The Last Lesson, Explanation, Line by Line, Meaning of Difficult Words, English CBSE Class 12 NCERT Flamingo Chapter 1


(Explanation and Meaning of difficult words)


Author – Alphonse Daudet


Phrase Meaning
In great dread of In great fear of
In unison In one voice, Together
Counted on Depended on
A great bustle Lot of activity
Thumbed at the edge Worn out at edges due to overuse
Reproach ourselves with Criticise ourselves, Repent ourselves



Word Meaning
In great dread of In great fear of
Scolding Rebuke, Reprimand, Firing
Especially Specially, Mainly
Paticiple ‘ing’ form of a verb used in continuous tense
Did not know the first word Did not know anything, Knew nothing



The narrator (Franz) got late at his home for the school. Mr. M Hamel is the teacher at school. Franz had a fear that he would receive rebuke from his teacher. Because teacher would ask question about participle and Franz did not know anything about these.




Word Meaning
Out of doors Outside in the open
Chirping Sound of birds
Woods Jungle
Prussian German
Drilling Exercising
Tempting Inviting, Alluring, Attractive
Had strength to resist Had courage to control (myself)
Hurried off Started going quickly


Franz thought of not going to school. He thought of spending the day in the open. Weather was warm and shiny. At the edge of the jungle birds were making noise. In the open field, German soldiers were exercising. All this was more attractive than rules of participles. But Franz did not do that. He quickly went to school.



Word Meaning
Bulletin board Notice board
The draft Orders to join army
Commanding officer Head of army


Franz walked past town hall. He saw a crowd in front of notice board. Since last two and a half years, notice board displayed bad news. The battles lost by France. The orders to join army. The orders of the head of Prussian army. Franz did not stop at the town hall. He wondered what could be the matter.




Word Meaning
Hurried by Walked quickly
Blacksmith One who works on iron
Apprentice Trainee
Bub Boy, Man
In plenty of time Before time


Then Franz walked quickly towards school. The blacksmith Wachter was reading the bulletin. His trainee was also with him. Wachter called Franz and told him not to hurry. Wachter further told Franz that he would reach school before time.




Word Meaning
Making fun of Joking about somebody
Out of breath breathing fast, Gasping for breath


Franz thought that Wachter was joking about him. So he kept walking quickly. Franz was breathing fast when he reached the garden of M Hamel.


Word Meaning
A great bustle Lot of activities
In unison In one voice, Together
Rapping Strike repeatedly


Most of the times, at the beginning of school, there used to be lot of activities. Sound of these activities could be heard in the street. Sound of opening and closing of desks. Sound of reciting the lesson together. The recitation used to be together in loud voice. Students would close their ears with hands. Teacher used to strike his ruler repeatedly on the table.


Word Meaning
Still Quiet, No movement
Counted on Depended on
Commotion Loud noise, Lot of activities
To get to To reach


But there was no noise. Franz had depended upon the noise and activities to reach his desk without getting noticed. But that day everything was quiet – as if it was a Sunday. (School remains closed on Sunday, so it is quiet on Sunday) M Hamel was walking up and down in the class. He had his fearful ruler in his hand.


Word Meaning
Blushed Felt shy, Felt ashamed
Frightened Afraid


Franz opened the door. Everybody noticed him while he went to his desk. He felt shy and feared. But nobody said anything to him. His teacher M Hamel saw him. He spoke very kindly to him. He asked him to go to his desk. He further said that they were about to start the class without Franz.

[All these are indications that something had changed. Everybody was serious. Franz noticed these changes.]



Word Meaning
Fright Fear
Frilled shirt Shirt with designs
Prize days Special days


Franz sat on his desk. He took some time to overcome his fear. After that he noticed that his teacher was wearing a different dress that day. He was wearing a beautiful green coat, a frilled shirt and a small cap of black colour. All these had embroidery on it. He wore this dress on inspection and special days only.

[This was a further indication that something had changed.]


