I. QUESTIONS ON CHARACTERS
Sketch the character of the narrator, Jerome K. Jerome.
Jerome K. Jerome is the main character of his classical comic novel ‘Three Men in a Boat’. He is the narrator and the novel is a ‘first person’ description of the river journey from Kingston to Oxford. Like both of his real life-friends Harris and George, Jerome is also a hypochondriac who is all the time concerned with his health. He finds symptoms of all diseases: typhoid, Bright’s disease, cholera and diphtheria in him. The only malady that perhaps he doesn’t possess is ‘housemaid’s knee’.
Jerome is not a vocal and boisterous character like his other life-friends, Harris and George. He rarely takes any initiative. Slowly but silently he makes his presence felt in all the decisions and operations that are associated with the river journey. Jerome has a long association with the Thames. He has undertaken many trips to the river with his friends and family. Actually, he spent his honeymoon with his new bride on the Thames before writing ‘Three Men in a Boat’. Jerome is full of anecdotes. His stories are associated with the social, cultural and historical life of the people and places on the river. These comical anecdotes or digressions make the novel a classic in comic English literature.
The narrator doesn’t forget to laugh at himself, too. On many occasions he contradicts himself. On one hand, he says that he takes a great pride in his work. But in the same breath he complains that it always seems to him that he is doing more work than he should do.
The narrator has an eye for beauty and romance. His description of the river and the villages and towns on it is graphic and fascinating. He displays a deep knowledge about the social practices, culture, history, costumes, food, drinks that the people and places of the Thames’s region are associated with.
He sees that Harris will grow as another Uncle Podger. However, Jerome forgets that he too can act funny and ridiculous on certain occasions. He prides on his packing but forgets to pack his toothbrush so often. He behaves like his Uncle Podger himself. To sum up, Jerome has all those qualities that are generally associated with a professional traveller. He has the knowledge, attitude and patience which are the traits of a good travel guide and writer.
Describe the role of the dog, Montmorency, in the novel ‘Three Men in a Boat’.
Attempt a character sketch of Montmorency.
Montmorency plays an important role in the story-line of ‘Three Men in a Boat’. He is gifted with a sharp understanding of men, matters and situations which is rarely found in the breed of animals like him. But Montmorency is a fox-terrier. And as Jerome finds that fox-terriers are ‘born with about four times as much original sin’ in them as other dogs are. So, Montmorency, does share some of these characteristics. Jerome gives a human face to the dog. He records his agreement or disagreement on certain things and in certain decisions. Montmorency was against the decision of going on a river-holiday. He shares all the experiences with his three human friends. When George prepares the Irish stew, Montmorency doesn’t forget to bring his contribution to be added to the stew. He brings a dead water rat as his contribution. When his stomach is full after a good supper, she shows his contentment by spreading put his legs and lying down leisurely near them.
Montmorency is after all a dog and a fox-terrier. He has different opinion about cats than Jerome. He gives a cry of joy when he sees the black cat Tom. He pounces on him threateningly. But Montmorency is not reckless and he can be cautious and practical. Tom was more than a match for Montmorency. His ugly and ferocious looks chilled his heart and he never dared to touch cats again. Montmorency can be wild and resort to funny antics. He considers the tea-kettle as his rival. Whenever he sees steam coming out of the kettle, Montmorency feels as if he is being challenged. Foolishly he pounces upon the spout of the kettle and bums his nose. From that moment, he never goes near the kettle.
Montmorency has the blood of fox-terrier in his veins. He never leaves a dog unchallanged. He finds Oxford, the most ideal and suitable place, a ‘heaven’ for him. He fights 11 battles on the very first day and 14 battles on the second day with dogs of different kinds.
To sum up, Montmorency is an inseparable part of the river journey that three life-friends undertake to escape from overwork. He is more than a dog. But all said and done, he is a dog and on the top of it, a fox-terrier.
Give the character sketch of Uncle Podger. How does this character bring out humour to the story of ‘Three Men in a Boat’?
Uncle Podger is a lovable and eccentric character. He is overconfident about doing things easily. He takes pride in his ability to do odd jobs in the house. When the picture is to be hung on the wall, he boastfully tells his wife that it is his headache to get the picture fixed. This is a perfect example of his overconfidence coupled with his careless attitude. It leads to dragging all the family members, including children into a lot of inconvenience. He is proud of the fact that does not need services of any skilled workman. He is extremely absent minded and forgetful. He even forgets where he had placed his own coat and then expects others to find it for him. He loses his temper easily and does not hesitate at all in blaming others. Lastly, he is definitely not very skilful with his hands. His gestures and actions provide a lot of humour in the story.
On the basis of your study of ‘Three Men in a Boat’ give a brief character sketch of the narrator Jerome.
