Class 10 English

Two Gentlemen of Verona

A J Cronin

Summary: This story is about two little boys who overcome all the hardships to help their ailing sister. The two boys; live in a village in Italy. Their widower father had been killed during early years of the War. Their village suffered due to German occupation. Their house was turned into rubble because of incessant bombings during the War. The boys were finally left with their only beloved sister. The sister was suffering from tuberculosis. It is important to remember that tuberculosis was an incurable disease during those days. The boys migrate to a nearby city and begin doing petty jobs. They work as shoeshine boys, as local guide and don many hats while trying to earn money. They are working hard so that they can save enough money for treatment of their sister. But the boys; particularly the elder one; have lot of self respect and they do not want help from anyone; just out of pity. The narrator of the story is a traveler who happens to visit the city. He is impressed by all the hard work done by the boys. At the end of his stay in the city; the narrator wants to help the boys in whatever way it could be possible. Thus, the boys are driven by him to their village. The narrator discovers the whole story about the boys from the nurse who is taking care of the ailing sister. The narrator is deeply touched by the story. But as a mark of respect to the boys’ unflinching courage; he does not show that he knows their plight.

Multiple Choice Questions

The driver did not approve of the narrator buying fruit from the two boys because

  • the boys were untidy and poorly dressed
  • the strawberries were not fresh
  • they were asking for a heavy price
  • the driver did not approve of small boys who worked

    Answer: (a) the boys were untidy and poorly dressed

The narrator was most impressed by the boys'

  • desire to earn money
  • willingness to work
  • ability to perform many tasks
  • sense of fun

    Answer: (b) Willingness to work

Nicola was not pleased when Jacopo asked the narrator to drive them to Poleta as he

  • did not want a stranger to become involved with their plans
  • preferred going to Poleta by train so that he could enjoy the scenery
  • did not want to ask anyone for favours
  • did not want to take help from someone he did not know well

    Answer: (c) did not want to ask anyone for favours

The narrator did not go inside Lucia's room as

  • he did not want to intrude into their privacy
  • he thought that the boys would object
  • Lucia would not welcome a stranger
  • the boys would feel he was spying on them

    Answer: (a) he did not want to intrude into their privacy

The boys were the first to join the resistance movement against the Germans because

  • the Germans had hurt their sister
  • the Germans ruled the city
  • the Germans had ruined their family
  • the Germans had destroyed their home

    Answer: (c) the Germans had ruined their family

The author did not speak to the boys on their return journey because

  • he thought the boys would prefer to keep their secret
  • he thought the boys were ashamed of their sister's condition
  • he thought they wouldn't tell him the truth
  • he thought the boys might ask him for money for their sister

    Answer: (a) he thought the boys would prefer to keep their secret

What do you understand by the following statements?

  • "We do many things, sir," Nicola answered seriously. He glanced at us hopefully.

    Answer: Nicola meant that he was willing to do any job to earn money. He was hoping that the visitor would buy some fruits from him and may use his services as a guide.
  • He coloured deeply under his sunburn, then grew pale.

    Answer: The boy’s face turned red because of embarrassment. After a few moments, his face turned to normal colour.
  • He smiled uncomfortably. "Just plans, sir," he answered in a low voice.

    Answer: The boy did not want to reveal his personal problems to the visitor and wanted to avoid discussion on the topic.
  • Yet in both these boyish faces there was a seriousness which was far beyond their years.

    Answer: Both the boys appeared to be more mature than their age. Their faces showed steely resolve which is not common for boys of that age.

Answer the following questions briefly

Why didn't Luigi, the driver, approve of the two boys?

Answer: Luigi had a perception that shabbily dressed street urchins should not be believed. He was under impression that such boys usually try to dupe you by selling spurious items. That is why he did not approve of the two boys.

Why were the narrator and his companion impressed by the two boys?

Answer: After watching them for a few days, the narrator and his companion understood all the hard work which the boys were doing. Due to this, they were impressed by the two boys.

Why was the author surprised to see Nicola and Jacopo working as shoeshine boys?

