On The Face of It
by Susan Hill
Question and answers for the lesson includes in the CBSE/NCERT Class 12 book Vistas
Reading with Insight
1. What is it that draws Derry towards Mr. Lamb in spite of himself?
Answer – Mr. Lamb is an elderly man with serious physical handicap. Despite his use of an artificial leg, he is cheerful, welcoming, relaxed, and totally unruffled by the way street boys tease him. His heart exudes with empathy for Derry, whom he treats as an equal, and as a long-known friend. He lives a quiet life in the midst of an orchard and nurses no bitterness against any one. Derry’s aloofness and unfriendly way of speaking does not affect Mr. Lamb at all. Instead, it makes Mr. Lamb more determined to befriend Derry through his quiet demeanour and bubbling optimism. Derry is finally won over by Mr. Lamb’s cool and sweet temperament.
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 – Mr. Lamb opens up before Derry about his grievous war injury and his lone living with no family support. His artificial leg provides him the minimum mobility, but causes pain on occasions. Mr. Lamb has to contend with these misfortunes, but he clings to hope and joy deftly. He has raised a garden full of green hedges, and wild flowers and apple trees. To cut his boredom, he reads books and chats with people who dropped by. He kept the gate of his orchard open to convey the impression that both strangers and known people are welcome to come in. Such relaxed attitude towards life helped Mr. Lamb to continue living a normal life, bereft of regret or bitterness.
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 behaviour that the person expects from others?
Answer – The handicapped person expects others to treat them as normal human beings, and show them the same dignity and friendliness that is accorded to others. Reminding them of their disability and showing abnormal sympathy hurts the handicapped person.
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 with Mr. Lamb will be a turning point in the life of the embittered, scarred, and withdrawn Derry. He will get over the sense of being an outcast of society, and become a part of the mainstream. The physical scars on the face will not go away, but his mental scars will soon fade away leaving him as a normal, cheerful adolescent boy.