Thursday, March 9, 2023

Class XII – English – Vistas – On The Face Of It by Susan Hill: Theme Summary Explanation and Q&A Solved


"On the Face of It" is a play by Susan Hill that explores the themes of isolation, perception, and acceptance. The story follows two characters, Derry and Mr Lamb. Derry is a teenage boy with a scarred face ostracized by his peers because of his appearance. One day, Derry enters the garden of Mr Lamb, an elderly man with a prosthetic leg, seeking a place to hide. Despite their initial distrust of each other, the two characters begin to bond over their shared experiences of being judged based on their outward appearance.


Through their conversations, Derry learns to look beyond his scars and embrace life despite his physical differences. Meanwhile, Mr Lamb, also socially isolated due to his disability, finds a companion in Derry and learns to open up to the world again. The play ultimately explores the idea that acceptance and authentic connection can be found when we look beyond appearances and connect with others on a deeper level.


The theme of "On the Face of It" by Susan Hill explores appearances versus reality and the idea that authentic connections can be formed when we look beyond physical appearance. The play also explores the theme of isolation and its effects on individuals judged based on their outward appearance. Through the characters of Derry and Mr Lamb, Hill shows that society's perception of physical appearance can cause individuals to feel isolated and alone.


However, through their interactions, Derry and Mr Lamb learn to look beyond their physical differences and connect with each other on a deeper level. They discover that true acceptance comes from looking beyond appearances and understanding that everyone has a unique story and value as a person. Ultimately, the play suggests that by seeing beyond outward appearances and connecting with others on a deeper level, we can find companionship and a sense of belonging essential to our well-being.


"On the Face of It," a concise narrative penned by Susan Hill, details a fortuitous encounter between two disparate individuals, Derry and Mr Lamb, who hail from contrasting backgrounds and generations. The narrative artfully exemplifies the power of human interaction, underscoring the criticality of transcending physical appearances.

Initially, Derry was hesitant to engage with Mr Lamb owing to his facial disfigurement. However, he swiftly found a kindred spirit in the sightless elderly man. Their dialogue ultimately paved the way for mutual appreciation, prompting them to transcend their physical limitations and recognize each other's exceptional perspectives. Mr Lamb's recounting of his experience with blindness stimulated Derry to confront his own challenges and appreciate his strengths.

As the conversation deepened, Derry divulged his struggles and self-doubt to Mr Lamb, who listened with patience and empathy, ultimately providing him with words of tenderness and motivation. This interaction played a pivotal role in enabling Derry to acknowledge his self-worth and instilled in him a sense of optimism for the future. The deep bond between the two individuals transcended their differences, and they both recognized the beauty in each other's spirit.

The narrative culminates with Derry leaving the garden, imbued with newfound self-esteem and a sense of hope. This uplifting story serves as a poignant reminder that our physical appearance is merely a fraction of who we are, and that the essence of beauty lies in our relationships and the empathy we exhibit towards others. Susan Hill's adept narration and her ability to encapsulate the essence of human nature in just a few pages make "On the Face of It" an indispensable read for anyone seeking to fathom the power of empathy and connection.


Reading with Insight


Q1. What is it that draws Derry towards Mr Lamb despite himself?


In the play 'On the Face of It' by Susan Hill, Derry initially hesitates to approach Mr Lamb, a disfigured and isolated man who spends most of his time in his garden. However, as the two begin to talk, Derry is drawn towards Mr Lamb's kindness, empathy, and sense of humour.


Despite his own physical limitations, Mr Lamb can see past Derry's surface-level arrogance and hostility and connects with him on a deeper emotional level. He listens patiently to Derry's frustrations and fears and shares his experiences of overcoming hardship and finding joy in small moments.


As Derry spends more time with Mr Lamb, he sees the man's inner beauty and humanity rather than his physical appearance. This allows him to confront his prejudices and biases and develop newfound respect and admiration for Mr Lamb.


Ultimately, Mr Lamb can connect with Derry on a personal and emotional level, as well as his unwavering kindness and resilience, which draws Derry towards him despite himself.


Q2. In which section of the play does Mr Lamb display signs of loneliness and disappointment? What are how Mr Lamb tries to overcome these feelings?


In Act II, Scene 1 of Susan Hill's play "On the Face of It," Mr. Lamb exhibits indications of isolation and dissatisfaction.

Mr. Lamb, in this scene, discusses his past and reminisces about how he used to have companions and a wife, yet now he finds himself alone. He reveals that his spouse passed away numerous years ago, and he never remarried. His friends have either perished or relocated. He also mentions his son, whom he hasn't seen in years and who has no interest in reconnecting with him.

In an effort to conquer his loneliness and dissatisfaction, Mr. Lamb endeavors to bond with Derry by exchanging stories about his past and searching for common interests. He also tries to offer guidance and listens carefully to Derry's struggles. Moreover, Mr. Lamb finds pleasure in the natural world and the beauty that surrounds him, which he shares with Derry. However, despite his best efforts, Mr. Lamb continues to be plagued by loneliness and dissatisfaction.

