Friday, 5 February 2016

Workbook Answers/Solutions of A Collection of ICSE Poems and Short Stories, The Bet by - Anton Chekov

Workbook Solutions of The Bet by - Anton Chekov


I.

(i) The old banker hosted the party. The people who attended the party included journalists, intellectuals, a lawyer and a banker. The host was in a depressing and reminiscent mood.

 (ii) Capital punishment was the topic of discussion at the party. Life imprisonment was the alternative suggested in place of capital punishment.

 (iii) The majority of guests at the party were against giving death penalty as they considered it out of date, immoral and unsuitable for Christian states.

 (iv) The host’s view was that capital punishment was more moral than life imprisonment. He justified his view by stating that capital punishment kills a man at once, whereas life imprisonment kills a man slowly.

 (v) According to the young lawyer, both capital punishment and life sentence were immoral. But given a choice, he would go for life imprisonment because to live is better than not living at all. I am in/not in favor of capital punishment:
 For:
(a) Capital punishment achieves nothing but revenge.
(b) A criminal is a mentally sick person who must be cured of his ailment rather than be destroyed completely.
(c) Capital punishment does not reform the criminal but just eliminates him.
(d) Capital punishment does not act as a deterrent against crime. The claim that capital punishment reduces violent crime is inconclusive and certainly not proven.
Against:
(a) All humans have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. When someone willfully commits crimes against his fellow humans, he should be given capital punishment.
 (b) Lesser sentence or life imprisonment will remove the fear and deterrence instilled by capital punishment.
 (c) When the criminals will be out, they will be free to resume their nefarious activities and even take revenge against the law enforcing agencies or the relatives of the victims.


 II.

(i) The bet stipulated that if the lawyer would remain in solitary confinement for a period of fifteen years, the banker would pay him two million rubles. It was wild and senseless because by accepting it, the lawyer would lose his freedom and the best years of his life in confinement, just for the sake of getting two million rubles.

 (ii) It tells us that the banker was a mean and heartless fellow, who sought to ruin the youth and the life of the lawyer by setting inhuman and unreasonable conditions for the bet.

 (iii) The lawyer accepted the bet as a challenge and for the sake of getting two million rubles. The lawyer’s act of accepting such a bet shows him to be a daring but greedy fellow.

 (iv) The banker warned the lawyer to think again about it because by undertaking such a bet, he would lose the best years of his life in prison. He also told him that voluntary confinement is much more harder than being in compulsory confinement. He felt sorry for the lawyer because the latter would ruin his life by undertaking the bet.

 (v) The banker questioned himself about the object of the bet, the good involved in lawyers’ losing fifteen years of his life and his throwing away two million rubles and whether the bet can prove that the death penalty is better or worse than life imprisonment. The banker’s desire to prove his point that capital punishment is better than life imprisonment prompted him to risk two million rubles on a bet.

(vi) The banker cursed the bet he undertook fifteen years ago because his fortune had declined and he was himself in debt. By paying the lawyer, two million rubles, he would be ruined. The lawyer, on the other hand, decided to forfeit the bet he had undertaken fifteen years ago, to prove the futility and fleeting nature of worldly possessions.

 (vii) The bet between the lawyer and the banker was unreasonable and inhuman because it put at stake the freedom and youth of a man for fifteen long years, just to prove which of the two options — capital punishment or life imprisonment is better. The lawyer staked more because he staked his freedom and his youth by being in confinement for fifteen years, whereas the banker staked only money, which can be recovered, unlike youth and time lost, which can never be regained.




 III.

 (i) In the second year of his confinement, the prisoner did not play any music and no piano was heard. This was because he wanted to study only the classics.

 (ii) In the second year the prisoner asked for classics to read, whereas in the fifth year of his confinement, he altogether gave up reading books.

(iii) In the first year of his confinement, the prisoner refused to take wine because he believed that wine excites the desires and desires are the worst enemy of a prisoner. Besides, he felt that nothing could be more gloomy than drinking wine and not being able to meet anyone.

(iv) In the fifth year of his confinement, the prisoner indulged in music, eating, drinking, lying on his bed, frequently yawning, angrily talking to himself and writing at night and tearing up in the morning, all that he had written.

 (v) The prisoner used to tear up all that he had written at night, in the morning. He did so to spend time and avoid the bouts of depression. Besides, he was not interested in anything.

 (vi) The prisoner’s act of crying tells us that he was in a state of depression, restlessness and frustration.


IV.

(i) The first ‘them’ in the first line of the extract refers to the people who knew six languages in which the prisoner had written a letter to the banker. The prisoner wanted them to read the letter he had written to the banker.

 (ii) The prisoner took a great interest in learning languages is hinted from the fact that he procured six hundred volumes of books related to languages. The banker had the difficulty in getting the books which the prisoner wanted to become proficient in different languages.

 (iii) It means that although people belonging to different lands speak different languages, but their feelings and thoughts are the same.

