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Class 10 English Literature Reader Chapter 13 The Dear Departed

Chapter 13 The Dear Departed 


A true test of people is how they behave towards the elderly. With modernisation, reverence of the elderly seems to have suffered a grievous blow. All happiness to the elderly is parsimoniously measured out. Too often the elderly suffer death by invisibility long before their physical demise. The daughters in ‘Dear Departed’ are very materialistic and like beasts of prey, they are only ready to pounce on the money and belongings of their father. Keeping father at home has become a tiresome burden. Looking towards the elderly has become a matter of comfort and financial aid rather than for inspiration and emotional strength. For a civilised society a new culture of giving needs to be ushered and one must give to the elderly without any selfish motive. We must remember that the difference between a helping hand and an outstretched palm is only a twist of the wrist.


The play ‘The Dear Departed’ presents an interesting situation that has tragically become common place in the world of today. The scene of the play is set in the sittingroom of a small house in a lower middle-class district of a provincial town. The setting of the play reveals that the tea-table has been laid. Mrs Slater, a plump and active lady is in mourning and she is getting ready to receive some guests. She beckons to her daughter Victoria, who is ten year old, and instructs her to change into something sober. It is revealed that Victoria’s grandfather has passed away and the Slater family is getting ready to receive Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle Ben. Victoria expresses surprise at this news because her aunt and uncle had not paid them a visit for years. Mrs Slater reveals that they were coming over to talk about grandfather’s affairs, on hearing of his death. In the meanwhile Mr Slater enters. He is a heavy man who stoops he is also in mourning dress.
Henry Slater is skeptical whether Elizabeth will come, for the last time when Mrs Slater and Elizabeth had quarrelled, she had vowed never to pay a visit again to their house. Mrs Slater gives Henry new slippers of her father. She also plans to take away the new bureau of the grandfather and shift it to their room, before Elizabeth and Ben arrive. Both the husband and wife, lock the front door and shift the bureau down and put their old chest of drawers there. Victoria wants to know why they were stealing grandfather’s things but her mother tells her to remain quiet. Grandpa’s new clock is also taken away. Meanwhile Grandpa was stirring and moving. After some time Mr Abel Merryweather enters and is surprised to see his other daughter and son-in-law, Mr and Mrs Jordan. He reveals that he was well and just had a slight headache he notices Henry wearing his new slippers and takes them. Abels wishes to know, why all were in mourning dresses. Mrs Jordan makes up some story to pacify him. Abel Merryweather enjoys tea and has a generous slice of the apple-pie. He grumbles and scolds Mrs Slater for taking away his bureau. Mrs Jordan gets agitated and accuses her sister of robbing her father. The husbands also join their wives in hurling accusations at each other Abel discovers about his death. He addresses his daughters directly and declares that he was going to change his will and all the money will go to the one, in whose house he dies. Both the daughters fight with each other to keep their father. Abel is amused and watches all the fun. At last he makes his announcement which shocks everyone. On Monday, he would go to the lawyer and alter his will, then he would go to the insurance office and pay his premium. After that he would go to the church and get married to Mrs Shorrock. Everyone is shocked. Abel reveals that he had at last found someone who was happy to keep him. He exits with an invitation of his marriage. He also thanks Mrs Slater for shifting the Bureau down-stairs for now it will be easy to cart it away to “Ring-O-Bells.’


• outshine : to compete and try to overdo more than the other
• speck : a bit or particle
• trifles : small small things
• complacent : easily satisfied
• outfit : dress • accustomed : used to
• regrettable : worth regretting • chirpy : cheerful
• furtively : in a sky manner
• etiquettes : manners
• swindling : cheating
• reluctantly : hesitatingly
• disparaging : to speak in a hurting manner
• transfixed : stunned
• vindictive : revengeful
• disconcerted : to be disturbed
• snappishly : irritably

