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Kerala State Syllabus 10th Standard English Solutions Unit 5 Chapter 1 Vanka (Short Story)
Vanka Textual Questions and Answers
On the basis of your reading of the first two paragraphs of the story, complete die following table.
Protagonist of the story: Vanka Zhukov
Place: Shoemaker Alyakhin’s house, where Vanka is apprenticed.
Time: Christmas Eve
His family: Grandad Konstantin. His parents are dead. He has no relatives.
His mental state: Depressed and miserable.
His actions: Writes a letter to his Grandad telling him about his misery. Puts it in an envelope with incomplete address. Goes out and posts the letter in the letter box.
What were the specialties of the dog Eel?
Eel had black coat and a long weasel-like body. He was respectful and always tried to get people’s affection. He looked at friends and strangers in the same manner. He did not give confidence to anyone. His respectful and obedient nature hid his hatred and vengeance. He could go quietly and bite somebody’s foot, creep into the icehouse and steal a peasant’s chicken. His back legs had been cut many times, twice he had been hung up, and every week he was beaten up very badly. But he survived all.
Is there a shift in the setting of the story in paragraphs 3 and 4? Where do the events take place?
There is a shift. The events in paragraphs 3, 4 and 5 take place in the estate where Vanka’s grandfather worked.
How does grandfather create an atmosphere of fun and laugher?
Grandfather creates an atmosphere of fun and laugher by playfully pinching one of the maids or cook and making them take snuff. He also gave snuff to the dogs. The women would sneeze and then the grandfather would say “Good for frozen noses”.
Pick out words and phrases used to describe the night.
Dark night; trees were silver with rime; sky sprinkled with gaily twinkling stars; the Milky Way looked newly scrubbed and polished with snow.
What sort of life did Ivanka lead at the shoemaker’s place?
Vanka led a very miserable life there. He did not get enough food to eat. He had to rock the shoemaker’s baby in the night and this prevented him from getting enough sleep. He was badly beaten by Alyakhin. Senior boys ridiculed him.
What, according to Vanka, would happen to him if his grandfather did not take him back home? Why did he think so?
If his grandfather did not take him back home, he would die. He thought so because it was impossible for him to continue with his cruel master Alyakhin, who made him work hard, starved him, made him rock his baby in the night and beat him up cruelly.
Why could not Vanka run away from the home of the shoemaker?
Vanka could not run away from the home of the shoemaker because he had no shoes or boots. He was afraid of frostbite.
Vanka is working for a shoemaker, but he does not have boots. What do you understand from this?
This means although he works with a shoemaker he can’t have shoes of his own. This is the case with many workers. A worker in a five-star hotel will not enjoy the same food or facilities that he helps to give to the guests. It is like ‘Water, water everywhere, not a drop to drink!”
What promises does Vanka make to his grandfather so that he would take him back home?
Vanka makes a lot of promises to his grandfather so that he would take him back home. He would grind his snuff. He would pray for him. He could even beat him as hard as he liked if he did mischief. He would clean the boots or go as a shepherd instead of Fedya. When he grows up to be a man he would look after him and he will not let anyone hurt him. When he dies, he would pray for his soul like he does for his Mummie.
What beautiful memories of Christmas do Vanka Cherish?
Vanka remembers his grandfather going to get a Christmas tree for his employers. He had taken Vanka with him. How happy Vanka was then! Grandfather would laugh. The frost-covered trees would laugh and Vanka also laughed. Before cutting the tree, grandfather would smoke his pipe, take a long pinch of snuff. He would laugh at the shivering Vanka. The young firtrees, covered with frost, stood without moving. They were waiting to see which one would be cut. Suddenly a hare would appear. Grandfather would shout: ‘Stop it, stop it.’ Grandfather would drag the tree to the big house. They all would decorate it.
Who was Vanka’s favorite? Why did he like her?
Miss Olga Ignatyevna was Vanka’s favorite. She used to give Vanka sweets. She also taught him to read, write, count and also to dance.
How did Vanka reach Moscow?
When he became an orphan, after the death of his mother Pelageya, he was sent to his grandfather. His grandfather apprenticed him to the shoemaker Alyakhin in Moscow.
