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Story Summary: The Last Lesson by Alphonse Daudet

The Last Lesson by Alphonse Daudet is a short war-fiction story. In 1870-71, France and Prussia were at war. That time Prussia was consisting of three nations in one: Germany, Polland and Austria. This particular story takes place in a village situated in the town Alsace, which is bordering Germany. France is almost taken over by Prussia. The situation is of war.

The story takes us to a village where the lead character is a school boy named Franz. He doesn’t like going to school. And today he is late and afraid of getting beating from his French teacher M. Hamel. Franz wants to miss the school and get lost in the nature of singing birds and beautiful sightseeing all around. He is walking fast, he is afraid of two reasons, first he has not learnt about participates and second he is late.

As he reaches the school, he notices the difference in school ambience. And there is a lot of crowd gathering around the notice board. Franz remembers that all bad news come through this notice board, like war, troop defeat, commands from higher authorities and so on. There is something strange about the air of the school. As he sees children have been seated quietly in their respective classrooms. As Franz goes inside his classroom, he sees the class full of people like mayor, postman and even people from the neighboring village. Soon it comes out to him that from tomorrow onwards there will not be any French classes, the Berlin high command has ordered to teach German in schools instead of French.

This comes as a shock to Franz as he never took his classes seriously. Now today he wants to learn all the lessons and feels a deep respect for his teacher M. Hamel, who has been teaching in this school for over forty years. Hamel says that it is the duty of French people to learn their language as it will serve as a key in the prison of slavery. Hamel is teaching with heavy heart today and all present in the class are listening to him carefully. Today is his last day in the school. Hamel wants to say something but a lump of emotions choke him up, thus he turns to the blackboard and writes “Vive La France!” It means long live France. Then he says the class is over.

This story shows that how war affects the life of people, and how they are forced to go under various adverse situations despite having no interest in them. Another great aspect of this story is that it is mother tongue that helps people of their nation during the time of invasion or war as it unites people via uniform communication.


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