A Gorilla in the Guest House Questions and Answers ISC Class 11 and Class 12

Short Questions

Part – 1

(a) What message does Gerald Durrell want to convey through the story ‘A Gorilla in the Guest Room’?

Answer : ‘A Gorilla in the Guest Room’ is a meaningful story. It conveys the message of love and affection for the animals. The writer wants us to change our attitude towards wild life. We should take all steps to conserve wild life. Animals too need love and affection. They must be attended to in respect of their urges and needs. Companionship in all species of animals is also of great importance. In this story we learn that the author takes interest in providing a female to N’Pongo just to give him company so that he does not feel morose or lose his liveliness of manners. When N’Pongo suffers from diarrhoea and later colitis, he is given best possible treatment and diet. The author whishes that the zoos should be well-equipped to provide proper habitat to the animals they keep. Moreover these zoos should cease to be show places of animals. They should contribute greatly towards the conservation of wildlife especially those rare and threatened species. Let people come forward and donate generously for the upkeep of these animals.

(b) What do you know about the setting of the story , ‘A Gorilla in the Guest Room’?

Answer : The story ‘A Gorilla in the Guest Room’ is set in Jersy, the largest of the channel islands between England and France. It is here that Gerald Durrell’s famous zoo Jersy Zoo is located.

When the story begins, there is a brief scene in a room in the animal shelter of the Royal Society for prevention of cruelty to Animals. It is here that Gerald first meets N’Pongo. From this room N’Pongo is brought to the zoological part at Jersy. Major part of the story takes place here. The story takes place, at the author’s residence near the zoo, till N’Pongo is shifted to the zoo. N’Pongo’s exemplary behaviour is observed at Gerald’s guest room. Gradually N’Pongo develops a bond with Gerald’s family and also the staff working there. The setting changes for a brief moment only when  Gerald goes to London to collect the ape. N’Pongo leaves a permanent imprint on the guest room of Gerald. N’Pongo is then shifted to the zoo. Here his mate Nandy is also brought. The remaining part of the story takes place here in this zoo.

(c) Describe the efforts made by Gerald to obtain a baby gorilla.

Answer : Gerald was a lover of animals. He had set up a zoological park . He felt that zoos must do something to conserve wildlife . It was his ardent desire that all the commoner animals in the zoos should be replaced by species threatened by extinction. He was very happy when he received a telephone call from an average animal dealer if he wanted a baby gorilla. Since gorillas have never been exceptionally numerous as a species, getting one had been high on the list of his priorities. He wasted no time and rang up the animal dealer. The animal dealer demanded twelve hundred pounds for the baby Gorilla. The author’s wife was not in favour of it, while his mother reacted enthusiastically.

Ignoring his wife’s pessimistic attitude , Gerald consulted his banker friend Hope. He too did not support the author’s idea. The author has full faith in the generosity of the people to come forward for this case. He contacted a few persons and requested them to contribute their bit for his mission to obtain a gorilla. He could collect just two hundred pounds. Then he met Major Domo who graciously agreed to fund the remaining one thousand pounds. This is how he succeeded in his mission of obtaining a gorilla.

Part – 2

(a) Describe briefly N’Pongo’s stay in the guest room of the narrator.

Answer : As the cage for N’Pongo was not yet ready in the zoo, the narrator decided to keep him in the guest room for a couple of days. N’Pongo grave, courteous manner and his rather sad expression won over both Jacquie and the narrator’s mother. He was supplied with delicacies and the staff came upstairs one by one to pay homage to him as if he were ‘some black potentate’. As Gerlad’s previous experience of keeping a Chimpanzee called Chumley was quite bitter, he watched N’Pongo’s movements like a hawk. When he became bored with lying on the sofa, he would make a circuit of the room to examine everything of interest. So he walked slowly round like a small black professor in a museum. He would pause now to look at a picture, now to stroke an ornament but he would do it so gently that there was not any danger that he would break anything.

N’Pongo’s decent behaviour captivated the narrator. Although his manners were found exemplary, he was not expected to act civilized. Thus when he left the guest room, it bore his traces. It looked like a sixteenth-century alehouse months after N’Pongo’s sojourn there.