The narrator of the novel is called by the name ‘J’. He is a young, single middle class man living in London. He is fond of history and literature. He spends much of his time in day dreaming about the day’s when knights roamed the countryside of England. This day dreaming sometimes gets him into trouble when he does not pay attention to what he is doing. The narrator like his two friends on the boat trip, is a little vain. But he is aware of this trait of his character. He pokes gentle fun at himself, his friends and the habits of others like them. He has always been fond of boats but prefers the old fashioned row boat or sail boat to the noisy steam boats that have started to invade his peace and quietness on the river. He thinks that the river should remain open to everyone.
Harris like any other human being is both ‘egoist and ungrateful at times’. In the light of this remark, draw a brief character sketch of Harris.
Every human being is an egoist with the only difference of degrees. This is a natural phenomenon. Harris is no exception to it. When Harris tried to make the scrambled eggs as a part of self, he couldn’t get the anticipated success. People might ascribe it to his false egoism but this is not correct. After all, cooking something nicely, with the constraints of resources is not everyman’s cup of tea.
As regards the accusation that Harris is ungrateful, it is also not correct. When Harris blamed George and the writer for having saved him as a part of their conspiracy in order to occupy his seat, it was not because of his ingratitude to them. It was because of the extraordinary situation. In a situation like this man often loses power to think coherently and logically. This is exactly what happened with Harris and not because of his ingratitude. He is not ungrateful. His thanks giving at the conclusion of the river journey is the evidence in the matter.
Discuss the character of the speculative photographer at Hampton Court.
The speculative photographer was a professional one and making money by taking a picture of the rising water and of all the boats in the lock. He was catching the photograph of the people dressed in their boating costumes. J. and George posed vainly as the photographer set up. They did not notice that the nose of their boat had become caught under part of the lock and the rising water threatened to flip the boat. They pushed away just in time and just as the photographer snapped the photo they were caught falling over feet in the air. The photographer who was clever, insisted them to buy the photograph but they both refused to buy that. The photographer could not sell them photograph even after efforts to persuade them but they said that they had no objection to being photographed full length but they preferred being taken the right way up.
II. QUESTIONS ON THEME, PLOT AND EVENTS
‘Three Men in a Boat’ was initially intended to be a serious travel guide but the trip takes a back seat with a series of hilarious comic stories or anecdotes dominating the plot of the novel. Elaborate the statement by giving examples from the text.
Describe the role of a series of comic stories, hilarious digressions, anecdotes or sub-plots to make ‘Three Men in a boat’, a classical comedy.
There is no doubt that initially ‘ Three Men in a Boat’ was intended to be a serious travel guide. But the trip takes a backseat. An excellent series of hillarious anecdotes, stories and set-piece humorous incidents dominate the story line. The trip on the river is just a frame on which Jerome hangs various comic digressions or hillarious sub-plots. They make ‘Three Men in a Boat’ a classical comedy in English literature. In general, these short humorous digressions or anecdotes told as flashbacks, are the soul of the novel.
To justify a river trip, the narrator describes an anecdote of his brother-in-law going for a short sea-trip. He describes his bitter experience at the sea. Then the narrator has a dig at Harris. Harris reminds him of his poor Uncle Podger. The comic anecdote of Uncle Podger hanging a picture is a classical case of mixing gentle satire with humour based on human nature. Then follows another memorable and highly comic incident. The narrator recalls the story of his friend buying a couple of cheeses at Liverpool. The highly comic anecdote describes how he carried cheese as a travelling companion. The foul and unbearable smell led his friend’s wife to take the children and go to a hotel until those ‘cheeses’ were eaten. The incident at the Waterloo railway station still reminds us the confusing mess of platforms at any crowded station. The episode of Harrison as a guide at Hampton Court Maze is equally hillarious.
The novel excels in the comedy set-pieces or sub-plots. The story of two drunken men who slide into the same bed in the dark presents tongue-in-cheek humour. Then comes anecdote of Harris’s singing of a comic song. His making an ass of himself is giggling as well as biting. Very few episodes in comic literature can match Jerome’s blending of humour, satire and wit as in the case of the German Herr Boschen singing the so called ‘comic song’. Similarly, the incident of George’s getting up early in the morning being deceived by his watch is equally hillarious. So is George’s preparing the Irish stew and the contribution of a dead water rat in it from Montmorency. The incidents of the fight between Montmorency and the kettle and George’s attempts to learn banjo add spice to the story-line.
Jerome’s ‘Three Men in a Boat’ presents a different kind of humour—very refined and sharp but at times coated with sarcasm. Elaborate the statement citing humorous incidents from the text.
Write a note on the use of ‘Humour’ in ‘Three Men in a Boat’.
‘Three Men in a Boat’ is full of ‘tongue-in-cheek humour, sarcasm and comic understatements’. Justify. ‘
Like many humourists, Jerome never resorts to bawdiness and crudity and yet he never fails to pull a laugh from the reader. Do you agree with the statement? Justify your answer.
