The Man Who Knew Too Much: NCERT 9th Class CBSE English Course Communicative: Literature Reader Interact in English Chapter 03
Question – The Man Who Knew Too Much: With your partner, discuss and narrate an incident about a person who likes to show off. Check whether your classmates agree with you.
Answer: You can be at peace with yourself when you are true to yourself. Showing off doesn’t pay in the long run. It may impress some for some’ time but not all, all the time. My friend Ramesh falls in this category. Whenever you see him, you would always find him with half a dozen books. In the class, he interrupts the teachers for one or the other reason. If the teacher says that the World War II was fought in 1940s, Ramesh does not tolerate this kind of generalisation. He stands up and says, “Sir, to be exact from 1939 to 1945.” This lean and thin spectacled pantaloon had faced many interviews including the N.D.A. It was not the Board that interviewed him but it was Ramesh who interviewed the Board. The result was obvious. Everytime he got a rejection letter.
Question: Now read about the “Professor” who knew too much and find out if he knew enough!
Answer: Attempt yourself.
Question: The “Professor” knew too much. How did he prove himself? Fill up the space with suitable examples from the story, using the given clues:
- about muzzle velocity: _____
- after a thirty mile walk: _____
- his salute on payday: ______
- the loud sound of a high flying invisible aeroplane: _______
- about hand grenades: _______
- during cook house duties: _______
The ‘Professor’ certainly knew too much. He had everything on the tips of his fingers. He borrowed training manuals and read them all at night. He troubled instructors with questions. He always tried to show that all others, including his instructors, knew much less than him.
- about muzzle velocity: When a Sergeant defines muzzle velocity or the speed at which the bullet leaves the rifle, the Professor interrupts, “Two thousand, four hundred and forty feet per second”.
- after a thirty mile walk: After a thirty mile walk he was not only wonderfully tireless but would display his terrible heartiness. He would say, “What about a song, chaps?”
- his salute on payday: His salute on payday was a model to behold. When officers in sight he would swing his skinny arms marching like a Guardsman.
- the loud sound of a high flying invisible aeroplane: The ‘Professor’ could unmistakably identify it by the harsh engine note, due to the high tip speed of the airscrew.
- about hand grenades: The ‘Professor’ gave a very specific answer about the fragments of the outside of a grenade. He told, “Forty- Four”.
- during cook house duties: During cook house duties he protested against the unscientific and unhygienic method of peeling potatoes resulting in sheer waste of vitamin values.
Question: Based on your reading of the story, answer the following questions by choosing the correct options.
(a) Private Quelch was nick-named ‘Professor’ because of ____
- his appearance.
- his knowledge.
- his habit of reading.
- his habit of sermonising.
- (4.) his habit of sermonising.
(b) One could hammer nails into Corporal Turnbull without his noticing it because ____
- he was a strong and sturdy man.
- he was oblivious to his surroundings.
- he was a brave corporal.
- he was used to it.
- (1.) he was a strong and sturdy man.
(c) The author and his friend Trower fled from the scene as _____
- they had to catch a train.
- they could not stand Private Quelch exhibiting his knowledge.
- they felt they would have to lend a helping hand.
- they did not want to meet the cooks.
Answer – The Man Who Knew Too Much:
- (2.) they could not stand Private Quelch exhibiting his knowledge.
Question: Answer the following questions briefly:
- What is a ‘nickname’? Can you suggest another one for Private Quelch?
- Private Quelch looked like a ‘Professor’ when the author first met him at the training depot. Why?
- What does the dark, sun-dried appearance of the Sergeant suggest about him?
- How was Private Quelch’s knowledge exposed even further as the Sergeant’s classes went on?
- What did the Professor mean by “intelligent reading”?
- What were the Professor’s ambitions in the army?
- Did Private Quelch’s day to day practices take him closer towards his goal? How can you make out?
- Describe Corporal Turnbull.
- How did Private Quelch manage to anger the Corporal?
- Do you think Private Quelch learnt a lesson when he was chosen for cookhouse duties?
Give reasons for your answer.
Answer – The Man Who Knew Too Much:
- A ‘nickname’ is an informal, often humorous name given to a person. The name is connected with his real name, his personality or appearance or with something he has done. The nickname of Private Quelch was the ‘Professor’. Another nickname for him could be ‘Mr. Show Off’.
- Private Quelch looked like a ‘Professor’ when the author first met him at the training depot. He was lanky, stooping, frowning through his horn-rimmed spectacles. A five- minute-conversation would bring out his debating skills and abilities. All these traits are generally found in university professors.
- The Sergeant who was describing the mechanism of a service rifle to the soldiers was as dark and sun-dried as raisins. He was wearing North-West Frontier ribbons. The sun-dried appearance of the Sergeant suggested that he had served in British India. There, the scorching heat of the sun bake the skin and made it tanned like raisins.
