A Shady Plot by Elsic Brown
Class 10, English
NCERT Solutions and Answers of NCERT textbook Chapter Exercise Questions
Question 2: That title of the story is A Shady Plot. The dictionary defines the word as:
(a). Full of shade; shaded.
(b). Casting shade: a shady grove.
(c). Quiet, dark, or concealed; hidden.
(d). Of dubious character or of questionable honesty.
(a) (i): a small piece of ground, generally used for a specific purpose: a garden plot.
(ii): a measured area of land.
(b): a ground plan, as for a building; a diagram.
(c): storyline - the plan, scheme, or main story of a literary or dramatic work, as a play, novel, or short story.
(d): a secret plan to accomplish a hostile or illegal purpose; a scheme.
Based on the definitions above can you predict what the story will be about? Make a brief more of your prediction in your notebook.
Answer: The story could be about a mysterious plan. It would deal with the solving of the mystery. May be one or more characters of dubious nature who make a scheme, which is illegal, of course. Then they would be executing their plan in a secret manner to accomplish their hostile purpose. The chapter would also be about writing a mystery story or a novel.
Page 46 Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)
Question 4: Based on your reading of the story, answer the following questions by ticking the correct options.
(1) The narrator earns his living by _________
(a) writing ghost stories
(b) working as a reader for a magazine
(c) working as a stenographer
(d) working as an accountant in a lumber company.
Solution: (d) working as an accountant in a lumber company.
(2) The writer was overconfident about his ability to write ghost stories because _______
(a) whenever magazines wanted a ghost story, they got in touch with him
(b) he was always able to write a ghost story whenever he had to write one
(c) the readers appreciated his ghost stories
(d) he knew the ghost lady would help him write a good ghost story.
Solution: (b) he was always able to write a ghost story whenever he had to write one.
(3) The sight of the ghost materialising in his room filled the narrator with _________
Solution: (a) fear.
(4) The ghost wanted John to __________.
(a) stop his wife from using the Ouija board
(b) stop using the Ouija board himself
(c) stop his guests from using the Ouija board
(d) stop people from using the Ouija board
Solution: (d) stop people from using the Ouija board.
(5) John wants the ghost to disappear before his wife enters the room and waves his arms at the ghost with something of the motion of a beginner when learning to swim. His movement shows his ________.
Solution: (c) desperation.
(6) When the narrator says his wife is never so pretty as when she's doing something she knows he disapproves of, his tone is_________.
Solution: (b) ironic.
(7) The ghost says "It's all your fault." "It" here refers to _________.
(a) the narrator's wife's anger
(b) the ghost's anger
(c) the narrator's wife leaving him
(d) the ghost materialising in sections
Solution: (d) the ghost materialising in sections.
(8) Gladolia wishes to leave the narrator's house is ________.
(a) she does not like the Ouija boards
(b) she is afraid of the ghost
(c) she is afraid of magic and hoodoo
(d) she likes Ouija boards and hoodoo
Solution: (a) she does not like the Ouija boards.
Question 5: Answer the following questions briefly.
(a) What genre of stories does Jenkins want the narrator to write? Why?
Solution (a): Jenkins wanted the narrator to write in the supernatural genre. The public wanted ghost stories and the narrator's skill in writing ghost stories was exceptional. Jenkins thought his ghosts were live propositions and therefore asked him to come up with a ghost story.
(b) Does the narrator like writing ghost stories? Support your answer with evidence from the story.
Answer (b): There is nothing as such for the narrator to like or dislike writing ghost stories. It is more of a necessity for him to come up with good stories whenever Jenkins demands them. He says that the stories seemed to specialise in him. He had been able to produce good ghost stories under pressure in the past and had been overconfident regarding his ability.
(c) What makes Helen, the ghost, and her other co-ghosts organise The Writer's Inspiration Bureau?
Solution (c): When Helen was a human she had worked as reader for a magazine. The quality of stories and other work made life difficult for her. When she died, she found other ghosts who had suffered similarly and they organised "The Writer's Inspiration Bureau" to help writers who were looking for inspiration.
(d) Why had Helen, the ghost been helping the narrator write ghost stories? Why was she going on strike? What condition did she place for providing continued help?
Answer(d): The narrator had been desperate for inspiration. Helen found him easy to accept impression and helped him. She was going on strike because the new fad of Ouija boards had people calling up on ghosts to answer questions all the time. She was exhausted and needed rest. She wanted the narrator to exert his influence and get all his acquaintances to stop using the Ouija board.
(e) How does the ghost undermine the narrator's faith in his ability to write ghost stories?
Solution (e): The ghost undermined the narrator's faith in his ability to write ghost stories by telling him that she had been providing inspiration for his stories. She told him about "The Writer's Inspiration Bureau" and revealed that they helped writers who was without ideas and had a soft mind. The writer's overconfidence and cockiness disappeared when he was told this.
(f) Why does John want the ghost to disappear before his wife appears on the scene? What impression of his wife's character do you form from his words?
Solution (f): John was very protective of Lavinia, his wife. He knew that the sight of a ghost in the house would scare her out of her senses. He wished to protect her from such fear. His apprehension reveals that his wife is a fragile, sensitive person who cannot face fear. She rouses his protective spirit. She seems a vulnerable person.
(g) Why does the narrator hesitate to be a partner to Laura Hinkle during the Ouija Board Party?
