Your Cart

05_THEMAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH

Summary

  • The Man Who Knew Too Much is a humourous story set in an army training camp.
  • It highlights the attitude of one of the trainees at the camp, Private Quelch, who has a habit of showing off his knowledge in an attempt to outshine the other trainees in his batch.
  • Private Quelch was a very confident, well-informed, intelligent, ambitious and knowledgeable young cadet working hard to get a commission in the army.
  • Soon he earned himself the nickname of ‘Professor’ not just because of his knowledge and his weakness for displaying it but also because he was tall and thin, wore horn-rimmed spectacles and had scholarly looks.
  • Private Quelch focuses all his energies on becoming an army officer and winning the ‘coveted’ stripe.
  • In the very first lesson in musketry, while explaining the mechanism of a rifle, when a sergeant told the trainees that a bullet leaves the rifle at the speed of over two thousand feet per second, the professor immediately interrupted to correct him.
  • This did not go well with the sergeant who later directed a number of questions to the professor in the hope of taking revenge but the professor answered all the questions correctly.
  • This credited his exceptional knowledge to his “intelligent reading’.
  • In his attempt to impress his seniors he reads up the training manual, often sitting late at night to do so.
  • He becomes unpopular with his batchmates because of his habit of lecturing them on any topic related to their training, right from the use of guns to the different ways of cleaning them.
  • Private Quelch read a lot, worked very hard and attended all his classes with full enthusiasm and took keen interest in all the activities.
  • One summer afternoon brought a turning point in his career.
  • Things come to a head when he meets Corporal Turnbull, a tough war veteran, who has to lecture them on the grenade.
  • Corporal Turnbull informed that a grenade is divided into anumber of small parts to assist segmentation.
  • The professor, as usual supplemented the Corporal’s information by saying that it had forty-four segments.
  • The Corporal didn’t like the interruption and tried to continue his lecture.
  • But the professor again commented on how he should have started his lecture.
  • The Corporal was annoyed with this kind of behaviour and asked the professor to take his place and deliver the lecture.
  • A delighted Quelch delivers his lecture at length, blissfully unaware of the rising irritation of the Corporal.
  • Finally he has to pay for his over-enthusiasm by being sent to the cook house as punishment by the Corporal, much to the amusement and relief of his batchmates.
  • However, even in the cookhouse Quelch cannot keep himself from lecturing the poor cooks on the right method of peeling potatoes.
  • So, nothing could change the Professor’s habit of showing off his intellectual superiority over others.

 

Private Quelch’s Positive Traits

  1. Hardworking 6.       Enthusiastic
  2. Intelligent 7.       Confident
  3. Focussed 8.       Well-read
  4. Knowledgeable 9.       Well-informed
  5. Determined 10.     Energetic

 

Private Quelch’s Negative Traits

  1. Overbearing 6.       Sermonising
  2. Ostentatious 7.       Incorrigible
  3. Over-ambitious 8.       Condescending
  4. Garrulous           9.       Audacious
  5. Loquacious

 

Questions & Answers

 

Q.1.   Why was Private Quelch nicknamed ‘Professor’? Was the epithet apt?

Or

          When the author first met Private Quelch, the latter looked like a ‘Professor’ to him. Give reasons for this impression.

Ans.   Private Quelch was nicknamed “Professor” because of his physical appearance and scholarly looks. He was lean and lanky and had a stooping body and donned horn-rimmed spectacles. Moreover, his habit of displaying his knowledge aptly earned him this nickname.

 

Q.2.   What does the dark, sun-dried appearance of the Sergeant suggest about him?

Ans.   The Sergeant had ‘dark and sun-dried’ appearance. This appearance suggests that at one stage of his life he had exposed his body to the burning sun, which had made him tough and given him sun-tanned complexion. The Sergeant was a seasoned soldier and had served a tenure in the North-West Frontier (of undivided India). This exposure made him look rough and tough.

 

Q.3.   How did Private Quelch’s knowledge get exposed further as the      Sergeant’s classes went on?