(b) One of the themes of the story ‘A Gorilla in the Guest Room’ is the inhumane treatment meted out to animals. Discuss with reference to the story.

Answer : Gerald’s story ‘A Gorialla in the Guest Room’ points out the cruel and inhuman treatment meted out to animals in zoos. The writer is of the opinion that zoos do not work towards the conservation of wild life but act as a mere show place of animals. They do not provide proper habitat to animals. Zoos claim to protect species from extinction but zoo officials favour popular animals rather than endangered species. The author feels that animals have their own urges and needs. They wish to have company of their own species especially of the other sex.

The author in the story succeeds in his search for providing female companion Nandy to the gorilla N’Pongo so that the latter does not go morose or become antisocial. The need for companionship is the basic requirement of men and animals. Treatment of diseases afflicting the animals is of vital consideration since the sick animals do not have any other being expect humans to nurse them in their sickness. The author takes sincere pains to bring N’Pongo to his normal health by providing him proper food and medicine.

The message of the story is that human beings should show concern for the animals and give the animals their natural habitat so that there is wildlife conservation, which is necessary for ecology.

(c) Compare and contrast N’Pongo and Nandy, the two gorillas in the story.

Answer :  Though both N’Pongo and Nandy belong to the same species they have widely different natures. Like the males of al species, N’Pongo is more powerful than Nandy and shows his superiority at the first available opportunity. Nandy, like any female , seems to be in comparison submissive and helpless.

N’Pongo, even as a baby, has courteous, civilized manners. His gentle behaviour in the house is impressive. In the author’s room, the gorilla lies on the sofa and explores one thing after the other like “a small black professor in a museum.” He touches everything so gently that there is no danger that he will break anything. As he grows up he plays with the author. He is quite amiable and pleasant. But Nandy is less friendly. She is afraid of human beings. That is why she takes a lot more time to come near the narrator and even N’Pongo. She is conscious of her rights and self-respect. She does not feel amused when N’Pongo, pulls a handful of her hair. She shows her anger at once. After some time, she accepts him as her companion.

Thus, N’Pongo and Nandy have different temperaments. N’Pongo is gentle, lively, humorous and well-mannered. He is friendly towards humans. Nandy is shy, reserved and short-tempered. She has little trust in human beings. That is why, unlike N’Pongo, she remains alert and suspicious.

Part – 3

(a) Do you think, the title of the story ‘A Gorilla in the Guest Room’ is justified?

Answer : The title ‘A Gorilla in the Guest Room’ is very striking. We at once become curious to know what it means. How can a Gorilla be in one’s guest room. When we go through the story, we soon realise that the gorilla, called N’Pongo is the hero of the story. It is undoubtedly true that a gorilla is not expected to be lodged in a guest room. Its habitat should be somewhere else, in some enclosure of a zoo. But keeping a gorilla, a baby gorilla in the guest room is something unexpected or out of common. But the author’s decision to keep it in the guest room shows his deep concern for his comforts. We know the author has founded a wildlife park for the conservation of rare species and the gorilla has always been on the top priority. The author treats this gorilla N’Pongo as if he were a human being and leaves no stone unturned to take care of him in his indisposition. N’Pongo’s disposition and exemplary behaviour deserved his stay in the guest room, though later he is shifted into the zoo and is provided with a female companion Nandy. Thus the title of the story is befitting and convincing.

(b) Describe briefly N’Pongo’s illness and recovery.

Answer : Although N’Pongo and Nandy were different in character they quite plainly adored each other. The gorillas frequently experienced dysfunctional bowel moments. Then came N’Pongos’s first real illness. Gerald had just arranged to spend three weeks in the south of France for work. Four days before he had to leave N’Pongo started to look pale. The only symptom was acute diarrhoea. Later on it was found that he was suffering from a form of colitis. N’Pongo lost weight and stopped eating altogether. The author became anxious about his health. N’Pongo stopped even drinking milk and so no antibiotics could be given to him. Gerald took all pains to consult vets and physicians and provided the best medical aid to N’Pongo. He wanted no indiscretion to be taken regarding N’Pongo’s diet. Gerald felt that he could sacrifice his visit but could not leave N’Pongo untreated. So different foods were tried, antibiotics and injections were given to N’Pongo. Slowly his efforts bore fruit. Luckily on the eve of his departure, N’Pongo started showing satisfactory improvements. While in France, the author kept in touch about N’Pongo’s health and steady improvement. It was a big relief to him when on his arrival he found N’Pongo having regained his health and weight.

