The last lesson by Alphonse Daudet is mainly about the longing to learn the mother tongue and love for it. It has a sense of patriotism.
The Prussians rejected the freedom of the people of Lorraine and Alsace to learn their own mother tongue. The colonizers took away the basic rights of the people. When the students could not learn their own language, they sensed a feeling of being restricted and missed learning French. The practice of linguistic chauvinism is highlighted in this story to draw our attention. It throws the light upon the utmost pride in one’s mother tongue and considering other languages not equally worthy.
People of Lorraine and Alsace were the victims of linguistic chauvinism They were forced to learn German. Franz, a school student who was always reluctant in his French class and never took it seriously, saw how important it was to learn his mother tongue. This quality of people displays that humans respect things more when they see it going. Also, the parents preferred to see their children working well rather than learning French.
Later they realize how they missed the French classes and they were sorry about it. How Prussians drilled their land is shown by how unfairly they are treated and have a sense of loss.
The narrator was late for school in the morning. He was a little scared for his French class as he had not taken it seriously and the teacher might ask questions on Participles. He wanted to skip school but still decided to attend it.
The narrator saw that there was a huge crowd in front of the bulletin board in the town hall. That bulletin board was the harbinger of the bad news for the last two years. All the information on lost wars and other depressing news was put there.
The narrator notices that the school was disturbingly silent as compared to the general state of the school when it starts. Generally one could hear the recitation of the lessons and hustle and bustle of students around the school.
In fact, he was pretty accustomed to hide in the noise and reach his desk without getting noticed. But now he went in before everybody. He was quite afraid of the french class and sitting there before everyone.
M Hamel who was strict with the narrator in the past asked him to sit down politely. Franz was confused as M.Hamel was in informal clothes that he wore on only prize days and inspection days. The atmosphere was extremely sad and silent. The most astonishing thing was that the village elders were also sitting on the backbenches of the class.
M.Hamel quietly sat on his chair and spoke in a gentle and grave tone, “My children, this is the last lesson I shall give you.” He informed everyone that an order had been released from Berlin. German is the only language that would be taught in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine. His last lesson in the school and the German teacher will join the school from the next day.
There was guilt somewhere in the narrator for not learning his lessons in French. He never liked his books. He had no interest in studies. He didn’t like his Grammar and History books. But now he was fascinated by them. He started to like M.Hamel. The thought that he will not teach him from tomorrow made him forget about all his rulers.
He forgot how crazy his teacher was. It was his turn to repeat the lesson. But he got confused and mixed up. This time M.Hamel did not scold him.
The people of Alsace did not generally give no importance to French, M.Hamel showed his concern. They ignored learning their own native language. It was not the case only with Franz. Many others were also guilty of not learning French. According to him, the French language was the most beautiful language in the world.
1. Why Did Franz Did Not Want to Go to a School That Day?
Franz did not want to go to a school that day as he had not prepared his lesson on participles. His French teacher would certainly scold him for this. So, Franz wanted to avoid going to school.
2. Why Did M Hamel Write ‘Vive La France!‘ on the Backboard?
M Hamel wrote ‘Vive La France!‘ on the backboard to display his love for his culture as well as for the French language. Also by mentioning “Vive la France” he showed his rebellion to the German forces on his last day.