Extract Based Questions
Read the extracts given below and answer the questions that follow.
Question 1 : Who sat by the roadside? Where was he sitting?
Answer : An old man with steel rimmed spectacles and dusty clothes sit by the side of the road. He was sitting by the roadside near a pontoon bridge which was being used by the people to cross the river as the enemy could attack the place anytime.
Question 2 : Describe the old man’s appearance. Why was he tired?
Answer : He was wearing steel rimmed spectacles and dirty clothes and was sitting by the roadside near a pontoon bridge that crosses a river. He is tired by the long journey that he had to cover on foot.
Question 3 : Why did the old man not move from his place?
Answer : The old man could not move from his place as he was dead tired. He had walked twelve kilometers from his hometown to the bridge. By the time he reached the place, he had got completely exhausted. He was old and in grief of losing his dear animals so he could not force himself to walk farther.
Question 4 : What did the narrator observe while dong his duty?
Answer : The narrator who was a soldier observed that an old man was sitting at the bridge while everybody was fleeing from the place. He found it strange as nobody was supposed to stay there because the place could be attacked any time by the enemy.
Question 5 : The old man was the native of which place? Why did he leave his palce?
Answer : The old man who was sitting by the roadside near the bridge, belonged to San Carlos where danger of attack by the enemy artillery was looming. The Captain asked him to leave the place to save his life as amid the attack nobody would survive. Hearing these words of the Captain the old man had to leave his hometown.
Question 1 : What was the old man’s occupation?
Answer : The occupation of the old man had not been mentioned clearly yet through his talking it can be assumed that his only occupation was to look after his pet animals which consisted of two goats, a cat and four pairs of pigeons.
Question 2 : Why had the old man left his hometown?
Answer : It was the war time and the old man’s hometown was also in danger zone and could be attacked. He and his town people were asked to leave the place and save their lives so the old man had to leave his hometown.
Question 3 : Why did the soldier ask the old man to do to save himself? Why did he ask him to do so?
Answer : The soldier, the narrator of the story was concerned about the old man. He knew that staying near the bridge was a certain death so he asked the old man to catch the truck to Barcelona to save his life.
Question 4 : What did the old man tell the narrator about himself?
Answer : The old man told the narrator that he was a refugee and he had come from San Carlos. In his native town he was taking care of the animals he was in charge of . He was worried about his pets and there was no one but he, who could take care of them. In the attack they might get killed.
Question 5 : Name the animals mentioned in the story. Why were the not with him?
Answer : The animals that were possessed by the old man, were two goats, a cat and four pairs of pigeons. They could not accompany him because it was war time. There could be attack anytime and from anywhere. First the old man was not permitted to take his animals with him and second he could not take care of them in that long journey with no exact destination to reach.
Question 1 : What does the narrator want to know about the old man? What is his intention?
Answer : The narrator wants to know which political party, the old man favours. He wants to know it because the country is going through a civil war. The Fascists want to bring back dictatorship so by knowing the politics of the old man, the narrator wants to know whether he was a desirable or undesirable fellow.
Question 2 : How old was the man without politics? How did his old age affect him?
Answer : The man without involvement in any type of politics was 76 years old. His old age affects him physically as he was dead tired after walking 12 kilometers from his hometown to the bridge. The extreme fatigue that he was experiencing was partly due to his old age which forced him to stop near the roadside.
Question 3 : Why did the narrator tell the old man that it was not a good place to stop?
Answer : The narrator asked the old man not to stay there as enemies could attack any moment. The narrator therefore asked the old man to leave that place immediately as there was a danger to his life.
Question 4 : Why did the old man refuse to go to Barcelona?
Answer : As the old man was so exhausted, he preferred to stay back for some more time. When he came to know that trucks were going towards Barcelona he refused. He wanted to leave himself to the mercy of fate just like left his animals back his home town.
Question 5 : What does it tell about the old man when he showed his gratitude towards the narrator?
Answer : The old man was a lonely person, when the narrator showed concern for him, he felt grateful towards him because it seems that the soldier was the only person that asked about his well-being.
Question 1 : What did the old man worry about and why?
Answer : The old man was worried about the fate of his animals which he had left in his hometown due to the war. He was worried about them because there was no one to take care of them. They would have to remain hungry and could be killed by the artillery fire.
Question 2 : Who looked at the narrator very blankly and tiredly? What was the reason behind such looks?
Answer : The old man looked at the narrator very blankly and tiredly when he suggested him to go by truck. He did not want to go to Barcelona where the trucks were going as he did not know anyone there.
Question 3 : Why was the old man worried about the goats?
Answer : Unlike the pigeons, the goats could neither take care of themselves not fly in the sky. They had no option but to roam in the open amid firing which means a certain death. So, the old man was most worried about them.