‘Three Men in a Boat’ of Jerome K. Jerome proves that humour based on human nature is timeless, fresh and universal. Jerome intended to make the novel a serious travel guide. But the humorous elements dominate over the story line. They make ‘Three Men in a Boat’ as one of the best comic novels in English comic literature. The antics of the three gentlemen, Harris, George and Jerome himself, are described. They are laced with humour which is very refined and sharp but at times coated with sarcasm. The book is full of ‘tongue-in-cheek humor’. But Jerome’s humour never resorts to bawdiness and crudity. It is fresh, heart winning and modem. The jokes seem fresh and witty even today.
In ‘Three Men in a Boat’, often, the trip takes a back seat to a series of hillarious and comic episodes.
The humour created by characters or incidents, is real and alive. ‘Three Men in a Boat’ mocks at nothing. Instead it makes its readers laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of life. We can find a comic figure like Uncle Podger in any house. The episode of his Uncle Podger, is the art of a great humourist. Humour in episodes like that of Waterloo Station which presents a chaotic and confusing scene, is real, relevant and even contemporary. The comic digression of George’s singing of a comic song is an example of light, frothy sort of humour. Similarly, George’s making of the Irish stew is equally interesting. Montmorency’s fight with the kettle and his encounter with the black cat Tom are comic digressions representing the typical Victorian humour.
Some critics, including ‘the Punch’ criticise Jerome for the frequent use of ‘vulgar’ slangs. The humour appeals to ‘Arrys and Amets’ only. But most of the critics praise Jerome for his light, frothy, suggestive and gentle humour that makes his ‘Three Men in a Boat’, a masterpiece of English comic literature.
‘Three Men in a Boat’ describes the antics of three men with their different attitudes and approach to various problems. In the light of the above statement, write in 150-200 words on ‘Characterisation’ in the novel.
Write a note on ‘Characterisation’ in ‘Three Men in a Boat’.
Basically, Jerome’s novel ‘Three Men in a Boat’ describes the antics of three men with their different attitudes and approaches to various problems. All the three, inspite of their differences, were hypochondriacs. They seem to be concerned about their health in the beginning. Jerome was a ‘hospital in himself’ and had symptoms of all diseases except ‘housemaid’s knee’. Harris and George also felt miserable as they suffered from terrible giddiness. The three friends were ‘real- life friends ’. The dog, Montmorency, no doubt, was an imaginary character. All minor characters like Uncle Podger, Jerome’s brother-in-law, the narrator’s friend who travelled with the horrible cheese and the German Professor are living characters. They are taken from the contemporary society of 1890s England. The characters are so real and alive that you can definitely recognise them in someone that you know or may be yourself at times.
Harris reminds the narrator of his Uncle Podger. He creates such a commotion in the house when he undertakes to do a job. George is painted as a sluggard. George knows only one work—sleeping. He goes to sleep at a bank from ten to four each day, except Saturdays. Harris shows a very poor understanding of his talents as a singer of‘comic’ songs. He makes himself an ass in front of the audience. At the Windsor Maze, George plays an imposter. He can be a unique cook who can make a unique Irish stew. The narrator doesn’t forget to laugh at himself too. Jerome’s character is a bundle of contradictions. On one hand, he claims that he takes a ‘great pride’ in his work. He ‘craves’ for work but doesn’t ask for more than his proper share. Jerome takes pride on his packing. But he forgets to pack his tooth brush. He packs it in the morning, and has to unpack again to get it and then repacks and forgets it.
Inspite of a series of hillarious anecdotes, ‘Three Men in a Boat’ describes’the social, cultural and historical lives of the villages and towns that fall along the river Thames. In the light of the above statement describe the theme of the novel.
‘Three Men in a Boat’ faithfully describes the historical, social and cultural importance of the river-side towns and villages through a series of comic digressions and anecdotes like a travel guide. The book has not strayed from the main theme.
Describe the theme of ‘Three Men in a Boat’. Has Jerome succeeded to make the book a travel guide of the Thames’s region?
‘Three Men in a Boat’ was initially written as a travel guide. It aimed to give accounts of local history and culture along the river Thames. Jerome was well acquainted with the river, having made many trips on it with his friends. The book also broke new grounds with its subject matter. Like Rider Haggard, Kipling and Stevenson, Jerome doesn’t describe adventures of dashing heroes in exotic lands. The narrator presents three ordinary men and their minor but hillarious adventures along the Thames. Inspite of various comic anecdotes and digressions, the trip of the river provides the main framework of the novel.
In ‘Three Men in a Boat’ Jerome provides straight descriptive passages highlighting the dresses, foods and social practices. Monuments, tombs, castles, palaces with their historical associations and importance are graphically described. Jerome provides their description in a guidebook style, noting the places and the people they are passing.