- The Sergeant didn’t relish when Private Quelch interrupted him. He went on lecturing. When he had finished, he turned with his questions again and again to the Professor. But it only enhanced the Professor’s reputation and glory. He had all by heart, the parts of the rifle or its use and care. The Professor knew them all. His knowledge exposed even further as the Sergeant’s classes went on.
- The smart answers given by the Professor made the Sergeant ask if he had taken any training before. The Professor replied confidently, “No, Sergeant. It’s all a matter of intelligent reading.” The Professor meant that he had read everything thoroughly and with concentration.
- The Professor’s greatest ambition in the army was to get a commission. In pursuit of his ambition he worked hard reading the training manuals. He tried to impress the instructors and the senior officers by his knowledge, promptness and smartness. But he would go step by step. As a first step, he meant to get a stripe.
- Private Quelch’s day-to-day practices might have not won him a commission in the army but it was not the end for him. Whenever he spoke, the squad listened to him in a cowed, horrified kind of silence. Instead of being nominated for a commission, he was nominated for permanent cookhouse duties. But everybody believed that his nomination for the commission was just a matter of time.
- Corporal Turnbull was a smart youngman. But he was not a man to be fooled around or talked frivolously with. He had come from Dunkirk with all his equipment correct and accounted for. He was the hero of soldiers. They thought him so tough that they could hammer nails into him without his noticing them.
- Corporal Turnbull was explaining that the outside of a grenade was divided up into a large number of fragments. The Professor at once told that the correct number was forty four. The Corporal said nothing, but his brow tightened. He was the kind of man not to be trifled with. He didn’t like any interruption. He cut the Professor to size by sending him for permanent cookhouse duties.
- There is no indication that Private Quelch learnt any lesson when he was chosen for cookhouse duties. He didn’t stop exhibiting his knowledge. When he entered the kitchen he started finding fault with the working staff. He protested against the ‘unscientific’ and ‘unhygienic’ method of peeling potatoes. He considered it a ‘sheer waste of vitamin values’.
Question: At first, Private Quelch was a hero in the eyes of his fellow soldiers. Support this observation with suitable examples from the story in about 100 words.
Answer: At first, Private Quelch impressed all his fellow soldiers with his profound knowledge about everything under the sun. He was nicknamed as the ‘Professor’. The lanky, stooping and frowning ‘Professor’ was almost a hero in the eyes of his fellow soldiers. He had earned a certain respect from his colleagues. He wanted to get on in life. He had a brain that had a flair for details. He was always to the point and specific. In the very first lesson in musketry, he left his mark on the fellow soldiers. He had no liking for generalisation. When it came to telling the velocity at which the bullet leaves the rifle, the Professor was there to correct to the last digit. The Sergeant in the hope of revenge turned his questions again and again to the Professor. But the Professor was prompt in answering all the questions. Similarly, the Professor irritated Corporal Turnbull by interrupting and correcting him. He was sent for permanent cookhouse duties. Later on, his fellow soldiers couldn’t stand him for exhibiting his knowledge. They fled away whenever they saw him.
Question: Private Quelch knew ‘too much’. Give reasons to prove that he was unable to win the admiration of his superior officers or his colleagues in about 100 words.
Answer– The Man Who Knew Too Much: No doubt, Private Quelch or the Professor knew ‘too much’. He wds a lanky and stooping man frowning through his hornrimmed spectacles. He was aptly nicknamed die Professor. But Private Quelch’s habit of exhibiting his knowledge irritated his fellow- soldiers as well as his superior officers. Each time when one of his colleagues made a mistake, he would publicly correct him. He was always very condescending. He tried to show how superior he was to all of them. He badgered (he instructors with questions. When a Sergeant instructor described the muzzle velocity well over 2000 feet per second, the Professor corrected him. He replied 2440 feet per second. The irritated Sergeant in the hope of revenge, turned his questions again and again to the Professor. Corporal Turnbull cut the Professor to size for interrupting him. He snubbed Private Quelch by nominating him for permanent cookhouse duties. Even his colleagues fled when the Professor was nearby to avoid his sermonising.
Question: (a) Write down the positive and negative traits of Private Quelch’s character instances from the story.
|Positive traits||Instances from the story|
|Negative traits||Instances from the story|
(b) Now, share your notes with the class. Add details if you need to.
(c) Attempt a character sketch of Private Quelch using your notes in about 100 words.
|Positive traits||Instances from the story|
|(i) Knew ‘too much’||All doubts on the subject lost after five minutes’ conversation with him.|
|(ii) Very specific||When a Sergeant told the trainees that a bullet leaves the rifle at the speed of over two thousand feet per second, the Professor immediately interrupted him. He corrected him by saying, “Two thousand, four hundred and forty feet per second.”|
|(iii) Meant to get on||‘He was sure to get a commission, before long.’|
|(iv) Diligent||Borrowed training manuals and stayed up late at night reading them.|
|Negative traits||Instances from the story|
|(i) Disturbing||‘A voice interrupted.’ The Professor interrupted when a Sergeant was delivering his lesson.|
|(ii) Badgered the instructors||He irritated and badgered the instructors with questions.|
|(iii) Air of superiority||‘…………….. how condescending he was’.|
|(iv) Exhibitionism||His fellow soldiers fled to avoid his exhibitionism.|
(b) Attempt yourself.
