Topic outline

    • One Summer Night (By Ambrose Bierce)

      About the passage

      Read to understand

      A. Answer these questions with reference to the context.

      1. ‘Nothing on earth could have persuaded the two to return.’

               a.   Who are the two referred to in this extract?

      Ans. Two medical college students are referred to in this extract.


               b.   Where were they at this moment? Why?

      Ans. They were at cemetery digging into the grave for dead body.


               c.   Why could they not be persuaded?

      Ans. The thunder was loud enough to shock Henry Armstrong who sat up in the casket. The students fled in panic when they saw the ‘dead’ man rise. They were so terrified that they could not be persuaded to return.


      2. ‘“I’m waiting for my pay,” he said.’

               a.   Who said these words?

      Ans. Jess has said these words.


               b.   Who was to pay him and for what?

      Ans. Two medical college students were to pay him for the body of Henry Armstrong.


               c.   Where was the speaker at his moment?

      Ans. At this moment the speaker was in the dissecting room in the medical college.

      B. State whether the following statements are true (T) or false (F).

      1. The weather was quite pleasant. F

      2. Henry Armstrong gained consciousness while he was buried. T

      3. There were other people in the graveyard apart from the three young men. F

      4. Jess was a professor who had offered to help the two students. F

      5. There was a horse and wagon beside the grave. F

      6. The casket was taken out of the grave. T

      C. Answer these questions.

      1. Why did the young students feel reasonably ‘secure’?

      Ans. There were flashes of lightning and the signals of a storm on that dark summer night. It was not a night in which any witness whose word could be depended on was likely to be moving about cemetery. So, the three men who were there, digging into the grave of Henry Armstrong, felt reasonably secure.


      2. What were the horse and the wagon waiting for? Why were they outside the wall?

      Ans. The horse and wagon would be used to transfer the dead body to the dissecting room of the medical college. They were outside the wall so that no one would become suspicious about their presence or ask questions.


      3. How do you know that Jess was of ‘another breed’?

      Ans. Jess did not run away in terror. His daring response to the unusual sight showed that he was both brave and practical.


      4. The two medical students were still in a frightened state the next day. How do you know this?

      Ans. The two medical students were still in a frightened state the next day because their facial expressions—pallid and haggard from anxiety and terror—showed this. Also, their short verbal exchange, ‘You saw it’, shows that the image of the ‘dead’ man rising was still fresh in their minds.

      Discuss and write

      1. Why do you think the students wanted the dead body?

      Ans. The students wanted the dead body because they needed the dead body to study anatomy.


      2. What agreement do you think the students had made with Jess?

      Ans. Students would have promised Jess to pay for the dead body.


      3. The students were secure about what they were doing because of the absence of any witnesses. Do you think they had any sense of guilt? Justify your response.

      Ans. No, they had no sense of guilt because they were removing the dead body to study anatomy.