Short Answer Type Questions
Q1. From where did the peddler get the idea of the world being a rattrap?
Ans. The peddler went around selling rattraps that he had made himself from wire he had begged or stolen. One day the thought occurred to him that the world was very much like a rattrap which offered men shelter, food, clothing and other comforts for entrapping them.
Q2. What was the peddler’s philosophy about rattrap? Why did it amuse him?
Ans. The peddler’s philosophy was that the whole world is a rattrap with several baits in it. As one is tempted to bait and touches it, the door is closed and everything comes to an end like in a rattrap. The thought amused him because he has so far been selling rattrap; but not fallen in this world’s rattrap.
Q3. What kind of host was the old crofter?
Ans. The old crofter was an affectionate and generous host. He warmly welcomed the peddler as he got someone to talk to in his loneliness. He served him porridge for his supper and offered a pipe with tobacco roll to smoke and finally played with him Mjolis till bedtime.
Q4. The reader’s sympathy is with the peddler right from the beginning? Is it justified? Give reasons.
Ans. The rattrap peddler draws reader’s sympathy because of his poverty. The author’s description of his clothes and appearance like –“his clothes are in rags, his cheeks are sunken and hunger gleams his eyes” and his resorting to begging and petty thievery to keep his body and soul together evoke reader’s sympathy.
Q5. Who do you think was at fault-the ironmaster or the peddler? Give two reasons.
Ans. I think the ironmaster was at fault because it was he who invited the tramp to his house for the Christmas thinking him to be his old acquaintance; but on knowing he was not his acquaintance, he could not oppose his daughter’s decision to offer him Christmas cheer.
Q6. Why was the peddler grateful to the ironmaster and his daughter?
Ans. The peddler was grateful to the ironmaster and his daughter as they empowered him to release himself from the world’s rattrap through their selfless hospitality, love, sympathy, compassion, and understanding.
Q7. Did the peddler expect the kind of hospitality that he received from the crofter?
Ans. The peddler was surprised that the crofter not only invited him into his cottage but also shared his porridge with him. He also talked to him, played cards with him and shared confidences with him.
Q8. Why was the crofter so talkative and friendly with the peddler?
Ans. The crofter was alone, and had no wife or child and was perhaps lonely. Therefore he became happy to get someone to talk to in his loneliness.
Q9. Why did he show the thirty kroner to the peddler?
Ans. The crofter told the peddler that he was comfortable and had earned a reasonable sum of money from his extraordinary cow that gave a lot of milk and he had earned thirty kroner last month. The peddler expressed disbelief and thus the crofter showed him the money.
Q10. Did the peddler respect the confidence reposed in him by the crofter?
Ans. The peddler abused the trust reposed in him by the crofter because as soon as he could, he came back, opened the window of the cottage and stole the crofter’s hard-earned money.
Q11. What made the peddler think that he had indeed fallen into a rattrap?
Ans. Having stolen the crofter’s money, the peddler was forced to stay off the road and walk in the forest. When night fell, he could not see where he was headed to and seemed to be walking round and round the same spot. He was tired and in his frustration felt that he was caught in the trap.
Q12. Why did the ironmaster speak kindly to the peddler and invite him home?
Ans. The ironmaster mistook the peddler to be an old acquaintance, Nils Olof, a comrade from the regiment. It appeared to the ironmaster that the man had fallen on bad days and so he invited him to his home, especially as it was Christmas time.
Q13. Why did the peddler decline the invitation?
Ans. The peddler declined his invitation, as he was afraid of being detected as the thief. He felt that by accepting the invitation to go to the ironmaster’s house, he was voluntarily walking into the lion’s den.
Q14. What made the peddler accept Edla Willmansson’s invitation?
Ans. Edla Willmansson came to invite the peddler. She requested him to come home with such an apparent and genuine kindness that the peddler could not refuse. She instilled a certain confidence in him.
Q15. What doubts did Edla have about the peddler?
Ans. Edla noticed that the peddler was afraid and she at once concluded that he was either a thief or had escaped from jail. She told her father that it was strange that his regimental comrade had fallen on such bad days and also that he had nothing about him to show that he had once been an educated man.
Q16. When did the ironmaster realise his mistake?
Ans. The ironmaster had first seen the tramp in the dim glow of the furnace. He had taken him to be his old regimental comrade, but when the tramp had come down cleanly shaven and dressed in a borrowed suit of the master, the ironmaster at once realized that it had been a case of mistaken identity. He had taken the tramp to be his old regimental comrade.
Q17. What did the peddler say in his defence when it was clear that he was not the person the ironmaster had thought he was?
Ans. The peddler pleaded that it was not his fault. He had never pretended to be anything but only a poor trader. He only begged that he should be allowed to stay for the night near the forge. Since he had done them no harm, so he was ready to put on his old rags again and would leave at once.