The Dear Departed Summary Class 10th English

Question 1.
Read an excerpt from the diary of a man of 72 years :
As I sit here alone and waiting
  • What do you think is he feeling ?
  • What situation do you think leads to people feeling so ?
  • Can such people be helped ? How ?
  • I think that the man is feeling quite lonely and aloof. He wants to talk to the people and smile at them. He wants to socialise with the people to fight his loneliness. But no one looks at him. For those he gazes at, he is nothing.
  • The situation that leads to people feeling so is clear. It is the passive and indifferent attitude of the members of his family and his relations. His own men and members of his family have turned away from him. So he is left alone to manage on his own in old age when he needs them the most.
  • Such people can be helped through some understanding or fellow-feeling. The police or social welfare organisations can help them. Then people like Mother Teresa, can bring in a sense of positivism in their life. Home for the Aged etc, can help them greatly.
Question 2.
Read the news story given below.
The Dear Departed Class 10 Extra Questions
Discuss in groups :
(a) What are the reasons for the old people being “abused, harassed and abandoned” in India ?
(b) What are the problems faced by the old people as a result ?
NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Literature Chapter 13 The Dear Departed 2
(a) There are many reasons behind the old people being abused, harassed and abandoned. These are : importance of money more than human values among the young, increasing selfishness, growing materialism, breaking family system, lack of employment, economic hardships, increasing consciousness of celebrating one’s own life, youth leaving for other cities for jobs, generation gap, existential problems like urban poverty, lack of space for living, infighting among family members.
NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Literature Chapter 13 The Dear Departed 3
(b) These problems are : loneliness, neglect, absence of communication among their own, lack of sympathy, no medical help, growing independence on others, absence of interacting with others at social level, not sharing of grief etc.
Question 3.
The play ‘The Dear Departed’ can be performed on the stage. The first step would be a dramatized reading of the play as a whole class activity. Later, your teacher will assign you roles which you will play after an audition. Later the play can be put up on stage.
Classroom activity under the guidance of class teacher.
Question 4.
Given below are the main incidents in the play. They are in a jumbled order. Arrange them in the sequence in which they occur in the play.
  1. Victoria is asked to fetch the bunch of keys to the bureau to look for the insurance receipt.
  2. Mrs. Slater instructs Victoria to put her white frock on with a black sash.
  3. Mrs. Slater discovers that grandfather is ‘dead’.
  4. The Slaters fetch the bureau and the clock from upstairs.
  5. The family sits down to have tea.
  6. Henry wears the new slippers of grandfather’s.
  7. Grandfather comes to know how his daughters were in a hurry to divide his things between them.
  8. Grandfather announces his intention to change his will and to marry Mrs. Shorrocks.
  9. Grandfather comes down and is surprised to find the Jordans.
  10. They discuss the obituary announcement in the papers and the insurance premium payment.
  11. The Jordans arrive and learn the details of grandfather’s ‘demise’ from the Slaters.
The sequential order will be :
3, 2, 1, 4, 6, 11, 5, 10, 9, 7, 8.
Question 5.
Answer the following questions briefly.
1. How does Mrs. Slater plan to outshine the Jordans ? What does it reveal about her character ? (CBSE 2014)
2. Why does Mrs. Slater decide to shift the bureau from grandfather’s room before the arrival of the Jordans ? How does Henry react to the suggestion ? (V. Imp.)
3. What is the reason for the Jordans taking a long time to get to the house of the Slaters ? What does it show about the two sisters’ attitude towards each other ?
4. What does Mrs. Jordan describe as ‘a fatal mistake’ ? What is the irony in the comment she makes on Mrs. Slater’s defense ? (V. Imp.)
5. Ben appreciates grandfather saying ‘its’ a good thing he did’. Later he calls him a ‘drunken old beggar’. Why does he change his opinion about grandfather ? (V. Imp.)
6. What change does grandfather make in his new will ? What effect does it have on his daughters ?
Why did grandfather change his will ? Did it please his daughters ? (CBSE 2015)
7. What are the three things that grandfather plans to do on Monday next ? (V. Imp.)
What are the three things that the grandfather planned to do on Monday ? (CBSE 2015)
1. Mrs. Slater plans to outshine the Jordans in wearing mourning dress. This attitude reveals that she is an inconsiderate and unscrupulous woman. For her, human relationships and being a daughter carry no meaning.
2. Mrs. Slater decides to shift the bureau from grandfather’s room as she has had an eye on it. She wants to grab it before the arrivals of the Jordans. Otherwise, it will be subject to being divided. Henry doesn’t like it. He advises her to arrange it with Elizabeth when she comes.