“I have such a miserable life worse than a dog’s. ” What made Vanka say so?
Vanka said so for so many reasons. He did not get enough to eat. He could not sleep properly as he had to rock Alyakhin’s baby in the night. He was laughed at by the senior apprentices and above all he was often beaten by Alyakhin.
Do you think Vanka’s letter will reach his grandfather? Why?
It won’t reach his grandfather. He just wrote the name of his grandfather and simply the village’. Which village? Where? Nobody would know.
What did Vanka dream about in his sleep?
He dreamed of a stove. His grandfather was sitting on the stove-ledge, with his bare feet dangling. He was reading the letter to the cooks. Eel was walking backwards and forwards, wagging his tail.
Does the reference to the Eel have any significance in the story? How?
The Eel in spite of his reverential manner and docility had spite and malice in his heart. So did the grandfather to the gentry he worked for. If he got a chance he too would bite them, as did Eel when he got a chance.
According to Vanka, what kind of a person is Konstantin Makarich? It was Makarich who had sent Vanka away, when Vanka’s mother Pelageya died. Do you justify Makarich’s decision to send Vanka away to Moscow? Why?
Vanka thinks Makarich is a good person. That is why he writes him a letter when he finds his life is miserable in Moscow. Makarich is a happy-go-lucky man having fun with the maids, the cook and the dogs. Some people might find fault with Makarich for sending the boy to Moscow. But we should know that he is an orphan with no education. He has to learn a trade to make a living. So Makarich’s sending Vanka to Moocow is justified. But unfortunately, Alyakhin turned out to be a cruel man.
How did the people in Alyakhin’s workplace treat Vanka?
Complete the following table using appropriate phrases/clauses from the story.
|Alyakin the Master||The Mistress||Other Apprentices|
|Alyakin the Master||The Mistress||Other Apprentices|
|He did not treat Vanka well. He did not give him enough food, clothes and even a pair of boots. He punished him severely even for small things.||She wanted Vanka to rock the baby during the night, not allowing Vanka to sleep properly. She mistreated him. We see her rubbing the head of the herring on Vanka’s face.||They also mistreated Vanka. They sent him to buy vodka. They asked him to steal the master’s cucumbers. They made fun of him.|
How is Moscow, the big town, contrasted with the village where Vanka lived?
Moscow is a big city. There are huge houses of rich men. They have horses. Children sold fishing hooks and lines there showing you could catch fish. There were shops there selling all kinds of guns. People hunted birds. Life was busy in the city. In the village, life was easy-going. There were a lot of sheep and dogs. The boys played with stars at Christmas and they sang songs in the church.
Study the story map of ‘Alice in Wonderland’. (See p. 17 of the Text.)
Now, prepare a story map of Vanka.
Attempt a character sketch of Grandfather in the story ‘Vanka’.
Vanka’s grandfather was a night watchman on the estate of a rich family. He was a small, lean old man about 65. But he was lively and agile. He had a smiling face but his eyes were bleary with drink. During daytime he slept in the dark kitchen or spent time joking with the cook and the kitchen maids. In the night he wore a sheepskin coat and walked around the estate making sounds with his rattle. With him there used to be two dogs. One was old Kashtanka. The other was Eel. His rattle would be tied to his belt. He liked to laugh and playfully pinch maids and cooks. He would show his snuff box and ask the women to take a nip. The women would take some snuff and put into their nostrils. They would sneeze.
Grandad would be shouting and laughing with joy, saying, “Good for frozen noses.” He even gave snuff to the dogs. He was a fun-loving old man. He sent Vanka to a shoemaker in Moscow as an apprentice.
this action can be interpreted in two ways. May be he wanted the orphaned boy to learn a trade to make a living for himself when he grew up. Bu some may think that he was running away from the responsibility of looking after his orphaned grandson. Whatever is the case, grandfather is a fun-loving fellow that makes us laugh with his antics.
