One-Act Play “Facing Death” by August Strindberg Exercise: Questions and Answers Class 12 English
Understanding the text
Answer the following questions.
a. Where does the play take place?
➜ The action happens in Monsieur Durand’s dining room, where he lives with his three daughters as a former railroad worker, widower, and owner of a boarding house.
b. Why do the grocery, the baker and the butcher send their bills to the Durand household?
➜ The grocery, the baker and the butcher send their bills to the Durand household because the Durands haven’t paid their bills in a long time As a result, they are unable to provide any further items until the bills are paid.
c. Why does Monsieur Durand spend money on candles when he doesn’t have money to buy even bread?
➜ Monsieur Durand spends money on candles when he doesn’t have money to buy even bread because he wishes to burn the candles on the death anniversary of his late loving son, René, who died when he was a child. Durand is heartbroken by his death and still has feelings for the deceased child. Durand also has another plan: he plans to set fire to his house and collect fire insurance money to compensate for his daughters’ financial difficulties.
d. Why did Monsieur Durand sell his life insurance?
➜ To pay off the loan to the debtor, Monsieur sold his life insurance. He was in such a bad situation, and the debtor was furious with him for not paying his debts.
e. Why has Monsieur Durand paid fire insurance?
➜ Monsieur Durand has paid fire insurance to file a compensation claim later. He wants to claim compensation from his fire insurance by burning down his house, with the proceeds going to his daughters.
f. How did Monsieur Durand and Mrs. Duran run out of their inheritances from both the sides?
➜ Due to Mrs. Durand’s recklessness and stupid speculation, Monsieur Durand and Mrs. Durand ran out of their inheritances from both sides. Both of them lost their paternal and maternal assets, which they had used to raise their children.
g. Why does Monsieur Durand tell a lie about his birthplace?
➜ Monsieur Durand tells a lie about his birthplace because he was in love with a woman before he was of marriageable age. That lady was the one he wanted to marry. As a result, he left his hometown and relocated to Switzerland. He tells a lie to safeguard his and his wife’s reputation. He also fought on the side of Switzerland against his own homeland, France. He tells a lie to mask his humiliation.
h. What business is Monsieur Durand running to make a living?
➜ Monsieur Durand is running a lodge to make a living. To make money, he turned his house into a lodge. His visitors may stay with him and eat at his restaurant. A good facility, such as a hotel, is present.
i. What plan does Monsieur Durand have to help his daughters with money?
➜ Monsieur Durand plans to commit suicide by setting fire to his home to help his daughters with money. He intends to receive compensation from the fire insurance policy so that he may provide financial assistance to his daughters. For the sake of his three daughters, he wishes to give his life.
j. How does Monsieur Durand die?
➜ Monsieur Durand dies by committing suicide. To help his daughters with the amount of money from the insurance policy, he drinks poison and sets his house on fire at the end of the play.
Reference to the Context
a. Sketch the character of Monsieur Durand.
➜ Monsieur Durand is the protagonist of the play “Facing Death.” He is a widower, the owner of the lodge, and a former railway worker. He is a financially drained man with three daughters. They all reside in the lodge. Durand’s relationship with his daughters is fragile. In this play, we see him as a loving, caring, and protective parent. He is living a difficult life with his three daughters as a result of his bankruptcy. His daughters despise him and frequently blame him. But he keeps worrying about his daughters’ well-being. He gives up his life for the sake of his daughters, who dislike him. He is a patient man who suffered injustice at the hands of his late wife and kept mute for the rest of his life, blaming her for his financial downfall. He is also a devoted husband. He, too, is a patriot who adores his beloved France, although he is compelled to reside in Switzerland. He is a sad hero who confronts financial hardships before tragically committing suicide for the sake of his three daughters.
b. How do we know that the Durand family has reached a dead end?
➜ We know that the Durand family has reached a dead end because of their miserable situation in their lodge. This family has gone bankrupt. Both husband and wife had lost their maternal and paternal heritage when Mrs Durand was living. Mr Duruad and his daughters live a difficult life in the midst of a financial crisis. Because of their dire financial situation, they have transformed their residence into a lodge. For years, Mr Durand’s family has borrowed money from others. There are several bills in the Durand family that must be paid to various debtors. Durand’s condition is the worst of all family members. We discover him leading a tolerant life. He has a difficult relationship with his daughters.