Word Meaning
Besides In addition to, Additionally
Solemn Formal
Quietly Silently


Additionally, the school was looking strange and formal. Franz was more surprised to see people sitting at the back benches. These benches normally used to be empty. Today villagers were sitting there quietly. Old Mr. Hauser was wearing hat. Former mayor, former postmaster and many others were also sitting in the class.



Word Meaning
Primer Book of primary class
Thumbed at the edge Worn out at edges due to overuse


Everybody was sad. Mr. Hauser had brought his book of primary class. Edges of the book were worn out. He had opened this book on his knees. His spectacles were on pages of the book.


Word Meaning
Wondering about it Thinking about it
Mounted his chair Sat on his chair
Grave Sad


Franz was trying to guess what had happened. Meanwhile, M. Hamel sat on his chair. He said in a sad and gentle voice that this is the last lesson he would teach us.

Word Meaning
Master Teacher
Attentive Paying attention, Careful


M Hamel informed that an order had come from Berlin. In all schools of Alsace and Lorraine towns, the teaching had to be in German medium. The new teacher would be coming tomorrow. He further informed that this would be our last lesson in French. He requested us to pay attention.

Word Meaning
Thunderclap Unexpected shock
Wretches Scoundrel, Villain, Cruel


These words were a shock to Franz. He calls Germans scoundrels. Now he is able to understand about the notice at the bulletin board.



Word Meaning
Hardly Almost nothing
Saar Name of a river


Franz is talking to himself. My last lesson in French. I do not know how to write French. He thinks that he should have learnt more. He wants to learn more. He regrets going in the jungle for picking eggs. He regrets going for a ride (boating) on the Saar river.

Word Meaning
Nuisance Trouble, Problem
Saints Monks
Cranky Strange, Eccentric


Now Franz thinks that his books were his friends. Earlier he used to think that these were a problem for him. He did not want to give up books. He also understood that M Hamel would be going away from school. Franz will never see him again. So he forgot everything about his ruler and his strange behaviour.



Word Meaning
Put on Wear


Franz now understood many things. M Hamel was wearing those clothes because it was his last lesson. Villagers were sitting in the class because they had a regret of not going to school for more time. They had come to the class to thank M Hamel for the service he had given to the school. They had come to show respect to their country. Since their country was occupied by Germans, the author says that now it was not their country.



Word Meaning
Mixed up Confused
Not daring Not having courage


While Franz was thinking, his name was called. He wanted to recite his lesson correctly. He was ready to give everything he had to correctly recite rules of participle. But he got confused. He stood silently at his desk. He did not have the courage to look up and see his teacher.

M Hamel told Franz that he will not scold Franz. You must be feeling bad. Every day we tell ourselves that we have lot of time to study. I will study tomorrow. And now you have understood that there will be no tomorrow.


Word Meaning
Put off Defer, Postpone
Pretend To Claim, To say
Reproach ourselves with Criticse ourselves, Repent ourselves


M Hamel continues. That is the big trouble with people of village Alsace. People postpone learning to next day. And now Germans will tell you that you do not know how to read or write French. So why should you call yourself Frenchmen. But Franz, you are not the worst. We all need to repent ourselves.

M Hamel continues. Your parent were not serious about your education. They used to put you on some work to earn money – on a field or a mill. I am also to be blamed. I used to send you to my garden for watering flower plants. When I went for fishing, I used to give you holidays.


Word Meaning
Went on Continued
Logical Based on rules
Guard it Protect it
Enslaved Became slave
Hold fast to Continue with, Attached


M Hamel continues to talk many things about French language. He says that French is the most beautiful, clearest and logical language in the world. We must continue to speak French and always protect this. He says that when we continue to be attached to our own language, we have the key of our prison.

[By the last sentence he means that Prussian have occupied their village. Now they have ordered to use German as medium of teaching in schools. Both acts are as good as putting people in prison.]



Word Meaning
Amazed Surprised
Put into our head To make us understand
In one stroke In one attempt


Now M Hamel taught us grammar. Franz was surprised that he understood the lesson. It was very easy. Franz thought that he had never listened so carefully and Hamel had not explained so nicely. It appeared that Hamel wanted us to teach everything he knew. He wanted us to understand in one attempt.