Let’s reread the story and complete the table given:
Now, prepare an analysis based on the table. You may begin like this:
Anton Chekhov’s ‘Vanka’ is a story that haunts the reader for long. Vanka is an orphan. He is apprenticed to a cruel shoemaker in Moscow. In the house of the shoemaker, Vanka is seriously mistreated. He is not given sufficient food, he is made to rock the baby of Alyakhin in the night and so he cant sleep properly, the senior apprentices send him to buy vodka and to steal cucumbers from the master. They also make fun of him. Vanka wants to run away to his grandfather in the village, but he has no shoes and he is afraid of the frost. Tired of the life at the shoemaker’s house, Vanka decides to write a letter to his grandfather to come and take him back to the village.
He promises to help his grandfather in different ways if he is taken. But the innocent Vanka does not even know that a letter can be sent only if it has a correct postal address, and the cover is stamped. After writing about his sufferings on a crumpled sheet of paper, he puts it in an envelope. On the envelope he simply writes “To my grandfather Konstantin Makarich in the village”. He innocently thinks that this will reach his grandfather and he will be rescued. He goes to sleep dreaming of the joys he will have when he goes back to his village.
Anton Chekhov’s story touches our heart. His style is simple and straight forward with a message for the readers. He exposes a cruel society that ignores and even mistreats its children. After reading the story nobody would like to mistreat the orphaned children. The imagery is so beautiful that we can read the story as if we are watching an excellent film.
Usually stories featuring orphans like David Copperfield. Oliver Twist or Cinderella end with their escape from the horrid surroundings to find love and happiness. A story can have more than one ending. You can think of many alternatives like Vanka joining his grandfather or running away from the shoemaker’s house and so on. Suggest an alternative ending to the story and write it in your own words.
After writing the letter, Vanka waited for a month. He saw no signs of his grandfather coming to take him to the village. His life was becoming more and miserable at Alyakhin’s place. “I can’t continue like this,” he thought and made secret plans to run away. The extreme winter had gone and now the weather was getting warmer. There was no frost and so even without shoes he could walk on the ground. One morning, Alyakhin and his family and Vanka’s senior apprentices had gone to attend a marriage in a nearby village. Vanka thought this was the right time to quit his hellhole. He had very little to carry with him. Just a pair of clothes which he neatly bundled up. With determination, he left his miserable place.
He walked and walked. He was hungry and tired. Nearby he saw a park. He went and sat on a bench. Soon he fell asleep because of tiredness and hunger. A rich couple was sitting and talking on a nearby bench. They saw the boy. When he woke up he was crying. He did not know where to go. As he was crying the couple came to him and asked him what made him cry. He told his pathetic story to them. This couple had no children. So they decided to take Vanka with them. They were God-loving people and they thought it was their duty to help an orphan like Vanka.
They enrolled Vanka in a school nearby. With good food and proper clothes, Vanka looked cheerful and handsome. He would study, study hard. He would find a job and would live a comfortable life, Vanka decided. He thanked God for the happy turn of events in his life.
Imagine that there are many children in your locality who have similar experiences like that of Vanka. Write a letter to the editor of newspaper describing the sad plight of such children and the need to uplift them.
The Indian Express
10 June 2016
This is to bring to your notice the sad plight of some children in my locality. Most of these children are from other States like Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal. Some of them are employed in the local hotels and some shops in the market. They are made to work from early morning to late into the night. They are given very small wages and their living conditions are very poor. Even with the little money they get, they drink alcoholic beverages and smoke ganja.
We all know about the Right to Education and Laws against child labour. But these children who are less than 14 are not going to any school and are badly mistreated by their employers. If people don’t open their eyes, the Law should come and make these cruel employers open their eyes. We speak of Metros, Airports, 6-line super highways and Info parks. How can we ignore the plight of these victims of Fate and speak of development?
Children are the wealth of the society. They are to be tomorrow’s leaders. We ought to do them justice, not on paper and pulpits, not by mere words but by deeds.
Think of publishing a manuscript magazine on the lines suggested on p. 144 -145 of the Text.
Let’s Learn More About Words
Look at the following sentence.
Vanka put on his hat and ran out into the street.
When ‘on’ is added to put, it means wear.
a. Prepare a list of such phrasal verbs and use each of them in sentences of your own.
1. put off – postpone: The meeting was out off for next month.
2. put up with – tolerate: I can’t put up with your antics any more.
3. put down – write: Whatever you say put it down on paper.