Question 4 : What did the old man tell about his animals?
Answer : The old man was not worried about the pigeons because they could fly and save themselves. He was less worried about the cat because it could look after itself, but he expressed his concern about his two goats because the goats could not fly and could not save themselves.
Question 5 : How did the narrator console the old man? Did it affect the old man in a positive way?
Answer : The narrator tried to console the old man saying that his animals would be safe. He told him that the pigeons would fly and save themselves. When the old man expressed his concern about the other animals, the narrator told him not to think about the others.
No, it did not affect the old man in a positive way because he was obsessed with the thought of safety of his animals.
Question 1 : What did the narrator advise the old man? What was the danger there?
Answer : The narrator advised the old man to catch a ride on a truck to Barcelona and leave that place in order to save his life. He asked him to do so because there was a danger to his life as the enemy planes could hit the place anytime.
Question 2 : Why did the old man seem grateful towards the narrator?
Answer : The narrator had asked the old man to catch a ride on a trip to Barcelona and save his life. Therefore, he thanked him for showing concern about his life. It seemed that he was meeting a person who showed concern towards him after a long time. Hence, he was grateful to the soldier for his gesture.
Question 3 : What feelings did the narrator have for old man at the end?
Answer : The narrator thought that since the old man could not get rid of the thought of his animal’s safety, nothing could be done to save him. He felt pity for him. As the attack by the enemy was about to take place any time and the old man was sure to die.
Question 4 : Why did the old man sit down again in the dust?
Answer : The old man had walked 12 kilometres to reach the bridge and now he was badly tired. And due to fatigue he again sat down in the dust. He no longer wanted to run from his fate thus had made his mind to stay at the place without worrying about the enemy’s attack.
Question 5 : Did the old man not accept narrator’s advice? Why could he not walk farther? Did the narrator leave him?
Answer : Yes, the old man did not accept his advice as he was extremely tired. The twelve kilometers that he had walked had taken all his energy making him completely helpless to go farther.
Yes , the narrator left him as he had understood that the old man had resigned to his fate and could not be convinced to leave the place. Moreover keep standing with him, was a certain death as the danger of attack by the enemies was looming and it could happen anytime.
Question 1 : Why did the old man leave his hometown? Why did he leave it reluctantly?
Answer : The old was forced to leave his hometown due to the Spanish civil war. The Captain told him to run away at the earliest as there was an artillery fire. He left it reluctantly because he did not want to leave his animals behind. He was worried about the safety of his animals. He actually left his animals behind with a heavy heart. The thought of impending death of the animals disturbed him.
Question 2 : Why was the old man worried too much about the animals? Why did he have to leave his pets behind?
Answer : The old man was in charge of some animals. Those animals included two goats, a cat and four pairs of pigeons. He had to leave them due to the untimely war and the Captain asked him to leave because of the artillery fire. The old man had no family and only those animals were his family. He did not want to leave them unattended. The animals that worried him the most was the pair of goats as he know that the cat could look after itself and the pigeons were also unlocked so they would also fly away.
Question 3 : How did the narrator console the old man? Why could his attempts, not make a positive impact on him?
Answer : The narrator consoled the old man by saying him that nothing would happen to his animals. He told him that the pigeons would fly and save themselves. When the old man expressed his concern about the other animals, the narrator told him not to think about the others. It did not affect him positively because he was obsessed with the thoughts of his animals’ safety. The narrator could not get success as the old man was not able to get rid of the thought of his animals.
Question 4 : What did the narrator urge the old man? Did he accept his advice?
Answer : The narrator urged the old man to catch a ride on a truck to Barcelona and leave that place to save his life. The enemy artillery planes could hit that place any moment. No, he did not accept his advice. He told him that he was too tired to walk any farther. He tried to walk but could not do so due to fatigue.
Question 5 : Give a vivid description of the consequences of the war. Who were most hit by it?
Answer : The story had taken place during the Spanish civil war at a pontoon bridge. It was Easter Sunday but there was a lot of disturbance everywhere instead of celebrations, the enemy troops were fleeing heavily. People were leaving their homes and things. The old man who was the main character of the story seems to be worried about his animals whom he had left behind in his town. The situation was chaotic as the civilians were fleeing from the place due to unexpected attack of the enemy somewhere beyond the bridge. The old man seemed to be totally exhausted and was looking somewhat confused and worried.
Question 1 : Throw some light on the theme of the story. Describe the situations that highlight the themes.
Answer : The story deals with themes of resignation, depression and consequences of war. These are reflected in the conversation between the soldier and the old man who had to leave his hometown during the Spanish civil war.
Below are given the situations that deals with the themes of the story.
