Class 11 Eglish Notes Play 3 The Oyster and the Pearl

Q 1. Where does the play take place?

Answer:
The play takes place at Harry Van Dusen’s barber shop in O.K.-by-the-Sea, which is a small town in California.

Q 2. Why is Harry sitting in the barber’s chair?

Answer:
Harry is sitting in the barber’s chair to get a haircut by Clay Larrabee, who is not a barber, rather just a nine or ten-year-old boy. He follows Harry’s instructions to give him a haircut.

Q 3. According to Harry, how does one bring merriment to the tired old human heart?

Answer:
Harry thinks that one can compose a symphony, paint a picture, write a book or maybe invent a philosophy to bring merriment to a tired old human heart.

Q 4. What is Harry’s philosophy?

Answer:
Harry’s philosophy is “Take-it-easy”. He believes not to let the situations overpower us and to handle things in a relaxed and calm way.

Q 5. How much did Harry pay for his barber shop? How long has he been in O.K. by the Sea?

Answer:
Harry paid seventy-five dollars for the barber shop, about twenty-four years ago and since then he had been in O.K.by-the-Sea.

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Q 6. How many barbers are there in O.K. by the Sea?

Answer:
Harry is the only barber in O.K.by-the-Sea. 

Q 7. How much does Harry charge for a haircut?

Answer:
The regular price of a haircut is a dollar but Harry thinks that it’s too much for a haircut, so he generally takes a half or a quarter, since most of the people of the town are poor.

Q 8. Where is Clay going?

Answer:
Clay is going down to the beach to get some good stuff.

Q 9. Why does Clay need money?

Answer:
Clay wishes to get some money to let his father come home again and to buy a present for his mother.

Q 10. What has happened to Clay’s father?

Answer:
Clay’s father has had a fight with his wife and he just went off, about a month ago.

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Q 11. What does Clay want to put in the local newspaper?

Answer:
Clay puts an ad for his father in the local newspaper, through which he requests him to come back home.

Q 12. Who is Miss McCutcheon? How does she feel about her job?

Answer:
Miss McCutcheon is a new resident of the town, who has come from San Francisco. She is a new teacher at the school and quite determined and ambitious but she is not comfortable to teach the children of O.K.by-the-Sea.

Q 13. What is Miss McCutcheon looking for? How does she feel about the children of the town?

Answer:
She is looking for a chance to teach but she feels that the children of the town don’t seem to care about anything regarding studies and they are only interested in games and the sea.

Q 14. What does Harry advise her to do?

Answer:
Harry advises her to teach English, singing and dancing and also advises to quit teaching and find a husband.

Q 15. What kind of haircut does Miss McCutcheon want?

Answer:
Miss McCutcheon wants a poodle haircut. 

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Q 16. Can Harry give a poodle haircut?

Answer:
No, Harry doesn’t know how to give a poodle haircut. 

Q 17. What does Miss McCutcheon think that a poodle haircut will do for her appearance?

Answer:
She thinks that a poodle haircut will change her appearance and she’ll look more well, plain and simple.

Q 18. Where has Clark Larrabee been? How did he get to O.K. by the Sea?

Answer:
Clark Larrabee has been working in Salinas. He got a ride down in a truck, as it was at gasoline station across the street, so he came to Harry’s shop.

Q 19. What does Clark give Harry? For what purpose?

Answer:
Clark gives thirty dollars to Harry, to handover them to Clay and ask him to take the money home to his mother. He wants Harry not to tell Clay that his father has given the money for him. 

Q 20. How far is it to Hollywood from O.K. by the Sea?

Answer:
Hollywood is about two hundred miles straight down the highway from O.K.by-the-Sea.

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Q 21. What work does the Man do?

Answer:
The man is a writer and he writes a little bit of everything.

Q 22. What did Clay find near Black Rock?

Answer:
Clay found an oyster near the Black Rock, which was shut tight and alive.

Q 23. What does Clay believe is in the oyster? How much is its worth?

Answer:
He believes that there is a pearl inside the oyster which worth at least three hundred dollars.

Q 24. Does Miss McCutcheon believe that there is a pearl in the oyster?

