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07_THE BEST SELLER class 9

 

Summary

  • “Best-Seller” is an account of a plate-glass seller, who although a commoner, falls in love with a beautiful daughter of a belted colonel and succeeds in winning her hand in marriage.
  • The story is set in a typical American background with twists and turns.
  • It traces the life of a travelling salesman John Pescud, who believes that best selling romances are the product of an over-imaginative mind.
  • He finds the stories impossible to believe and feels that they are far removed from real life.
  • He finds it hard to digest that an American man from Chicago would feel so deeply about a girl as to follow her to a remote European country with an unpronounceable name, fight half a dozen soldiers to win her hand in marriage.
  • Ironically, when he recounts the story of his own marriage to his travelling companion the reader is exposed to events that are as extraordinary as a best-seller.
  • He meets his wife for the first time in a train and follows her as she changes train after train, travelling all the way from Pittsburgh to Virginia only because he falls in love with her.
  • He stays in a local hotel, finds all about her background and then approaches her to inform her of his intentions of marrying her.
  • Then he proceeds to meet her father, informs him about his background and his intentions of marrying his daughter, charms him with his stories, and finally gets his permission to marry his daughter.

 

 

Questions & Answers

 

Q.1.   Who was the passenger of chair no. 9? What did he suddenly do?

Ans.   The passenger of chair no. 9 was a travelling salesman named John Pescud of Pittsburgh, with whom the narrator was acquainted with. He suddenly threw a book to the floor in disgust between his chair and the window.

 

Q.2.   What does John say about himself since his last meeting with the author?

Ans.   According to John, he was on his way to become prosperous. His salary had been raised twice along with receiving a commission. He had bought some real estate and was on the way to buying some shares. He was also married now.

 

Q.3.   How did John’s first meeting with Jessie’s father go?

Ans.   For the first few seconds of John’s first meeting with Jessie’s father was a little nervous but they soon hit it off. John got him to laugh at his stories. They talked for two hours. He was honest with his intentions and asked the colonel to give him a chance to woo his daughter.

 

Q.4.   Why did John get off at Coketown?

Ans.   Some time back Jessie had admired some petunias growing in some of the houses in Coketown, so John had got down there in the hope of finding some saplings of these flowers to take back for Jessie.

 

Q.5.   Why do you think the Colonel allowed the salesman to marry his daughter even though he came from a lineage of Earls?

Ans.   The Colonel’s family was no longer rich and all the glory they once had was a thing of the past. He was probably impressed by the honesty of the salesman and the fact that he was quite prosperous in his own way. He may also have felt that he genuinely loved his daughter and would keep her happy. Moreover, he made him laugh with his humorous stories.

 

Q.6.   Describe the girl’s father.

Ans.   The girl’s father was a retired Colonel from the army. He was a dignified looking man, tall, and aristocratic looking. He belonged to a lineage of Earls but had now fallen upon hard times which could be seen in his shabby manner of dress. His family was the oldest family in Virginia.

 

Q.7.   Describe the house in which Jessie had lived.

Ans.   The mansion was a huge house as big as the Capitol at Washington with round white pillars about a thousand feet high, with porches and balconies. The ceilings in the reception-rooms and the ballrooms were twenty-eight feet high. It had fifty rooms. The yard was full of rose-bushes, box-bushes, and lilacs.

 

Q.8.   What was John A. Pescud’s opinion about best sellers? Why?

Ans.   John A. Pescud feels that all best-sellers are alike. All of them narrate the love story of the hero and heroine with a yawning gap between their social status. He feels that these stories are far removed from reality as one never gets to hear ‘such capers in real life’. Hence he suspects their credibility and dislikes them.

 

Q.9.   Describe John’s and Jessie’s first meeting in Virginia?

Ans.   John gathered information about Allyns from the village and on the third day he saw Jessie strolling in her front yard. Having no excuse to talk to her, John asked her if she knew where Mr. Hinkle lived. Of course the girl could offer no information about this fictitious character. By and by as this conversation went on, he told her all about himself and how and why he had followed her. Before parting John promised to see her father the next day.

 

Q.10. Give a brief description of Elmcroft.

Ans.   Situated in a very big grove on the hill top, Elmcroft was a huge and massive white coloured building. It had fifty rooms and very tall (28 feet high) pillars. Its front yard was overgrown with rose bushes and box-bushes and lilacs. However, it was a scantily furnished house and the furniture didn’t match the building’s grandeur.

 

Q.11. What did Pescud tell the Colonel about his family background?