The book’s original purpose as a guidebook is apparent. Inspite of classical humorous digressions, the story relates the river journey. The incidents that have a direct associations with the Thames’s region. The narrator has an eye for history. He reminds us not only of the ‘quaint back streets of Kingston but also of the grey old palace of the Tudors. He recalls the days when Saxons were crowned and Great Caesar crossed the river at Kingston. He very faithfully describes the grandeur, beauty and peaceful atmosphere of Hampton Court. He doesn’t forget to describe the great Hampton Maze where Harris makes a fool of himself. Jerome takes the readers to the stone in Magna Charta Island. The great Charter is said to have been signed there. The narrator has an eye for romance. He takes us to the Picnic Point where Henry VIII is said to have waited for Anne Bolyen. Rarely Jeroitte forgets to capture the festivities and cultural life of the riverside people and places. Nor does the narrator forget to help you finding suitable inns, eating houses and the places where you can have a good glass of Irish ale or whisky.
Describe the circumstances and motives that made and necessitated three hypochondriacs (those who always thought that they were ill) and self-styled ‘invalids’ take up a boating holiday, up the river Thames.
Why did Jerome and his two real-life friends decide on a boating holiday, up the river Thames?
There were four of them—George, Harris, the narrator Jerome and their dog Montmorency. The three men were hypochondriacs and always thought that they were ill. They were sitting in Jerome’s room, smoking and talking about their health. Harris felt extraordinary fits of giddiness and George too suffered from the same disease. Jerome knew that his lever was out of order. Jerome found in him all the symptoms of all diseases except one. He had symptoms of typhoid, Bright’s disease, cholera and diphtheria. The only disease he didn’t suffer from was ‘housemaid’s knee’. They refilled their glasses, relit their pipes and resumed the discussion. None of them could be sure of what actually was the matter with them. However, they were of the unanimous opinion that their bad health had been ‘brought on by overwork’.
They agreed with George that they needed “rest and a complete change”. Change of scene and rest would restore their mental and physical equilibrium. They should ‘seek out some retired and old-world spot, far from the maddening crowd. Harris thought that nothing could beat a sea trip for rest and change. Jerome had objected to the sea trip strongly. Then Jerome narrated the bitter experience of his brother-in-law. He went for a short sea trip but found it so tiring and unbearable and returned soon by train. During a sea-trip, they could face a rough sea and suffer from ‘sea-sickness’. George suggested of going up the river. They could have fresh air, exercise and peace. The hardwork would give them a good appetite and good sleep. Harris and Jerome seconded George’s ‘good idea’. The only one who was not fascinated by the idea was Montmorency. The dog thought the whole thing as “bally foolishness”. However, ‘the motion’ was carried three to one.
The humorous anecdote of the narrator’s Uncle Podger attempting to hang a picture is an example of Jerome’s refined but sharp humour coated with light sarcasm. Elucidate.
Describe the humorous anecdote of Uncle Podger in which he creates a lot of commotion and confusion in the house while attempting to hang a picture on the wall.
The humorous characters in ‘Three Men in a Boat’ are very real and alive. We definitely recognise them in someone that we know around us. We are lying if we don’t recognise a character like Uncle Podger in our family or neighbourhood. The narrator criticises Harris. He is ever ready to take the burden himself and then putting it on the backs of other people. Jerome finds Harris’s resemblance in the character of his Uncle Podger. Uncle Podger always creates a commotion up and down the house when he undertakes to do even a small job.
A picture had come from the frame-maker’s. It was to be put up at the wall. Aunt Podger asked what was to be done. Uncle Podger said, “Oh, you leave that to me. Don’t you, any of you, worry yourselves about that. I’ll do all that.” Then he would take off his coat and begin. He would send the girl for nails and one of the boys after her to tell the size. He would ask for hammer, the rule, the step-ladder and a kitchen-knife. Then he would shout for Tom to hand him up the picture.
Everyone would remain at the beck and call of Uncle Podger. Then he would ask for his coat only to find himself sitting dn it. And then he would lift up the picture and drop it. He would cut himself trying to save the glass. He would run round for his handkerchief which was in his own pocket. The whole family would stand round him in a semi-circle to help him. Two people would hold his chair, the third would help him up on it and the fourth would hand him a nail and the fifth, a hammer. The nail would be found at last but by that time he would have lost the hammer. In the confusion, the original number would be forgotten. And Uncle Podger would have to measure again. The ‘old fool’ would lean over the chair trying to reach a point beyond his reach. With the first blow of the hammer, he would smash his thumb and drop the hammer on somebody’s toes. Aunt Maria would go and spend a week with her mother the next time Uncle Podger was going to hammer a nail into the wall. About midnight, the picture would be up—‘very crooked and insecure’.
And Jerome thinks that ’Harris will just be the sort of man when he grows up’.
Describe the comic episode in which the narrator’s friend bought a couple of cheeses at Liverpool and handed them over to Jerome to take them to his home in London. Why did the narrator’s friend have to bury the cheeses on the beach?
Describe the anecdotes of the ripe cheeses with ‘a two hundred horse-power scent.’ Why did the narrator’s friend have to bury the foul smelling cheeses on the sea beach?