(iv) The prisoner wanted the banker to fire a shot in the garden if the experts in different languages could not find a single mistake in the letter he had written in six languages. In this way, he would be able to prove himself that all the efforts he made in learning different languages were not a waste. The banker ordered two shots to be fired in the garden to recognize the proficiency the prisoner had acquired in different languages over the years.

 (v) It shows that prisoner was a seeker of knowledge, who wanted to understand the reality of life through books because in confinement, he could not gain it through life’s experiences.


V.

(i) The banker’s fortune declined because of wild speculation and gambling on the Stock Exchange. As a result of decline in his fortune, the banker who used to be a proud, fearless, self confident millionaire, became a banker of middling rank, fearing loss at every rise and fall in his investments.

(ii) The old man described the bet as ‘cursed’ because by following the conditions laid down in the bet, he would go bankrupt if had to pay two million rubles to the lawyer. The banker clutched his head, cursed the bet and the lawyer for the miserable condition in which he was.

(iii) The old man wished the prisoner to have died. He wished so because, he would be spared the payment of two million rubles to the prisoner, as stipulated in the bet.

(iv) The prisoner would take the money from the banker and use it to get married, enjoy life and gamble on the Stock Exchange.

(v) The old man said that he would look at the prisoner with envy because by paying two million rubles to the prisoner as stipulated in the bet, the old man would be reduced to the state of a pauper, whereas the prisoner would regain his freedom, marry and enjoy life. This shows that the banker was a jealous and selfish man, who could not stand the success of another person. Further, instead of improving himself, he blamed others for his downfall.

 (vi) The old man decided to unlock the garden house door, kill the prisoner and throw the blame on the watchman, to save himself from paying money to the prisoner. The banker’s resolve to kill the prisoner creates surprise in the story by arousing anxiety among the readers about the outcome of the banker’s resolve and its further consequences for both the banker and the prisoner.


VI.

 (i) Fifteen years of solitary confinement in the prison, made the prisoner calm and at peace within himself so that he could sit still, perhaps in a state of meditation. The prisoner did not respond at all to the banker’s tapping at the window because he was fast asleep.

 (ii) The banker was in a state of despair when he broke the seals off the door. He was in a state of despair because only a day was left for the final accounting of the stipulated fifteen years of the bet and he would have to pay two million rubles to the prisoner.

 (iii) The author wants to create suspense in the story by using expressions like ‘rusty’, ‘lock’, ‘grating sound’ and ‘creaking door’. These expressions hint at the passage of fifteen years as well as the miserable condition in which the prisoner might be.

 (iv) The banker expected to hear the footsteps of the prisoner because he thought that the latter would rush towards the door and give a cry of amazement on knowing that somebody had opened the door and he would be freed from the prison.

(v) The banker finally decided to enter the lodge in his garden, where the lawyer has been in captivity for the last fifteen years. He made up his mind to go inside the lodge to kill the prisoner and put to an end the bet and the issue of paying two million rubles to the prisoner.

 (vi) The banker thought that the prisoner would be dreaming about the two million rubles, he was likely to get after completing the stipulated time period of fifteen years in prison.

 (vii) The prisoner is to be pitied for the condition in which he landed himself for his greed for money. He staked his liberty and youth for fifteen years in return for two million rubles. He did realize the worthlessness of the materialistic world and the need for introspection, after fifteen years of being in solitary confinement. However, his efforts to learn and excel in many areas of achievements in the confinement are praiseworthy.


VII.

(i) The watchman of the lodge informed the banker about the disappearance of the prisoner from the lodge. The prisoner stayed for five hours less than fifteen years in confinement.

(ii) The prisoner renounced the two million rubles because fifteen years of his confinement in the prison, during which he moved from one enthusiasm to other like music, eating, drinking, sleeping, smoking and reading books made him realize that nothing endures in this world: death destroys everything and everyone. Therefore, this world is empty, illusory and doomed.

 (iii) The banker after reading the prisoner’s note underwent a transformation of heart. He wept and felt a great contempt for himself. When he reached home and tried to sleep, he could not do so because his tears and emotions kept him awake for hours.

 (iv) The banker kept the note in the safe to avoid the arousal of unnecessary suspicion among the people regarding the bet and the prisoner. This act of the banker suggests that he was a self-protective man, who does not want to land himself in any trouble because of the prisoner’s note.

 (v) At the end of the story, the prisoner realized the worthlessness of the material world and rejected all the pleasures he has experienced and renounced the two million rubles he could have won, as stipulated in the bet. The banker, after seeing the emaciated condition of the prisoner and reading his note, became remorseful for his inhuman bet and felt great contempt for himself.

 (vi) The Bet is an appropriate title for the story because:
 (a) the entire story revolves around the ‘bet’ between two people—a banker and a lawyer. The banker staked two million rubles, whereas the lawyer staked his freedom and his youth for fifteen long years in confinement.
 (b) symbolically, human life itself is a bet, where we stake everything to achieve material possessions, but realize their futility only after losing everything, i.e., life itself.



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