4. put across: communicate properly: The teacher could not put across his view to the students.
5. put out – extinguish: The fire department failed to put out the fire.
6. put back – keep somewhere where you took it from: Put back the book after you have gone through it.
7. Put in – add: Put in more efforts next time you write the examination.
8. put into – deposit something: After using the shaver put into the drawer.
9. put forward – suggest – The new minister put forward some good ideas.
10. Put by – save: You have to put some money by for the rainy day.
b. Rewrite the paragraph given on p. 156 replacing the under lined words with suitable phrasal verbs from the table.
Vanka began his letter wishing his grandfather a happy Christmas. Even though he was conscious about his master’s arrival, he went on writing. He wanted to get back to his village where he lived peacefully. He could not put up with the cruelties of his masters any more. He begged his grandfatherto look after him. He never wished to call at Moscow again. He finished the letter and went through it once again. He put on his coat and went out to drop his letter in the post box.
Imagine that Grandfather receives the letter written by Vanka. The paragraph given below describes his thoughts and feelings.
Complete the paragraph using appropriate words from the box below.
Grandfather’s hands shivered as he opened the letter. Vanka’s face appeared ………… (a) ……… before him. The candle ……….. (b) ……… but the letters were ……….. (c)………. clear to him. The old man who was ……….. (d) ………… at hiding his emotions could not stop the tears from
flowing down ……….. (e) ……….. eyed, he recollected with warmth the ………. (f) …….. and ………. (g) ………. manner of his grandson. He longed to bring him back. The ………. (h) ………. eyes of the boy seemed to haunt him. They could enjoy the ……… (i) ……….. Christmas together. But the helpless old man gave a deep sigh!
[remarkably, bleary, distinctly, glorious, docility, flickered, insinuating, adept, imploring]
Vanka (Short Story) About The Author
Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) is a master of modern short story and drama. His works make the readers ask questions. His important works are: “Three Sisters’’, “The Cherry Orchard” and “The Lady with the Dog”.
Vanka (Short Story) Summary in English
1. Vanka Zhukov is 9 years old. He is apprenticed to Alyakhin, a shoemaker. Vanka did not go to bed on Christmas Eve. When his master, master’s wife, and the other senior apprentices went to Church, Vanka took a pen and a crumpled sheet of paper. Before starting to write he looked around the room, the door and window as if he was afraid. He looked at the lasts on the shelves and gave a sigh. Then he knelt on the floor and started writing.
2. “Dear Grandad Konstantin Makarich, I am writing a letter to you. I send you Christmas greetings and I hope God will send you his blessings. I have no father and Mummie and you are all I have left.”
3. Vanka saw his grandfather in his mind. His grandfather was a night watchman on the estate of a rich family. He was a small, lean old man about 65. But he was lively and agile. He had a smiling face but his eyes were bleary with drink. During daytime he slept in the dark kitchen or spent time joking with the cook and the kitchen maids. In the night he wore a sheepskin coat and walked around the estate making sounds with his rattle. With him there used to be two dogs. One was old Kashtanka. The other was Eel. Eel had black coat and a long weasel-like body. Eel was respectful and always tried to get people’s affection. He looked at friends and strangers in the same manner. He did not give confidence to anyone. His respectful and obedient nature hid his hatred and vengeance. He could go quietly and bite somebody’s foot, creep into the icehouse and steal a peasant’s chicken. His back legs had been cut many times, twice he had been hung up, and every week he was beaten up very badly. But he survived all.
4. Grandad was perhaps standing at the gate looking at the bright red light coming from the church windows, or chatting with the servants. His rattle would be tied to his belt. He would be laughing and pinching a maid or one of the cooks. He would show his snuff box and ask the women to take a nip. The women would take some snuff and put into their nostrils. They would sneeze. Grandad would be shouting and laughing with joy, saying, “Good for frozen noses.”
5. Even the dogs were given snuff. Kashtanka would sneeze, shake her head and walk away, feeling angry. But Eel very politely would wag his tail. The weather was good. The air was still and fresh. It was a dark night. But the whole village could be seen’ clearly because the houses had white roofs. Smoke rose from the chimneys. Trees were covered with frost. Snow was falling. The sky was filled with twinkling stars. The Milky Way was shining as if polished with snow.