(c) Character Sketch of Private Quelch
Private Quelch was a soldier without a rank. He was a tall and stooping man. He appeared frowning through horn-rimmed spectacles. His appearance, his reading habit and his deep knowledge earned him a nickname of the Professor.
Private Quelch meant to get on in life. He had brains. He was sure to get a commission before long. But as on first step, he meant to get a ‘ V’-shaped stripe. Private Quelch was not only ambitious but also very diligent. Even his fellow soldiers gave him credit for that. He borrowed training manuals and read late at nights. He had a flair for details and hated vague generalisations. He was always correct to the last digit.
The great defeat in Private Quelch was his sense of exhibitionism. He utilised his “intelligent reading” only to badger the instructors with questions. He irritated a Sergeant by his interruption during the lesson. In the hope of revenge, he turned with his questions again and again to the Professor. Similarly, he annoyed Corporal Turnbull hying to correct him publicly. He was punished and nominated for permanent cookhouse duties. Private Quelch was too showy. He always tried to show that he was much superior to all his fellow soldiers. He was always condescending. In the end his colleagues tried to avoid him. They feared his sermonising and fled when he was nearby.
Writing Task: The Man Who Knew Too Much
Question: You are the ‘Professor’ Write a diary entry after your first day at the cookhouse, describing the events that led to this assignment, also express your thoughts and feelings about the events of the day in about 175 words.
Answer – The Man Who Knew Too Much:
Army Training Depot, Liverpool.
20th July, 1948
Corporal Turnbull was certainly not fair to me today. Perhaps he had taken his revenge. What was my fault? I don’t like vague generalisations. When it came to counting the fragments of the outside of a grenade, he should have been very specific. ‘Large number’ was a vague explanation. I gave the answer that was correct to the last digit—44 segments. I was expecting a nomination for the commission. He shocked me when he nominated me for permanent cookhouse duties.
My first day at cookhouse was quite a disgusting one. There is no system there. I protested against the unscientific and unhygienic method of peeling potatoes. Quite ridiculous and disgusting! Who should tell these fools that they are only wasting vitamin values by doing so. I will have to educate that gang of louts. They think that I am showy. But what can I do? I love knowledge and love to show it. And this is my fault. I can’t help it.
Reference To Context: The Man Who Knew Too Much
Read the extracts given below and answer the questions that follow:
Question: “That’s right,” the Sergeant said without enthusiasm, and went on lecturing. When he had finished, he put questions to us; and, perhaps in the hope of revenge, he turned with his question again and again to the Professor. The only result was to enhance the Professor’s glory. (Pages 22-23)
- On which subject was the Sergeant giving lecture?
- Why did he put questions again and again to that Professor?
- Find a word in the passage similar in meaning to ‘zeal’.
Answer – The Man Who Knew Too Much:
- The Sergeant was giving lecture on musketry. .
- He put questions again and again to that Professor to take revenge.
Question: The Professor answered with a phrase that was to become familiar to all of us. “No, Sergeant. It’s all a matter of intelligent reading.” (Page 23)
- What was the name of the Professor?
- Why was he called the Professor?
- Write the noun form of ‘intelligent’.
Answer – The Man Who Knew Too Much:
- Private Quelch was the name of the Professor.
- He was a very knowledgeable person.
Question: In pursuit of his ambition he worked hard. We had to give him credit for that. He borrowed training manuals and stayed up late at nights reading them. He badgered the instructors with questions. (Page 23)
- What was his ambition?
- How did he trouble the instructors?
- Find a word in the extract opposite in meaning to ‘lent’,
- His ambition was to become an army officer.
- By asking so many questions to them he troubled and vexed the instructors.
Question: And day in and day out, he lectured to us in his droning, remorseless voice on every aspect of human knowledge. At first we had a certain respect for him, but soon we lived in terror of his approach. We tried to hit back at him with clumsy sarcasms and practical jokes. (Page 23)
- Why did they show respect to Private Quelch in the beginning?
- What made them stop giving respect to him?
- Find a word in the extract similar in meaning to ‘unrelenting’. ,
- They showed respect to Quelch in the eginning because he had deep knowledge in every field!
- His exhibition of knowledge made them stop giving respect to him.
Question: The Professor scarcely noticed; he was too busy working for his stripe. Each time one of us made a mistake the Professor would publicly correct him. Whenever one of us shone, the Professor outshone him. (Page 23)
- What did the Professor not notice?
- What did he do when any of his colleagues made a mistake?
- Explain: ‘the Professor outshone him’.
- The Professor did not notice sarcasms and practical jokes of his fellow soldiers.
- He publicly corrected them.
- He proved better than him.
