Class 10 English

Mrs Packletide's Tiger

Saki (Hector Hugh Munro)

Summary: This story is written by Saki (Hector Hugh Munro). This story is set up in the colonial period in India. The main topic of this story is ‘tiger hunt’ but the tiger hunt has been used to satirically depict the sense of grandeur which the British people had while their stay in India. This story is about one Mrs. Packletide who wants to kill a tiger so that she can tell her tales of bravery and glory. She also plans to display her prized possessions; like tiger skin and items made from various parts of a tiger. She has an experienced assistant who has worked on similar assignments in the past. She also has villagers who are willing to work in the hope of getting paid in cash. The story shows various details of all the preparations which used to go on before the actual hunting. The author tries to make a fun at selection of an old tiger which has lost its vigour to hunt a suitable prey. The story ends with an irony because the bullet hits the goat; instead of hitting the tiger. But the tiger dies in spite of not being hit by the bullet. But Mrs. Packletide plans to come up with suitable stories of her gallantry. Her assistant Miss Mebbin blackmails her and extracts enough money to buy a nice cottage. Loona Bimberton is does not appear to be happy at Mrs. Packletide’s achievement.

Answer the following questions in your own words:

Why did Mrs. Packletide wish to kill a tiger?

Answer: Loona Bimberton became the subject of too much attention and became quite famous because of her exploits of tiger hunt. Mrs. Packletide did not want to be left behind. She wanted to outshine Loona Bimberton. Hence, she wished to kill a tiger.

What made her decide to give a party in Loona Bimberton's honour? What did she intend to give Loona on her birthday?

Answer: She wanted to give an impression that the party would be in Loona Bimberton’s honour. But she wanted to show that she was as good as; if not better than Loona Bimberton. She wanted to make a statement of style and achievement by throwing the party so that she could tell the tales of her exploits. She intended to gift a tiger-claw brooch to Loona on her birthday.

How was the tiger shooting arranged? What kind of a tiger was chosen for the purpose?

Answer: She offered to pay Rs. 1000 for an opportunity to shoot a tiger without taking too much risk. For the purpose; and old tiger was chosen. The tiger was too old to catch a prey and hence often sneaked into nearby villages to catch some domestic animals to eat. Mrs. Pickletide was sure that the old tiger would not be much of a threat and it would be easier to kill. She did not want to take risks involved in hunting a ferocious tiger.

In what way did the villagers help Mrs. Packletide shoot the tiger?

Answer: The villagers were motivated by the prospect of earning a thousand rupees and hence many of them quickly engaged into various support activities. Children were given the duty of spotting the tiger. Women began to talk in hushed tones so as not to disturb the tiger. A goat was arranged to be used as bait for the tiger. A platform was made at a suitable place.

Who was Miss Mebbin? Was she really devoted to Mrs. Packletide? How did she behave during the tiger shooting?

Answer: Miss Mebbin appears to be a professional because she is offering her services in lieu of money. She tries to show too much eagerness while on job. She is a miser and tries to save every single penny. She plays it safe while investing her hard earned money; as shown by the fact that she bought a cottage.

Mrs. Packletide was a good shot. Discuss.

Answer: Mrs. Packletide was not a good shot. When she aimed and shot for the tiger, the bullet hit the goat instead. The poor tiger probably died because shock from hearing the gunshot. Mrs. Packletide does not appear to be a hunter. She went on for the hunting spree only out jealousy and a sense of competition.

What comment did Miss Mebbin make after Mrs Packletide had fired the shot? Why did Miss Mebbin make this comment? How did Mrs Packletide react to this comment?

Answer: Miss Mebbin pointed that the goat had been killed by the bullet and the bullet never hit the tiger. Miss Mebbin; being a miser; probably was worried for the loss of money on the goat. Had it been alive; she could have helped in saving some money. Mrs. Packletide did not want the outside world to know the truth. She wanted to project that it was she who had killed the tiger.

How did the villagers react to the tiger's death?

Answer: The villagers were worried that they might lose the prospect of earning a thousand rupees. Hence, they made a story of Mrs. Packletide killing the tiger.

Do you think Mrs. Packletide was able to achieve her heart's desire? Give reasons for your answer.

Answer: All Mrs. Packletide wanted to be a proud owner of tiger’s skin. She never wanted to take the risks involved during real hunting of a tiger. She became a proud owner of tiger’s skin and with villagers’ help; she was able to project the image of a brave hunter. It can be said that Mrs. Packletide was able to achieve her heart’s desire.

How did Miss Mebbin manage to get her week-end cottage? Why did she plant so many tiger lilies in her garden?

Answer: Mrs. Packletide was afraid that Miss Mebbin would disclose the real story. Miss Mebbin played on that fear. Mrs. Packletide bribed Miss Mebbin to keep her mouth shut. Thus, Miss Mebbin was able to get the required money to buy the cottage. She could buy that cottage because of tiger. After that, she must have developed some respect for tigers. Hence, she planted tiger lilies in her garden.

"The incidental expenses are so heavy," she confides to inquiring friends. Who is the speaker? What is she referring to here?

Answer: Miss Mebbin is the speaker in this case. In this case, she is referring to the price she had to pay; in terms of telling a lie and suppressing the truth.

Discuss the following questions in detail and write the answers in your notebooks:

Do you think the tiger shooting organized by the villagers was a serious affair? Give reasons for your answer.

Answer: Almost all the villagers were involved in organizing the shooting of tiger. For them, it was one of the rare opportunities to earn a handsome amount of money. A thousand rupees in those days must have been a huge amount; even if we take per head share in a small village. Right from children to ladies; everyone was doing his/her bit while organizing the tiger hunt. All of this shows the seriousness of the villagers.