The narrator could have anything for lunch but ‘no cheese’. Cheese, like the paraffin oil ‘makes too much of itself. You smell only of cheese and nothing else. The narrator gives us an anecdote showing how a friend of his had to suffer. He did the mistake of buying ‘a couple of ripe two hundred horse-power scented cheeses’ at Liverpool.
Jerome’s friend requested him to take those cheese back with him to London. He didn’t think that the cheeses should be kept much longer. The narrator marched proudly up the platform with his cheeses. The train was crowded and he had to get into an already crowded carriage.
But soon the narrator realised the advantage of carrying those foul smelling cheeses. First of all, a respected married woman got up and went out. She couldn’t stand the strong smell of the cheeses. Three other passengers who could not bear the smell anymore also departed. The only one passenger left, got into another carriage at the earliest opportunity.
The narrator was left all alone in the compart-ment. From Euston, he took the cheeses down to his friend’s house. When his wife came into the room, she was soon offended by the smell of the cheeses. The narrator told how her husband was detained in Liverpool longer than expected. His friend’s wife asked him to keep the cheeses for him. The narrator showed his helplessness. She was greatly annoyed with the foul smell of the cheeses. She decided to take the children and go to a hotel until those cheeses were eaten. She declined to live any longer in the same house with them. She kept her word.
The hotel bill came to fifteen guineas. His friend found that the cheeses had cost him only eight-and-six pence a pound. His friend got rid of those cursed cheeses at last. He took them down to a sea-side town and buried them on the beach.
Describe the comic incident relating to Jerome and his friends at Waterloo Station. Why had they to slip half-a-crown into the hand of the engine-driver?
Describe how Jerome and his friends had to struggle to get into the 11.05 train to Kingston at Waterloo Station.
Jerome and his friend reached Waterloo at eleven. At the station they asked where the eleven five train started from. They didn’t get any help or information regarding the train. Of course, nobody knew it. Nobody at Waterloo Station did ever know anything about the trains. Nobody could tell them where a train was going to start from. Or if it did start, where that train was going to. The porter who carried their luggage made a guess that it would start from number two platform. They wanted to be sure and so they ‘discussed the question’ with another porter. The other porter disclosed them of having heard a ‘rumour’. The train would go from number one. The station-master had a different opinion over the matter. He was convinced that it would start from the local’.
At last, they decided to resolve the issue and went upstairs. They met the traffic superintendent there. He told them that he had just met a man. The man told him that he had ‘seen’ the train at number three platform. Then they went to number three platform. The authorities informed them that the train that was standing there was not the 11.05 train for Kingston. But still they couldn’t say anything with certainty.
Then came a disclosure from their porter. He expressed his opinion that he knew the train and it must be on the high-level platform. So they went to the high-level platform. They saw the engine driver and asked him if he was going to Kingston. He was not certain either. Suddenly, they slipped half-a-crown into the driver’s hand, and ‘begged him to be the 11.05 for Kingston. ’ And that ended their troubles. Thus they got to Kingston by the London and South-Western Railway. They learnt, afterwards, that the train they had come by was really the Exeter Mail.
How did Harris sing a ‘comic’ song and made an ass of himself before the audience without even realising or knowing the truth? ‘
How did Harris sing a ‘comic’ song and with what result?
Harris was definite that he could sing a comic song. But Harris’s friend who had heard him sing thought he couldn’t and never would be able to sing a comic song. Once Harris was at a party. He asked to sing. He told that he could only sing a comic song. He hostess requested Harris to sing one. Harris at once got up and made for the piano as if he were obliging the hostess and the audience present there. Then Harris began to sing a comic song.
Nobody looks for a good voice in a comic song. Nor do people expect correct phrasing or vocalisation. But the listeners do expect the words. Harris never remembered more than the first three lines of the first verse. He kept on repeating them until it was time to begin the choms. He broke off in the middle of a line and then suddenly recollected it. The nervous pianist tried to push on with Harris but soon realised that there was a mistake somewhere.
Actually, Harris had mixed up two songs. He thought he was singing ‘Trial by Jury’. But his friends reminded him in hushing tones that he was actually singing the ‘Admiral’s song’ from Pinafore. There was a general roar of laughter at Harris’s stupidity. But Harris took it as a compliment. The pianist was fed up and retired in the end. The new pianist came and Harris continued his song again.
Harris sang the first two lines over again. The listeners were surprised. A nervous old lady near the fire began to cry and had to be taken out. He urged the audience to join in and sing the chorus.
“And I diddle – diddle – diddle – diddle – de, ”
And Harris never thought or realised what an ass he was making of himself. He was ‘annoying’ a lot of people who had done him no harm. He honestly believed that he had given them a ‘treat’.
Describe how the German Professor Herr Slossenn Boschen’s one of the most tragic and pathetic songs was ridiculously applauded as a great ‘comic’ song by an ignorant audience. Also describe the shameful conduct and mischief of the two German students in this episode.