Q18. Why did Edla still entertain the peddler even after she knew the truth about him?
Ans. Edla was a kind woman at heart and understood how difficult the peddler’s life had been. She realized how hard it must have been for him to be homeless and to have had to wander from place to place. She empathised with him and was thus kind to him even though she knew who he was.
Q19. Why was Edla happy to see the gift left by the peddler?
Ans. The ironmaster and Edla had expected that the peddler would have made away with all their silver and were indeed pleasantly surprised to find that he had not stolen anything but had left the thirty stolen kroners in a rattrap along with a letter. He requested that the stolen money be returned to its rightful owner and stated in his letter that having been treated with such dignity and having had his status elevated to that of a captain, he felt that he could not embarrass them.
Q20. Why did the peddler sign himself as Captain von Stahle?
Ans. The pedellar was touched by the kind treatment Edla gave him. Edla, despite knowing his real identity, treated him like a captain. Now it was his turn to show her that the guest she had honoured was as honourable as the captain and not merely a petty thief. Latent goodness of his heart awakened, he behaved in a dignified manner. Signed himself as Captain von Stahle.
Long Answer Type Questions
Q1. How does the peddler interpret the acts of kindness and hospitality shown by the crofter, the ironmaster and his daughter?
Ans. The peddler feels absolutely no compunction about accepting the hospitality of the crofter and then robbing him of his hard-earned kroner. He enjoys playing cards with his host all evening and then makes away with his money the next morning. When the ironmaster having mistaken him for a regimental comrade invites him to his house to share his Christmas lunch, he feels a sense of entrapment, having the stolen money on his person, and thus declines the invitation. He feels that to accept the hospitality of the ironmaster would be like voluntarily throwing himself into the lion’s den. However, he does not at the outset disclose his true identity because he hopes to profit from the mistake thinking perhaps a few kroner would come his way but now he only wants to rest near the forge at night and quietly slip away in the morning. The kindness of the ironmaster’s daughter touches the tramp’s heart making him feel more worthy. She makes him feel comfortable and raises his self-esteem. Even after his true identity has been discovered, she feels sympathetic towards him and convinces her father to let him stay and share Christmas cheer with them. She does not for a moment doubt his integrity and the tramp repays this faith and kindness by leaving behind the stolen kroner to be returned to the rightful owner along with one of his rattraps as a present and a letter addressed to the daughter thanking her for elevating his status to that of a captain and for the chance to redeem his mistake.
Q2. What are the instances in the story that show that the character of the ironmaster is different from that of his daughter in many ways?
Ans. The ironmaster is a man of power whose ambition was to ensure that good iron was shipped out. He believed in closely supervising the work at the ironworks to make sure that all was in order. When he saw the tramp, he was not overcome with sympathy. His arrogance came to the fore and he commenced to give him a piece of his mind regarding his unwise decision of not resigning at the appropriate time. His invitation to the tramp to come to his house stemmed more from a sense of superiority rather than true philanthropy. He was most indignant to discover that the tramp had deceived him regarding his true identity. The ironmaster’s daughter sensed something amiss on her very first meeting with the tramp. She was not convinced that he had ever been in the army and when she was proved right, her reaction was not one of indignation but one of sympathy, understanding and kindness. She realised how he must always have to contend with being turned away and not being made welcome anywhere and decided that she would give him that opportunity of feeling secure and welcome in their home. She had more faith in him than did her father and when the tramp did nothing but eat and sleep, she was able to appreciate the fact that he had probably never felt so secure in his life. She even convinced her father to gift him the suit that was loaned to the tramp as a Christmas gift.
Q3. The story has many instances of unexpected reactions from the characters to others’ behaviour. Pick out instances of these surprises.
Ans. The peddler, walking along on a winters evening, is able to avail the unconditional warmth and hospitality of the owner of the cottage. The host shares his food, his home and his confidences, showing the stranger the money that he had made. The tramp, the next day, feels no remorse for stealing the money and walking away. When he is seeking shelter from the cold and has the opportunity to spend the night at the ironmaster’s house, he declines as he has the stolen money with him and feels that he will be walking into the lion’s den. However, when the same invitation is extended by the ironmaster through his daughter, the tramp accepts as her kindness filters through. Left alone in the ironmaster’s house, the tramp has every opportunity to make away with the valuables. On the contrary, the tramp goes away leaving behind the stolen money to be returned to the rightful owner along with a rattrap as a present for the ironmaster’s daughter.
Q4. What made the peddler finally change his ways?