(c) “The Zoo   must cease to be mere show place of animals and start to contribute something towards the conservation of wildlife.” In the light of this statement , discuss the theme of the story ‘A Gorilla in the Guest Room’.

Answer : Conservation is the practice of protecting the wild plant and animal species and their habitats. The aim of wildlife conservation is to protect the most endangered and rare species from extinction. The author feels that zoos can do a lot in this regard. They should not remain as mere show places of animals. They should contribute to the conservation of wild life.

Gerald’s efforts in this regard are praise worthy. According to him, all the zoos must be financed and supported in a way so that they could provide the animals, birds, reptiles their natural habitat as far as possible. The greatest concern is how to preserve the most endangered and rare species and protect them from extinction. The author’s sincere efforts in bringing the baby gorilla in his house overcoming all obstacles by his wife or arranging finances are laudable in this respect.

Once N’Pongo entered into the life of Gerald and his family all of them started loving him. Since the cage was not yer ready N’Pongo was allowed to reside in their guest rom . He was admired and taken care of . He was served delicacies. When N’Pongo fell ill, the author made every effort to restore his health. He was given the best treatment. The writer wants that all of us must cultivate love for the animals and try to help them as much as we can.

Part – 4

(a) Describe the efforts made by the writer to establish a zoo with the aim of wildlife conservation.

Answer : Gerald Durrell was concerned about the future of endangered species. He made a genuine effort to establish his zoo as a place, suitable for wildlife conservation. He felt that all the common animals in the zoo should be replaced by the rare and threatened species. He made up his mind to buy a baby gorilla for twelve hundred pounds. His wife was not in favour of it. But Gerald collected the required money from different sources and bought the baby gorilla N’Pongo.

When he brought the gorilla, the cage was not ready. So he kept N’Pongo in his guest room for a few days. N’Pongo was loved and liked by all. When N’Pongo grew up Gerald obtained a mate for N’Pongo. So that he didn’t turn morose or melancholy. In this way Nandy, the female gorilla came in the zoo. Gerald sympathised with Nandy though her behaviour at times was antisocial. He installed a communication apparatus in the zoo to constantly monitor the health of the gorillas. When N’Pongo fell ill he gave necessary treatment to him. N’Pongo was given injections and antibiotics while being distracted with a watermelon. Gerald was so much concerned about the health of the gorillas that he left Jersy only when he saw sparkle in N’Pongo’s eyes. All this shows Gerald was a true supporter of wildlife conservation.

(b) Discuss the theme of love for animals as reflected in the story ‘A Gorilla in the Guest Room.’

Answer : Love for animals is an important theme in the story ‘A Gorilla in the Guest Room’. Gerald has tried to establish that if animals and human live together peacefully a special bond of friendship is formed between them. Love for animals can bring these two species together.

N’Pongo’s entry into Gerald’s life was like the entry of a baby. N’Pongo was about eighteen inches high, quite handsome and healthy. He was quite heavy for his size, with solid bones and muscle. His eyes were small and deep set. They shone with amusement when the author tickled his ribs. N’Pongo while resting back in Gerald’s arms, studied him carefully. Like a child he lifted his fore finger and investigated his beard.”

Gerald also loved him from the very first day. He tickled his ribs and N’Pongo giggled hoarsely. When N’Pongo started living in their house, the author, his mother and wife, as well as the staff were attracted towards N’Pongo. The narrator’s mother tried to persuade the writer to keep the gorilla in their house permanently. When the writer bought Nandy to keep company of N’Pongo he began to like her too. He watched the behaviour of two gorillas affectionately. He admired them like his own children.