Question: “for permanent cookhouse duties, I’ve decided that Private Quelch is just the man for the job.” Of course, it was a joke for days afterwards; a joke and joy to all of us. (Page 25)
- Who sent Quelch for cookhouse duties?
- ‘It was a joke’, for whom?
- It was a ‘joke and joy’ to all. Why?
- Corporal Turnbull sent Quelch for cook-house duties.
- It was a joke for Quelch’s colleagues.
- Quelch was snubbed publicly. It was a ‘joke and joy’ to all.
Question: “Really. I must protest against this abominably unscientific and unhygienic method of peeling potatoes. I need to only draw your attention to the sheer waste of vitamin values” We fled. (Page 25)
- Who is ‘I’ in the above lines?
- What was unscientific and unhygienic?
- Find a word in the extract similar in meaning to ‘hatefully’.
- Private Quelch
- The method of peeling potatoes was unscientific and unhygienic.
ABOUT THE STORY
‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’ brings home the idea that self-pride and overconfidence, together with tactlessness, often prove to be harmful. It depicts an encounter between the narrator and Private Quelch, a soldier at the training depot. For his too much sermonizing Private Quelch has come to be named ‘Professor’. He had great knowledge but he was in the habit of interrupting even his seniors. He interrupted his Sergeant about muzzle velocity. Once he interrupted and corrected Corporal Turnbull about the structure of a hand grenade. The Corporal being vindicative sent him to the kitchen on a permanent duty where he continued sermonizing.
- Private Quelch
Private Quelch or ‘Professor’ is a good-intentioned but tactless fellow. He is a storehouse of awesome knowledge which he continues to display. He will interrupt and correct even his seniors in public, most of whom feel irritated and humiliated. He has great ambitions regrading his career. He has passion to surpass others. He is innocent to a point of fault. His habit of interrupting others in a rude manner proves to be harmful. His dreams are shattered when he is sent to kitchen on permanent duty. Ironically, he continues sermonizing even in the kitchen.
REFERENCE TO CONTEXT QUESTIONS (SOLVED)
Read the given extracts and answer the questions that follow:
Question: The Sergeant asked, “You had any training before?”
The Professor answered with a phrase that was to become familiar to all of us. “No, Sergeant. It’s all a matter of intelligent reading.”
- Why did the Sergeant put this question?
- What was the Sergeant’s purpose in putting the Professor so many questions?
- Give the meaning of ‘intelligent reading’.
- The Sergeant put this question because the Professor had answered all the questions put to him by the Sergeant.
- The Sergeant put so many questions to belittle the Professor.
- It means ‘complete understanding of what is read’.
Question: Remember the first lesson we had in musketry. We stood in an attentive circle while a Sergeant, a man as dark and sun-dried as raisins, wearing North-West Frontier ribbons, described the mechanism of a service rifle.
- What is the meaning of musketry?
- Describe the Sergeant.
- What does the phrase ‘North-West Frontier Ribbons’ convey about the person mentioned? (CBSE 2014)
- It means the art of using musket, a type of gun.
- The Sergeant was a dark-complexioned, experienced soldier.
- It means that the Sergeant had won an honour fighting on the North-West Frontier.
Question: When, after a hard morning’s work cleaning out our hut, we listened in silence to the Orderly Officer’s praise, the Professor would break out with a ringing, dutifully beaming, “Thank you, sir!” And how superior, how condescending he was. It was always, “Let me show you, fellow,” or “No, you’ll ruin your rifle, that way, old man.”
- Give the meaning of the word ‘condescending’.
- Why did Private Quelch behave in this manner with his superiors?
- Which expression tells us that Private Quelch was always cheerful? (CBSE 2014)
- The word ‘condescending’ means behaving in a polite manner but showing as if one were obliging somebody.
- Private Quelch behaved in an over-confident manner because he wanted to show off his knowledge.
- The phrase is ‘break out with a ringing, dutifully beaming’.
Question: A voice interrupted, ‘Two thousand, four hundred and forty feet per second.’
- Who spoke this line and to whom?
- In which context did he speak?
- Give the meaning of the word ‘interrupted’.
- Private Quelch spoke this line to the Sergeant.
- He spoke when the Sergeant was telling about the speed of the bullet.
- It means ‘stopped someone to say or do something’.
Question: What could a gang of louts like us do with a man like that?
- Who utters these sentiments?
- Which ‘gang of louts’ is referred to here?
- What do you mean by ‘louts’?
Answer – The Man Who Knew Too Much:
- The narrator, one of the trainees, utters these sentiments.
- ‘The gang of louts’ refers to the group of trainees who are quite mischievous and aggressive.
- ‘those who behave rudely and aggressively’.
Question: He was our hero, and we used to tell each other that he was so tough that you could hammer nails into him without his noticing it.
- Who is ‘he’ referred to here?
- What kind of person was he?
- What does ‘tough’ mean?
- ‘He’ is Corporal Turnbull.
- He was a young man, very serious and tough-minded.
- ‘mentally strong’.
Question: The Corporal said nothing, but his brow tightened. He opened his mouth to resume.
