The Superannuated Man Questions and Answers
- Why did Lamb take a job at an early age? What does ‘deliverance’ signify?
Ans. Lamb took a job in the India House at Mincing Lane at an early age as he had to look after his insane sister who had stabbed their mother to death in a fit of insanity. Lamb did this to show his self sacrifice and generosity. By ‘deliverance’ Lamb means retirement from service. Lambs airs that one who has spent all his youth in drudging in some office with no holidays or no respite will be able to appreciate his sense of freedom.
- What is the implication of animal comparison?
Ans. Lamb, the essayist compares himself with wild animals in cages as he joined as a clerk in India House at Mincing Lane. He joined the service at the age of only 14. He was then a school boy who was to enjoy games and frequent vacations. He could feel himself like free wild animals. But, the preordained transition from free life to the life of an office employee was like putting a wild animal in a cage. He was barred from the sea of happiness he was enjoying then. This tragic fact is implied here.
- “But time partially reconciles us to anything”- Explain.
Ans. Everyman has to be adapted with the changed situation. This is the truth in life as time does not remain the same for all the time to anybody else. Lamb was a playful school boy with many holidays and frequent vacations when he joined at the counting office at Mincing Lane at the age of only 14. He had to work about 9 hours a day and with a few holidays per year. This is really shocking to any school boy, But as Fate proposed, he was reconciled to the life of drudgery with the passing of time because he had no other way to go forward. So time makes us reconcile to all odds in life.
- “Those eternal bells depress me.”- Explain.
Ans. Here, eternal bells refer to Church bells on Sundays which he wants to enjoy at the end of a week’s drudgery. But Lamb can’t enjoy the Sundays full to his heart. The usual happy mood of men is absent on Sundays due to their association to solemnity and religion. Moreover, the shop and other institutions that are open on other days of week are shut out on Sundays. All these make Lamb feel depressed and unhappy. Lamb wants it in one way but the rule proceeds in other way
- Give the picture of Sunday in Lamb’s essay, The Superannuated Man.
Ans. Lamb gives a beautiful pen picture of Sundays in his essay. He feels that Sundays are suitable for religious activities and not for recreation. It being Sunday, wears a gloomy dress devoid of any attraction. The noisy hubbub of the streets is off on Sundays. No ballad singer is seen to sing, roads are silent due to the absence of activities. Glittering exhibitions on shop windows are shut out. The Church bells depress Lamb heart too much. Truly speaking, the city takes a deserted outlook on Sundays.
- “Before I had a taste of it, was vanished”- explain.
Ans. Here, Lamb refers to his yearly summer vacation for a week.
Being the only long holiday in the year, he waited eagerly for its arrival. During these holidays, he was in the habit of visiting his native fields of Hertfordeshire. But this enjoyment was transitory. Before, he tasted properly that vacation it would be over. Yet, Lamb was haunted by the thought of the advent of that vacation. He thought that he would enjoy the vacation and would do everything as his mind demanded. But 7 days are nothing compared to his thought. Yet it is regarded as the only oasis in the desert of his hard, dry and tedious sea of hard working life.
- “I had grown to my desk………..had entered into my soul”-Explain.
Ans. In this extract, Lamb describes the 36 years of his service in India House at Mincing Lane. It rather produces an impact of humour and pathos in our mind. In fact, the drudgery in the counting house took away all his glories and enjoyments starting from childhood up to his youth. His works at the office desk was a part and parcel of his life. It seemed to Lamb that as if the wood of the desk entered into his heart Lamb says this because this duty though destroyed all his privileges in life, yet provided him with the chance to earn his livelihood.
- “I thought now my time is surely come.” What is the occasion of the speech?
Ans. This extract describes Lamb’s retirement from service. One week ago, one friend asked him about his health and Lamb openly admitted that he was not physically well and was thinking of retirement. Just after a week, he was asked to attend a meeting where he came after the day’s work. He clearly understood the cause of this invitation. He himself was responsible for losing his job and he also wanted this. This implication is implied here.
- “I was in the condition of a prisoner in the old Bastille”-What does the speaker mean to say here?
Ans. Bastille was the most notorious state prison where the prisoners were kept for life without any trial. When they were relieved after a long gap of time, they suffered from madness. This castle was destroyed by the people during the French Revolution in 1789. Lamb felt the same thing when he took his retirement. He served the counting house for 36 years at a stretch with very few holidays and almost no scope for enjoyment. Now, when he is a retired man he finds himself unable to enjoy any pleasure like those prisoners in the Bastille who after 40 years found their relief but went mad and failed to enjoy freedom.