Word Meaning
Round hand Cursive writing
Floating Flying


After grammar, Hamel taught writing. He gave them new notebooks. France, Alsace were written on each note book. These words were written beautifully in the notebook. Franz felt that these words were written on small flags and these were everywhere in the class room.

[Author is trying to say that everybody felt so devoted and attached to their country and town.]


Word Meaning
Set to To begin an activity


Franz continues to think. One should have seen that everybody started writing earnestly. It was so impressive. It was very quiet in the class. Nobody was talking. One could hear sound of pen writing on paper.



Word Meaning
Beetle Type of insect


Frenz describes further. Some beetles came into the class room. Nobody got disturbed. The young little kids were also writing their cursive writings. On the roof one pigeon made a sound. Franz wondered if Germans will order pigeons to sing in German medium. (This is a satire)

Word Meaning
Gazing Staring, Looking


Whenever Franz looked up he noticed that M Hamel was sitting in chair. He was not making any movements. He was staring at things in the classroom one by one. Hamel was trying to see how things looked in the class room. (It means that Hamel had become emotional. He felt attached to everything in the classroom.)

Franz continues to think. Imagine, Hamel had been in the same classroom for forty years. His garden was outside the window and his class was in front of him. All are still at the same place.



Word Meaning
Hopvine A type of creeper
Twined around Circled around


Franz describes changes in last forty years. The benches and desks had worn out. These were smooth now. The walnut tress had become taller. Hamel had planted hopvines in his garden. These had grown. These had taken support of windows to climb up to roof. Nothing else had changed.


Word Meaning
Broken his heart Feeling very sad


Franz continues to think. Hamel’s heart must be feeling very sad to go away. His sister was doing packing on the first floor. All could hear that sound. Because they were leaving the country next day.



Word Meaning
Chanted Recited, Sang


Franz describes. Franz was very sad but on that day he listened to all the lessons till their end. Franz says that this showed his courage. After lesson of writing, Hamel taught them history lesson. After that small kids recited a rhyme.


Word Meaning
Trembled Shook, Shivered


Franz describes. Mr. Hauser had put on his spectacles. He held his book of primary class in both hands. He was trying to recite spelling of words. He was crying. His voice was shaking. He was full of emotions. His voice was very funny (different). Everybody in the class room wanted to laugh and cry. (Example of mixed emotions) Franz remembered his last lesson.


Word Meaning
All at once Suddenly
Angelus Prayer at church
Trumpets Bugles
Look tall Look confident


Franz describes. Suddenly, it was 12 O’clock by the clock at church. Prayers started at church. Prussian soldiers were returning from their exercise. Their bugle made sound near the window of class room. Hamel got up from his chair. He was looking yellow. He appeared very confident.

Hamel started saying, “My friends .. But something stopped him. He could not continue.


Word Meaning
Bear on Taking support
Might Power, Strength
Vive La France Long Live France


Franz describes. Then Hamel turned towards blackboard and took a piece of chalk. Taking support of all his power he wrote – Long Live France. He wrote in very large words.


Word Meaning
Leaned Took support
Gestured Indicated without speaking


Hamel stopped and supported himself against the wall. Without speaking any word he indicated, “School is dismissed – you may go”.

[Please note he does not say that class is dismissed. He wanted to say that the school was now closed.]



Important Links
The Last Lesson – Textbook Q&A The Last Lesson – Extra Q&A
Lost Spring – Explanation Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers  – Explanation
Lost Spring – Textbook Q&A Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers – Textbook Q&A
Lost Spring – Extra Q&A Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers – Extra Q&A
Passages Note Making
Letter Writing Notice Writing
Advertisement Writing Article Writing
Report Writing




Himanshu · November 30, 2020 at 6:13 pm

Superb job .

    Pemy · December 1, 2021 at 2:57 pm

    excellent notes
    Quiet good and useful l

Pushplata · December 2, 2021 at 7:13 am

Thank you

    Neeraj · March 6, 2023 at 7:04 am

    Most helpful

ur fan · April 14, 2024 at 5:33 pm

i rally love this notes….about 2yrs am using this app

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