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SECTION D : LITERATURE

F.4. A Shady Plot


Elsic Brown
I. EXTRACTS BASED QUESTIONS Read the extracts given below and answer the questions that follow : 1. I am going back to my grandmother. My lawyer will communicate with you later ? (CBSESA-2201261008) (a) Who speaks the above lines ? (b) Why is she going back to her grandmother ? (c) What effect does the above extract have on the listener ? 2. Well, I was not in a position to contradict Jenkins.(CBSESA-2201261023) (a) Why was the narrator not in a position to contradict Jenkins ? (b) Who was Jenkins ? (c) What had Jenkins asked the narrator to do ? 3. I sat staring at it and presently noticed something just taking shape. It was exactly like watching one of these moving picture cartoons being put together. (CBSESA-220122018) (a) What was the narrator staring it? (b) How was the figure taking shape? (c) Who was gradually taking a definite shape part by part? 4. . I just came to tell you stop bothering us for assistance; You aint going to get it. We are going on strike! (CBSESA-220122049) (a) Who is the speaker of these lines? (b) Who does you refer to ? (c) What does the speaker threaten to do ? 5. I had hardly seated myself at the desk when there came a tap at the door and a white slip of paper slid under it. I unfolded it and read : .............. (CBSESA-2201261004) (a) Who is I ? (b) Who had written the slip of paper ? (c) What was written on it ?

ANSWERS
I. 1. (a) (b) (c) 2. (a) (b) (c) Lavinia. She has learnt that her husband is carrying on a clandestine love affair. He is devastated; his marriage is on the rocks. Because his magazine had been the only one to print his stuff. He was the publisher of the magazine. He wanted him to write a ghost story.
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174 / Reliable Question Bank (Solved) : English (Communicative) X

3. (a) The narrator John Hallock was staring at the shadow that started taking a definite shape. (b) The shape was like one of these moving picture cartoons being put together. (c) Helens ghost was gradually taking a definite shape. 4. (a) The ghost, Helen (b) John/ Narrator (c) to go on strike 5. (a) John Hallock (b) His wife, Lavinia (c) She was going away would seek a divorce. II. SHORT ANSWER TYPE QUESTIONS Answer the following questions in about 50-60 words : 1. Bring out the irony in the statement: I did not specialize in ghost stories, but more or less, they seemed to specialize in me. (CBSESA-220122046) Ans. The narrator was a writer who used to work for Jenkins, a publisher. He wanted the narrator to write ghost stories because they were in more demand. The narrator did not want to write ghost stories out of his choice. He wanted to write stories of other genres, but his ghost stories were popular. It was the ghost of Helen, who helped him to write ghost stories. 2. Why does John want the ghost to disappear before his wife appears on the scene ? (CBSESA-220122017, 61024) Ans. John did not want his wife to see Helen as the thought she would create troubles for him. Lavinia was subject to hysterics. John thought if she would see Helen, the ghost, she might start laughing or crying loudly. Moreover he was afraid of getting more misunderstanding between them. 3. What made Lavinia buy a Ouija board? How did the narrator react to her doing? (CBSESA-2201261029) Ans. Lavinia bought a Ouija board because it was at a bargain sale. She found it duckliest and darlingest thing and couldnt resist to buy it. Hallock asked her to exchange it for something else. He got scared of the upcoming danger, of the anger of the ghost, Helen. Secondly John was protective of Lavinia and did not want her to get into any kind of trouble. 4. What is your impression of Mrs. Lavinia? (CBSESA-2201261022) Ans. Mrs. Lavinia was a spendthrift. She was unconcerned about Johns financial problems. She didnt bother that her husband was a writer and supplement his income by his writings. She was not amenable to suggestions, hence refuses to get rid of the Ouija board even though her husband insist on it. She was fond of parties. She didnt use to think much before reacting. 5. How did the narrator react to the appearance of the ghost? (CBSESA-2201261028) Ans. The narrators attitude towards ghosts and horror stories was quite humorous. The narrator and the second sherriff went ahead on horseback when they were being chased. Suddenly the sound of the gunshot echoed in the air. Second sheriff groaned and slumped back against him. He made the story interesting and refreshing. 6. Why was Helen, the ghost going on strike? What condition did she lay for providing help? (CBSESA-2201261030)