Ans.   Pescud told the Colonel that his family had nothing to do with Charles I’s contemporary Sir Pescud as they had always lived in and around Pittsburgh. But for two uncles – one of whom lived in Kansas and the other ran real-estate business, the rest of the family was well-known there. Pescud added confidently that any enquiry about any member of his family would draw favourable reports from the people around.

 

Q.12. Why did John get off at Coketown?

Ans.   John got off at coketown to get some cuttings and blossoms of Petunia. While returning from a trip from Philadelphia with him, his wife had happened to see these flowers in a pot in one of the windows. And it reminded her nostalgically of Elmcroft where she used to raise such flowers. John decided to present her with petunia cuttings and blossoms to please her. So he broke his journey in this small town.

 

Q.13. Describe John A. Pescud’s physical appearance.

Ans.   John A. Pescud was balding young man with dark hair. This small built man had nothing impressive about his physique. However, he wore a broad smile and looked very intently at the person he was taking to.

 

Q.14. What was Pescud’s philosophy on behaviour?

Ans.   Pescud was a travelling salesman whom business frequently took away from home. He believed that one should be absolutely decent and law-abiding in one’s hometown. He was very proud of this little code of living and he made it a point to talk about it at the first opportunity while talking to friends and strangers.

 

Q.15. What do you know about Pescud’s profession?

Ans.   Pescud was a successful travelling salesman working for Cambria Steel Works, a plate-glass company. He travelled from place to place for promotion of sales of this company. Having good communication skills, he amused and made-people laugh and managed to sell his products easily. Pescud also managed to get his salary increased twice in a couple of years.

 

Q.16. What was Pescud’s first impression of his wife?

Ans.   Pescud happened to come across Jessie his wife-to-be in a train while going to Cincinnati. He found her  to be so good looking that he wished she would come into his life permanently. He felt that her very presence was making the world a prettier and a better place to live in. Hewas so impressed with her that rather than getting off at his destination; he chased her till her hometown Virginia.

 

Q.17. What do you know about Pescud’s success story?

Ans.   Pescud proved to be successful in business as well as romance. Working for Cambria Steel Works, a company manufacturing plate-glass, he made such a tremendous progress as a salesman that he got his salary raised twice within a couple of years. His romance also took off so successfully that right from setting his eyes on Jessie to getting married to her, Pescud managed the affair so well that everything fell into place and he married the girl far above his social status within a span of six months.

 

Q.18. Why does the narrator call Pescud ‘Trevelyan’?

Ans.   Trevelyan, the hero of the best-seller ‘The Rose Lady and Trevelyan’ chases a royal lady home. He gets introduced to her, woos her and eventually marries her despite a huge difference in their status. Pescud’s romance also runs on the same lines. Hence the narrator calls him ‘Treavelyan’.

 

Q.19. Describe John Pescud.

Ans.   John Pescud was a small man with a wide smile, and an eye that seemed to be fixed upon that little red spot on the end of one’s nose.

          He believed that when a man is in his home town, he ought to be decent and law-abiding. He worked at Cambria Steel Works as a travelling salesman selling plate glass. He was quite successful and had his salary raised twice since the last time he had met the narrator. He had bought some property and his firm was going to sell him shares, that is, he was quite prosperous. His firm was going to sell him shares, that is, he was quite prosperous. He had met his wife during a train journey and was so impressed by her that he had followed her home, met her father, and got him to agree to his marrying her. Hence, we can see he was quite determined and romantic and could go to great lengths to achieve his ends.

 

Q.20. Bring out the irony in the story “The Best-seller”.

Ans.   The story is full of ironical instances. For example, the main protagonist of the story, John  Pescud denounces best-selling novels as something inferior with no relation to real life but we find that the story of his marriage is even more dramatic and adventurous than any fictional romance. He ridicules the story of Trevelyan’s romance for a princess by saying that he finds it difficult to believe that people would like to marry people from different strata of society or different backgrounds. According to him people generally marry within the same social circle, from the same bagkground, or old school friends. Ironically, he himself marries a girl from an aristocratic background, and goes to great lengths to ensure that the marriage takes place. In fact even in the end he gets down at Coketown to look for a petunia sapling for his wife just because she had admired it on a previous trip. Therefore, we see that he does all that he believes is not possible for a normal suitor to do.

 

WORKSHEET

  1. There are instances of irony in the story “Best Sellers”. Describe the ironical elements.

 

  1. The author wished John good luck and called him Trevelyan. Justify your answer with reference to the story.

 

  1. Imagine yourself to be Jessy Allyn. Write a page of your diary after your meeting with John Pescud near the ancestral mansion.

