(Q.) What is the moral issue that the story raises?
(Ans) The story shows the conflict between two generations. It tells us about the belief, of the older generation, in customs and traditions and constantly questioning attitude of the younger generation, hence contributing to a generation gap. Not understanding her son’s pain of loneliness and dejection, mother Skunk gets his smell changed to his original foul smell and loves him the way he is, raising the moral issue of whether parents should always decide what the children should do or let the children do what they like to do. There is an evident contrast between an adult’s perspective on life and the world view of a little child. Jo wants the wizard to hit Mommy and not vice versa because she represents the new generation and does not agree with her father’s view. Jack sums up the issue in one sentence- ‘She knew what was right’. Jack also says that the little Skunk agreed to the mother’s proposal because he loved his mother more than the other animals. Little Jo feels that the Skunk’s mother should not have robbed her little son of the pleasure he derived when playing with the other animals when he smelt of roses. She insists that the wizard hit the Mommy on the head and calls little Skunk’s mother a ‘Stupid Mommy’. Keeping to her view point, she insisted that her father should tell her the story the next day in a different manner. So we see that the story deals with moral issues dependent on the different levels of maturity of Jack and Jo.
(Q.) How does Jo want the story to end? Why? What light does it throw on Jo’s character?
(Ans) Jo wanted the story to end with Roger being accepted by the other animals. In Jack’s version, the wizard was hit by mommy. Jo did not relish this. The wizard was the person who fulfilled everyone’s wishes. He had rid Roger Skunk of the bad odour. So she wanted her father to end the story with Roger skunk having a new and pleasant smell and wizard spanking the stupid ‘mommy’.Jo would get totally involved in the story. She even shed a tear or so, when woodland creatures spurned Roger. She could not bear injustice to the wizard by ‘mommy’ skunk. She wanted the end of the story to change in which the benevolent Wizard hits mommy for being inconsiderate to Roger’s need for acceptance by friends. She was independent in her thinking. Jo remains unconvinced by the father’s argument that mothers are always right.
(Q.) Character Sketch of Jack.
(Ans) Jack is the protagonist of the story ‘Should Wizard Hit Mommy?’ which examines the issue of parenting, the adult tendency to quell the questioning mind of a child and the belief that the view point of the adult represents the only valid one.Jack is conscious of his duties as a father and husband. He has been telling stories to his daughter Jo since she was two years old, before her Saturday and evening naps, but now two and a half years later he is fatigued and confused by her constant questioning, pointing errors (roger fish instead of skunk), asking for clarifications and suggesting alternatives. He has the typical parental attitude and opinion that parents know what is best for their children and stifles her objections and amendments shown by his defending the skunk’s mother (and indirectly his own).Jack feels caught in an ugly middle position physically, emotionally and mentally. He did not like women to take anything for granted, to the extent that he extends the story, changing the ending, giving it the face that he wants to. This despite the fact that he knows that he should be helping his pregnant wife paint the woodwork.Jack is someone who is not used to his authority being questioned and so is confused by Jo’s questioning. Though a loving parent he finds it hard to accept the fact that Jo now has a mind of her own. His insensitivity and impatience comes across in his dealings with his daughter, and the fact that an adult’s viewpoint is biased by personal experiences.
(Q.) Do you think Jack and Jo could identify with Roger skunk as a victim of the hatred of other creatures?
(Ans) Jack brought the story to life when he narrated the tale remembering certain humiliations of his own childhood. The corners of Jo’s mouth drooped down and her lower lip bent forward. A tear flowed along the side of the nose. This shows that even Jo could identify with Roger skunk.
(Q.) Which two opposite forces acted on Jack while he was telling Jo the story?
(Ans) Jack was telling Jo something she must know and had no wish to hurry on. On the other hand he heard a chair scrapping. He realized that he must help his pregnant wife Clare to paint the wood work down stairs. These were the opposite forces acting on Jack while he was telling Jo the story.
(Q.) Why did Jo not approve of skunk’s mother scolding him for his new smell?
(Ans) Jo was very happy that skunk smelt like roses. He was accepted by the woodland creatures and was happy. Jo did not approve of skunk’s mother scolding him for something that made him acceptable among his friends and brought him happiness.
(Q.) What do you learn about Jo’s new reality phase?
(Ans) Earlier Jo used to accept her father’s word about magic etc. now she had started asking if magic spells were real. She had become curious since a month. She was growing up and wished to check the reality of all that was told to her.
