1. Discuss the significance of the letter.
Ans. The letter becomes a symbol of hope. It’s the only thread of communication between Connie and her husband, Jim. Jim promises in the letter that he will return home before Christmas, a promise that Connie hopes will be fulfilled, hoping her husband would return soon. For Connie, the letter becomes a substitute for her absent husband. She could feel her husband’s presence whenever she read the letter;this made her read the letter over and over again. Years later, the letter also becomes Connie’s “best Christmas present”, for she mistakenly assumes that her husband has finally returned, bringing the letter with him.
2. What is the author conveying through this story ?
Ans. The story ends on a note when old Mrs Macpherson mistakenly believes the narrator to be her war-returned hero, her husband who has fulfilled his promise. Her joy at being finally united with her husband could be looked upon as the final message of the author offering Connie’s happiness as a replacement for the bitterness and emptiness of war. The story celebrated unions over loneliness, joy over sadness, celebration over destruction and peace over war. The author shares with his readers the true spirit of Christmas, love and hope and not destruction and death.
3.Elucidate the peculiar features of Jim’s Christmas party .
Ans. Jim had the most peculiar Christmas party while he was at war. After the Germans initiated the peace truce, Jim saw the “khaki clad men” and men in “grey coats” mingling with each other. They were eating, drinking, laughing, smoking and having lots of fun. No one remembered that they were each other’s enemies. They celebrated Christmas like friends. The events of this unique Christmas party also emerge as better alternatives to war, a football or a cricket match as perceived by Jim and Hans Wolf.
Value Based Questions
1. Should the narrator reveal his identity to old Mrs Macpherson or should he allow her to believe that he was her husband ?
Ans. The narrator should not reveal his identity to old Mrs Macpherson. Mrs Macpherson was fairly young when her husband went to war. She spent her entire life waiting for her husband to return to her . When the narrator meets Mrs Macpherson in the hospital, she was pretty old, hundred and one years old. Mrs Macpherson had no relatives in the last days of her life, this mistaken identity of her visitor could give her some happiness. It is true that the narrator would be telling a lie and cheating her, hiding his identity knowingly, but this would be worth Mrs Macpherson’s endless wait.
2. Is war the only way of resolving conflicts between nations ?
Ans. War is definitely not the only way of resolving conflicts. It is better to resolve conflicts through dialogue, discussion, peace treaties and so on. War never resolves conflicts, but rather aggravates them. Usually, war is followed by another phase of cold war.
It also leads to state-sponsored terrorism and gives birth to many internal terrorist groups, which further leads to death, devastation and destruction.