Or

          When the Sergeant asked Quelch many questions, why was the       Professor’s glory enhanced?

Ans.   Angered by Private Quelch’s interruption, the Sergeant decided to seek revenge by addressing a barrage of questions to the Professor with an intention of cornering him. However, the Professor was ready with correct answers. Thus, rather than being subdued, every question directed at him gave him an opportunity to answer it correctly and to have his glory enhanced.

 

Q.4.   What did the ‘Professor’ mean by ‘intelligent reading’? What is the significance of ‘intelligent reading’ in his statement?

Ans.   By ‘intelligent reading’ the Professor meant reading in between the lines, not merely reading for the sake of reading. When an individual reads thoroughly and with full concentration, he is able to understand each and every detail of the topic he has read. The Professor owed all his knowledge to his ‘intelligent reading’. The expression reveals the Professor’s over-confidence, presumptuousness and his love for showing off his intellectual superiority.

 

Q.5.   What were the Professor’s ambitions in the army?

Ans.   The Professor’s ultimate aim and ambition in the army was to become a commissioned officer. He worked really hard for the purpose. However, as the first step towards his ultimate goal, he aimed at acquiring a stripe. Thus,  he planned to go up the ladder of promotion gradually.

 

Q.6.   Did Private Quelch’s day-to-day practices take him closer towards his goal? Give reasons in support of your answer.

Ans.   Despite the Professor’s consistent hard work to achieve his goal, he did not get an inch closer to it. All his efforts went down the drain owing to his habit of flaunting his knowledge and interrupting his superiors and correcting them. Thanks to this habit, he was punished with a permanent assignment to the cookhouse.

 

Q.7.   Give a brief description of Corporal Turnbull.

Ans.   Corporal Turnbull was a smart young army officer who could not “be trifled with”. Very meticulous and methodical, he meant business while delivering his lectures and tolerated no nonsense. The privates treated him as a hero for his physical prowess.

 

Q.8.   How did Private Quelch manage to annoy Corporal Turnbull?

Ans.   Private Quelch first interrupted Corporal Turnbull’s lectures on hand grenades to  say that the weapon had forty-four segments. Next, he found fault with the way the lecture was started. Irritated and enraged by these interruptions Corporal Turnbull asked the ‘Professor’ to deliver the lecture in his place. The Private’s impeccable completion of the lecture proved to be the last straw and left the Corporal fuming with anger.

 

Q.9.   Do you think Private Quelch learnt a lesson after he was chosen for cookhouse duties? Give reasons in support of your answer.

Or

          Did the punishment given to Private Quelch change his attitude? How did he behave in the kitchen?

Ans.   Private Quelch failed to understand that he had been assigned cookhouse duties by way of punishment and refused to mend his ways. In the kitchen too, he flaunted his knowledge and sermonized to the three cooks. This time he delivered a lecture to them on the hygienic and scientific method of peeling  potatoes, to keep their vitamin value intact.

 

Q.10. What proved to be the turning point in the life of Private Quelch?

Ans.   Private Quelch’s showing off knowledge about the number of fragments in a grenade and the suggestion that Corporal Turnbull should have started with its five characteristics irritated the instructor. To teach him a lesson the Corporal nominated him for the permanent cookhouse duties. Hence, his dream of getting a stripe and a commission remained unfulfilled and he had to pay heavily for the ostentatious display of his knowledge.

 

Q.11. “We used to pride ourselves on aircraft recognition”. How was their pride shattered?

Ans.   The pride of the author and his fellow trainees was shattered when Private Quelch announced that the plane was a North American Harvard Trainer even without looking up at it. He also adds that it could be identified by the harsh sound of the engine which was caused by the high speed of the airscrews.

 

Q.12. Private Quelch knew “too much”. Give reasons to prove that he was unable to win the admiration of his superior officers or his colleagues.

Ans.   Though everyone agreed that Quelch knew too much, he soon lost all their respect because of his habit of correcting his colleagues publicly whenever they made a mistake. If anyone shone at his work, he made sure to outshine them. He was always trying to patronize them and show off his knowledge to them. After a while they just couldn’t take his condescending ways any longer and steered clear of him.

