Two Gentlemen of Verona —By A.J. Cronin
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Summary – Quick Review
‘Two Gentlemen of Verona’ is a beautiful and touching story of two small boys who worked really hard in the city of Verona. The narrator encountered these boys in Verona one day. They were selling strawberries that had been picked from the wild. They told him that Nicola, the older, was 13 years old and Jacopo, the younger, was 12 years old when he inquired about their age and names. The narrator discovered them performing ‘brisk business’ in shoe-shining the next day. When the narrator inquired about the cause for their change of business, they stated that they did a variety of things. The narrator found them cleaning shoes, selling fruits, hawking newspapers, driving tourists around town, and so on over the following few days. The narrator was curious as to why these tiny children were working so hard. He also saw that, despite their efforts, they never spent money on themselves.
They wore filthy clothes and ate mostly black bread and figs. He mocked them by asking if they intended to immigrate to the United States. They responded negatively, stating that they had other plans. Then Jacopo asked the narrator to assist them in getting to Poleta, which is 30 kilometres from Verona. The storyteller agreed, and the following afternoon, he drove them there. They arrived in Poleta and rushed inside a magnificent villa. He later learned that it was a hospital where their sister, Lucia, was receiving treatment for spinal TB. He inquired about Lucia with the nurse. She told the narrator that a bomb had killed their entire family, and the boys grew to despise Germans as a result. After the war was over, there was peace all around. But not in the lives of these children as it was at this moment that they discovered Lucia suffering from the deadly disease. But after the treatment, she was recovering. He was further informed that her brothers made the payments every week for the smooth going of treatment. The narrator was touched by the devotion of the two boys. He could see the ray of hope for human society. Then all the three came back to Verona.
Extract Based Questions
Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow: Each question carries 3 marks.
He smiled uncomfortably. ‘Just plans sir’. He answered in a low voice. (Board 2014, Set 8L1922Q)
(a) Who is ’he’ in the above lines ?
(b) Why did ‘he’ smile uncomfortably ?
(c) What are the ‘plans’ being talked about ?
(a) ‘He’ is Nicola in above lines. 1
(b) He smiled uncomfortably because he didn’t want to share his plans with the narrator. 1
(c) The ‘plans’ being talked about are those of emigrating to America. 1
The following afternoon we drove to the tiny village set high upon the hill side. (Board Term-12013, Set 5007)
(a) Who went on a trip to the tiny village ?
(b) Which village had they driven to ?
(c) Why was the narrator surprised when Jacopo directed him as to where he should stop ?
(a) The narrator and the two brothers, Nicola and Jacopo went on the trip. 1
(b) They had gone to Poleta. 1
(c) He thought they would stop at some humble dwelling, but Jacopo guided him to a large villa. 1
(CBSE Marking Scheme, 2013)
“We should greatly like to go to the states. But here, at present, we have other plans.” (Board Term-12013, Set 8SRR)
(a) Who is the speaker of the above lines and whom is he talking to ?
(b) Why doesn’t the speaker elaborate the other plans that he has ?
(c) What characteristic traits of the speaker are revealed from the above lines ?
(a) Nicola is speaking to the narrator. 1
(b) Because he wanted to keep his secret about the treatment of his tuberculosis afflicted sister. 1
(c) Soft spoken, polite, wishing to fight his battle independently, self-respect, responsible, doesn’t share his problems 1 (reserved).
They greeted us with friendly faces.
“I thought you picked fruit for a living”, I said. (Board Term-12012, Set 41)
(a) Who are ‘they’ ? ‘
(b) How did ‘they’ greet the narrator ?
(c) What did the narrator think ‘they’ did for a living ?
(a) Jacopo and Nicola. 1
(b) They greeted him with a smile. 1
(c) The narrator thought that they picked fruit for a living. 1
There was a pause. Nicola was glaring at his younger brother in vexation. “We could not think of troubling you, sir.” (Board Term-12011, Set 43)
(a) Why was Nicola glaring at his younger brother ?
(b) What favour did his younger brother ask from the narrator ?
(c) What trait of Nicola’s character is revealed in these lines ?
(a) Nicola was glaring at his younger brother in vexation because he was asking for a favour from a stranger which was against their self-respect. 1
(b) The younger brother Jacopo had asked the narrator if he could drive them to Poleta, 30 kilometre from Verona in a car on Sunday. 1
(c) His self-respect is revealed through his behaviour. 1
“The two boys were seated at the bedside of a girl of about 20, who propped up on pillows wearing a pretty lace jacket, was listening to their chatter, her eyes soft and tender.” (Board Term-12011, Set 50)
(a) Who are the two boys referred to here ?