 

  1. John A.Pescud is a hypocrite. Comment.

 

  1. Pascud contradicts his own comments on ‘Best Seller’ in real life. Explain.

 

  1. Describe the meeting between Pescud and Colonel Allyn.

 

  1. Imagine you are Colonel Allyn. Write a page of your diary after your meeting with Pescud.

 

Short Answer Questions

 

  1. How does the author describe the passengers inside the chair car?

 

  1. How was Pescud changed since his previous meeting with the author?

 

  1. Who was reading the best-selling novel? What was the name of the book? Was he reading it with great interest? How do you know?

 

  1. What were the general topics of conversation between Pescud and the narrator in the first two minutes of their meeting? Why did he wish that they could’ve discussed politics next?

 

  1. Describe the physical appearance of John A. Pescud. How did he earn his living?

 

  1. What was Pescud’s chief objection to best sellers?

 

Or

          What were Pescud’s views on the best-selling novels?

 

  1. “Met your affinity yet, John?” I asked. What does the author mean by this statement? Whatanswer does he get?

 

  1. What did Pescud believe about marriage alliances in real life?

 

  1. Why did Pescud think that fiction writers should not mix characters of unmatched background?

 

  1. Why did John get off at Coketown?

l1.      How does Pescud describe Coketown?

 

  1. Where did John see his lady love for the first time? Where did he actually meet her?

 

  1. What did Jessie tell John about her family?

 

  1. How do you know Jessie knew that she was being followed by John?

 

  1. Who was Colonel Allyn? Where did he live?

 

  1. Describe Pescud’s first meeting with Colonel Allyn.

 

  1. Why was Colonel Allyn impressed with Pescud?

 

  1. Why was Pescud astonished to see Jessie’s home from outside? Which three major buildings did he compare it with? Why?

 

  1. Jessie was a beautiful royal girl whereas Pescud was an ordinary looking salesman. How did their alliance happen?

 

  1. Write short character sketch of:
  • Jessie • John A. Pescud       • Colonel Allyn

 

  1. Why did the author call Pescud as Trevelyan’? What was ironical about it?

 

  1. In the story, “Best Seller,” John has double standards. Elucidate this by giving instances fromthe story.

 

  1. Pescud is an excellent salesman. Comment.

 

Long Answer questions

 

  1. Bully, said Pescud, brightening at once. I’ve had my salary raised twice since I saw you, and I get a commission, too. I’ve bought a neat slice of real estate. Next year the firm is going to sell me some shares of stock. Oh, I’m in on the line of General Prosperity.”

          On the basis of your understanding of the extract, analyse the following:

–        What concept of success in life emerges out of this conversation ?

–        What would success mean to you in your life ?

–        What should be the purpose of life -general prosperity or general happiness and contentment?

 

  1. Say, did you ever crack open a wormy English walnut? That’s what that house was like. There wasn’t enough furniture in it to fill an eight-dollar flat.”

          On the basis of your understanding of the extract, analyze the following:

–        why some people lead a life of pretence?

–        why it is important to accept realities of life and make adjustments in lifestyle ccording to them ?

–        How would you have conducted your life, had you been Colonel Allyn?

 

  1. Imagine that you are the narrator of the story. Write a diary entry briefly describing your meeting with John A. Pescud on board a train.

In your diary entry you should describe

  • how you met him
  • what impression you have formed of him as a person
  • whether you agree with the values he conducts his life by

 

  1. Imagine that you are Colonel Allyn. Write a letter to your sister who lives in another town to break the news that you have found a son-in-law in John A. Pescud.

In your letter you should

  • break the news to your sister
  • describe John A. Pescud – his looks, qualities, occupation and values.
  • explain why you think he is a good match for Jessie

 

  1. Pescud’s sales and marketing skills help him win his love, too. Do you agree? Give textual evidence in support of your views.

 

  1. The narrator believes that life has no geographical bounds. It implies that human strengths, weaknesses, virtues and vice are same everywhere. Do you agree? Discuss in detail.

 

  1. The Colonel believed that narration of humorous incidents and anecdotes bring people together. Do you agree? Why? Describe the role of humour in unifying people.

 

  1. Jessie had a royal background. Yet an ordinary salesman like John A. Pescud could impress her. As Jessie write the qualities of Pescud that you admired when you first met him till thetime you got married.

 

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