Answer:
No, Miss McCutcheon doesn’t believe that there is a pearl in the oyster, as she is of an opinion that only one oyster in a million has a pearl in it and the one in their hands is not the millionth oyster.

Q 25. Why does Miss McCutcheon have a chair with three legs?

Answer:
Miss McCutcheon brings a chair with three legs from the sea, the same as other people of the town, who bring things from the sea.

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Q 26. What kind of judge is Judge Applegarth?

Answer:
Judge Applegarth once judged animals at a county fair, thus he is entitled to be called a judge.

Q 27. What year is it?

Answer:
It is 1953.

Q 28. What does Greeley have in a bottle?

Answer:
 Greeley has sea water in the bottle and claims that there are little invisible things in it. 

Q 29. Who suggests that they should open the oyster?

Answer:
Miss McCutcheon asks Harry to open the oyster and let everyone face the reality. 

Q 30. Why do they want Wozzeck to come?

Answer:
Harry is afraid that he may damage the pearl thus he urges to call Wozzeck so that he may open the oyster.

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Q 31. How does Harry describe the inhabitants of O.K. by the Sea?

Answer:
Harry expresses that the people of O.K.-by-the-Sea are all poor. There isn’t one rich man in a town of almost a thousand people and yet these people are the richest he has ever known as they are simple, generous and full of sentiments.

Q 32. How does Miss McCutcheon view Harry’s thinking about the pearl in the oyster?

Answer:
Miss McCutcheon is not in favour of Harry’s thinking rather she gets annoyed that how she would be able to teach the principles of truth if people like Harry would accompany the children in running away from bitter realities.

Q 33. Why does the Judge think that Miss McCutcheon will not last as a teacher? What kind of teacher does he think is needed?

Answer:
The judge thinks that Miss McCutcheon will not last a month as a teacher because she is too pretty, whereas he proclaims that their school needed an old battle-axe like the teachers they used to have in their childhood. 

Q 34. What is Applegarth’s complaint about the sea?

Answer:
Applegarth complains that the beach isn’t what it used to be and the quality of the stuff the sea’s washing up isn’t good anymore.

Q 35. What kind of gadget does the writer describe?

Answer:
He describes a gadget like a safety razor that could be used by a layman to give a haircut to anyone.

Q 36. Who buys the oyster? How much does he pay?

Answer:
The writer buys the oyster for three hundred dollars.

Q 37. Does the writer open the oyster? Why not?

Answer:
No, the writer doesn’t open the oyster as he claims that he wants the whole thing and he believes that the pearl hasn’t stopped growing yet.

Q 38. Why does Clark Larrabee return?

Answer:
Clark Larrabee returns to the town after reading the classified ad in the newspaper, which is advertised by his family, for him, to come back home.

Q 39. What does the writer do with the oyster?

Answer:
The writer holds the oyster in front of him as if it was an egg, and looks at it carefully, turning it in fingers. And later, he puts it in his coat pocket. 


Question for Discussion

Q 1. Do you think that it is right to allow Clay to believe that there is a pearl in the oyster? Explain briefly.

Answer:
I think that there is nothing bad in letting the young boy believe that there is a pearl inside the oyster as he needs that pearl to bring his father back, who left the house after a fight with his wife due to the expenses which he can’t afford. Clay pins up all his hope on a superstitious thing that an oyster has a pearl. He claims that he knew he’ll get something good. He is happy and hopeful. The writer feels the simplicity of the boy and buys the oyster to help the poor boy and his family. He knows that the reality will shatter the boy and it would lead him to the hopeless world and there is no life when there is no hope.

Q 2. In your opinion, why is the writer willing to buy the pearl? What has he received in return? What does he mean by saying: “As far as I’m concerned, the whole thing’s a pearl.”

Answer:
The writer hears the complete story about the oyster and the pearl as he sits on the barber’s chair when the rest of the people argue about the presence of the pearl in the oyster. The writer definitely knows that there isn’t a pearl in the oyster, yet he buys that because he wishes to help the poor boy who has lost his father due to the financial position of the family. He gives immense happiness to the boy by purchasing the oyster that is the reason he says that the whole thing is a pearl and he satisfies his inner-self by serving for a good cause.