(b) Where are the boys at present?
(c) Who is the girl? Why was she propped up on the pillows ?
(a) Nicola and Jacopo. 1
(b) In a hospital at Poleta, visiting their ailing sister, Lucia. 1
(c) The girl was their sister, Lucia. She was suffering from tuberculosis of the spine and was undergoing treatment. 1
‘You must be saving to emigrate to America’, I suggested. He looked at me sideways, and spoke with an effort. (Board Term-I 2011, Set 27)
(a) Who is ‘he’ referred to here ?
(b) Why did the author make such a suggestion ?
(c) What answer did he give with an effort ?
(a) Nicola is referred to as ‘he’ here. 1
(b) He did so on seeing the boys working hard. 1
(c) He answered that they had other plans. 1
‘When the resistance movement began secretly to form they were among the first to join. When the war was over and we had peace at last, they came back to their beloved sister.’ (Board Term-I 2011, Set 19)
(a) Who are the ‘they’ referred to here ?
(b) Why did they join the resistance movement ?
(c) What had happened to their sister ?
(a) ‘They’ are referred to the two boys—Nicola and Jacopo. 1
(b) They joined the resistance movement because they had suffered during the war and so hated the Germans. 1
(c) Their sister was suffering from tuberculosis. 1
I had already told Luigi he might have the Sunday off. However, I answered, “I’ll drive you out myself.” (Board Term-I 2011, Set 44)
(a) Who was Luigi ?
(b) Which was their destination ?
(c) Who was the narrator speaking to ?
(a) Luigi was the narrator’s driver. 1
(b) Their destination was a hospital where they used to go to meet their sister. 1
(c) The narrator was speaking to Jacopo and Nicola. 1
Short Answer Type Questions
Why didn’t the narrator go inside Lucia’s room in the hospital ? What character trait is revealed here ? (Board Term-I 2012, Set 28)
The narrator did not enter Lucia’s hospital room because he did not want to meddle with the two little boys’ private lives. The narrator was respectful of the guys’ personal lives.
Although Nicola and Jacopo are young boys, the author refers to them as Gentlemen. Why did he do so ? (Board Term-I 2012, Set 38)
The boys’ home had been destroyed, and their father had been slain in the conflict. They had taken to the streets as a result of the fighting. Their sister was suffering from spinal tuberculosis. They put in a lot of effort to pay for her therapy. Their spirits were not broken. They remained committed and selfless throughout. They’d rather work hard and earn money than have someone feel sorry for them and offer assistance.
Draw the contrast between ‘childish’ and ‘artless’ faces and the seriousness beyond their years visible on them. (Board Term-I 2012, Set 43)
They were both in their early twenties. Their faces appeared ‘boyish’ and ‘artless’ from the outside. They weren’t bright or crafty in the least. However, their duties had caused them to mature ahead of their years, and their seriousness was obvious on their features.
Why did the boys join the resistance movement against the Germans? (Board Term-I 2012, Set 52)
Because their home had been attacked and their parents had been killed in the war, the boys joined the resistance organisation against the Germans. Their sister was in the hospital and they had been orphaned. They were enraged by the Germans and vowed to avenge them.
Why did Nicola and Jacopo develop hatred for the Germans? (Board Term-I 2012, Set 54)
Their house had been attacked, and the Germans had killed their father. They were orphaned and had nowhere to go after the war. As a result, they hated the Germans.’
How did the boys impress the narrator and his companion ? (Board Term-I 2012, Set 63)
The boys were young, but they were eager to undertake any odd work for a small fee. They were resourceful and tenacious in their pursuit of useful labour. The narrator and his companion were taken aback by this. The guys’ goal was not to impress anyone, but to do a decent job and earn money.
Who is Lucia ? What is she suffering from ? (Board Term-I 2012, Set 32)
Lucia was Nicola and Jacopo’s older sister. She had TB of the spine and was receiving treatment in a hospital.
What were the narrator’s feelings for the boys at first ? What change did they undergo and why ? (Board Term-I 2012, Set 34)
The narrator was initially amazed by the boys’ dedication. When he observed them caring for their sick sister, he felt fond of them. He was overflowing with admiration.
Why didn’t the two boys disclose their problems to the author ? (Board Term-I 2011, Set 11)
Nicola and Jacopo were both too polite to bother a stranger with their personal concerns. They didn’t want anyone intruding on their personal space. As a result, they kept their difficulties hidden.
Why were the narrator and his companion impressed by the two boys ? (Board Term-I 2011, Set 13)
Which qualities of the boys impressed the author in the story ‘Two Gentlemen of Verona’ ?