Ans. The peddler had lived a life of privation and constant rejection. It had made him cynical and embittered. Self-preservation had become his sole objective and he could not sense the difference between right and wrong. He had lost his sense of self-worth, having lived in penury with no home to call his own and not even a name to answer to. He had to resort to begging and petty thieving to survive and life offered no pleasure at all. The sadness and monotony of his life had convinced him of the fact that life was like a huge rattrap and just as the cheese and pork in the traps that he made were the bait, so also the riches, joys, shelter and the food that life offered were the bait. As soon as anyone let himself be tempted, it closed in around him and all came to an end. He took pleasure in thinking of all the acquaintances who had been caught in this trap. However, the meeting with the ironmaster’s daughter was the turning point in his life. The kindness, the concern and the understanding that she showed him touched the core of his heart and transformed his way of thinking.
Q5. How does the metaphor of the rattrap serve to highlight the human predicament?
Ans. The tramp during his wanderings hit upon the thought that just as the cheese and the pork are the bait in the rattraps that he makes so also the joys, the warmth, the shelter and the comforts that life offers are the bait to trap humans in the huge rattrap of the world. It gave him immense pleasure to ruminate about all his acquaintances who had fallen into the trap. Though these were the thoughts of an embittered man who envied those whose lot was better than his, yet the metaphor of the trap holds some truth when one thinks about life. The more one has, the more one wants and sometimes the reasons for wanting those things become secondary to the wants themselves. Jealousy and rivalry are the corollary of material acquisitions and the only motivation to possess things is to outdo another. The rattrap of the world entraps us and we are so occupied with chasing the state of fulfilment that ever evades us that we are again engulfed in despair and discontentment.
Q6. The peddler comes out as a person with a subtle sense of humour. How does this serve in lightening the seriousness of the theme of the story and also endear him to us?
Ans. The peddler, with his subtle sense of humour was able to make an equation between the rattraps that he made and the world, which he likened to a huge rattrap, offering bait and then closing in, round those who fell for them. This was his way of consoling himself that no matter what his lot, he was better off than those who fell for the worldly bait of joy, warmth, shelter and other such comforts. This makes the sad, the weary and melancholy tramp very human and real. He manages to arouse the sympathy of the reader despite his thieving ways and his dead conscience for he makes the reader examine the merits of self-preservation. His preoccupation with remaining undetected as the thief who has made away with the thirty hard-earned kroner of the crofter makes him refuse the luxury of spending Christmas at the fine house of the ironmaster. The kindness with which the ironmaster s daughter treats him touches the core of his hitherto hardened heart. The restoration of his dignity results in his transformation into a responsible human being, sensitive, courteous, grateful and gracious.
Q7. The reader’s sympathy is with the peddler right from the beginning of the story. Why is this so? Is the sympathy justified?
Ans. The peddler earns the sympathy of the reader because on every occasion when his woes seem to be ending, he is assailed by fresh problems, as if caught in a rattrap with no escape. After receiving hospitality form a crofter, he is assailed by feelings of guilt as he stoops to temptation and steals the crofter’s earnings. Paradoxically, he loses his way in a forest even though he is a vagabond who has always found his way through the woods. At the smithy when he is mistaken for an acquaintance of the iron master he plays along, only to be discovered subsequently and being threatened with imprisonment. When Edla offers him unconditional love and hospitality, he does truly reform. He rids himself of the stolen wealth and presents the girl with the kroner in a symbolic rattrap, and becomes a carefree and satisfied individual.
Q8. The story also focuses on human loneliness and the need to bond with others.
(a) Festivities are not complete without bonding with other human beings. Thus the ironmaster takes home the peddler mistaking him for his former acquaintance Captain von Stahle because he cannot bear to leave an acquaintance stranded on Christmas Eve.
(b)The daughter and father welcome the stranger as they like to have company to share their joys on Christmas.
(c) Even after finding out that the stranger is not the former acquaintance, the daughter insists on his staying with them because of the need for human company.
(d) The story illustrates that lonely people are willing to take in any human beings because of the innate need for human company. Thus the crofter welcomed the vagabond under his roof.
(e) The confession of the man to stealing or acquiescing to a false identity did not alter the generosity of his hosts as they were hungry for company at all costs.
Q9. The story is both entertaining and philosophical.
Ans. (a) The story is entertaining because of the many sudden twists in the storyline that is maintained throughout the content. Each time, the stranger seemed to have overcome his troubles, he met with fresh hurdles.
(b) It is entertaining because of the differences in the locales where the various incidents occur, and the dialogue of the characters. The scene of mistaken identities reveals this point.
(c) The story maintains an air of suspense right through and even the concluding part of the story is a startling one.
(d) The story is philosophical because it poses an open-ended query as to whether our lives are conditioned by our fate or are a direct follow-through of our own follies, caught as we are in a giant rattrap.
(e) It also brings to the fore that human love, in the form of hospitality when given unconditionally, brings about real change as was revealed through the character of the ironmaster’s daughter towards the peddler.