Answer: The author was indeed surprised to see Nicola and Jacopo working as shoeshine boys. Earlier, he saw them; selling strawberries and never imagined that a strawberry seller would be working as shoeshine boys.

How were the boys useful to the author?

Answer: The boys were extremely helpful to the author in many ways. They became the author’s guide for the local tour. They worked errands for the author. They were willing to do various works.

Why were the boys in the deserted square at night? What character traits do they exhibit?

Answer: The boys were waiting for the last bus Padua. They were waiting for the bus so that they could sell the remaining newspaper they were left with.

The narrator asks the boys, "Must you work so hard? You both look rather tired." The boys reply, "We are not complaining, sir." What do you learn about the boys from their reply?

Answer: This statement from the boys is a great lesson for everyone. No matter how tough the path is, one should never complain and keep on doing what is the need of the hour. This gives us lesson about hard work and perseverance.

When the narrator asks the boys about their plans, they are evasive. Why don't they disclose their problems?

Answer: The boys do not want to become the subjects of unnecessary mercy. They do not want undue favours from anybody. They believe that they are working for their own need and nobody else should interfere in their affairs. That is why they did not disclose their problems to the author.

Discuss the following questions and write the answers in your notebook.

Appearances are deceptive. Discuss with reference to the two boys.

Answer: More often than not, it is true that appearances are deceptive. We usually tend to make our opinions about someone on the basis of appearance. A person in tattered clothes need not always be a crook. Similarly, there is no reason to always believe a nicely dressed person. The boys are shabbily dressed and appear like numerous street children who throng the streets even in India. We usually have certain prejudices about such children. But we should keep our prejudices aside and think various possible reasons which may have compelled those children in such a state. Given an opportunity, every child can become an honest and hard working individual.

Do you think the boys looked after Lucia willingly? Give reasons for your answer.

Answer: Lucia is more or less in a vegetative state and cannot even take care of herself. The boys are too young to take up the huge responsibility of taking care of Lucia. Nonetheless, the boys are working day in and day out to earn enough so that Lucia can get proper treatment. They could have easily disowned Lucia and remained in the city to pursue their own interests but they did not do that. Moreover, they also keep on visiting Lucia on regular intervals. All of this shows that the boys looked after Lucia willingly.

How does the story 'Two Gentlemen of Verona' promise hope for society?

Answer: This is a deeply engaging story. Although the characters and the plot appear quite simple but this story has deeper meanings. The story of the two boys shows that when all hope appears to be lost, there is always a flickering of light which promises towards a bright future. This is the hope which is keeping the boys always on their toes. The example of the author shows that there are good people in society who appreciate the good work done by a person in dire straits. The story of the nurse shows you will find some people in the society who can come out to help you in your darkest hour.

Look at the italic words in the following examples.

  • We bought their biggest basket, then set off toward town.
  • One night we came upon them in the windy and deserted square.
  • He bit his lip, then in a rather put out tone he said, 'Very well.'
  • I shook my head and turned away.

Here are a few more. Match the phrases to their meanings.

Phrase Meaning
Set upTo start/establish a company
Break downTo lose control of your feelings and start crying
Set offTo start a journey
Put up withTo tolerate a situation or a person
Put offTo postpone
Put onTo wear
Come inTo enter
Come acrossTo meet or find by chance
Come up againstTo be faced with or opposed by
Turn downTo refuse/reject
Turn inTo inform or deliver up
Turn toTo try to get help/advice/sympathy from someone

Note: The above table shows answers

Now use the phrases given above to complete the following sentences.

  • The landlord was suspicious of the two men staying in his flat so he called the police and ………………. them …………….

    Answer: turned down
  • Early in the morning we packed our bags and …………… for a hike over the mountain.

    Answer: Set off
  • Janvi ……………………. some photographs of her grandfather in the old trunk.

    Answer: Came up against
  • My father ……………….. his own business 10 years ago.

    Answer: Set up
  • The Bank …………………………….. Paul's request for a loan.

    Answer: Turned down
  • The Corporation's decision to reduce the leave of the employees ………………………… a lot of opposition.

    Answer: came up against

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