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Or Why was the ghosts angry with the Ouija board fanatics? (CBSESA-2201261027) Ans. Helen and the other ghosts were very fanatics about the Ouija board because people keep on calling up on ghosts to answer questions all the time. They were exhausted and needed rest. Helen wanted the narrator to exert his influence and get all his acquaintances to stop using the Ouija board. 7. What did the ghost tell us about herself before she became a ghost? (CBSESA-2201261018) Ans. Helen told the narrator that when she was a human, she had worked as a reader on a magazine. The quality of stories and other work had life difficult for her. When she died she found other ghosts who had suffered similarly and they organized The Writers Inspiration Bureau to help writers who were looking for inspiration. 8. What condition did the ghost put forth for providing continued help to John Hallock? Why? (CBSESA-2201261021) Or Why did Helen trouble the narrator of A Shady Plot? (CBSESA-2201261001) Ans. The narrator was very desperate for inspiration. Helen found his mind soft enough to accept impression and helped him. She was going on strike because the new fad of Ouija boards had people calling up on ghosts to answer questions all the time. She was exhausted and needed rest. She wanted the narrator to exert his influence and get all his acquaintances to stop using the Ouija board. 9. Why was the narrator not in a position to contradict Jenkins? (CBSESA-2201261017) Ans. Jenkins was the publisher of the magazine which printed the ghost stories written by the narrator. It was the only magazine that printed his stuff and hence he could not contradict Jenkins. Secondly, the narrator was in need of money. Therefore, it was more a necessity for him to come up with good stories whenever Jenkins demanded them. 10. Hallocks ghosts were live propositions. How could he pen down ghost-special stories? (CBSESA-220122043) Ans. John Hallock was a ghost story writer for Jenkins. He was not a specialist in ghost stories but suddenly every time an idea would come mysteriously to his mind and he would write a story. Helen told him that The Writers Inspiration Bureau used to help writers who were without ideas and had a soft mind on what to write. 11. How did Helen look when she first visited the narrator of A Shady Plot? (CBSESA-2201261002) Ans. John was sitting to write down a ghost story. He was searching his mind for inspiration but couldnt find it. Suddenly, he heard a voice in the room and a figure materialised out of thin air. It was the ghost of Helen. She had long angular fishy eyes having spectacles, her hair were tied in a tight wad and had a solid jaw. She seemed angry with him. 12. Why did Gladiola decide to leave her job at the Hallocks? (CBSESA-2201261004)

176 / Reliable Question Bank (Solved) : English (Communicative) X

Ans. Gladiola was the narrators cook. She decided to leave her job at the Hallocks because she was fed up and scared of Ouija boards and Loodos. She was scared of ghosts and spirits in the house. Lavinia, hence asked her to burn the Ouija board. 13. Why couldnt John Hallock give his whole time to writing? (CBSESA-2201261033) Ans. John Hallock was in need of money as he had many responsibilities. In order to fulfill his needs he was doing the job of a book keeper in a lumbar company. Thus he couldnt give his whole time to writing. 14. What has the ghost got against Ouija boards? (CBSESA-2201261008) Ans. The ghosts were fed up with the Ouija boards because people who use Ouija boards keep them terribly busy answering all sorts of questions. The ghosts didnt like to be controlled by them and hence wanted to get rid of those Ouija boards. 15. Why did Johns wife want to go to her grandmothers house? (CBSESA-220122045) Ans. Lavinia, Mrs. John was angry with John because she suspected her husband having an affair with a lady called Helen. She thought he was cheating on her as he kept receiving calls from Helen frequently. This aroused her suspicion on him of doing something wrong. Hence she decided to leave him and go to her grandmothers house. 16. What did Jenkins ask John Hallock to do and why? (CBSESA-2201261026) Ans. Jenkins wanted John Hallock to write a ghost story for the magazine because the public were eager to read ghost stories and the narrators skill in writing such stories was exceptional. Jenkins thought his ghosts were live propositions and were more life like than mere story characters. 17. What is an Ouija Board? How does it work? (CBSESA-2201261016) Ans. Ouija Board is a board on which are marked letters of Alphabet. Answers to questions are spelt out by a pointer or glass held by finger tips of participants. Ouija board is supposedly worked by spiritual forces who come out with the solutions of a problem. 18. How did Lavinia face the ghost? (CBSESA-220122042) Ans. Lavinia suspected her husband having an affair with a woman named Helen. When she came to see him for the last time, she thought he was hiding some woman in the room. Prepared for the worst she felt relieved on realizing that it was only the ghost. She gave a broad satisfied smile. She fell forgivingly into Hallocks arm. III. LONG ANSWER TYPE QUESTIONS Answer the following questions in about 120-150 words : 1. Why did Lavinia decide to leave John Hallock? Describe the circumstances leading to her decision? (CBSESA-2201261002) Ans. John Hallock was a ghost-story writer. Lavinia, his wife was very angry and felt jealous when the Ouija board showed her husband a traitor. She thought that John had been cheating on her with a woman named Helen. She suspected him of doing something wrong and hence decided to leave John Hallock and go to her grandmothers house. Helen, the ghost was forcing the narrator to convince people to stop using Ouijas boards. But when his own wife held an Ouija party at home, he got scared of the ghosts anger. He knew that if Lavinia had the sight of the ghost she would get scared. But his

