oliver’s ‘trembling hand’ is referred to in the above extract. It was trembling, as Oliver was horrified to see that the boy’s face was featureless, without eyes, ears, nose or mouth.
(ii) Explain the sentence:
"He returned and scrambled down the path, running blindly through the trees..."
Why did Mr. Oliver do so?
Ans. The 'faceless' boy terrified Oliver too much so that he immediately turned back and in panic ran blindly through the forest to call for help.
(iii) What answer did Oliver give for the watchman’s questions in the extract above?
Ans. Oliver told the watchman that he had encountered something horrible, a boy, weeping in the forest, who had no face.
(iv) The story ends with a thrilling climax. Do you agree? Why?
Ans. Oliver ran away from the faceless boy and called for help. He saw a lantern swinging in the middle of the path. What followed next was a thrilling climax as Oliver while running stumbled up to a watchman only to find that he too was faceless, with no features or even eyebrows. The climax is reached when the wind blew out the lamp, leaving the readers to imagine what might have happened to Oliver.
(v) Comment on the appropriateness of the title of the story. Give the reason to justify your answer.
Ans. The title A Face in the Dark is suitable as it describes a strange experience of Mr. Oliver, the protagonist of the story. Oliver, on his way back at night, meets a boy in an isolated place sitting on a rock. A close look at the boy horrifies him as he has no face-no eyes, ears, nose or mouth. As he runs horrified by the strange experience, he meets the watchman who is also without a face. Thus, the boy and the watchman, who appeared to be having a face in the dark, did not have a face when seen in light.
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