Depression : The old man is gripped by panic and anxiety. He expresses his concern about the safety of his animals whom he has left behind. When the soldier who is concerned about his safety ask him to catch the truck to Barcelona, he tells him that he is too tired to go farther so he resigns himself to his fate. The solider tells him that it is best not to think about his animals. The old man is unable to stop thinking about them and this leads him to depression which is caused not only by the thought of slaughter (killing) of his dear animals but also by the inability to go farther due to the fatigue of travelling such a long distance as twelve kilometers.
Impending Death : He is somewhat relaxed by the fact that the cat can look after itself but apart form that the soldier says that nothing can be done for him and his death seems certain. Impending death is also one of the major themes of the story as every body is in hurry out of the fear of impending death. Carts, men, women and children are crossing a pontoon bridge of fearing death and now he fears the impending death of them.
Fear of Attack : The story is set on the back drop of the Spanish civil war. When the danger of attack was looming everywhere. Towns prone to the attack by artillery have been evacuated so that civilians could be saved. The scene where the story is picturised is of side of the road near which carts, children, women are crossing a river through a pontoon bridge as the planes of the enemy could attack anytime soon. So the narrator who is a scout soldier has been assigned with duty to watch the advancement of the enemy expected to approach the place sooner or later.
Question 2 : Write the character sketch of old man.
Answer : The old man is the main character of the story. He is 76 years old and is a war refugee.
Following are the points that discuss about the character of old man.
Displaced and Concerned : He has been displaced by the civil war. He has no family at all but the few animals he had were his world. He has the charge of two goats, a cat and four pairs of pigeons. He is worried about their safety as he has left them alone in his hometown. He thinks that they would die. The idea of their impending death makes him sad and depressed.
Symbol of War Victim : He has already walked twelve kilometers from his hometown San Carlos to the bridge and now is too tired to walk. The old man symbolises the men and women who have to leave their homes as the victims of war with which they having nothing to do. The old is a victim of the war like the goats because the goats unlike the pigeons cannot fly.
Fatalist : He surrenders to his fate providing that he is a fatalist. The advice by the narrator to catch the truck to save his life, makes no effect on him. He is ready to face anything stored in his fate regardless of the possibility of a certain death. He also left his pets on their fate though he showed great concern over their safety. He knew very well that there was nothing he could do to save them same as the narrator was left with no option but to leave him on his fate.
Question 3 : How can you say that soldier was concerned about the old man’s safety? What did he ask the old man to save himself?
Answer : The narrator in the story ‘Old Man at the Bridge’ is the soldier who comes in contact with the old man at the bridge which people are crossing to flee from the Spanish Civil war.
Following are the points that show the soldier’s concern towards the old man’s safety.
Backdrop of the Story : The soldier is a scout whose duty is to cross the bridge and find out how far the enemy has advanced. He engages himself in a conversation with the old man.
Anxiety of the Old Man : During conversation he comes to know that the old man is worried more about the safety of his animals whom he has left behind in his hometown than his own safety.
Though knowing the certain fate of animals of the old man the narrator assures him that his animals would be safe. He knows the truth may hurt the old man but he has already got concerned about him and does not want him to suffer the pain of imaginary slaughter of his dear pets but all his efforts to assure the old man about the safety of his animals fail.
Advise by the Soldier : The narrator saw the old man sitting near the pontoon bridge all by himself. After listening to the old man’s story, he requests the old man to board a truck and go to Barcelona as enemy might attack the place anytime. He appears concerned about the old man and advises him to save his life at that moment. He tried to assure the old man that except goat pigeons and cat will take care of themselves.
Question 4 : In your opinion what could have happened to the old man at the end of the story? Did he die or survive?
Answer : It is specialty of Hemingway that he leaves so many things on the readers to assume. Here in this story also, no definite conclusion or ending has been given. So reader themselves have to make their own assumptions.
According to me, the old man at the end must have died as he resigned to his fate. Following reasons may prove this.
Old Man too Tired : The narrator meets this old man sitting near the pontoon bridge where everyone seems to be in a hurry to go away from the enemy targets. But he finds that this old man is 76 years old who has walked 12 kilometers from his home San Carlos. The narrator comes to know that the old man was too tired and did not have any stamina to walk any farther.
Old Man’s Concern : He was very much bothered about his animal because he very well knew that cat could take care of itself , the pigeons could fly but the goats were the only animal which had no place to go.
A Fatalist : Old man had the chance but he was a fatalist and without his animals he had no reason to live, they were his only family. They gave him the meaning of life but the war had snatched them also. He was scared of the impending death of his animals.
No Hope for Life : He was worried more about his animals’ safety than this own safety. Moreover he had lost all hope by that time, so seeing his condition it is very clear that he might have surely died on the bridge sitting in the same position.