Class 10 English

The Frog and the Nightingale

Vikram Seth

Summary: Once a frog lived in a swamp. Every night, the frog used to croak from dusk to down continuously. His voice was so bad that all other creatures were highly disturbed but they had no choice. They had to put up with such a horrible singing every night. No insult or brickbats were enough to dampen the frog’s spirit and he continued to torture fellow creatures by his blaring voice in the name of singing.

On one night, a nightingale came from somewhere. The nightingale sat on a tree and sang beautiful melody. The frog was dumbstruck and kept gaping at the nightingale. All other creatures too admired the singing of the nightingale. When the song finished, every creature clapped and cheered and demanded a repeat performance. The nightingale had never experienced so much attention and applause. Hence, she sang throughout the night.


On the next night, the nightingale was preparing for her next performance. Then she heard the croaking of the frog. When she enquired with the frog; the frog said that he was the owner of the tree on which the nightingale was sitting. The frog also boasted that the whole swamp had huge fans of the great baritone voice of the frog. The frog also said that he used to write songs as well.

The nightingale thought that the frog must be a guru of music and hence wanted his opinion about her singing. The frog commented that her singing was okay but it needed more training. The nightingale was too pleased that such a great critic had spared some thought for her singing. The frog promised that he would provide proper training to the nightingale.

The nightingale was so much inspired by the frog’s pep talk that she sang even better. Her singing enthralled the audience. She became a sensation in no time and animals from faraway places began to come to listen to her songs. Thus, her live concert became an everyday affair. The frog used to do the headcount and began charging for her shows.

On one of the days, it was raining since morning. The nightingale said she was not comfortable to sing during rain. But the frog persisted that only regular training would help her become a real superstar. She had no other way than to follow the frog’s orders. Although the nightingale was shivering from cold weather but she continued practicing for many hours till her voice turned hoarse. By the time the dusk came, he voice became normal and she began her concert.

Thus, her concerts became a routine affair but gradually she sounded tired. The frog continued to keep pressurizing her for more practice so that he could earn even more money. Gradually, the audience started to become thin in attendance as her singing no more had the divinity as earlier. Her singing became more labored and monotonous. All the physical and mental torture by the frog took its toll on the nightingale. The frog was worried about falling sales and began rebuking her. On one of the nights, when she puffed her lungs to enthuse more energy into her singing; she burst up a vein and died. Thus, a great artist met her untimely demise and the whole swamp was once again left to tolerate horrible croaking of the frog in the name of singing.

The following is a summary of the poem but it is jumbled up. Write out the events in their correct order to form a continuous paragraph.

  • As a result, her voice lost its beauty, and the other creatures stopped coming to hear her sing.
  • Soon the nightingale became famous, and creatures from miles around came to hear her sing.
  • All the creatures in the bog cheered and clapped at her beautiful song.
  • He offered to train the nightingale, so that she could sing even more beautifully.
  • So the frog could sing unrivalled in the bog once more.
  • The next night the frog introduced himself.
  • The frog charged an admission fee, and earned a lot of money from these concerts.
  • A frog croaked all night in a bog, in an unpleasant voice.
  • But the frog made the nightingale rehearse continuously in the rain.
  • One night a nightingale began to sing in a melodious voice.
  • Finally the nightingale burst a vein and died.

Answer: A frog croaked all night in a bog, in an unpleasant voice. One night a nightingale began to sing in a melodious voice. All the creatures in the bog cheered and clapped at her beautiful song. The next night the frog introduced himself. He offered to train the nightingale, so that she could sing even more beautifully. Soon the nightingale became famous, and creatures from miles around came to hear her sing. The frog charged an admission fee, and earned a lot of money from these concerts. But the frog made the nightingale rehearse continuously in the rain. As a result, her voice lost its beauty, and the other creatures stopped coming to hear her sing. Finally the nightingale burst a vein and died. So the frog could sing unrivalled in the bog once more.