Q. what is the ugly middle position where jack finds himself trapped?
Ans The ugly middle position refers to jack’s helplessness and dilemma. Its ugly because jack is not used to the women questioning his authority and jo’ constant interruptions, clarifications, pointing out mistakes , disagreements, questioning the end of the story and suggesting an alternate end makes jack uncomfortable. It is a middle position because jack is as if coerced by the tradition (recalls his own mother) and society to inculcate certain moral lessons in jo but at the same time he is at loss. He is unable to satisfy jo’s lingering anxiety as he fails to understand her perspective (her fear of abandonment), as a result he finds himself trapped in a cage along with his wife which brings him no solace.
EVANS TRIES AN O LEVEL
(Q.) Attempt a brief character sketch of ‘Evans the Break’.
(Ans) ‘Evans the Break’ comes across to us as a highly clever, manipulative and shrewd individual. A non-violent kleptomaniac by birth, he was a jail-bird having being put in prison several times and escaping as many as three times. He was an amusing chap, good at imitations and a star at the Christmas concert. He had an unkempt physical appearance but a cheerful smile which he used for the prison officers.A cunning and resourceful person, Evans is able to use his presence of mind time and again, to his utmost advantage. He makes a request to Mr. Jackson to allow him to put on his bobble hat, but complains to the invigilator against Stephens whose presence disturbs his concentration. He is polite when he makes special requests to shut his convenience or rather when he plans to put his plan into action. He is quick to disguise himself as parson McLeery and spill blood on himself to appear injured. He is a clever manipulator and uses this quality to win the confidence of the police officers. Evans enjoys the faith, support and active cooperation of his team of dedicated comrades. They are meticulous in their planning and work out the minutest details in order to carry out their plans without any mishap. Even in the worst circumstances, Evans does not lose his cool. He has the last laugh when he is able to fool the police officers and the Governor and escapes for the fourth time.
(Q.) Who, do you think, has the last laugh- The Governor or Evans? How?
(Ans) It is Evans who has the last laugh in the story. The two persons, i.e. driver and the silent prison officer turn out to be the accomplices of Evans. The Governor became complacent as he thought he had nabbed the prisoner and will soon put him in prison. But Evans escapes once again.
(Q.) What did Stephens see, when he peeped through the hole of the cell of Evans after leaving McLeery at the main gate of the prison?
(Ans) Stephens thought of looking at Evans once again after leaving McLeery at the main gate. He saw a terrible sight. He saw a man with short hair presumably McLeery in a pool of blood sprawling back in Evan’s chair.
(Q.) How did McLerry want to help the police?
(Ans) The injured McLeery said that he knew where Evans was. He wanted to accompany the police in finding Evans. He insisted that he did not need to be hospitalized as he was all right. He showed the question paper to the Governor to impress upon him that Evans had befooled everybody.
Q.) What important clues were hidden in the German Question paper?
(Ans) There was a photocopied sheet hidden in the German question paper. It was very cleverly pasted on the last blank sheet of the question paper. It had instructions written in German. It read: follow the plan. The vital point in time was three minutes before the end of the examination. He was not to hit the person hard and overdo the scot accent. He was to move the Headington round about and then make way to Newbury.
(Q.) Where was the real McLeery?
(Ans) The real Rev. McLeery was gagged and tied in his room since 8:15 am. The two men visited McLeery in the morning. They gagged him and tied him in his study. Since 8:15 in the morning, the real McLeery had been in his own house. It was Evans accomplice who had come as McLeery to the examination centre.
(Q.) What was the significance of the two phone calls the Governor received after a quarter of an hour of the start of the examination?
(Ans) The first phone call was made by the Assistant Secretary of the Examination Board. It was regarding a correction slip for the German paper that Evans was writing. The word ‘Golden Lion’ was to be used in place of ‘Golden Lowe’. The second call came from the Magistrate’s Court. They needed a prison van and a couple of prison officers for a remand case
(Q.) How did the prison machinery swing into action? What did they overlook?
(Ans) Prison officers started shouting orders as soon as they discovered that Evans had escaped. Sirens were blown. Puzzled prisoners pushed their way along and doors were banged and bolted. Phones were ringing everywhere. Jackson and Stephens supported McLeery on either side and brought him to the prison yard. The identity of the injured ‘McLeery’ remained unchecked.
(Q.) What did the Governor think of Evans and his plan after ringing up Detective Chief Inspector Bell?