The narrator was a part of a ‘fashionable and highly cultured’ party. Two young students had just returned from Germany. They seemed restless and uncomfortable. They were out of place among them. ‘
Somebody recited a French poem after supper. And then those two German youngmen got up. They asked them if they had ever heard Herr Slossenn Boschen sing his great German comic song. He was there downstairs in the supper-room. His song was so funny that the German Emperor had to be carried off to bed after hearing it.
All yearned to hear Herr Slossenn Boschen. They went downstairs and fetched the Professor. He looked quite pleased to sing and sat down to the piano without a word. Herr Slossenn Boschen began to sing. The prelude did not suggest a comic song exactly.
The narrator didn’t understand German himself. Still he didn’t want the people there to show his ignorance. He kept his eyes fixed on the two German students. He followed their gestures and imitated their expressions. The others also did the same. The German Professor didn’t seem happy. When the audience laughed, the singer was highly surprised. As they continued to laugh, the singer’s surprise turned into annoyance and indignation. In the last verse, he threw such a wailing note of agony that could have brought tears into their eyes. There was a shriek of laughter.
Then Herr Slossenn Boschen got up and swore at them in German. He said he had never been so insulted in all his life. Later on, it appeared that the song was not a comic song at all. It was generally acknowledged to be one of the most tragic and pathetic songs in the German language. It was really a very trying and insulting situation for them. They looked round for the two young Germans who were responsible for all the mischief. They had already left the party after the end of the song.
Describe the funny incident in which two drunken men (George’s father and another man Joe) got into the same bed in the dark without knowing it at a country inn.
George narrated to Harris and Jerome a very funny incident that happened to his father once. He told them that once his father was travelling with another fellow through Wales. One night, they stopped at a little inn. George’s father and his friend were to sleep in the same room, but in different beds. They took a candle and went up. The candle went out. They had to undress and grope into bed in the dark. They thought that they were getting into separate beds. However, both of them climbed into the same bed without knowing it. One kept his head at the top of the bed. The other slept on the opposite side lying with his feet on the pillow. After a short silence, George’s father told Joe that there was a man in his bed. He had his feet on his pillow. It was an extraordinary thing, replied Joe. He was sure that there was a man in his bed too. George’s father asked what he was going to do with him. Joe replied that he was going to chuck him out. George’s father replied boldly that he himself was going to do the same thing.
Then, the most unexpected happened. There was a brief struggle in the darkness. It was followed by two heavy bumps on the floor. Joe asked George’s father if he caught hold of the man. “Well, to tell you the truth, my man’s chucked me out.” Joe replied, “So’s mine!”
Harris asked what was the name of the inn. George replied, “The Pig and Whistle”. Harris wondered precisely that very thing happened to his father once in a country inn. His father had often told him the tale. But Harris revealed that his father didn’t stay in the same inn.
What happened when once George got up very early in the morning without knowing that his watch that showed a quarter past eight had actually went wrong?
This anecdote of George is one of the series of hillarious digressions. It makes ‘Three Men in a boat’ a classic in English comic literature. George was lodging alone in the house of a lady named Mrs. Gippings. His watch went wrong one evening. It stopped at a quarter past eight. George didn’t know of it and forgot to wind it up before going to bed. It was a foggy winter day. It was still very dark when George woke up in the morning. He reached up and looked at his watch. It showed a quarter-past eight. He had to be in the city at nine. He flung the watch down and jumped out of his bed.
George rushed downstairs. It was all dark and silent. George cursed Mrs. Gippings of being careless and lazy. He put on his great coat, hat, took his umbrella and made for the door. He ran hard for a quarter of a mile. He noticed a very strange thing. There were so few people about and the shops were not yet open. Perhaps due to that veiy dark and foggy morning, people had not ventured to come out of their homes. He reached Holbom. Not a bus was about! There were three men in sight. One of them was a policeman. George looked at his watch. It showed five minutes to nine. The neighbouring clock struck for three times. George complained to the constable in an injured voice that the clock had only gone three. The constable looked at him in suspicion and advised him to go home quietly with his watch.
George went home again. But he couldn’t sleep. He lit the lamp and played himself a game of chess. At last, he put on his coat again and went out for a walk. It was horribly lonesome and dark. The policemen he met looked at him with suspicion and followed him. George began to feel as if he had really done something wrong. They took up a position opposite and watched the house. He was very nervous. He wrapped himself in his overcoat and sat injhe easy chair till Mrs. Gippings came down at half-past seven. Later on he realised that it was the mischief of his watch that had put him in such a funny situation.
Describe how George made the Irish stew. What was Montmorency’s contribution to the Irish stew?
George wanted to show Harris and Jerome what he could do in the way of cooking. He suggested that with the vegetables and the remains of the cold beef and ‘general odds and ends’ they could make an Irish stew. It appeared to be a fantastic idea. George gathered wood and made a fire. Harris and Jerome started peeling potatoes. Peeling of potatoes turned out to be a tough job. George came and realised that they were not peeling but wasting the potatoes. He asked them
to scrap them. So they scraped them and that was harder work than peeling. They struggled for 25 minutes and did only four potatoes. George wanted half-a-dozen or so more and put them in without peeling. They also put in a cabbage and about a half pack of peas. George stirred it all up. There was still a lot of room to spare in the pot. So they picked out all the odds and ends and the remnants and added them to the stew. There were half a pork pie and a little cold boiled bacon left. They put them all in. George found half a tin of potted salmon. He emptied that into the pot.
