Who was to Blame ? - Four Levels and Question Answer

Who was to Blame ? Four Levels and Question Answer

Who was to Blame ? Four Levels and Question Answer

Four Levels of Who was to Blame ?
                      - Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)

The story 'Who was to Blame ?' was written by famous Russian writer Anton Chekhov. It reflects the futility of punishment in education and imparts a great lesson that no creature can be trained forcefully because learning is an autonomous activity.

The characters in the story are; Pyotr Demyanitch (narrator's uncle), a high school teacher and Praskovya, the cook and the narrator himself. Since the mice distressed the narrator's uncle by nibbling the top of his hat and the corner of his grammar book, he planned to kill them. He told Praskovya to bring a cat for this purpose but she said there was a kitten at home. Then Pyotr thought of training the kitten to catch rats from its childhood. He kept it under strict environment of rules and regulations and trained to jump catch its prey, use teeth and claws.

One day he brought a mouse trap so that he could trap the mice and assign the kitten to kill them. When a mouse was trapped, he took the Kitten near the mouse trap and instructed the kitten to catch the mouse but the kitten frightened and run to the door. Uncle shouted, seized him and pushed its nose against the bars of the trap. As soon as he lifted the door of the trap, the mouse came out and flew like an arrow under the sofa but the kitten hid himself under the table in terror. Seeing this, uncle became furious. So he dragged and shook the kitten in air.

Next day too, uncle commanded the kitten to catch the the mouse but this time also, the mouse ran away and the kitten hid under the sofa feeling fear. In the third attempt, the kitten shivered all over at the sight of the mouse trap. Uncle became very angry and he kicked and threw the kitten away.

One year passed. The thin, frail kitten had changed into a solid and sagacious tom cat. One day the narrator saw the cat in the backyard of his house. Suddenly there was a rustle and a rat appeared. The cat's hair stood by the sight. He arched his back, hissed and trembling all over, took a shameful flight. This sight made the narrator realize the wastage of his uncle's precious time that was spent on training the kitten. The narrator found himself on the feeling cat's  position. Like the cat, he was taught Latin by his uncle against his interest which he never learnt properly. Even now, he avoids learning it.

This humorous story presents us that teaching or training against his/her interest, readiness and without motivation can never be effective. It clearly shows that strict supervision and punishment do not facilitate learning and hence do not contribute in quality education.No one creature be trained forcefully. To learn anything, a person must be interested. Narrator of this story also couldn't learn Latin grammar as it was beyond his interest.

Although the story is very interesting to read and its moral lesson is very nice, some questions arise in my mind.
i) Why the writer’s uncle did not kill the mouse himself?
ii) How can a cat be afraid of a mouse?
iii) Even after a year, Why the cat was still afraid of a mouse ?
iv) How can the narrator's uncle recognize the cat even after it was changed into tom cat?

After reading this story I realized that no one can be trained forcefully.To learn anything person must be interested to learn. I also remembered my 10  years old nephew who was not ready to read A to Z. But I used to teach him forcefully. It was happened 3 years ago. But still he can not tell A to Z. He is interested in Nepali subject not in English.So he can tell Ka to Gya but can not tell A to Z which is beyond his interest.
Question Answer of Who was to Blame?

Q.1. Why was Pyotr Demyanitch angry with the kitten?

ANSWER : Pyotr Demyanitch was angry with the kitten because the kitten was not able to catch the mice even the mouse was trapped inside the mouse trap. Also, instead of catching mice, the kitten was afraid with mice.

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