 

Q.13. Attempt a character sketch of Private Quelch.

Ans.   Private Quelch was a dedicated, committed, and focused man. He had set his heart on becoming an army officer and getting a stripe and he left no stone unturned to achieve his goal. He borrowed the training manual and read it thoroughly, even staying up late at night to prepare himself for the classes to be held the next day. He was very keen to acquaint himself with every aspect of army life and would badger his instructors with all sorts of questions till he got his answers. He worked very hard-he drilled with enthusiasm, and during the long marches he never appeared tired or exhausted. But with all his good qualities, he was not popular because of his habit of showing off and behaving in a patronizing and condescending manner. If anyone made a mistake he was sure to correct them loudly with no thought to the fact that he was offending their feelings. In fact, he did not even spare his teachers. The Sergeant and the Corporal were highly offended at his interruptions of their lessons and that is why he was sent to the cook house as a punishment by the Corporal. However, the punishment did not seem to have had much effect on his bossy ways because even in the cook house he was heard lecturing the cooks on the correct method of peeling potatoes.

 

Q.14.You are the “Professor”. Write a diary entry after your first day at the cookhouse, describing the events that led to this assignment, also express your thoughts and feelings about the events of the day in about 175 words.

 

Ans.   21st January 2014                                                                               8 p.m.

 

          Dear Diary

 

          Today was my first day at the cook house!Itwasn’t as bad as I had thought it would be! But I was appalled to see how little the cooks know about cooking. Today I had to lecture them on the correct way of peeling potatoes. They have been peeling them so thickly that a lot of the vitamins are getting lost! By the time I complete my term here I will have taught them a thing or two.

 

After all, I was chosen by Corporal Turnbull for this task. I think he was greatly impressed by my knowledge of grenades. He let me give the whole lecture by myself. I bet I taught him a thing or two! Even the Sergeant had been impressed by my knowledge of rifles. I have no doubt they think I am the best trainee in the camp! I know that I march the best and my hut is the cleanest. I simply love reading the training manual. It has so many things to learn and anyway I am always the best prepared trainee in the whole group. I know the others call me “Professor” behind my back because of all my knowledge. I feel so good. I am eagerly waiting for my stripe. Only then will I fulfill my dream of becoming an army officer. I wonder whether I will get the Best Trainee Award.

 

Q.15. Imagine you are Corporal Turnbull. Today Private Quelch has left you red-faced by interrupting your lecture time and again. You feel bad that an intelligent and hardworking man has spoiled his career forever due to his stupid way of showing off his knowledge. Write your feelings in the form of a diary entry confessing how you too reacted out of vengeance and punished him rather harshly. 

 

Ans.   (Day and Date)                                                                          (Time)

 

          Dear Diary

 

During my training career of five years I have not met a crazier private than Quelch. He is knowledgeable and knows far more than is expected of a cadet. However, his manners get on your nerves. His tendency to flaunt his knowledge and to interrupt his instructors and sermonizing to his colleagues makes him such a bore that the entire squad is sick of him and cannot stand him. His continued interruptions during my grenade lesson today irritated me so much that I could have court-martialed him! But I punished him there and then by assigning kitchen duties to him permanently.

 

Looking back at what had happened, I feel that, I was a bit too rash and harsh. After all, he had done this with me just once perphaps it would have been better if I had given him one more chance and let him off with a stern warning. But on second thoughts, I think I made a good military decision and consider the matter closed. Sorry, Professor.

Turnbull

 

Q.16. Imagine you are the Professor. Write a diary entry describing the events that led to your assignment in the cookhouse and how you feel about the development.

 

Ans.   (Day and Date)                                                                                    (Time)

 

          Dear Diary

 

All my dreams to earn a stripe and create a commotion in the training depot with my extraordinary performance have been shattered. Corporal Turnbull’s vengeance has demoted me and condemned me to the cookhouse duties permanently. What a boring day I have spent in the cookhouse! The only bright moments were when I shouted at the cooks and helpers and gave them a piece of my mind.