6. Vanka continued with his letter: “Yesterday I got a lot of beating. The master took me by the hair and dragged me into the yard. He beat me badly with the stirrup-strap (the belt used to connect the foot rest of the rider to the saddle). I had gone to sleep while rocking his baby. One day last week, the mistress told me to clean a herring. I began from the tail. She took it and rubbed its head on my face. Other apprentices make fun of me. They send me to buy vodka and make me steal the master’s cucumbers.
I don’t get enough to eat. They give me bread in the morning, gruel for dinner and again bread for supper. I never get tea or cabbage soup. They take it all themselves. They make me sleep in the passage. When their baby cries, I don’t get any sleep at all. I have to rock it. Dear Grandad, for the Lord’s sake, take me away from this place. Take me home to the village. I can’t suffer it any longer. I beg you. I always pray for you. Do take me away or I will die….’’
7. Vanka’s lips trembled. He rubbed his eyes. He sobbed.
Vanka continued: “I will grind your snuff for you. I will pray for you. You can beat me as hard as you like if I do mischief. If you think I have nothing to do, I will clean the boots or go as a shepherd instead of Fedya. I wanted to run away to the village but I have no boots and I was afraid of the frost. When I grow up to be a man I will look after you and I will not let anyone hurt you. When you die, I will pray for your soul like I do for my Mummie.”
8. “Moscow is such a big town. There are many gentlemen’s houses and many horses there. There are no sheep. The dogs there are not at all fierce. The boys go about with a sta,r at Christmas. They don’t let you sing in church. Once I saw them selling fishing hooks of different sizes. I saw one hook that could hold a catfish weighing 30 pounds. I have seen shops selling guns like the one my master has. The guns might cost 100 roubles each. In the butcher’s shop we can buy grouse, woodcock (both mean different kinds of ‘kattukozhi’) and hares. The shopkeepers don’t say how they got them.”
9. “Dear Grandad, when they have a Christmas tree at the big house, take a fine nut for me and put it away in the green chest. Ask Miss Olga Ignatyevna and tell her it is for Vanka.”
10. Vanka sighed. He looked at the window glass. He remembered his grandfather going to get a Christmas tree for his employers. He had taken Vanka with him. How happy Vanka was then! Grandfather would laugh. The frost covered trees would laugh and Vanka also laughed. Before cutting the tree, grandfather would smoke his pipe, take a long pinch of snuff. He would laugh at the shivering Vanka. The young firtrees, covered with frost, stood without moving. They were waiting to see which one would be cut. Suddenly a hare would appear. Grandfather would shout: ‘Stop it, stop it.’
11. Grandfatherwould drag the tree to the big house. They all would decorate it. Miss Olga Ignatyevna, Vanka’s favourite, was the busiest of all. Pelageya was Ninka’s mother. She is dead. When she was working in the big house, Olga Ignatyevna used to give Vanka sweets. As her pastime, she also taught Vanka to read, write and count to a hundred. She even tried to teach him to dance. When his mother died, Vanka was sent to the back kitchen to his grandmother. From there he was sent to Moscow, to Alyakhin.
12. Vanka continued writing. “Come to me dear grandad. Take me from here. Feel pity for me. They always beat me and I am always hungry and miserable. I send my love to Alyona, one eyed-Yegor and the coachman. Don’t give my concertina to anyone. I remain your grandson Ivan Zhukov. DearGrandad do come.”
13. He folded the sheet and put into an envelope. He wrote the address: To Grandfather in the village. After some thought he added: To Konstantin Makarich’.
14. He was happy that nobody saw him writing. He put his cap and ran out into the street. He did not wear his coat. The men at the butcher’s had told him that letters are put into letter-boxes. Then they are sent all over the world in mail coaches with 3 horses and drunken drivers and jingling bells. Vanka dropped his letter in the letter box.
15. An hour later he fell asleep. He dreamed of a stove. His grandfather was sitting on the stove-ledge, with his bare feet dangling. He was reading the letter to the cooks. Eel was walking backwards and forwards, wagging his tail.
Vanka (Short Story) Summary in Malayalam
Meaning of Words and Phrases