- What made the Corporal feel irritated?
- What did he resume?
- Give the meaning of ‘resume’.
Answer – The Man Who Knew Too Much:
- Private Quelch’s interrupting his lecture made him feel irritated.
- He was lecturing to new recruits.
- ‘begin again’.
Question: I met Private Quelch at the training depot. A man is liable in his first week of army life-together with his uniform, rifle and equipment – a nickname.
- What was the nickname of Private Quelch?
- Why was he called ‘Professor’?
- Give the meaning of the word ‘liable’.
- The nickname of Private Quelch was ‘Professor’.
- He was called Professor because of his habit of sermonizing to one and all.
- ‘likely to have / get’.
Question: “Really. I must protest against this abominably unscientific and unhygienic method of peeling potatoes. I need to only draw your attention to the sheer waste of vitamin values”
- Who is ‘I’ here?
- Where is the speaker?
- What does he want to say? Why?
- T is here Private Quelch.
- Private Quelch, the speaker, is in the kitchen.
- He is trying to tell his co-workers the best way of peeling potatoes. He wants to show that he has better knowledge about the task than they do.
Question: “Thank you, Private Quelch. Fall in with the others now”.
- Who thanked Private Quelch?
- What task was entrusted to Private Quelch?
- What does ‘fall in’ mean?
Answer – The Man Who Knew Too Much:
- Corporal Turnbull thanked Private Quelch.
- Private Quelch was asked to lecture on the characteristics of the grenade.
- ‘form lines’.
Question: So this was the great moment.
- Why was that moment considered the great?
- What duty was assigned to Private Quelch?
- Use another word for ‘momen’.
- The ‘moment’ was great as the trainees thought that the Corporal was going to nominate one of them for a big job or for a stripe.
- Private Quelch was assigned kitchen duties permanently.
Question: Of course, it was a joke for days afterwards; a joke and joy to all of us.
- (a) What was the ‘joke’?
- (b) Why were the trainees happy?
- (c) What do you mean by ‘all of us’ here?
- The ‘joke’ was the assigning of kitchen duties to Private Quelch quite unexpectedly.
- The trainees were happy because Private Quelch would no longer be with them to browbeat them with his superior knowledge.
- ‘all trainees including the narrator’.
Question: He had brains. He was sure to get a commission, before long. As a first step, he meant to get a stripe.
- Who is ‘he’ referred to?
- What made him so confident?
- What do you mean by ‘stripe’?
- ‘He’ is referred to Private Quelch, ‘Professor’, who was one of the trainee soldiers.
- His knowledge and intelligence made him confident.
- ‘a V-shaped band to indicate the rank of a soldier’.
Question: “What about a song, chaps?” is not greeted politely at the end of thirty miles.
- Who would suggest singing a song?
- Why was this suggestion resented by his fellow trainees?
- What do you mean by ‘chaps’?
- Private Quelch would suggest singing a song.
- The suggestion was resented because all the trainees, except perhaps Quelch, were dead tired at the end of a long thirty-mile route march.
Question: We tried to hit back at him with clumsy sarcasms and practical jokes.
- Who is ‘him’ referred to here?
- Why was he ‘attacked’?
- Give the meaning of ‘sarcasms’.
- ‘Him’ is here referred to Private Quelch.
- He was ‘attacked’ for browbeating his fellow trainees with his vast knowledge,
- ‘remarks that are intended to hurt someone’.
Question: The Professor scarcely noticed; he was too busy working for his stripe.
- What did the Professor scarcely notice?
- What impression do you form of him?
- Give the meaning of ‘scarcely’.
- The Professor scarcely noticed the sarcasm in the remarks of his fellow trainees.
- He was simple-minded, though he sounded rude and aggressive.
Question: Each time one of us made a mistake the Professor would publicly correct him.
- Who was called the Professor?
- What tells you that he was a tactless fellow?
- Give the meaning of ‘publicly’.
- Private Quelch was called Professor in jest.
- His habit of correcting others in public showed that he was tactless.
- ‘when other people, especially strangers are present’.
Question: “Forty four”.
“What’s that?” The Corporal looked over his shoulder.
- Who spoke ‘forty four’? What did he mean?
- What was the Corporal’s reaction?
- What do you mean by ‘looked over’?
- Private Quelch spoke ‘forty four’. He meant to say that a grenade is divided into forty four fragments.
- The Corporal was baffled at this sudden, unexpected remark.
- ‘inspected / examined’.
Question: The Professor was speaking again. ‘Shouldn’t you have started off with five characteristics of the grenade? Our instructor at the other camp always used to, you know.’
- Who was being addressed to by the Professor?
- What was the most tactless remark he made?
- Give the meaning of ‘characteristics’.
- The Corporal was being addressed to by the Professor.
- The most tactless remark was: “Our instructor at the other camp always used to…”.
- ‘features / qualities’.
Question: The squad listened in a cowed, horrified kind of silence.
- What do you mean by ‘the squad’ here?