Q3. The actual pain or inconvenience caused by a physical impairment is often much less than the sense of alienation felt by the person with disabilities. What is the kind of behaviour that the person expects from others?


Mr. Lamb, the protagonist of Susan Hill's theatrical production 'On the Face of It,' experiences a profound sense of loneliness and detachment due to his physical disability. Despite his amiable and benevolent nature, people tend to shy away from him, afraid of his physical appearance. Mr. Lamb yearns for someone to disregard his impairment and treat him like any other person.

Individuals with disabilities aspire to receive empathy, acceptance, and understanding from others. They long for society to acknowledge their capabilities beyond their physical limitations and accord them with the same dignity and compassion as they would offer anyone else. In the play, Derry, who also experiences a sense of alienation, initially avoids Mr. Lamb because of his appearance. As the two spend more time together, Derry learns to look beyond Mr. Lamb's disability and appreciate him for his personality. This newfound friendship helps Mr. Lamb overcome his feelings of loneliness and disillusionment, enabling him to be more forthcoming and trusting with Derry.

In conclusion, individuals with disabilities seek acknowledgement, kindness, and empathy. They implore society to recognize them as individuals beyond their physical impediments and acknowledge their unique abilities, interests, and emotions.


Q4. Will Derry return to his old seclusion, or will Mr Lamb's brief association effect a change in the kind of life he will lead?


Throughout Susan Hill's play 'On the Face of It,' the critical question of whether Derry will revert to his previous solitude or if his brief connection with Mr. Lamb will change his destiny needs an unambiguous response. However, the play hints that Derry has been impacted by his interactions with Mr. Lamb.

The play demonstrates how Derry's initial resistance to Mr. Lamb's overtures gradually succumbs to authentic camaraderie. Mr. Lamb's benevolence and sensitivity help Derry see past his physical deformities and establish a human bond. This is apparent in the scene where Derry assists Mr. Lamb in donning his coat, demonstrating his willingness to aid someone who has aided him.

Nevertheless, it is unmistakable that Derry still struggles with his apprehensions and uncertainties, primarily regarding how others view him. He frets that his peers will ridicule him for associating with an elderly man and fears that his time with Mr. Lamb will render him more susceptible to further emotional harm.

Overall, the play leaves the issue of Derry's destiny unresolved, suggesting that he must choose whether to persist in his solitary path or to embrace the possibilities for friendship and connection that Mr. Lamb has revealed to him.


How about...

using your imagination to suggest another ending to the above story.


As Derry sat beside Mr Lamb, he couldn't help but feel a sense of gratitude and comfort in his presence. Despite initial reluctance to engage with the old man, he realized he had found an unexpected friend in Mr Lamb.


Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months as the two continued to spend time together. Derry enjoyed Mr Lamb's company more and more, and he couldn't imagine returning to his old life of seclusion.


One day, Derry decided to take Mr Lamb on an adventure. They travelled to a nearby lake, where Derry rented a boat for them to enjoy. As they rowed into the water, Mr Lamb couldn't help but feel a sense of joy and wonder. He had never felt so alive in years.


As they rowed back to shore, Mr Lamb turned to Derry and said, "Thank you for showing me that life still has so much to offer. You have given me a reason to keep going, even when things seem bleak." Derry smiled and replied, "Thank you for reminding me I don't have to face the world alone. I have you now, and that's all that matters."


From that day on, Derry and Mr Lamb continued to explore the world together, experiencing new things and creating new memories. They were no longer alone, for they had found a true friend in each other.


FAQs – On the Face of It

  1. What is the title of the play, and who is the author?

·       The play's title is "On the Face of It", written by Susan Hill.

  1. What is the theme of the play?

·       The theme of the play "On The Face Of It" by Susan Hill is the power of human connection and the ability to find friendship and understanding in unexpected places.

  1. Who are the main characters in the play?

·       The main characters in the play "On The Face Of It" by Susan Hill are Mr Lamb, an old man, and Derry, a small boy who is very withdrawn and defiant.

  1. What is the physical condition of Mr Lamb?

· Mr Lamb has a physical impairment or disability; he lost his leg in the war and now uses a tin leg to get around.

  1. How does Derry feel about Mr Lamb at the beginning of the play?

·       Derry is initially afraid of Mr Lamb and wants to avoid him.

  1. What happens to change Derry's attitude towards Mr Lamb?

·       Derry becomes intrigued by Mr Lamb's positive outlook on life despite his physical disfigurement.

  1. What is the climax of the play?

·       The play's climax is when Derry confronts Mr Lamb about his loneliness, and Mr Lamb tears.

  1. What is the resolution of the play?

·       The play's resolution is left open-ended, but it is suggested that Derry has learned to appreciate the value of human connection and empathy.

  1. What is the message of the play?

·       The play's message is that appearances can be deceiving and that people should not be judged based on physical appearance.

  1. What is the significance of the title "On the Face of It"?

·       The title is a play on words, as it refers to both Mr Lamb's physical appearance and the surface-level interactions between the characters and the deeper emotions and motivations underlying their interactions.


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