Do you think the writer is trying to make fun of the main characters in the story i.e. Mrs. Packletide, Miss Mebbin and Loona Bimberton? Pick out instances from the story that point to this fact.

Answer: The whole story is satirical and fun has been made on each character. For example; the story begins with the explanation of Mrs. Packletide’s wish to kill a tiger. It says that she did not wish to kill the tiger to save the people from those ferocious animals. She did not wish to attain nirvana by killing a tiger. Similarly; the story tells us how Loona Bimberton talked of nothing else but tigers during her flight. The story also tells about unique character of Miss Mebbin and how did she manage to get the money to buy a cottage.

A person who is vain is full of self importance and can only think of himself/herself and can go to great lengths to prove his/her superiority. Do you think Mrs Packletide is vain? Give reasons in support of your answer.

Answer: Mrs. Packletide does not pursue the hobby of hunting but she wants to kill a tiger so that she could boast of her exploits. She is careful enough to choose an old and weak tiger to avoid the risks involved in hunting. She was unable to hit the tiger but wants others to believe that it was she who killed the tiger. These instances show that Mrs. Packletide is vain indeed.

Sometimes writers highlight certain negative aspects in society or human beings by making fun of it. This is called satire. In your groups discuss whether you would classify this story as a satire. Give reasons to support your answer.

Answer: In this story, the author has highlighted two different issues. One of the issues is the unhealthy practice of killing wild animals. But it was a rage among the rich and the influential during pre-independence days. Another issue is people’s tendency to show off. These are serious issues but the story can become boring if such issues are dealt with in a serious tone. By using satire, the author can easily bring home the point and that is what has been used in this story.

How does the writer create humor in this story

Answer: The writer uses various tools to create humor in this story. The writer has used grandiloquent language to explain some simple issues. Let us consider the following sentence:

“Village could boast of being the favoured rendezvous of an animal of respectable antecedents, which had been driven by the increasing infirmities of age to abandon game-killing and confine its appetite to the smaller domestic animals.”

This could have been written in much simpler language as follows:

A tiger had become too old to catch prey. Hence, it used to sneak into a village to capture some domestic animals for food.

But the simple sentence may not have given the satirical tone which the author wanted.

Choose extracts from the story that illustrate the character of the people listed in the table given below. There are some words given to help you. You may add words of your own. One has been done as an example: vain jealous competitive shrewd manipulative stingy materialistic spiteful
CharactersExtracts from story What this tells us about the character
Mrs. Packletide (i) The compelling motive for her sudden Competitive deviation towards the footsteps of Nimrod was the fact that Loona Bimberton had recently been carried eleven miles in an aeroplane by an Algerian aviator, and talked of nothing else; only a personally procured tiger-skin and a heavy harvest of Press photographs could successfully counter that sort of thing Competitive
ii) Mrs. Packletide had offered a thousand rupees for the opportunity of shooting a tiger without over-much risk or exertion, Shrewd
(iii) Mrs. Packletide faced the cameras with a light heart, and her pictured fame reached from the pages of the Texas Weekly Snapshot to the illustrated Monday supplement of the Novoe Vremya. Manipulative
Louisa Mebbin (i) "If it's an old tiger I think you ought to get it cheaper. A thousand rupees is a lot of money." Materialistic
(ii) Louisa Mebbin adopted a protective elder-sister attitude towards money in general, irrespective of nationality or denomination Stingy
(iii) "How amused every one would be if they knew what really happened," said Louisa Mebbin a few days after the ball. Manipulative
(iv) Louisa Mebbin's pretty week-end cottage, christened by her "Les Fauves," and gay in summer-time with its garden borders of tiger-lilies, is the wonder and admiration of her friends Materialistic
Loona Bimberton (i) As for Loona Bimberton, she refused to look at an illustrated paper for weeks, and her letter of thanks for the gift of a tiger-claw brooch was a model of repressed emotions Jealous
(ii) there are limits beyond which repressed emotions become dangerous. Jealous
There are many amusing lines in the story. Here are a few of them. Rewrite each one in ordinary prose so that the meaning is retained. One has been done for you as an example:

It was Mrs. Packletide's pleasure and intention that she should shoot a tiger.

Answer: Mrs. Packletide wanted to shoot a tiger

Mrs. Packletide had already arranged in her mind the lunch she would give at her house in Curzon Street, ostensibly in Loona Bimberton's honour, with a tiger-skin rug occupying most of the foreground and all of the conversation.

Answer: Mrs. Packletide had planned in advance about the grand celebration.

Mothers carrying their babies home through the jungle after the day's work in the fields hushed their singing lest they might curtail the restful sleep of the venerable herd-robber.

Answer: Women of the village talked in hushed tones so as not to disturb the tiger.

Louisa Mebbin adopted a protective elder-sister attitude towards money in general, irrespective of nationality or denomination

Answer: Louisa Mebbin was too possessive of money; irrespective of currency or value.

Evidently the wrong animal had been hit, and the beast of prey had succumbed to heart-failure, caused by the sudden report of the rifle, accelerated by senile decay

Answer: The bullet hit the goat but the ageing tiger died because of shock from the gunshot.

As for Loona Bimberton, she refused to look at an illustrated paper for weeks, and her letter of thanks for the gift of a tiger-claw brooch was a model of repressed emotions

Answer: Loona Bimberton avoided to read newspaper for weeks and wrote a very cold letter of thanks.

Solutions for class 10 English Literature Reader are available in e-book format on Amazon. This e-book contains all the texts and is free of advertisements. You can buy it by clicking on this link.