- What made them horrified and silent?
- Give the meaning of‘cowed’.
- A small group of trainee soldiers.
- They were horrified and silent at the humiliating comments made by the Professor for the Corporal.
SHORT ANSWER QUESTIONS – The Man Who Knew Too Much (SOLVED)
Answer each of the following questions in 30-40 words.
Question: Who was Private Quelch? Where did the narrator meet him?
Answer: Private Quelch was a trainee soldier. He was a bespectacled, lanky person. He was serious-minded person. He looked frowning all the time. He was in the bad habit of sermonising and philosophising. The narrator met him at his training depot as he himself was a trainee there.
Question: Why was Private Quelch labelled as the ‘Professor’? (CBSE 2014)
Answer: Private Quelch, a trainee soldier, was a bespectacled, serious-type of person. He had a great knowledge in his field. He was in the habit of sermonizing and finding fault with others. Se he was labelled as the Professor by his fellow trainees.
Question: Who is an Orderly Officer in lesson ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’? How did the Professor behave in front of him? (CBSE 2014)
Answer: An Orderly Officer in the lesson is an officer of the day. The Professor wanted to please him. So he cleaned his hut so thoroughly that the officer could not help praising him. In this task he outshone his fellow trainees.
Question: Describe Private Quelch. (CBSE 2014)
Answer: Private Quelch was a young trainee soldier. He was lanking, stooping and serious. He wore horn-rimmed spectacles. He had awesome knowledge in his field. Everyone was jealous of him. He earned the label of the Professor.
Question: Aircraft recognition was a matter of pride for the narrator and his friends in the lesson “The Man Who Knew Too Much”. How did the Professor humiliate them? (CBSE 2014)
Answer: One day the trainee fellows of the Professor, among whom was the narrator, heard the sound of an aircraft. The aircraft was not visible in the sun. The Professor at once said on hearing the drone of the plane that it was a North American Harvard Trainer, while no one could recognize the plane. It was something humiliating for the narrator and his friends.
Question: How did Private Quelch respond to mistakes made by his colleagues in the army training camp in the lesson ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’? (CBSE)
Answer: In the army training camp Private Quelch would at once respond to the mistakes made by his colleagues. He would intervene to show how the rifle is handled properly and used to fire a bullet. His habit of correcting others in public was not liked by anyone.
Question: What was Private Quelch’s attitude to his juniors? Give examples to support your answer. (CBSE)
Answer: Private Quelch’s superior attitude to his juniors was resented by one and all. Once he intervened to tell someone to handle the rifle properly. At the end of a long, tiring march he angered others by suggesting, “What about a song, chaps?”
Question: What was Private Quelch’s attitude to his seniors? Give examples to support your answer. (CBSE 2014)
Answer: Private Quelch’s attitude to his seniors was irritating. He interrupted the Sergeant and told him the exact speed of the bullet. Then he interrupted Corporal Turnbull to tell him that a grenade has exactly forty four fragments.
Question: What was Tumbull’s reaction to Private Quelch’s answer? (CBSE 2014)
Answer: Corporal Turnbull became angry on listening to Private Quelch’s answer. His brow tightened. He asked him to give a lecture on the grenade in place of him. In order to teach him a lesson, he nominated him for permanent cookhouse duties.
Question: What was the announcement made by Corporal Turnbull in the lesson The Man Who Knew Too Much’? Why did he make the announcement? (CBSE 2014)
Answer: Corporal Turnbull announced that he was nominating Private Quelch on permanent cookhouse duties. He made this announcement to take revenge on Private Quelch for humiliating and correcting him before others.
Question: Why was everybody happy when Private Quelch was shifted to the cookhouse? (CBSE 2014)
Answer: When Private Quelch was shifted to the cookhouse, everybody was happy. He had become a nuisance for them by finding faults with one and all in the public. Everyone felt that it was a good riddance.
Question: What was the Professor teaching his colleagues in the cookhouse? (CBSE 2014)
Answer: Even in the cookhouse, the Professor did not stop sermonizing. He told his colleagues how to peel potatoes to preserve their hygienic value. He protested against the way they were peeling potatoes.
Question: Which characteristics of Private Quelch do you like most? (CBSE 2014)
Answer: Private Quelch was not a narrow-minded or evil-minded person. We appreciate his simple-mindedness and his desire to be helpful to others. His hard working nature and intelligence are really appreciable.
Question: What made Private Quelch unpopular?
Answer: Private Quelch was in the habit of finding faults with others. He would flaunt his knowledge by correcting even his seniors in the public. This habit of his made him unpopular in the army camp.
Question: Narrate in your own words the incident that proved to be a turning point in Private Quelch’s life.
Answer: Private Quelch was hopeful of getting a commission soon. One day, as usual, he corrected his senior, Corporal Turnbull, by telling him the exact number of fragments a grenade has. This infuriated the Corporal who sent him on permanent cookhouse duties as punishment. This barred him from realizing his ambition.
