I. Discuss in pairs and answer each question below in a short paragraph (30 – 40 words).

1. How many characters are there in the narrative? Name them. (Don’t forget the dog!).

2. Why did the narrator (Jerome) volunteer to do the packing?

3. How did George and Harris react to this? Did Jerome like their reaction?

4. What was Jerome’s real intention when he offered to pack?

5. What did Harris say after the bag was shut and strapped? Why do you think he waited till then to ask?

6. What “horrible idea” occurred to Jerome a little later?

7. Where did Jerome finally find the toothbrush?

8. Why did Jerome have to reopen the packed bag?

9. What did George and Harris offer to pack and why?

10. While packing the hamper, George and Harris do a number of foolish and funny things. Tick the statements that are true.

(i) They started with breaking a cup.
(ii) They also broke a plate.
(iii) They squashed a tomato.
(iv) They trod on the butter.
(v) They stepped on a banana.
(vi) They put things behind them, and couldn’t find them.
(vii) They stepped on things.
(viii) They packed the pictures at the bottom and put heavy things on top.
(ix) They upset almost everything.
(x) They were very good at packing.

Solution : 

1.  There  are  four  characters  in  the  narrative.  They are Jerome (the narrator),
George, Harris, and Montmorency (the dog).
2. The narrator volunteered to do the packing as he took pride in himself for his packing skills. It was one of those things that he felt he knew more about than any other person living.
3. George and Harris readily accepted Jerome’s suggestion. Their readiness to allow him to do the packing had something uncanny about it. George spread himself over the easy-chair and Harris put his legs on the table. No, Jerome did not like their reaction. What he really wanted was that he should be the boss and the others should potter about under his directions.
4. When Jerome had offered to pack, his real intention was that he would boss over the job, and Harris and George would work under his directions. Then, he would push them aside every now and then, and teach them how to do it properly. That is why their reaction irritated him.
5. After the bag was shut and strapped, Harris asked Jerome if he wasn’t going to put the boots in. Jerome knew that Harris was like that. He would not have said a word until he had shut and strapped the bag just to irritate him and ridicule his packing skills. He wanted to prove that the Jerome was not as good a packer as he claimed to be.
6. The “horrible idea” that occurred to Jerome a little later was wether he had packed his toothbrush or not. Whenever he travelled he could never remember if he had packed his toothbrush or not. This thought haunted him and made his life a misery.
7.  After going through everything he had packed, Jerome finally found the toothbrush inside a boot.
8. Jerome had to reopen the bag because he found that he had packed his spectacles in it.
9. George and Harris offered to pack the hampers for carrying food. Harris said that they would want to start in less than twelve hours’ time and therefore it was better that he and George should do the rest of the packing. They started off in a light hearted spirit as they intended to show Jerome how to do it.
10. Statements i, iii, iv, vi, vii and ix are true.

II. What does Jerome say was Montmorency’s ambition in life? What do you think of Montmorency and why?

Solution : 

Montmorency’s ambition in life was to get in the way and be sworn at. If he could squirm in anywhere where he particularly was not wanted, and be a perfect nuisance, and make people mad, and have things thrown at his head, only then did he feel that his day was not wasted. His highest aim and object was to get somebody to stumble over him and curse him steadily for an hour. When he succeeded in accomplishing this, his pride in himself became unbearable.

III. Discuss in groups and answer the following questions in two or three paragraphs (100 –150 words)

  1. Of the three, Jerome, George and Harris, who do you think is the best or worst packer? Support your answer with details from the text.
  2. How did Montmorency ‘contribute’ to the packing?
  3. Do you find this story funny? What are the humorous elements in it? (Pick out at least three, think about what happens, as well as how it is described.)

Solution : 

1. All three friends, Jerome, George and Harris prove to be bad at packing things. Jerome volunteered to do the packing as he took pride in himself for his packing skills. He felt that he knew more about packing than any other living person. However, his packing skills were not up to the mark. He forgot to pack the boots; could not remember if he had packed his toothbrush or not; and accidentally packed his spectacles. On each of these occasions, he had to unpack everything he had already packed.
When George and Harris began packing the hampers, they proved to be a lot worse than Jerome. Harris according to the author was the worst packer in the world. They broke a cup; packed heavy things on top of light items; put things behind them and then couldn’t find them when they wanted them; stepped on things; and upset almost everything.
2. Montmorency’s ambition in life was to get in the way, be sworn at, squirm into places where he was not wanted, be a perfect nuisance, make people mad, and have things thrown at his head. He came and sat down on things just when they were about to  be packed. According to the narrator, the dog had a fixed belief that whenever Harris or George reached out their hand for anything, it was his cold damp nose they wanted.
He put his leg into the jam and disturbed the teaspoons. He pretended that the lemons were rats. He went into the hamper and killed three of them before Harris could hit him with a frying pan.
Harris blamed Jerome for encouraging the dog. However, Jerome said that a dog like Montmorency did not require any encouragement. It had a natural and original sin that was born in it, which made it do things like that.
3.  This story is funny as it brings out the confusion, chaos and mess that are caused because of inexperienced packing. It shows how three adults making complete fools out of themselves. The bad packing skills of the narrator and his friends are on display in this story. The narrator, who prides himself on his packing ability, unpacks and re- packs the same things three times, much to the amusement of his friends. When it is their turn to pack, they are worse than the narrator.  Emulating his friends, the narrator simply sits back and watches them make a mess of everything. Things get more chaotic when the dog, Montmorency enters the picture.
The narrator compares the things he unpacked to find his toothbrush to the same state of chaos that existed when the world was created. On seeing all that George and Harry had managed to do with the butter, the narrator says that he had never seen anyone do more with one-and-two pence worth of butter.  The narrator humorously describes how Montmorency’s ambition in life is to get in the way and be sworn at. He even pretended that the lemons were rats and got into the hamper and killed three before Harris could land a frying pan on him.

I. Match the words/phrases in Column A with their meanings in Column B.


Positive Negative
(i)Save for a rainy day.(i)Don’t cry over spilt milk.
(ii)Make hay while the sun shines.(ii)Don’t put the cart before the horse.
(iii)Look before you leap.(iii)Don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill.
(iv)Live and let live(iv)Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
(v)Cut your coat according to your cloth.(v)Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched
(vi)Try, try,and you will succeed.(vi)Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today.
(vii)Silence is golden.(vii)Never judge a book by its cover.

II. A Traffic Jam

During power cuts, when traffic lights go off, there is utter chaos at crossroads. Drivers add to the confusion by getting into a row over their right of way, and nearly come to blows. Sometimes passers-by, seeing a few policemen slaving at regulating traffic, step in to help. This gives them a feeling of having accomplished something.