Solution (g): The narrator had been warned in advance by Helen. He had been asked to convince people to stop using Ouija's boards. Now he was being forced to not only submit to holding an Ouija party at his home but also to participate in it. He feared that his participation would make the ghosts angry and would result in adverse consequences. Therefore, he hesitated to be a partner to Laura Hinkle.
(h) What message does the ghost convey to the group that had assembled in the narrator's house? What is their reaction to the message?
Solution (h): The ghost used the Ouija board to convey to the group that the narrator was a traitor. It managed to convey that he had perhaps cheated on his wife with a woman named Helen. The women in the group are horrified and consider him guilty. They think he looks sly and is hiding something.
(i) Do you agree with the narrator calling the assembly of women "manipulators"? Give reasons.
Solution (i): Yes, the narrator is right to call the women manipulators. He is a bystander who pulled into the Ouija board game. First his wife refuses to return the Ouija board and holds a party at her house. He is forced to participate and partner Laura Hinkle. He is given no choice in the matter.
(j) Why is John's wife angry? What does she decide to do?
Solution: John's wife is angry because she believes he is cheating on her. At the Ouija party, the ghost of a woman named Helen tries to communicate with John and calls him a traitor. It makes everyone suspect John of doing something wrong. She decides to leave John and file for a divorce.
(k) Why does John wish he were dead?
Solution (k): John reads his wife notes in which she writes about leaving the house and filing for a divorce. He feels his entire world is crushing around him. He loves his wife a lot and cannot bear the thought of losing her forever. He is devastated and wishes that he was dead.
(l) When confronted by Lavinia about his flirtations over the Ouija Board, John insists that "the affair was quite above-board. I assure you, my love". Bring out the point in John's statement.
Solution (l): John states that his affair was "above-board". He means to say that there was nothing secretive going on at the Ouija party and that he had no such intentions towards Miss Hinkle. The point arises from his use of the word "above-board" suggesting that literally and metaphorically he had nothing to hide and his intentions were pure.
(m) John's apprehensions about his wife's reaction to her encounter with the ghost are unfounded. Justify.
Solution (m): John is unduly apprehensive and protective about Lavinia. He feels she is delicate and sensitive and cannot handle shock or strain. However, Lavinia does not shriek or scream when she sees the ghost. She talks to it and holds her nerves. She displays a strength he never dreamt of. His fears, therefore, are unfounded.
Question 6: Answer the following questions in detail:
(a) After her reconciliation with her husband, John Hallock, Lavinia writes a letter to her friend expressing how her relationship with him had almost been on the verge of breaking and what saved it. Write her letter.
(b) John Hallock reflects upon his experience with Helen's ghost and in retrospect, he finds it quite amusing. All the same, he is relieved that he is no longer plagued by it. Ironically, the self same ghost inspired his creativity and he writes a diary entry reflecting upon the comical aspect of his experience. Write his diary entry.
1, ABC House
Dated: 2nd January, 2014
What is up there? I hope the letter of mine finds you in good health and high spirits.
I wished to share a life-changing experience with you, my dear. About a month ago I, along with the women in my group, was fascinated with Ouija boards and we organised a party at my home. We were all excited and John had to substitute for someone. The party progressed and you wouldn't believe what happened next. A ghost named Helen tried to communicate with John through all the five boards and called him a traitor. John looked uncomfortable and guilty. I was angry and jealous. I could not believe it and spent the while night crying. By moving I had packed and decided to file diye a divorce. I went to inform John and was shocked when he tried to hide someone in the room from me. I thrust him aside was greeted with a ghost! Can you believe it? She looked like phantom and I understood later that she had been providing John with inspiration for his stories. She was somewhat annoyed with him because she wanted him to convince people to stop using Ouija boards. I am so glad that my marriage did not break up. A ghost saved it, literally!
John and I share a wonderful life now. I hope you enjoyed reading about my encounter with a ghost.
Look forward to your reply.
There is an old adage: Truth is stranger than fiction.
I experienced this yesterday. It was a horrific experience to begin with but now I cannot help but be amused by it. I was a nervous about Lavinia and wanted her to stay away from Ouija boards. And I ended up being a participant in the party. It is quite funny indeed. Then Miss Hinkle's expressions and exclamation added spice to the situation. If I had been an outsider, I would have laughed out aloud. Imagine they thought I was having an affair with a ghost! If only Helen had appeared at that night and scared them senseless. When Lavinia told me that she was leaving me, I was devastated. I wanted her to leave the room then as Helen was there but I couldn't convince her. As she saw Helen I expected her to faint or shriek but she actually remained calm and talked to Helen. It could have been an ordinary conversation between two women. My wife does surprise me sometimes. Jenkins is quite pleased with my latest story "Helen of Troy.” I wish I could thank Helen for everything what happened.
Question 11: Do you think a story has an atmosphere? Complete the following blanks to make up your ghost story by choosing the correct options.
She opened the (a) _____ (secret door/spaceship's hatch/door of the cottage/cemetery gate/door of the castle/cockpit). (b) _____ (brashly/loudly/silently/stupidly/fearfully/joyously). Standing in front of her was a (c) ______ (terrifying/handsome/smelly/anonymous/tiny/huge/bossy). (d) _______ (policeman/spy/apparition/witch/prince/wizard) with a (e) _______ (wand/rose/rod/knife/scythe/coded message) in his/her (its) (f) _______ (ghoulish/bony/beautiful/fair/manly/gloved/magical) hand.
(a): cemetery gate.
Class X, A Shady Plot - Further Study