Question: What did the Professor mean by “intelligent reading”?
Answer: By “intelligent reading” the Professor meant thorough understanding of what he read. He did not read anything casually. He made it a point to learn everything by heart.
Question – The Man Who Knew Too Much: What were the Professor’s ambitions in the army?
Answer: The Professor’s ambitions were to get a stripe and a commission in the army. He really worked hard for realizing these ambitions. Only his impractical and tactless approach took him away from his goal.
Question – The Man Who Knew Too Much: Did Private Quelch’s day to day practices take him closer towards his goal? How can you make out?
Answer: No, Private Quelch’s day to day practices did not take him closer towards his goal. He had antagonized everyone including his instructors by interrupting and correcting everyone publicly. The Corporal sent him to the kitchen for permanent cookhouse duties.
Question: Describe Corporal Turnbull.
Answer: Corporal Turnbull was a strong and sturdy man. He was boastful of his physical toughness. He had come back from Dunkirk. He was tough, serious and even revengeful. He did not take Private Quelch’s interruption lightly and took a sort of revenge on him by sending him to kitchen to do cooking duties.
Question: Do you think Private Quelch learnt a lesson when he was chosen for cookhouse duties? Give reasons for your answer.
Answer: Private Quelch did not learn any lesson. Even in the kitchen he continued with his interruptions and sermons. The author and his friend heard him protesting against the unscientific method of peeling potatoes, which was “a sheer waste of vitamin values.”
VALUE-BASED LONG ANSWER QUESTIONS (SOLVED)
Answer the following questions in 80-100 words each.
Question: ‘Too much knowledge is also a bane’. Comment on the statement with reference to Private Quelch’s character. (CBSE 2014)
Answer: Having too much knowledge is not a bane. In fact, each one of us should aim at getting as much knowledge as possible. A knowledgeable person, if he is wise also, is respected and honoured everywhere. It is the public show of knowledge which is bad. Sometimes it proves to be harmful, as in the case of Private Quelch. No one can dislike Private Quelch for his extraordinary knowledge. It is his tactless flaundering of knowledge that proves to be harmful to him. He is in the habit of correcting even his superiors in public. He angers the Sergeant for telling him the exact speed of the bullet while he was lecturing to the trainees. He infuriates Corporal Turnbull by correcting him and telling him to improve his lecture. Corporal Turnbull sends him on permanent cookhouse duties, jeopardizing his career.
Question: Self-promotion always brings resentment from others. Keeping the above statement in mind, comment on the character of Private Quelch. (CBSE 2014)
Answer: Self-promotion is now an accepted social value. Everyone, from a politician to an actor, is engaged in self-promotion. Watch any TV serial, you will come across examples of brazen self-promotion. But it is a fact that too much selfpromotion often boomrangs. This is what we see in the case of Private Quelch. Private Quelch or the ‘Professor’ has awesome knowledge about his field. He is in a hurry to impress others with his knowledge to realize his aim of getting commission in the army. So he tactlessly makes a show-off of his knowledge. He loses no opportunity to correct even his seniors in public. His fellow trainees begin to resent his attempts at self-promotion. He becomes a butt of their sarcasms and jokes. He tries to impress the Sergeant and the Corporal by interrupting and correcting them before others. Finally, his selfpromotion costs him dearly. He is sent on permanent cookhouse duties. He loses a golden chance to get commission in the army.
Question – The Man Who Knew Too Much: Private Quelch’s ambition had blinded him. Analyse Corporal’s reaction to his behaviour. (CBSE 2014)
Answer: It is good to have an ambition. There cannot be any progress without having an aim in life. Ho ever, one should never be blinded by ambition. One should never be in a hurry to achieve one’s aim. When one is in a hurry, one becomes tactless and irrational, as Private Quelch becomes. He wants to get commission in the army. He has acquired knowledge which is more than sufficient. He can easily achieve his aim. Yet he jeopardizes his prospects by his tactless behaviour. He annoys Corporal Turnbull by publicly correcting him. The Corporal takes a revenge on him by sending him on permanent cookhouse duties. His reaction is natural. But we feel that it is too severe and negative. He should have given Private Quelch some other less severe punishment.
Question: ‘Its all a matter of intelligent reading’, said Private Quelch. Evaluate the statement on the basis of Professor’s character. (CBSE 2014)
Answer – The Man Who Knew Too Much: Private Quelch made this remark when the Sergeant, impressed by his knowledge, asked him, “You had any training before?” The remark is quite tactless and reveals Professor’s self-pride and his tendency to show off. It, no doubt, annoys his senior. Even his juniors feel that he has crossed the limits by publicly correcting the Sergeant as to what the exact speed of the bullet is. Intelligent reading is good, but the way it is used matters a lot. Private Quelch uses his knowledge for self-promotion and, that too, tactlessly. No wonder, he gets his career jeopardized by infuriating Corporal Turnbull.
