³The Last Lesson´ Alphonse Daudet (1840-1897) The French author Alphonse Daudet [al fons' do da'] is famous for

creating short storiesand novels with a charming mixture of realism, humor, and sentiment. The son of a silk manufacturer, Daudet was born in Nimes [ne~mJ, France. He attended school in Lyon [le ON'] and began writing poetry and fiction when he was only fourteen. Three years later his parents lost all their money, and Daudet was forced to seek his fortune in Paris. He began contributing to the newspaper Figaro and also worked as secretary to the duke ofMorny, a job that introduced Daudet to fashionable Paris life. Soon he fell in love with fellow writer Julia Allard, whom he married in 1867. Four years later Daudet enlisted in the army to fight in the Franco-Prussian War. France's defeat had a profound impact on Daudet, as is clear in his Contes du lundi (Monday Tales), the story collection he published in 1873. In 'The Last Lesson," one of his best-known stories, Daudet shows the change in France's fortunes through the eyes ofa young boy from the border region of Alsace. GEOGRAPHY AND CULTURE The Region of Alsace Located in northeastern France on the border with Germany, the region of Alsace [al sas'1 has strong cultural ties to both nations. Inhabitants of Alsace speak dialects of German as well as French, and for several centuries the region of Alsace has alternately been a German and a French territory. A long period of French rule ended in 1871 after the Franco-Prussian War. The war pitted France against Germany, which had only recently become a unified nation andwas still often called Prussia, the name of the most powerful kingdom in the new nation. As the winner of the Franco-Prussian War, Germany, to France's great bitterness, annexed Alsace and the adjoining region of Lorraine. It is at this time that the events of "The Last Lesson" unfold. In the twentieth century the fate of Alsace and Lorraine changed again, and today the regions belong toFrance.

STUDY QUESTIONS Recalling 1. What usually happens in Franz's class when school begins? What is the classroom like now, and what surprising things does Franz see there? 2. What does M. Hamel announce at the start of the lesson? How do Franz's feelings toward schoolwork and schoolbooks suddenly change? 3. What does M. Hamel say about the importance of language to an ³enslaved" people? 4. What words does M. Hamel have the students copy as part of their penmanship practice? What final words does he write on the board? Interpreting 5. In one word, describe M. Hamel's feelings about being French. Why have Hauser and the other townspeople come to attend the lesson? 6. How does telling the story from young Franz's point of view affect the reader's reaction to the story? How does this point of view help build suspense at the start of the story? 7 What does the story suggest about the way human beings treat time and the way they perceive routine events? 8. What does the story suggest about how students can be motivated to learn? Do you find young Franz's change in attitude realistic? Explain. Extending 9 History is full of instances in which victorious nations outlawed or tried to suppress the language of a conquered people. Why do you think language can seem so important? How would you feel if you were forced to give up your language? Adapted from: http://www.sad34.net/~globalclassroom/Library/Europelastlesson

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