Class 10 Literature Reader

Dear Departed


This is an interesting drama about lack of respect for elderly; which is prevalent in our society. The drama starts with the news of death of the elderly grandfather. His daughter and son-in-law are trying to show that they are really sad by the demise of the old man. They inform their relatives; who are also daughter- and son-in-law couple.

While waiting for the relatives to arrive, they ask their daughter to show sadness in the way she behaves. They are also discussing about the potential material benefits which may come to them by virtue of the will of the old man. They are scheming to grab whatever articles are left in the name of property.

When the relatives arrive, they arrive in their fine attire meant for the occasion of mourning. Both the sisters and their husbands go on discussing about the prospects of sharing the spoils. Nobody cares to go upstairs to see the dead body.

While the routine squabbling for everyone’s share of pie is going on, the old man wakes up from his deep sleep and comes downstairs. Everybody is surprised and frightened. Gauging their lack of affection for him and greed for his property, the old man feels dejected. He announces that he is going to leave to marry a lady and is going to change his will. This announcement comes as a bolt from the blue for everyone.

Exercise Questions

Answer the following questions briefly

Question 1: How does Mrs. Slater plan to outshine the Jordans? What does it reveal about her character?

Answer: Mrs. Slater wants to dress properly for the occasion of mourning. Although they do not have new clothes but she wants that everyone in the family should be dressed better than the Jordans. This shows that Mrs. Slater is fond of pomp and show.

Question 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?

Answer: Mrs. Slater is overawed by the bargaining skills of Mrs. Jordan. She fears that Mrs. Jordan would try to grab everything. So she wants to shift the bureau before the Jordans arrive so that they may get the impression that the bureau was bought by the Slaters. Henry thinks it too mean to do that. He suggests to wait for the Jordans before deciding on equitable distribution of the inheritance.

Question 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?

Answer: As Mrs. Jordan says, they took their own time to get the best dresses for the occasion of mourning. It took a long time for them to decide on the fine costume. This shows that both the sisters try to outdo each other in terms of pomp and show.

Question 4: What does Mrs. Jordan describe as 'a fatal mistake'? What is the irony in the comment she makes on Mrs. Slater's defense?

Answer: When Mrs. Jordan discovers that no doctor was called to check on the old man, she terms it as a fatal mistake. After hearing the defense put forward by Mrs. Slater she talks about many cases in which a dead man has been brought back to life. The irony in her comment comes from the word ‘gone’ which has been used with extra stress. She probably uses this word sarcastically rather than with any sense of grief.

Question 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?

Answer: When Ben comes to know that the grandfather had paid the insurance premium then he says that it is a good thing he did. But when Victoria raises her doubts and they think that the grandfather may not have paid the insurance premium, then Ben’s opinion changes. Like all others, Ben was also thinking about the possible benefits from insurance claims. But when the hope for the money is shattered, Ben changes his opinion.

Question 6: What change does grandfather make in his new will? What effect does it have on his daughters?

Answer: The grandfather makes an important change in his new will. He makes the will that his property is going to be inherited by the person with whom he would be living at the time of his death. This changes the attitude of his daughters. The ladies who always wanted to avoid being with their father were now showing willingness to look after him. They were doing this out of greed and not out of affection.

Question 7: What are the three things that grandfather plans to do on Monday next?

Answer: The three things that the grandfather plans to do on Monday next are; meet his lawyer to change his will, pay his insurance premium and get married.