Q 3. What has attracted Harry and other people to O.K. by the Sea? Is it the kind of town that appeals to you? Do you think that it resembles an ideal town? Give reasons for your answer.

Answer:
O.K.-by-the-Sea is a peaceful town and the people are honest, cooperative and simple. They seek pleasure in little things and do not lust for money. This could be the reason that Harry is attracted to the town, he also doesn’t require much amount to fulfil his needs while living in the town thus he charges quite less than the regular amount of a haircut. One always search for a peaceful place to relax his mind and stay away from the hardships of life, things become easier when you surround yourself with cooperative souls, thus an ideal town like O.K.-by-the-Sea could appeal anyone who in search of peace and finds joy in the service of humanity.

Q 4. Harry’s philosophy is of “Take it easy” (Relax and enjoy life) nature. How does that philosophy appeal to you? Why or why not? Do you think that this philosophy works better in small towns than in large cities? Explain.

Answer:
Harry’s philosophy “Take-it-Easy” signifies that one should not get worried for each and everything and must keep a calm attitude all the time. However, I feel that this approach works better in small towns as the people don’t have big goals and they seek pleasure in little things, whereas the population of the cities is pre-occupied with many things, they have high ambitions and they desire to get a luxurious life. To achieve these objectives they have to work hard, they cannot just take things for granted or ignore the difficulties rather they have to confront them by sensibly utilizing their skills.

Q 5. In your opinion, does the play reveal the author’s view of life? If so, what is his view of life?

Answer:
The play definitely reveals the writer’s view of life. He seeks a friendly atmosphere where people cooperate with each other and share all worries and happiness. The simple, honest and sympathetic people of O.K.-by-the-Sea depict that they do not lust for money; likewise, the author believes that the money does not matter where people are caring and sociable. He portrays his thoughts through the play that happiness and pleasure could be attained by helping others and leading a simple life and realizing that money does not count a lot.

Q 6. Would you call this play one of “The action plays”? Why or why not? How would you describe the play to a friend?

Answer:
The play could not be entitled as an action play and it does not possess thrilling or any other similar element, whereas it is a simple act consisting of ordinary, cooperative and honest people of the town. However the writer makes it humorous by adding some interesting characters to it.
He tries to depict his faith in the goodness of the human heart through his play. The hidden theme of the play is that an honest and simple life is much better than the busy and uncomfortable life of cities. The theme of the play is more important than the plot or characters, in such kind of moral plays.

Q 7. Do you think that this would be a good play to produce? Why or why not?

Answer:
The play “Oyster and the Pearl” has a moral lesson in it and one can easily relate the narration to his life as we do come across with people who don’t lose hope in their difficulties and are dealt harshly by some straight forward people who try to let them face the bitter realities. Thus one could feel a connection and may feel touched.
The play lacks thrill, fear or melodrama yet it is a pleasant and sentimental piece of art. The dialogues are simple and interesting and the characters are honest and easy to perform. Thus it could be a good play to produce as it would not cost much and the author would be able to convey a strong message through a simple act.


Optional Activity

1.  Write a composition of 100 — 150 words explaining why you liked or did not like, this play.

Answer:
The play, “Oyster and the Pearl” is an outstanding play and is worthy of our sheer appreciation.  The interesting dialogues, simple yet persuasive characters, and delightful humor make it a wonderful composition. It purely depicts the simple, honest and cooperative people of a town. They help each other and find happiness in little things contrary to the busy routines of high profile people of big cities, who urge to earn more and more and leave their social lives far behind and become obsessed for money. The play teaches us to take things easy and not to overburden ourselves. It gives us a message to live a simple, honest and cheerful life.

2.   Write a composition describing your ideal town.

Answer:
The word ideal somehow indicates perfection that couldn’t be achieved in this world. But compromise makes everything ideal, so if we become practical and accept things as they are then we can be near to ideal. A town where care and love enrich the atmosphere and the people are simple, honest and cheerful and the natural happiness prevails everywhere; that could be an ideal town for us. But being realistic, we have to accept that all the people are not alike and it is good with bad. So, we have to deal with others very sensibly in order to achieve eternal happiness.

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