The two lads impressed the narrator and his colleague since they were really diligent workers. They adored their sister and, above all, they possessed a spirit of self-sacrifice.
What are the odd jobs Jacopo and Nicola did for a living ? (Board Term-I 2011, Set 16)
Jacopo and Nicola were two guys who put forth a lot of effort. They polished shoes, sold fruit, sold newspapers, drove tourists throughout town, and ran errands for the narrator.
Why were Jacopo and Nicola working hard ? (Board Term-I 2011, Set 14)
Jacopo and Nicola were putting in long hours because their sister had tuberculosis and was undergoing treatment. They were attempting to raise funds for her treatment.
Why were the two boys living in the streets of Verona? (Board Term-I 2011, Set 19)
The fathers of Jacopo and Nicola had been killed in the early stages of the conflict. Their house was bombed out, and they were forced to live on the streets. They didn’t have a place to live.
What did the nurse tell the author about the boys ? (Board Term-I 2011, Set 29)
The nurse informed him that in this world, the two brothers had no one except their ailing sister. They toiled long and hard to raise funds for their sister’s treatment.
Why were the boys waiting for the last bus from Padua? (Board Term-I 2011, Set 25)
The two boys were very hard working. They were waiting for the last bus so as to sell their papers.
Justify the title ‘Two Gentlemen of Verona’. (Board Term-I 2011, Set 23)
In the anecdote, the two boys acted in a gentlemanly manner. They treated their sister with kindness and care, and they were always courteous to others. They never intended to take advantage of other people’s pity or kindness in order to achieve their goals. Their sweet temperament was unaffected by the war. As a result, the moniker “Two Gentlemen of Verona” seems appropriate.
How were the boys useful to the author in ‘Two Gentlemen of Verona’? (Board Term-I 2011, Set 40)
The two boys assisted the narrator by reserving seats at the Opera, supplying a pack of American cigarettes, and showing them around Juliet’s Tomb. They used to assist them whenever they needed the name of a reputable eatery. As a result, they assisted them in a variety of ways.
How did the loss of parents in the war affect the two boys?
Due to the loss of their parents during the war, they were compelled to work hard not only for themselves, but also to take on the duty of having their sister treated, for which they worked hard and did a variety of odd jobs. This gave them a gravity that belied their youth.
What did the narrator see when he looked through the glass partition ?
He saw the two boys seated at the bedside of a girl. She resembled the boys and was listening to their chatter.
Long Answer Type Questions
Question 1: – Each question carries 4 Marks
Imagine yourself to be the narrator of the story, ‘Two Gentlemen of Verona’. Write a letter to one of your friends to contribute some money to aid the treatment of Lucia. (Board Term-I 2012, Set EC2,036)
45 New Avenue Street
9 April 2014
I met two young guys known as the Gentlemen of Verona last week. They are two boys that put forth a lot of effort. I’m fond of them, which is why I’d like to assist those two guys, Jacopo and Nicola. They are working extra hours to help their sister ‘Lucia,’ who is ill and suffering from spine tuberculosis. A large sum of money is necessary for her treatment. I’ve chosen to assist them by covering their medical expenses for as long as I can. I suddenly remembered you and decided to ask you about donating some funds to Lucia’s treatment. I know you’re a generous person who would gladly assist them.
Waiting for an early reply from your end.
A. J. Cronin
‘The two boys’ devotion had touched me deeply. War had not broken their spirit. Their selfless action brought a new nobility to human life, gave promise of a greater hope for human society. (Board Term-12011, Set 16)
The narrator was moved by Jacopo and Nicola’s dedication to their task. They didn’t take any shortcuts. They possessed self-respect and kept their personal difficulties hidden from strangers. The narrator was moved by their love and concern for their sister. He saw that these two lads embodied selflessness, nobility, and gentlemanliness, promising a brighter future for humanity. In these days of calamities and distractions, the two boys stood out to show him hope, faith, and positive thinking. He knew that their hard work will pay off.
You are the nurse at the hospital. You are happy that you could share everything about the boys with the narrator. Write a diary entry about meeting the narrator and what you shared with him. (Board Term-12011, Set 14)
Saturday, 10 January, 2014
The two brothers who visit their ill sister, Lucia, once a week amaze me greatly. They didn’t come alone one week. They were accompanied by a gentleman who was interested in learning more about the young men. I informed him they were all by themselves in the world. Their father had been a widower and a singer who had been slain in a battle when they were little. Their residence was completely damaged by the blast. Their sister was afflicted with spinal tuberculosis. These boys adored their sister and held her in high regard. She was admitted to this facility. They must, however, put in a lot of effort because the costs are extremely costly. The good thing about these lads is that they pay their bills on a weekly basis. May God bless them with joy.