However the day didn’t give me any sense of achievement or fulfilment. The more I think about the incidents of the day, the lesser I understand why the Corporal decided to send me to the cookhouse and that too permanently! I had simply made the information given by him about a grenade more precise. When he asked me to take his place and deliver the lecture, I’m sure, I did a neat job. All the privates of the squad were wonder struck. I am sure the Corporal felt I was a threat to him. He must have felt jealous, otherwise why would he send me to the cookhouse? It must have given him a great sense of satisfaction but I’m sure, soon he will realize that he has deprived the squad of the most brilliant private, i.e. me.

 

 

Quelch.

 

WORKSHEET-1

Short Answer Questions

  1. Private Quelch has been humiliated many a times yet there was no trace of anger, regret or shame in the man. He never learnt. Comment.

 

  1. Describe Corporal Turnbull. Narrate the incident that occurred during his class on hand grenades.

 

  1. Private Quelch writes a page in his diary
  2. a) While at training at the training depot.
  3. b) After he was transferred to the Cookhouse duties.
  4. c) Giving his opinion of the claims taken by the sergeant and Corporal Turnbull.

Write the Diary Entry.

 

  1. One of the trainees writes a letter to his mother describing his training at the Training depot with special reference to the professor. Write the letter.

 

  1. What was the first lesson taught at the training depot? Who interrupted and what was the consequence of the interruption.

 

  1. “On pursuit of his ambition he worked hard” Justify the statement with respect to Private Quelch.

 

  1. Write a brief character sketch of Private Quelch.

 

  1. Was the ‘Professor’ who knew too much really intelligent or a show off? Comment.

 

  1. Private Quelch writes a letter to his wife after he was transferred to the cookhouse duties. Write the letter.

 

  1. Corporal Turnbull analyses the punishment he gave to Private Quelch after he reaches home. He feels that he had been a little too harsh on him. He writes his feelings in his diary. Write the diary.

Long Answer Questions

 

  1. At first, Private Quelch was a hero in the eyes of his fellow soldiers. What values and qualities of his helped them form this opinion?

 

  1. A voice interrupted. “Two thousand, four hundred and forty feet per second.”
    It was the professor. Do you think Private Quelch should have interrupted the Sergeant in the manner he did? Why?Why not? What does this show about his character as a soldier? What would you have done, had you been Private Quelch? Give reasons in support of your opinion.
  2. Corporal Turnbull was a young man, but he was not a man to be trifled with. He had come back from Dunkirk with all his equipment correct and accounted for and his kitten in his pocket. He was our hero, and we used to tell each other that he was so tough that you could hammer nails into him without his noticing it.

 

What values can you learn from the personality and character of Corporal Turnbull?

Do you think the manner in which Corporal Turnbull treated Private Quelch was justified?

How would you have acted, if you were the Corporal?

 

  1. Imagine you are the Commanding Officer of the unit where Private Quelchis posted. Write a detailed note for the Private’s Annual Confidential Report (ACR). Would you have recommended him for a commission in the Army? Why?Why not?

 

  1. If you were the narrator or one of his friends, would you have made fun of Private Quelch? Why/Why not?

 

  1. If you were Private Quelch, what mistakes would you have avoided to ensure that you earned commission in the Army?

 

  1. What lessons can you learn from Private Quelch’s life as described in the story?

 

  1. Why do you think Private Quelch fails to learn from his mistakes? Should the author and his colleagues have counselled him? Why?Why not?

 

  1. Imagine you are the narrator. Write a letter to your mother describing Private Quelch. In your letter you should
  • describe some of the good things you have learnt from him
  • list a few things in his character that you would like to avoid
  • say whether people like Private Quelch are suitable for Army or not

 

  1. Do you think hard work and intelligence alone are enough for success in life? What other qualities or values are necessary to be truly successful in life? Comment on the basis of your reading of Private Quelch’s story.

 

 

notes

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

 

notes

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

 

notes

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

X