Multiple Choice Questions:

The frog's aim was to

  • make the nightingale a sensation
  • make the nightingale as good a singer as him
  • maintain his supremacy in the bog
  • make a lot of money

    Answer: (c) Maintain his supremacy in the bog

The animals reacted to the nightingale's song with

  • hatred
  • admiration
  • indifference
  • suggestions for improvement

    Answer: (b) Admiration

The nightingale accepted the frog's tutelage as she

  • was not confident of herself
  • wanted to become as good a singer as the frog
  • wanted to become a professional singer
  • was not a resident of Bingle Bog

    Answer: (a) Was not confident of herself

Read the stanza given below and complete the sentences by choosing the appropriate option.

Day by day the nightingale
Grew more sorrowful and pale.
Night on night her tired song
Zipped and trilled and bounced along,
Till the birds and beasts grew tired
At a voice so uninspired
And the ticket office gross
Crashed, and she grew more morose -
For her ears were now addicted
To applause quite unrestricted,
And to sing into the night
All alone gave no delight.

The nightingale was sorrowful and pale because

  • she had been practicing in the rain
  • she had been performing all night
  • she was losing confidence in herself
  • she was falling ill

    Answer: (b) She had been performing all night

The audience was tired of her song because

  • they had heard it many times
  • it had become mechanical
  • she looked tired
  • she had added trill to her song

    Answer: (b) It had become mechanical

She no longer enjoyed singing alone as

  • she wanted to sing only for titled crowd
  • she was now used to the appreciation she got
  • the frog was no longer with her
  • she had become proud of herself

    Answer: (b) She was now used to the appreciation for titled crowd

Answer the following questions briefly

How did the creatures of Bingle bog react to the nightingale's singing?

Answer: When the creatures of Bingle bog heard the nightingale for the first time, they were enthralled. They clapped like never before and gave their applause.

Which are the different ways in which the frog asserts his importance?

Answer: The frog tries various tricks to assert his importance. He first says that he is the owner of the sumac tree. Then he boasts about his baritone voice. He also says that he is a guru of music and is the only one who can properly train the nightingale to make her a super star.

Why is the frog's joy both sweet and bitter?

Answer: The frog finally succeeds in killing the competition to reclaim his monopoly over the swamp. In this way, his joy can be termed sweet. But the way he exploited an innocent creature shows the bitterness hidden underneath.

Why was the frog angry?

Answer: After the audiences turned in thin attendance, frog’s earnings dropped sharply. Hence, the frog was angry.

How did the frog become the unrivalled king of the bog again?

Answer: The nightingale was exhausted because of all the labour and agony she was going through. Finally, the nightingale died out of exhaustion. Thus, the frog became the unrivalled king of the bog again.

Bring out the irony in the frog's statement - 'Your song must be your own'.

Answer: The frog was a horrible singer yet he was boasting as if he was a maestro. On the other hand, the nightingale used to sing from her heart. Yet the frog tries to disapprove the singing of the nightingale. This shows the irony frog’s statement.

Do you think the end is justified?

Answer: This is indeed a sad end. That is how the bad world functions. Many innocent people often fall prey to scheming and heartless people who are ever ready to exploit the raw talent; only to dump them at their own convenience. If we see from real life perspective then the end is justified; otherwise it cannot be justified.

Do you think the nightingale is 'brainless'? Give reasons for your answer.

Answer: The nightingale cannot be termed as brainless because a brainless person cannot be a true artist. The nightingale is innocent and is not familiar with the bad world.

Inspite of having a melodious voice and being a crowd puller, the nightingale turns out to be a loser and dies. How far is she responsible for her own downfall?

Answer: The nightingale is also responsible for her downfall to a certain extent. She should not have easily believed on the frog. She should not have been carried away by all the applause which she got when she sang for the first time. Moreover, her poor sense of judgment led her to fall into the frog’s trap.

Do you agree with the Frog's inference of the Nightingale's character? Give reasons for your answer.

Answer: I do not agree with some of the comments made by the frog at the end. But some of the comments are true. To begin with; the nightingale was not brainless. But she indeed was stupid enough to be prone to influences. This is evident in the fact that the frog was easily able to influence her.




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