His daughters dislike and blame him for a variety of reasons. We also discover that the family does not have enough money to purchase bread for coffee. Durand is eating the rat’s food because he is hungry. Because of the financial crisis, this family has come to an end. Durand has decided to commit suicide and burn down his lodge to provide for his daughter’s wellbeing. Durand has finally succeeded in his deadly mission.
c. ‘The mother, though already dead, seems to have had a great influence on the daughters, especially Theresa.’ Do you agree?
➜ ‘The mother, though already dead, seems to have had a great influence on the daughters, especially Theresa.’ Yes, I agree with this statement. In this play, we see that the mother has a strong impact on her daughters, particularly Theresa. While their mother was still living, she taught the children to hate their father Durand. She forced them to obey her. The majority of the time, she blamed her husband and was effective in turning her children against their father. Mr Durand kept silent after her death because he did not want his daughters to doubt their mother’s goodness. He is a patient man who suffered injustice at the hands of his late wife and kept mute for the rest of his life, blaming her for his financial downfall. All three daughters hate their father as a result of their mother’s teaching.
They believe their father is the primary reason for their financial collapse. Theresa is the one who has been significantly impacted by her mother. She is rude most of the time. She steals the matches from her father as he prepares to inhale tobacco via a briar pipe. Similarly, she seizes his glass of milk. She appears to be cruel to her father. She is one of the three sisters that is the most enraged with her father.
d. Discuss the relationship between Monsieur Durand and his wife.
➜ Monsieur Durand and his wife had a poor relationship. Mrs Durand used to blame Mr Durand even though she had wrecked the familial property herself. She ruined the ancestral property due to her carelessness and rash gambling. She used to squander money from the family budget on lottery tickets. She threatened her husband with becoming a prostitute for money after being beaten. He referred to her as a lone soldier. She created in all of her girls a hatred for their father and filled their heads with negativity. She had been effective in diverting her girls’ attention and turning them against their father.
e. ‘Money determines the relationship between characters in this play.’ Elaborate this statement with examples from the play.
➜ ‘Money determines the relationship between characters in this play.’ In the play “Facing Death,” money is highly important in the lives of Mr Durand and his daughters. Money is the first and greatest issue that has become the root of all difficulties in this play. Mr Durand’s family’s financial difficulties have led the entire family to live a miserable existence with a lack of many vital requirements. This family is in misery as a result of starvation. The family is unable to purchase bread due to the economic situation. Mr Durand has endured a long period of starvation. In the scenario, he is even shown eating rat food. Because of the economic situation, Mr Durand is unable to provide the basic necessities of his daughters.
Mr Durand and Mrs Durand’s relationship deteriorated as a result of their fight to lose wealth. The daughters dislike their father since he does not provide adequate financial assistance for the family. Due to the economic downturn, they are forced to transform their living quarters into a lodge. The characters’ connection is determined by money in this case. Most of the time, Mr Durand’s three daughters despise and blame him. They display their impolite behaviour toward him. Because the father is unable to bring bread, the girls do not even offer a drink of milk. They even pulled his glass of milk away from him. When he goes to smoke, they seize his matches. When their father promises, “I’ll bring you money,” they demonstrate their kind nature. They even give him a passionate kiss. They use phrases of compassion and love. They even apologize for their inappropriate behaviour.
f. Monsieur Durand kills himself so that his daughters would get 5000 francs as the compensation from the insurance company. What does his plan tell us about him?
➜ Monsieur Durand kills himself so that his daughters would get 5000 francs as the compensation from the insurance company. This plan of Durand tells us about his concern about his daughter’s future.
Mr Durand is portrayed in the play “Facing Death” as a sad protagonist who commits suicide by consuming poison and setting fire to his house in order to obtain compensation from the fire insurance company in order to improve the financial situation of his daughters. Mr. Durand has spent his whole life in economic hardship. As a result of the financial crisis, he has been blamed the majority of the time by his daughters. He is seen as a failing and negligent father. His plan for his daughters’ wellbeing demonstrates that he is a kind and loving parent who is concerned about his children’s future. He is the father who gives up his life for the sake of his three daughters’ future.
g. Discuss Facing Death as a modern tragedy.