(c) What impression do you form about the narrator after your reading of the story ‘A Gorilla in the Guest Room’?

Answer : Gerald Durrell, the narrator is a great lover of animals. He set up a zoological part in Jersy in 1959. He is so caring and affectionate towards animals that it appears as if they are his family members. The way he takes care of N’Pongo and his female companion Nandy shows his love for the well-being of animals.

When N’Pongo falls seriously ill, he takes all pains to consult vets and physicians; and provides the best medical aid. He takes care of its diet. He tries different foods in order to arouse the feeling of hunger in the animal. Once he even thinks of cancelling his important trip to France. He feels relieved like a parent on seeing N’Pongo hale and hearty once again.

It is amazing that the narrator is so knowledgeable about the needs, desires and expectations of animals. When N’Pongo grows up he at once understands his need for a mate. So he has to go in for another gorilla, this time a female one. He buys it for a fortune. He names the female gorilla Nandy. He and his family members take pains to befriend the two gorillas, which is not an easy task.

The narrator knows the importance of conservation of wild life. He believes that it is necessary to replace common animals with rare and threatened species.

The narrator is quite positive by nature. Once he decides to buy N’Pongo he goes ahead in spite of the protests of his wife. In short, the narrator is a great animal lover. He is very gentle, calm , cool and positive.

Long Questions

Question 1 : Referring closely to the short story ‘A Gorilla in the Guest Room’ describe the slow development of the narrator’s relationship with a gorilla.

Answer : The narrator procured a baby gorilla named N’Pongo for his zoo. Slowly a relationship of mutual love, care and understanding developed between the two.

Although N’Pongo’s behaviour was exemplary, the author did not expect N’Pongo to automatically assume civilized behaviour simply because he was living in the house. Therefore, the guest room, when N’Pongo left it, bore numerous traces of his presence. It looked like a sixteenth-century alehouse months after N’Pongo’s sojourn there. The handle of the door was badly bent and pulled down. There were several marks of discoloration in the room. But N’Pongo’s disposition, good manners and very well developed sense of humour made N’Pongo the darling of the narrator. Unlike a baby Chimpanzee who threw tantrums on being locked up in the cage, N’Pongo did not show any such hysterics. Although deploring it, he would accept the necessity of being locked up in the cage. The author understood the needs of the gorilla when he grew up. So he procured a wife for him. The female gorilla, Nandy, took a lot of time to be friendly towards him as she was antisocial and scared of humans.

The author remained anxious about the health and well being of these both. He felt deeply concerned when he learnt that they were having diarrhoea. He wanted no indiscretion or carelessness to be taken regarding their food, which was of great variety. When he learnt that N’Pongo was indisposed, he took all pains to consult vets and physicians, and gave the best medical aid. It was when he was to be away for three weeks in France for making a film about life in the Camargue. He could sacrifice his visit but could not leave N’Pongo untreated. So different foods were tried, antibiotics and injections were given to N’Pongo. Slowly his efforts bore fruit. Luckily on the eve of the narrator’s departure, N’Pongo started showing satisfactory improvements. While in France, the author kept in touch about N’Pongo’s health and steady improvement. It was a big relief to him when on his arrival he found N’Pongo having regained his health and weight. It reflects on the friendly relationship between the narrator and the gorilla.

Question 2 : The zoos “must cease to be mere showplaces of animals and start to contribute something towards the conservation of wildlife.” Elaborate and illustrate from the story ‘A Gorilla in the Guest Room’.

Answer : There is still a common perception about zoos as a place where a variety of animals are put for public display. People come to see the animals, enjoy themselves and go back. The zoo animals feel depressed and unhappy as they are underfed and under constant human gaze. They feel helpless and powerless. There are some zoological parks where sincere efforts are being made to contribute towards the conservation of wildlife. In some of them, for instance , under Save Tiger mission, tigers are allowed proper, natural environs to mate and thrive.