(Ans) The Governor admired clever Evans and his beautifully laid plan. He also commented on Evans’ carelessness in leaving behind the question paper. He said that all criminals got caught because they left important clues behind. He was sure that they would soon be able to catch Evans and put him in prison once again.
Q.) What two purposes did the correction slip serve? Which of them did Evans consider more important?
(Ans) The correction slip revealed the name of the hotel and its location. He had to go to ‘Golden Lion’. It also contained the exact time the exam started. For Evans, it was an important thing that the phone rang just before the exam finished. Thus he was able to get the prison officers out of the way for a couple of minutes.
(Q.) What did Evans’ own hair look like? How then did he impersonate McLeery?
(Ans) Evans’ hair was long and wavy while McLeery had closely clipped hair, almost next to the scalp. Jackson had removed Evans’ scissors, so he had to remove his hair off with razor. After that he kept his head covered with a bobble hat to prevent being noticed.
(Q.) How did the Governor of Oxford Prison locate the hiding place of Evans?
(Ans) The Governor told Evans that he had used the same method as Evans had done. The six figure reference 313/271 was formed by two hints- Index number 313 and centre number 271. If one takes an Ordinance Survey Map for Oxfords hire, this number lands are bang in the middle of Chipping Norton.
(Q.) What request did the Secretary of the Examination Board receive from the Governor of Oxford Prison?
(Ans) The Governor of Oxford Prison’s request was to create an examination centre in the prison for one candidate named James Roderick Evans who wanted to appear in O Level German Examination to be held on June 8.
(Q.) What enquiry did the Secretary of the Examination Board make about Evans?
(Ans) The Secretary of the Examination wanted cursory details about the examinee regarding his nature. He wanted to know if Evans was a violent sort of a person. He was told that there was no record of violence.
(Q.) Who met Evans on the eve of the examination? What does this brief interview reveal?
(Ans) Mr. Jackson and Mr. Stephens visited Evans on the morning of the Examination. They visited him to ensure that he did not have any weapon with him. Evans was called Evans the Break as he had escaped from Prison three times.
(Q.) What puzzled Mr. Jackson about the contents in McLeery’s suitcase?
(Ans) Jackson saw a smallish semi-inflated rubber ring. Even a young child might have to struggle into it. Jackson questioned McLeery about it. He replied that he suffered from piles.
(Q.) Why did the Governor doubt the phone call from the Examination board for the correction in the paper? What did he do?
(Ans) The Governor doubted the phone call from the Examination board for the correction in the paper because he thought it might be a fake call. He tried to verify the call. He held the incoming call and from the other line called the Examination Board. Since the number was busy he assumed the call was a genuine one.
Q.) How did Stephens keep an eye on Evans? What did he notice on looking through the peep-hole in Evans’ cell?
(Ans) Stephens peeped after every one minute. He found Evans sitting with his pen between his lips. He sat staring straight in front at the door. McLeery sat on his chair reading the ‘Church Times’. His right index finger was hooked beneath the narrow clerical collar. The fingers of the left hand were slowly stroking the short black board.
(Q.) What request did Evans make about half an hour before the end of the examination? What did Stephens think about it?
(Ans) Evans requested to have a blanket put round his shoulders. A minute later, Stephens was surprised to see a grey blanket draped round Evans’ shoulders. Stephens was misled into believing that Evans was feeling cold.
(Q.) How did Evans manage his final escape?
(Ans) Evans was handcuffed and made to sit in the prison van. But the Governor was complacent and it was Evans’ accomplices inside the van. As the van turned to the Oxford Road, the silent prison officer who was Evans’ friend unlocked the handcuffs. Evan suggested that they go towards Newbury. Evans had his final escape.
(Q.) Give an account of the blunders committed by the prison authorities which helped Evans in escaping from the prison.
(Ans) Prison authorities made many blunders. It was only because of these mistakes that Evans could escape from the prison. The hatching of the escape plan started with the German tutor’s entry. The German teacher who had been coming to take Evans’ classes was Evan’s accomplice. Everyone assumed that he was a teacher from the technical college. The invigilator’s identify was also not verified.On the Examination day, Jackson’s not getting Evans’ ‘bobble-hat’ removed was a blunder. If Stephens had not shifted from the cell, the escape would not have been possible. Jackson should have searched McLeery thoroughly and seen the rubber ring closely. The prison staff blindly believed that the injured was the invigilator, though it was Evans playing a trick on them. When Evans was arrested, the Governor was complacent and sent him in a prison van, leaving Evans in the hands of his own accomplices. He thus, lost Evans who made his final escape