Montmorency had been showing a great interest in the proceedings throughout. He went away only to reappear in a few minutes. He was carrying a dead water-rat in his mouth. Montmorency evidently wished to present the dead water rat as his contribution to the dinner. The narrator couldn’t decide whether the dog acted in a sarcastic spirit or with a genuine desire to help them.
How did Harris attempt preparing scrambled eggs for breakfast and with what result?
Harris proposed that they should have scrambled eggs for breakfast. He offered to cook them himself. He claimed that he was specially good at doing scrambled eggs. He was quite famous for this speciality. People who had once tasted his scrambled egg would never care for any other food afterwards. They always pined for his exceptionally tasty scrambled eggs.
Harris’s description brought water to their mouths. They handed him out the stove and the frying pan and all the eggs that had not been smashed. And then they begged him to begin. He faced a lot of difficulty in keeping them off his trousers or preventing them from running up to his sleeve. At last, he was able to put some half-a-dozen eggs into the pan. Then he squatted down by the side of the stove and stirred them with a fork.
Preparing of scrambled eggs appeared to be quite a harassing job. Whenever Harris went near the pan, he burned himself. Then he would drop everything and dance round the stove. He would flicker his fingers about and curse the stove. George and Jerome looked round at him when he was performing this feat. They thought that it was a ‘necessary part of the culinary arrangements’.
Neither the narrator nor George knew what scrambled eggs were. Perhaps the preparation of that special dish required ‘dances and incantations’ for its proper cooking. Montmorency went round and put his nose over it once. He got a little burnt. He began dancing and cursing. It was really one of the most interesting and exciting operations they had ever witnessed.
The result was not altogether satisfactory. It was definitely not as good as Harris had anticipated. Six eggs had gone into the frying pan. And all that came out was a ‘teaspoonful of burnt and unappetizing looking mass’.
Describe the shameful conduct of a fox-terrier (dog) at the Haymarket Stores and the pandemonium he and other dogs caused there.
Jerome remembered a terrible encounter that a fox-terrier had with other dogs in the lobby of the Haymarket Stores. The narrator was at the Haymarket Stores one day. And all round about him were dogs. They were waiting for the return of their masters who were shopping inside. Among the dogs, there was a mastiff, two collies, one St. Bernard. A few New-foundlands, a French poodle, a bull-dog and a couple of Yorkshire types were also present there. All the dogs who were sitting there were ‘patient, good and thoughtful’.
Then a sweet young lady entered. She carried a meek-looking little fox-terrier with her. She chained up the little fox-terrier between the bull-dog and the poodle. The fox-terrier sat and looked around him for a minute.
He looked at the poodle on his left. Then without a word of warning or provocation, he bit that poodle near his foreleg. A cry of agony rang through that quiet lobby. The result of his first efforts encouraged the fox-terrier. He jumped over the poodle and vigorously attacked a coolie. The coolie woke up and began a fierce and noisy fight with the poodle. Then the fox-terrier came back to his place and caught the bull-dog by the ear and tried to throw him away. And then the bull-dog went for everything and attacked everything he could reach. All the other dogs in the place started fighting among themselves. The big dogs fought each other and the little dogs fought among themselves.
The whole lobby was a perfect pandemonium. The din was terrific. A crowd assembled outside in the Haymarket. Men came with poles and ropes and tried to separate the dogs. The police were sent for. And in the midst of that noise and confusion the sweet young lady returned. She put the fox-terrier into her arms, and kissed him. She cursed the other ‘nasty brutes of dogs’. She cursed the people at the stores for bringing such savage dogs to harass respectable people’s dogs. She could never know that her little fox-terrier was the root cause of all that mischief and trouble.
Describe Montmorency’s encounter with the black cat Tome. How did it affect the dog?
The only subject on which Jerome and the dog, Montmorency had a serious difference of opinions was cats. The narrator loved cats. Montmorency would pounce upon a cat the moment he saw it. The narrator didn’t blame Montmorency. As a rule the breed of fox-terriers is bom with such traits.
One day when Jerome was half-way up the High street, a cat darted out from one of the houses in front of them. The cat began to trot cross the road. Montmorency gave a cry of joy. The dog’s victim was a large black cat. It was a very unpleasant and ugly looking cat. It had lost half of its tail, one of its ears and a large part of its nose. The cat had a calm, contented air about it. Montmorency pounced upon the cat at the rate of 20 miles an hour. The cat didn’t hurry up. It didn’t show that its life was in danger. It turned and sat in the middle of the road. It looked at Montmorency with a gentle smile that said, “Yes, You want me?”