In his zoological park, in the story ‘A Gorilla in the Guest Room’, the narrator has tried to take care of rare animals. Once he took a fancy to having a gorilla in his zoo. His idea was to replace all the commoner animals with rare and threatened species. He came to know that a baby male gorilla was available for twelve hundred pounds, an astronomical amount for him. But he managed to collect the amount from the rich, philanthropic persons and procured the gorilla, N’Pongo. N’Pongo was a gentle animal, and soon adjusted himself to a cage in the zoo.

The narrator took all pains to humour N’Pongo. The gorilla was given delicious and succulent fruits and vegetables. His powerful body grew gaunt. When he was seriously ill, he was provided the best medical aid. The narrator saw to it that he was on his legs once again. In order to provide him company he bought a female gorilla, Nandy, for fifteen hundred pounds.

All these efforts of the narrator were in the direction of conserving a threatened species. He was hopeful that both the gorillas would give birth to new ones. For this he was ready to make all kinds of sacrifice.

Thus, the narrator shows that the zoos can contribute a lot in the conservation of the wildlife. It demands a lot of efforts, financial help and above all, the will to do it.

Question 3 : How was the narrator able to procure a gorilla for his zoo? How did he take care of the baby gorilla in the zoo?

Answer : The narrator was a great lover of animals. He thought his zoo must have a gorilla. It would be his contribution in saving an extinct species. The gorilla was his top priority. But when the dealer told him that he wanted twelve hundred pounds for the baby gorilla, he felt discouraged, though determined to procure this baby gorilla.

The first difficulty he encountered came from his wife, who was not in favour of spending the huge sum on a gorilla. She reminded him that he had already incurred huge debts in brining rare animals and on maintaining the zoo. All the same his mother supported the idea and was enthusiastic about it. When his wife asked him how he was going to arrange the money, he thought of his bank manager Hope. He also thought that he would ask the public to donate liberally for the noble cause of conserving rare animals.

Ignoring his wife’s pessimistic attitude, he rang up Hope and asked him to furnish him a list of the richest people on the island. Hope was bewildered at this request. He could not support the author’s idea that the rich should help him in buying the gorilla. All the same he agreed to supply him the list, saying the idea was worth trying. In about half an hour Hope dictated the author a list of fifty rich people who could be contacted for the purpose.

Taking a deep breath, the author started contacting the probable and prospective benefactors. The first person the author contacted was Mrs Macgurgle. He got a positive response from her. Thus he kept on contacting one person after another and by lunch time he could collect two hundred pounds. He felt that the remaining one thousand pounds would also come soon. The next person Major Domo he contacted solved all his problems. On hearing that the author needed the remaining balance of a thousand pounds, Major Domo said, “You’d better come along this afternoon and I’ll find you the balance.” The author expressed his gratitude . He felt that the baby gorilla was being handed over to him on a platter. It was a big relief and satisfaction to him that his project was going to see the light of the day. So the entire zoo staff too became excited at the prospect of getting a baby gorilla.

The baby gorilla N’Pongo walked into the author’s life. The author kept him for some time in the guest room until his enclosure (cage) was ready. He looked after N’Pongo as he would to his own family member, taking care of his diet, health and even inner urges by providing him a female mate. A variety of food items was served to both the gorillas.

The author’s concern, his sympathetic attitude towards the gorillas, his humane outlook was discernible when they developed diarrhoea. Though diarrhoea disappeared soon with care and caution, N’Pongo looked off colour at the crucial time when the author had arranged to spend three weeks in the south of France in connection with the shooting of a film about life in the Camargue. N’Pongo’s giggling exuberance was gone. He had gone gaunt. The author tried many vegetables and fruits on him, but to no effect, though N’Pongo seemed to relish watermelon. N’Pongo was persuaded to drink a little skimmed milk by the subterfuge of rubbing a Dispirin on his gums. He was diagonosed to be suffering from colitis. He looked emaciated. Antibiotic injection was given with a syringe. All the time the author was in a quandry. He was even in a mood to cancel his programme. But to his good luck, N’Pongo began to show signs of improvement and the author could go on with his planned visit. Even there he kept in touch with his family and kept on enquiring about N’Pongo’s health. On his return, the author felt much satisfied with N’Pongo’s steady health.