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apprehensions of being protecting his wife proved the other way. Next morning when Lavinia came to Johns room to say goodbye she found that he was trying to hide someone in the room. She became more furious. But when she came face to face with Helen, she felt relieved and a contentment spilled over her face on realizing that Helen was just a ghost. 2. What role does the supernatural play in the lives of the Hallocks (John and Lavinia)? (CBSESA-2201261022) Ans. At the Ouija board party at Lavinias house, Mrs. Lauras Ouija board reveals that a women by the name of Helen wants to communicate with John. The Ouija boards of other women make a similar revelation. Helens attempt to communicate with John (she wants him to tell his wife to get rid of the Ouija board) is misconstrued as a proof of Liaison with Helen. Lavinia is smitten with jealousy; she decides to divorce her husband. The ghost thus becomes the unwitting cause of a serious rift between husband and wife. The situation takes a dramatic turn. Lavinia enters Johns room to tell him that she was leaving for good. Johns furtive glances and strange gestures aroused her suspicion that he is hiding somebody. It can be none other than Helen, she thought. In a furious mood she pushed her husband to confront Helen. She was pleasantly surprised to find that Helen was a ghost and not a woman of ravishing beauty for whom her husband has fallen. Her fears were allayed and she fell in the arms of her husband. The ghost this time saved their marriage and reunited them. 3. John Hallock writes a letter to his friend, describing to him how Helen, the ghost had almost ruined his domestic life, at the same time provided him with a plot for writing a ghost story. (CBSESA-220122044) Ans. 243-B Chelsea House London Dear Ark, How are you? I hope this letter of mine finds you in good health and high spirits. Last week Jenkins had asked me to write another ghost story. I was without inspiration. Suddenly, I heard a sound in the room and a figure materialized out of thin air. It was a ghost whose name was Helen. She seemed angry and warned me about the recent trend of Ouija boards. She said these boards had proved tiring for the ghosts as it calls them to answer their questions and hence troubles them. She asked me to ask my friends to refrain from using Ouija boards. But my wife Lavinia bought a Ouija board and arranged for an Ouija board party. In the party all the boards screamed my name and said me a traitor. Lavinia suspected me of having an affair with someone. Angrily she decided to leave me. My cook also left the house. I was blaming Helen for ruining the happiness of my family. Suddenly, Lavinia entered in the room and saw Helen; I thought she would scream with fear but she understood everything and my life became normal once again. And now I got a very good plot for my next story. I will tell you about my story in my next letter. Till then Bye. Your friend John Hallock

178 / Reliable Question Bank (Solved) : English (Communicative) X

IV. QUESTIONS BASED ON VALUES AND KEY MESSAGES 1. What is the central idea of the story, A Shady Plot? Ans. The story is about a writers struggle to find inspiration for his ghost stories. He needs a plot, a storyline and the inspiration is hidden. As the events unfold, the readers realise that the ghosts have been providing him with ideas and plotlines. The story then moves forward to a point where the writers wife suspects him of having an affair with a lady. The story reaches its finale when Lavinia comes face to face with the ghost (the lady) and maintains her composure. The plot of the story is riveting and has unexpected twists and turns. The author surprises the reader a number of times and much humour arises out of the situations. Because of the shady nature of the plot, the story manages to hold the interest of the reader. The title of the story is quite apt and compliments the story beautifully. It does not reveal the plot or give an indication but helps the author to keep the surprise element. It also directs the readers expectation in a positive manner. 2. John wants the ghost to disappear before his wife appears on the scene. What impressions of his wifes character do you form from his words? Ans. John was very protective of Lavinia, his wife. He knew that the sight of a ghost in the house would scare her out of her senses. Hence he wanted the ghost to disappear before his wife appears on the scene. He wished to protect Lavinia from the fear of seeing a ghost. His apprehension revealed that his wife was a fragile, sensitive person who cannot face fear. She seemed to be a vulnerable person but it was not so. Lavinia did not shriek or scream when she saw the ghost. She talked to the ghost and kept hold of her nerves. She was quite confident when talking to her. She displayed a strength which John never dreamt of. Besides these characterics, Lavinia was a suspicious, jealous and a manipulative person. 3. Do you agree that the supernatural beings in A shady plot are benign, harmless creatures? (CBSESA-2201261006) Ans. The supernatural beings in A Shady Plot are benign creatures. The ghosts were trying to help writers starved of new ideas for their stories. They were very empathic because in their other life they were also writers and hence better understood the plight of the writers. They founded The Writers Bureau with the specific purpose of assisting writers. These good creatures are harrassed by Ouija board fanatics who call them out of their beds a little too ten of and ask all sorts of questions. Helen asked John to ask his wife to get rid of her Ouija board so that the ghost could help him with a good idea for his story. The ghost cant be blamed for causing a rift between John and his wife. It is the women who is misinterpreted. Helens intentions should not be misunderstood. She was the one who cleared the cloud of suspicion between John and Lavinia and reunited them. Helen was a benign ghost who was always ready to help a writer.