➜ By modern tragedy, we mean a play that deals with tragic circumstances and has an unfortunate ending, particularly one that involves the demise of the main character. The drama ‘Facing Death’ is a modern tragedy since it concludes with the sad death of the protagonist, Mr Durand. Modern tragedy is concerned with accurate portrayals of prevalent issues. Modern drama is characterized by realism and naturalism.
A common man is the protagonist of a modern tragedy. Furthermore, modern tragedy addresses contemporary issues such as broken family connections, socio-cultural issues, loneliness, and so on. Characters suffer as a result of their socio-cultural surroundings, fate, economic status, gender, external environment, and so on. This play contains all of the characteristics of modern tragedy.
This play depicted the lives of a regular modern man going through a major life crisis. He and his three daughters have suffered greatly as a result of economic troubles. We may readily detect issues of bad relationships and low economic standing in the play.
Mr Durand, a typical modern man, has suffered much as a result of economic hardships. This drama concludes with the terrible demise of the main character, Mr Durand. For the sake of his three kids, he murders himself and even burns down his house. This drama offered both realism and naturalism.
Reference beyond the text
a. Write a few paragraphs describing the role of the father in the family.
➜ Fathers undoubtedly play an important role in the family. Fatherhood is a responsibility, not simply a position. A father, in my opinion, is someone who adopts or accepts the role of parenthood and behaves as a parent to another at any point in time. A father in the family is loaded with an unspecified amount of roles and responsibilities. A father’s role in the family is critical to the psychological and physical well-being of his or her kid or children. When a child has a positive relationship with a loving father, he or she is more likely to have good psychological health and stronger relationships later in life.
The primary responsibility of the father in the family is to provide, to secure a home for the family, to supply necessities, to fund academics, health bills, and other expenses. The father is responsible for raising his children in accordance with moral and societal standards. It is the father’s responsibility to train his children so that they have a strong foundation for smoother stepping and rising stones. The father has a responsibility to uphold his own reputation and integrity. The father also plays an essential part in decision making. Certain judgments are better made with the father’s accent, both culturally and socioeconomically.
b. In his famous essay “The Experimental Novel,” Emile Zola says: This is what constitutes the experimental novel: to possess a knowledge of the mechanism of the phenomena inherent in man, to show the machinery of his intellectual and sensory manifestations, under the influences of heredity and environment, such as physiology shall give them to us, and then finally to exhibit man living in social conditions produced by himself, which he modifies daily, and in the heart of which he himself experiences a continual transformation. To what extent do you agree with Zola’s idea that human beings’ intellectual as well as emotional capacities are determined by their environment and heredity? Discuss with examples including Facing Death.
➜ I definitely agree with Emile Zola’s idea that human beings’ intellectual as well as emotional capacities are determined by their environment and heredity.
In the play “Facing Death”, Monsieur Durand is portrayed as a widower, the owner of the lodge, and a former railway worker. He is a financially drained man with three daughters. They all reside in the lodge. Durand’s relationship with his daughters is fragile. In this play, we see him as a loving, caring, and protective parent. He is living a difficult life with his three daughters as a result of his bankruptcy. His daughters despise him and frequently blame him. But he keeps worrying about his daughters’ well-being. He gives up his life for the sake of his daughters, who dislike him. He is a patient man who suffered injustice at the hands of his late wife and kept mute for the rest of his life, blaming her for his financial downfall. He is also a devoted husband. He, too, is a patriot who adores his beloved France, although he is compelled to reside in Switzerland. He is a sad hero who confronts financial hardships before tragically committing suicide for the sake of his three daughters.
Durand’s environment, as well as his financial and personal circumstances, drove him to kill himself. Because he was bankrupt, he no longer had control over his emotional and intellectual well-being. He initially considered his daughters and their future, since he loved them. Durand struggled to pay for all of his bills and debts. He plans to commit himself by drinking poison and setting fire to the house so that their daughters would have a secure future owing to fire insurance payouts. Like Emily Zola’s famous essay “The Experimental Novel,” Durand’s intellectual and emotional powers are dictated by the elements, environment, and situation surrounding him.