Question 4 : Who is the narrator? What impression do you form of him?

Answer : Gerald Durrell, the author himself, is the narrator. He set up a Zoological Park in Jersey in 1959. The story ‘A Gorilla in the Guest Room’ reveals that he is a great lover of animals. He is so caring and affectionate towards animals that it seems as if they were more than family members to him. The way he takes care of N’Pongo, a gorilla, and its female companion, Nandy, shows his love and concern for the well-being of animals. He becomes worried at the slightest signs of indisposition on the part of N’Pongo. When N’Pongo falls seriously ill, he takes all pains to consult vets and physicians; and provides the best medical aid . He takes care of its diet. He tries different food in order to arouse the feeling of hunger in the animal. Once he even thinks of cancelling his important trip to France. He feels relieved like a parent on seeing N’Pongo hale and hearty once again. Even when he is in France he makes very costly telephone calls to apprise himself of the health of N’Pongo.

It is amazing that the narrator is so knowledgeable about the needs, desires and expectations of animals. When N’Pongo grows up he at once understands his need for a mate. So he has to go in for another gorilla, this time a female one. He buys it for a fortune. He names the female gorilla Nandy. He and his family members take pains to befriend the two gorillas, which is not an easy task.

The narrator knows the importance of conservation of wildlife. He knows that many species of animals are going extinct, especially gorillas. So he decides to buy a gorilla and contributes a bit to save the endangered species. Twelve hundred pounds for the baby male gorilla seems to be too much for him but he decides to spend the amount to fulfil his desire. Later, he has to spend fifteen hundred pounds for a female gorilla in order to provide company to N’Pongo.

He is quite positive by nature. When he decides to buy N’Pongo he has almost no money. His wife Jaquie calls him mad for even thinking about buying the gorilla for twelve hundred pounds. In spite of her protest, he goes ahead with his plans. He succeeds in collecting the amount from some rich, charitable souls.

In short, the narrator is a great animal lover. He is very gentle, calm and cool and positive by nature.

Question 5 : Compare and contrast N’Pongo and Nandy, the two gorillas in the story ‘A Gorilla in the Guest Room’.

Answer : N’Pongo is a male gorilla, whereas Nandy is the female one. Though both of them belong to the same species they have widely different natures. Like the males of all species, N’Pongo is more powerful than Nandy and shows his superiority at the first available opportunity. Nandy, like any other female, seems to be in comparison submissive and helpless.

N’Pongo, even as a baby , has courteous , civilized manners. His gentle behaviour in the house is impressive. The author’s mother feels so attached to him that she expresses his desire not to encage the gorilla in the zoo:

………. my mother was doing her best to try to persuade me to keep him in the house permanently.

In the author’s room, the gorilla lies on the sofa and explores one thing after the other life “a small black professor in a museum”. He touches everything so gently that there is no danger that he will break anything. As he grows up he plays with the author. He is quite amiable and pleasant. Though most animals dislike to be locked in a cage and make loud protests, N’Pongo easily submits to his imprisonment thinking it inevitable. In short, N’Pongo has attractive appearance and good manners. He has also a well-developed sense of humour. Often he grasps the leg of an on-looker and pushes it from under him – a task that provides him immense pleasure.

On the other hand, Nandy is comparatively less friendly. She is , in fact, scary of human beings. Some rash youth gave her a blow with a knife, leaving a permanent scar on the top of her skull and an unknown fear of humans. So she takes a lot of time to come near the narrator and even N’Pongo. She is conscious of her rights and self-respect. She does not feel amused when N’Pongo , out of mischief or perhaps out of his sense of his male superiority , comes and pulls a handful of her hair. She shows her anger at once. After some time, she accepts him as her companion.

Thus, N’Pongo and Nandy have different temperaments. N’Pongo is gentle, lively, humorous and well-mannered. He is friendly towards humans. Nandy is shy, reserved and short-tempered. She has little trust in human beings. That is why, unlike N’Pongo, she remains alert and suspicious.