- “From a poor man, in time I was suddenly lifted into a vast revenue.”- Explain the implication of extract.
Ans. When Lamb joined the counting house, he was a mere school boy of 14. Then, he was like a wild animal. He enjoyed the pleasures and happiness of London city and summer vacation. But suddenly he was forced to take the duty of a clerk to rescue the family. Then, for long 36 years he walked at the office almost without any happiness and with very few holidays. He wanted to go back to his school life but in vain. But after his retirement, he was ever free to do whatever he liked. He was rich with regard to time and he now could spend as much as wished. So there was a time when he hankered after freedom but now he has achieved timelessness or eternal time to enjoy. So, time is now like money which he can demand of his own as much as he wishes.
- ‘I have lost all distinction of season’—Explain.
Ans. When Lamb joined as an office clerk, he was in great need of vacation and happiness. But he could not restore those things for himself as fate was against him. But when he got his retirement, he found enough time at his own disposal. He came to a decision that he was not feeling then as he felt as a school boy. To him, the progress of time was now stopped. He had so much time to use that he was unable to make any distinction between the seasons. Even he forgot the days of the week and the months. But when he worked he counted the days to get a holiday. But now there is no need of this as in the remaining part of his life, there is nothing to disturb his happiness.
- “I no longer hunt after pleasure, I let it come to me”- Explain.
Ans. This line indicates the mental change that came upon Lamb after his retirement from service. When he became a clerk, he was a mere school boy of 14. But he had no time for recreation which he surely needed. Reading, walking, visiting friends or pictures were absent in his fate. But this picture was thoroughly changed after his retirement. Now, he had enough time to enjoy. So he didn’t want for any opportunity to come to him but accepted them as they came to him. The great, tragic aspect of Lamb’s life is drawn here.
- “My next ten years, if I stretch so far, will be as long as preceding thirty”-Explain.
Ans. Here Lamb compares his service period with the rest part of his life after retirement. It is true that if a man can use the time according his own sweet will he can call the time as his own. During his service time he had very little time for himself but now he enjoyed all the time for himself. He thinks that the time which he could use for himself in three days during his service is equal to one day’s time after retirement. So, if he lives another ten years more, naturally it will be equal to 30 years of his bygone service life.
- What did Lamb think after his retirement?
Ans. Though it was a matter of yesterday, Lamb thought that a long time had passed after his retirement. He thought that his colleagues with whom he had worked inseparably for 36 years were dead. He compared this feeling with that of a character on his friend’s death. That friend thought that his friend died thousand years ago though it was a matter of a few moments.
- What did Lamb do to avoid this feelings?
Ans. Just after his retirement, Lamb thought that he was separated from his office friends for long time. Even they were dead to him. He was in a grip of losing his friends for ever. To avoid this feeling, Lamb visited his friends once or twice in a week. But with his great dismay, he saw that the bond of friendship with them was off. In spite of their efforts to make the situation easy, they failed to remove the barrier. Lamb was unhappy and jealous of the persons who were working in his place and were using the office furniture which he had been using for 36 years.
- “Had I a little son, I would Christen him NOTHING TO-DO”- Explain.
Ans. This humorous line clearly transports us to a painful aspect of Lamb’s life. After his retirement when he looks back can recollect the days of drudgery in office where his friends are still working. He feels a sort of pleasure thinking their struggling life. He feels an antipathy for this life and wants to keep away all the men from it, who are dear to him. Though he was a bachelor for whole life, he thinks that he will persuade his son to stay outside this drudgery. He will be an embodiment of standard freedom. Therefore he will name his son NOTHING-TO-DO.”
- “Opus operatum est. I have done all that I came into this world to do. I have worked taskwork, and have the rest of the day to myself.”- Explain.
Ans. The given extract is a Latin expression which means my allotted work is done. Every life on this earth has some duties to perform. Lamb also started his role as a player as the age of 14 and completed it at 50. Now he had nothing more to do. “The rest of the day” indicates the remaining years in Lamb’s life. Actually, he is here reminded of death, the inevitable truth of life. He was eagerly awaiting death. He is ready for taking the super-annuation from this life also. It very truthfully brings out the pathos in Lamb’s life, which is unreadable to us.
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