The Last Lesson
Franz didn’t want to go to school that day as his French teacher Mr Hamel was supposed to take the test for Participles and Franz was not prepared for it even he did not know the first word of participles. Franz was afraid of M Hamel’s ruler and being scolded. Anyhow he decided to go to school. On the way he passed through the Town Hall and he noticed lots of people were gathered around notice board. Franz didn’t bother to stop and see the notice as he was well aware that this board had always been serving the bad news about the war. Blacksmith told him no need to hurry for school but Franz thought he was making fun of him.
On Reaching School he was surprised to see the changed environment, there was no noise as usual, no chanting sound of lesson by students, it seemed to be a Sunday morning. All students were already in their class room. M Hamel was walking with his iron ruler under his arm. Franz was frightened to enter in class as he thought that he would be scolded badly as he was very late but to his surprise, M Hamel did not say anything to him, rather he said to him very politely “Go to your place quickly little Franz, were beginning without you”. After sitting on his seat Franz noticed that teacher was wearing his beautiful green coat, frilled shirt with a little black silk cap having embroidery on it, this type of dress usually he wore on function or prize ceremonies. Franz noticed that the other villager including old Hauser, former Mayor and former post master were also present in class they were in the last seats. He could understand until finally M Hamel announced the notice which was served from Berlin that now onwards no French would be taught in schools of Alsace and Lorraine, only German would be taught in the schools of these two French cities and he requested students to be attentive for their last French lesson. Franz now realized that what was there on notice board in Town Hall.
These words fell on Franz like a thunder clap. He couldn’t believe it would be his last lesson today. He didn’t learn, never paid attention to his French lesson, he hardly knew how to write it. He was repenting not to learn it on time, instead of studying he would go for other pleasant activities, his perspective about his books changed immediately, the books which used to seem him like burden now those books seem to him like an old friends which he could give up. Even his thoughts for his teacher M. Hamel changed thinking as he would never see him again as it was his last day, he forgot about this cranky nature and his cruel ruler. Now he realized that the teacher had wore this dress in honor of his last lesson. He also understood why older people were presented in class as they were repenting why they never worry to go to school and they were there to show their respect to their teacher, who served them for forty years.
When Franz’s name was called to recite the lesson, he made mistake and could even speak few words just opposite to his thinking teacher did not scold him rather he preached him that one should not waste his precious time just by live in impression that there is plenty of time and postponing the important things, how would they feel when someone will taunt on them that they were not able to speak or write the French despite of being Frenchmen. Teacher did not put all blame on him but he also blamed the parents who never bothered to send their children to school to study instead they put their children to work on farms and mill to earn extra money. Even he blamed himself that he often would send his pupils to water his plants instead of study at school and he would declare a holiday whenever he wanted to go to fishing.
Teacher further said about the French language that it was the most beautiful, clearest and most logical language of the world. People should stick with their language it may be proven to the key to their prison in case they are enslaved by some other country. A magic had happened that day in class the students understood everything very clearly, because they were more attentive and teacher was more patient and polite on that day.
Finally with very heavy heart, M Hamel stood up he was very sad, he walked to the black board, took a chalk and wrote on it “Vive La France” which means “ Long Live France” .