‘Where there is a will, there is a way’. How did the two boys prove it ? (Board Term-12011, Set 29)
Nicola and Jacopo, the two lads, worked extremely hard. Fate has never been kind to them. Their home had been bombed out, and they had lost their father. Their sister was suffering from spinal tuberculosis. However, this did not dampen their spirits. They admitted her to a local hospital and made sure that the payment was paid on a weekly basis. They made money by selling newspapers, selling fruits, shining shoes, and doing errands, among other things. Their morale was unbroken even by battle. In a sense, they battled against all obstacles and never lost. They were putting out their utmost effort to win this conflict.
Appearances are deceptive. Discuss with reference to the two boys.
Outward appearances might be deceiving. Nicola and Jacopo were 13 and 12 years old, respectively. They were dressed shabbily. They were selling wild strawberries when the author first saw them, but after that they were seen shining shoes, arranging seats for opera, showing guests about town, and so on. Nobody could have expected such dedication from two young boys of their age. They always dressed shabbily and ate figs and black bread. Given their earnings, they might have afforded a much better supper and clothing. They made a lot of money, but they had to pay for their sister’s hospital bills, so they never spent any of it on themselves.
Value Based Questions
Question 1: (3 marks each)
Both the boys at Verona were full of grit, determination and hope. At a young age they exhibited qualities that are difficult to come even in adults. This story teaches us not to lose hope and courage even in adverse situations. Elaborate. (Board Term-12013, Set 101)
Jacopo and Nicola, though too young to face adverse situations, did not lose hope and courage. They were not willing to accept defeat at the hands of fate. Their family and house had been devastated by a bombing, and their sister had spinal tuberculosis. They couldn’t afford her treatment because they didn’t have any money. They did not, however, give up hope. They got her hospitalised to the Poleta hospital and worked around the clock to pay the hospital fees. They sold fruits, newspapers, chauffeured tourists around town, cleaned shoes, and so forth. They worked very hard to earn money and put it aside for their sister’s treatment. They never bought anything for themselves. Their spirits were not broken by the adversity, and they remained committed and selfless. As a result, the storey reminds us to never lose hope or courage. Rather we should face life as it comes. Running away from the problem is not the solution but finding ways to come out of the problems shows the real manly spirit.
Both Nicola and Jacopo have grown up and are successful and respectable citizens. They were asked to inaugurate a ‘HOME’ for the abandoned children. Imagine yourself to be Nicola, address the gathering expressing your views on ‘Child Care’. (Board Term-12012, Set EC2,050)
A very good morning to all present here. Today, we are very happy to be here among you and a part of the inauguration ceremony of ‘HOME’. We both believe that childhood is the most important period of a person’s life, but it is sometimes marred by the plague of child labour. Poverty, a lack of education, a lack of parental care, a needless war, and other factors contribute to children’s innocence being tarnished. We, too, had a difficult childhood. During the German war, we were completely decimated. Our father was slain in the war, and at the tender ages of 13 and 12, we became orphans. We’ll never forget the day we learned that our sister Lucia was suffering with spinal TB. We didn’t have enough money to cover her medical bills. We determined to work all hours of the day and night for it, but there were few openings in Verona. We did not, however, lose our courage. We did a variety of odd jobs to make ends meet till our sister recovered. We were overjoyed. I believe that the government should step in to assist disadvantaged children and provide them with an education so that they can have a happy and wealthy life. Children who are well-educated will grow up to be responsible people. I’m hoping that ‘HOME’ will also work to help abandoned youngsters avoid losing their childhood.
Imagine you are Lucia. You have been told by the nurse in the hospital that you have completely recovered from your illness and you can go home tomorrow. You are very happy and thankful to your brothers. Write a diary entry in about 150 words, expressing your gratitude to your brothers and mentioning your future plans. Also mention the value and feeling of love towards your brothers.
I am very happy and excited today as the nurse who was looking after me in the hospital informed me that I have completely recovered from my illness and now I can go home. I have been in the hospital for months and was looking forward to this day. All credit, however, belongs to my younger brothers, Jacopo and Nicola, who overcame numerous obstacles to pay my medical expenditures. Even though they are considerably younger, I admire their sense of duty and affection for me. I’ve discovered how important it is to have caring siblings. It was incredible how well they cared after me. After my parents’ deaths, I had not expected to be treated with such tenderness. I’m grateful to God that my brothers adore me. I’ve determined that once I’m out in the world, I’ll work as a singer and use the money to provide a wonderful life for my brothers. They have suffered a lot. But now I can see a ray of hope. May God bless my brothers.