Question: Although the Professor was knowledgeable and willing to share his knowledge with his mates, they avoided crossing paths with him. Comment with reference to ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much.’ (CBSE 2014)
Answer: Knowledgeable persons are sometimes avoided by their friends and associates. It is so because no one wants to be overshadowed all the time by someone. Private Quelch or the Professor has acquired much knowledge about his field. When he begins to outdo his fellow trainees with his superior knowledge they begin to avoid him. One day at the end of a tiring, thirty mile route march he suggested with his horrible heartiness, “What about a song chaps?” No one greeted the suggestion. Day in and day out he began to lecture to them in his droning, remorseless voice on every aspect of human knowledge. Very soon his peers were in an awe of him. He was made a butt of sarcasms and jokes.
Question: What were the negative characteristics of Private Quelch’s character? Explain any four. (CBSE 2014)
Answer – The Man Who Knew Too Much: Private Quelch was a hardworking, simple-minded fellow. But he has some glaring negative personality traits. He was in the bad habit of showing off his knowledge. He would lose no opportunity to do so. Then he was quite tactless. He did not know that it was not good to interrupt one’s seniors in an effort to impress them. He was also ready to correct others in public. He was unaware that one feels embarrassed and humiliated if corrected before strangers. He was also a very condescending person. He would sometimes try to please his seniors by outshining others. All these character traits made him unpopular among both his seniors and juniors.
Question: What were the positive characteristics of Private Quelch’s character? Explain any four. (CBSE 2014)
Answer: Private Quelch was a hardworking fellow. He would spend a lot of time in reading books and manuals. He wanted to acquire as much knowledge as possible. Indeed, he was a highly knowledgeable person. He could recall the minor details of what he had read. Then he was quite helpful. Whenever he found someone doing something wrong, he extended his helping hand willingly. He seemed to be free from ill-will against anyone. He did not pay any attention to his fellow trainees’ sarcasms and jokes. He had no grudge even against Corporal Turnbull. He seemed to be happy and contented with his duties in the cookhouse.
Question: “As a punishment Quelch was put on kitchen duties.”
Imagine yourself as the author of the story “The Man Who Knew Too Much”. Write a letter to your friend explaining the reason for giving him such punishment. (CBSE 2012)
10 Green House
Mountain Top, MA
3rd March, 20…….
Dear George Hope you’re fine!
Thank you for reading my story. You have protested against the unjust punishment given to Private Quelch. You will agree with me that showing off one’s knowledge to belittle others in public is not a minor offence. It can infuriate anyone. Corporal Turnbull, if you remember, is a severe, hardy person.
How can he ignore anyone’s snub? He acts as per his character traits. If he does not punish the Professor he will be acting against his own nature. So he sends him to kitchen so that he dare not cross his path again. Private Quelch, according to me, deserves punishment, and that is the message of the story: don’t cross the limits of decency even if you’re right.
Hope you’ll agree with me. Or we can agree to disagree. What do you say?
Question – The Man Who Knew Too Much: ‘Each time one of us made a mistake the Professor would publicly correct him.’
The ‘Professor’ was in the habit of finding faults. He would criticize anyone in public. Do you approve or disapprove his behaviour? Should we make fun of others in public, even if they are wrong? What would be the consequences if we do so?
Answer: Private Quelch, called ‘Professor’ in jest, was in the habit of finding faults, sermonizing and publicly correcting others. He was not tactful, as he berated even his seniors in public, for which he had to suffer. He was sent on an unimportant duty in the kitchen.
We disapprove his behaviour. We should not berate anyone in public even if he is at fault or his knowledge is imperfect. We should particularly be careful while dealing with our superiors. Our superiors who can harm us will not tolerate any public criticism, however fair they may be.
If we persist in criticising and correcting others in public, we are likely to invite trouble. The person thus criticised will feel humiliated and react in some way or the other. He may assault us physically in anger. If in power, he may harm our career in some way. So, we should be tactful and practical. We should show off our knowledge only when it is safe and desirable to do so.
Question – The Man Who Knew Too Much: You are ‘Professor’. Write a diary entry after your first day at the cookhouse, describing the events that led to this assignment, also express your thoughts and feelings about the events of the day in about 150 words.
2nd January, 20………… , Wednesday
I am sad at what happened today. I am peeling potatoes in the cookhousesomething I had never dreamt of. I know it will be very difficult for me to get the active duties once again. Corporal Turnbull is really angry with me.
I don’t know what possessed me when I could not contain myself and interrupted the Corporal when he was explaining the structure of the grenade. When he asked me to give the lecture in his place, I did not realize its implications. In my zeal to prove myself I spoke on the subject well. My colleagues seemed to be overawed. They were silent and perhaps knew better than me what was in my store. The Corporal got really offended with my approach. He said nothing but sent me to the cookhouse.
I know it is a punishment duty. But what can I do? Even here when I find people doing something wrong, I fail to check myself and try to correct them. People call it ‘sermonizing’. Whatever it is, it is. I cannot overlook ignorance. Of course, I shall try to be a bit more rational and tactful in future.