3. The reason behind this is that the Jordans don’t have mourning dresses for the occasion. They have ordered theirs. They don’t fancy to buy ready-made dresses. This shows that they give more importance to showmanship than the real thing. The real thing is that they must be ideal relatives and not mean ones.
4. Mrs. Jordan describes Mrs. Slater’s not going to another doctor than Dr. Pringle about father is ‘a fatal mistake’. The irony is that they want their father ‘dead’. But here it shows Mrs. Jordan’s concern for father’s life.
5. Ben like his wife is a mean and unscrupulous person. His eyes are on grabbing as many things of the father as is possible. He changes his opinion about grandfather due to his selfishness and meanness.
6. Grandfather makes a change in his Will that he won’t give a penny to either of his daughters. He will marry next Monday and liv6 happily. He does so as his daughters do not care hu him. His daughters get shocked to know this. They are unable to speak as his decision of marrying is a slap on them as daughters.
7. The three things are : one, he will go to the lawyer and change his Will. Two, he will pay his insurance premium. Three, he will get married.
Question 6.
Answer the following in detail :
1. Bring out the irony in the title of the play.
Bring out the irony of the title, ‘The Dear Departed’. (CBSE 2014)
2. How does the spat between his daughters lead to grandfather discovering the truth ? (V. Imp.)
3. Compare and contrast Henry’s character with that of his wife. Support your answer with evidence from the play. (V. Imp.)
1. The irony in ‘The Dear Departed’ is clearly seen. On the surface value, it means the dearest member of the family has been dead. So all must lament and grieve. But at a deeper level, they don’t lament or grieve. They are more concerned about grabbing father’s things. They also fight over these greedily and selfishly even when he’s not dead.
2. Abel comes to senses and sees his daughter Elizabeth and Mr. Ben Jordan in mourning. He asks what has brought them there. Abel sees Mrs. Slater whispering. Then he finds Henry wearing his slippers. Mrs. Slater asks him if he had promised Jimmy his gold watch. He sees his bureau shifted downstairs. Finally, he sees his daughters quarrelling. When Mrs. Jordan says ‘After you were dead, I say’ he realizes the truth. This is confirmed when both the daughters talk about grabbing his things. Now Abel discovers the whole truth.
3. Mrs. Slater can be called a greedy, selfish, mean and crafty woman. She doesn’t bother about family values or the sweet relationship between a father and his daughter. Her eyes are to pinch as many things of father as possible. She has already grabbed his bureau, clock and slippers. Thus she is mean and unscrupulous. She is impolite, blunt, greedy, insensitive and what not. She doesn’t value moral and familial values but material things. Thus she is like her sister Mrs. Jordan as far as greed is considered.
On the other hand, her husband doesn’t have these qualities. But he is a weak- natured person. He is afraid of his wife and dares not displease her. If she speaks a bit hard, he surrenders. For instance, he calls her shifting father’s bureau undesirable. But when she talks in a harsh tone, he surrenders. He can be called his wife’s shadow. He is, thus, a weak and non-assertive person. He can be called a hen-pecked husband.
Question 7.
Bring out the traits in Mrs. Slater’s personality quoting evidence from the play.
TraitEvidence from the play
Blunt/straight talking(c)
(a) Her grabbing the bureau and clock of father before the arrival of her sister Elizabeth, asking Henry to wear father’s slippers.
(b) Her rebuking Victoria not to gallivant in the street; asking her to close the door if her aunt Elizabeth and uncle come; her dominating attitude towards her husband Henry, etc.
(c) Her bluntness/straight talking to her sister and father like : “Don’t be so silly, Elizabeth” when they are talking about Dr. Pringle. Second, when Victoria says that perhaps grandpa didn’t go to pay his insurance premium Mrs. Slater snubs her saying ‘He went out”. Finally, her bluntness in her asking Victoria to change her dress and not gallivant.
(d) Impoliteness of Mrs. Slater is seen in her talks like : “What do you mean by that Henry Slater ?” when Henry refers to greediness in the family.
Second example : Mrs. Slater : Henry, why shouldn’t we bring that bureau down here now ? We could do it before they come.
Henry (stupefied) : I wouldn’t care to.
Mrs. Slater : Don’t look so daft. Why not ?
(e) Her insensitiveness is seen in :
1. Victoria: That’s grandpa’s clock.
Mrs. Slater: Chut ! Bc quit! It’s ours now.
2. Mrs. Jordan: I’ll tell you what’s been going on in this house. Father, nothing short of robbery.
Mrs. Slater: Be quiet. Elizabeth.
Note : Students themselves can find out more such examples. Mrs. Slater’s talks border on greediness, impoliteness, bluntness and insensitivity taken together.
Question 8.
Answer the following with reference to the context.
1. “Are we pinching it before Aunt Elizabeth comes ?”
(a) What does ‘it’ refer to here ?
(b) How does Vicky conclude that her parents are ‘pinching it’ ?
(c) Mention the two reasons that Mrs. Slater gives for her action.
(d) What does it reveal about the difference between the attitude of the elders and that of Vicky ?