Montmorency looked at the cat. But there was something about the look of the black cat Tom that might have chilled the heart of the dog. He stopped abruptly and looked back at Tom.
Montmorency looked apologetically as if he were saying, “I’ve made a mistake Sorry, I disturbed you.” Then the cat rose and continued his trot. Montmorency hid his tale into his groove, came back to them and sat silently. Whenever Montmorency heard the word “Cats!”, he would shrink and look piteously’ as if to say, “Please don’t”.
Describe Montmorency’s fight with the tea-kettle. What happened in the end?
Throughout the trip, Montmorency had shown great curiosity concerning the tea-kettle. He would sit and watch it for a long time. He would watch the steam coming out of it with a puzzled expression. He would try and ‘rouse it every now and then by growling at it’. When the water boiled and the kettle began to splutter and steam, Montmorency regarded it as a challenge. He would be definitely in a mood to fight it. But every time the kettle escaped the dog’s fury. At the precise moment someone or the other would come and save the kettle before the dog could get at it.
Today he was in a furious mood. He was determined to be at the site when no one of them was present there. At the first sound the kettle made, he jumped up. He growled and advanced towards the kettle in a threatening attitude. It was a little kettle but was hot with boiling water and steam. It appeared to be spitting at him. “Ah! would ye!” challenged and growled Montmorency. All his teeth were out. He was determined to teach that ‘miserable, long-nose, dirty-looking scoundrel’ called the kettle. And he rushed at the poor kettle, and seized it by the spout. Then broke a blood-curdling cry breaking the stillness of the evening. Montmorency left the boat immediately. He had burnt himself. He went round the island at the rate of 35 miles an hour. He would stop every now and then to bury his nose in a bit of cool mud.
From that day Montmorency regarded the kettle ‘with a mixture of awe, suspicion and hate’. Whenever he saw the kettle, he would growl but would turn his back with his tail shut down.
Describe the various false stories that the narrator and George heard from many persons who claimed to have caught a huge trout lying in the glass case.
The most important trait that makes a good fisherman is his ability to tell lies. He must tell lies easily and without blushing. All fish stories are essentially based on lies. The narrator records a fish story. He and George had heard it from different mouths in a river-side inn.
The narrator and George came into the parlour and sat down. Their eyes rested upon a dusty glass case fixed above the chimney-piece. It contained a trout of monstrous size. They asked how much it weighed. The old man who was sitting there, replied eighteen pounds six ounces. He told them that he himself caught the huge trout 16 years ago. Then he went out and George and Jerome were left alone.
They were still looking at the fish in the glass case, when the local carrier came. George turned round to the carrier and talked about the fish. The man reminded them that they were strangers. Otherwise, they should have known that he had himself caught the fish. It was nearly five years ago that he caught that trout. The fish weighed twenty six pounds at that time. The carrier wished good night and went away.
Five minutes after, a third man came. He also described how he caught that huge trout early one morning. The fish was so heavy that it had broken his rod. It weighed 34 pounds. When he was gone, the landlord came into them. They told him the various stories and histories they h*d heard about the trout from different persons. The landlord was highly amused and they all laughed very heartily. And then he told them the real history of the fish. He had caught it himself when he was still a lad. It was really the most astonishing trout.
The description of the fish excited George so much that he climbed up on the back of a chair to get a better view of the trout. George lost his balance and he clutched wildly at the trout-case. Down came the case with a crash with George and the chair on top of it. The most incredible thing happened. The trout lay broken into a thousand pieces. Later on, it turned out that the trout was of Plaster-of-Paris. And as it is common in all fish stories, all those persons who claimed to have caught it, were only telling lies.
Describe the unceremonious homeward journey of the three men and their dog from Oxford in a steady drizzle. Describe the end of their journey.
They started from Oxford upon their homeward journey in the midst of a steady drizzle. It was a weary and foggy weather. The river looked like a neglected and haunted spirit. They sat round and talked. They talked about fevers, chills, lung diseases and bronchitis. Harris feared that it would be very awkward if one of them were taken seriously ill in the night. They were far away from a doctor. In a ‘weak moment’ the narrator suggested that George should get out his banjo and sing a comic song. As usual George obliged. Harris sobbed like a child and the dog howled continuously. They all agreed on one point. They decided to complete their journey to the bitter end. They felt that to give in to the weather would mean a bad defeat. But continuing further could mean risking their death. George told them that a train would leave Pangbourne after five.
Nobody spoke but only looked at one another. Twenty minutes later all the three men were seen creeping stealthily towards the railway station with their dog. They reached Paddington at seven and drove straight to a restaurant. Their fine bronzed faces and picturesque clothes attracted the attention of the people. The odour of Burgundy, the smell of French sauces and long loaves gave them comfort and satisfaction. Harris held a glass of wine. He toasted saying, “Well, we have had a pleasant trip, and my hearty thanks for it to old Father Thames” Montmorency gave a short bark showing his concurrence with the toast.