2. “7 don’t call that delicate, stepping into a dead man’s shoes in such haste.”
(a) Who makes this comment ?
(b) What prompts the speaker to say this ?
(c) Bring out the significance of this statement.
3. “Now, Amelia, you mustn’t give way. We’ve all got to die some time or other. It might have been worse.”
(a) Who is the speaker of these lines ?
(b) What prompts the speaker to say these words ?
(c) What does he mean when he says ‘It might have been worse’ ?
(d) What does it reveal about the speaker’s character ?
(a) ‘It’ here refers to the shifting of the bureau by Mrs. Slater.
(b) Victoria (Vicky) concludes it from her mother’s lie that her grandpa gave it to her that morning. But she says that that morning he was drunk. At this Mrs. Slater rebukes her saying that she mustn’t ever say he was drunk.
(c) One, she says her grandpa gave it to her. Second, she had had always a fancy for that.
(d) It reveals the difference that Victoria (Vicky) speaks the truth but the elders tell lies.
(a) Abel (grandpa) makes this comment.
(b) Abel sees that Henry has worn his slippers which he should not. This prompts him to say these words.
(c) The significance is that Abel is conscious of the fact that his things are slowly being grabbed by his daughters.
(a) Ben Jordan speaks these lines.
(b) Mrs. Slater informs Mr. Jordan and his sister Elizabeth (Mrs. Jordan) that father, 72, is now dead. This prompts Ben Jordan (to) say this.
(c) By this he means to say that father died. It is alright as every one has to die sooner or later. But his death could have been due to the worst things. The way he died was not much troublesome.
(d) The speaker’s character seen in this comment here seems normal and mature.
Question 9.
Victoria Slater is truly attached to her Grandpa. As she sees the elders in her family quarrel over the inheritance, she is bewildered and upset by their attitude. As Victoria write a diary entry outlining the incident and your feelings. (150 words)
Wednesday, 24th April, 20 – 9 pm
I can’t forget this day when I found my mom and dad grabbing dear grandpa’s bureau, clock and slippers. I was greatly shocked to hear mom saying that grandpa was dead. However, I saw that he was drunk this morning. Soon my aunt Elizabeth and uncle Ben came and were in mourning dress. All of them started arguing hotly over grandpa. My mom told my aunt that he was as merry as a sandboy in the morning. After taking tea they started talking over dividing his things like gold watch, slippers, clock etc. I felt it very bad that grandpa was not yet dead. But he was made to be ‘dead’ and they started fighting over his things ! It was most inhuman and unbecoming of them to treat grandpa so badly.
I was overjoyed when I saw grandpa still alive. When I expressed my happiness, my mom snubbed me. Things finally came out when my aunt told grandpa that my mom and dad had been robbing him. Grandpa didn’t take long to understand that for his daughters his death and his things were more important than his life. He took no time to frustrate their evil designs by saying that he was marrying again next Monday. I shall miss my dearest grandpa. But I would go to him whenever I like.
Question 10.
Grandfather says, “It seems to me that neither of you has any cause to feel proud about the way you’ve treated me.” While it is true that the daughters disregard modesty, decency and filial obligation, grandfather cannot be fully justified in practically disowning his family. Besides, Victoria loves him and he seems to have spared no thought for her feelings.
Divide yourselves into groups of four or five and discuss the statement: Grandfather is not entirely right in moving away from his daughters.
After the discussion, a representative from each group will present the views of her/his group to the class in about 3 minutes.

Mainly for discussion in groups at class level.

Class 10 English Footprints Without Feet

  1. Chapter 1- A Triumph of Surgery
  2. Chapter 2- The Thief's Story
  3. Chapter 3- The Midnight Visitor
  4. Chapter 4- A Question of Trust
  5. Chapter 5- Footprints without Feet
  6. Chapter 6- The Making of a Scientist
  7. Chapter 7- The Necklace
  8. Chapter 8- The Hack Driver
  9. Chapter 9- Bholi
  10. Chapter 10- The Book That Saved the Earth

Class 10 English First Flight
  1. NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Chapter 1- A Letter to God
  2. NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Chapter 2- Long Walk to Freedom
  3. NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Chapter 3- Two Stories About Flying
  4. NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Chapter 4- From the Diary of Anne Frank
  5. NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Chapter 5-The Hundred Dresses - I
  6. NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Chapter 6- The Hundred Dresses - II
  7. NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Chapter 7- Glimpses of India
  8. NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Chapter 8- Mijbil the Otter
  9. NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Chapter 9- Madam Rides the Bus
  10. NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Chapter 10- The Sermon at Benares
  11. NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Chapter 11- The Proposal

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