The Little Match Girl Questions and Answers ICSE Class 9 and Class 10

Extract Based Questions

Read the extracts given below and answer the questions that follow.

Extract – I

In the cold and gloom a poor little girl walked, bareheaded and barefoot, through the streets. She had been wearing slipper, it is true, when she left home, but what good were they? They had been her mother’s , so you can imagine how big they were. The little girl had lost them as she ran across the street to escape from two carriages that were being driven terribly fast. One slipper could not be found, and a boy had run off with the other, saying that it wuld come in very handy as a cradle some day when he had children of his own.

Question 1 : Describe the weather on the last evening of the year.

Answer : On the last evening of the year, as described in the story, it was terribly cold. It had been snowing and it was getting darker and colder, forcing people to desert the streets and stay indoors to protect themselves from cold.

Question 2 : Why were the slippers not good for the little maiden?  Whose slippers were they?

Answer : The slippers that the little girl wore while stepping out of the house were her mother’s slippers. They were just too large for her. Rather than giving any comfort to her feet, they were more of  a burden as she went along the street trying to sell the matchsticks. She did not realise when she lost them.

Question 3 : What happened to the slippers of the little girl?

Answer : The girl lost her slippers somewhere along the street when two large carriages passed by. They were rolling awfully fast. The girl was unable to find one of the slippers and the other one was picked up by a naughty child, who ran away with it.

Question 4 : A good deal of humour has been employed in the passage. Can you comprehend?

Answer : The narrational voice employs a lot of sarcasm while narrating the tale of the second slipper, picked up by the naughty child. The child thinks it profitable to run away with one slipper assuming that it might help him when he will have children of his own. There’s a lot of humour in these lines.

Question 5 : What does the passage tell us about the social background of the little girl?

Answer : Clearly, the little match girl belongs to a very poor family. The fact that she is bareheaded and barefoot, trying to sell matchsticks in an extremely harsh weather is a strong indication of it. The family cannot even afford  a decent pair of shoes for the little girl and therefore, she has been out wearing her mother’s slippers. The house she lives in has large cracks in the roof and though it has been mended with straw and rags, it can not keep out the blowing wind that comes whistling through.

Extract – II

Her thin hands were almost numb with cold. If only she dared pull just one small match from the pocket, strike it on the wall and warm her fingers! She pulled one out-scr-r-ratch! how it spluttered and burn! It had a warm, bright  flame like a tiny candle when she held her hand over it-but what a strange light! It seemed to the little girl as if she were sitting in front of a great iron stove with polished brass knobs and brass ornaments.

Question 1 : Why did the little girl not think of going back home despite the numbing cold?

Answer : The girl was afraid to go back home. She hadn’t managed to sell a single matchstick the whole day. She was afraid that she might get a beating from her father. She had lost her mother’s slippers also she was  afraid to go back home.

Question 2 : Why do you think, the word ‘dared’ had been used to describe the act of pulling out a single matchstick?

Answer : The girl belonged to a poor family and was perhaps forced to sell the matchsticks in order to sustain her family. She had not sold any matchsticks that day and was therefore afraid to receive beating for the same. Using a matchstick for herself and wasting it was, therefore, a courageous step.

Question 3 : What was the girl’s reaction when she lighted first matchstick?

Answer : When the girl lighted one matchstick, it spluttered and burnt. She felt as if she was holding her hand on a warm bright flame like a tiny candle. She imagined that she was sitting in front of an iron stove which was burning nicely and giving out lovely warmth.

Question 4 : What imagery has been used to describe the flame of the matchstick?

Answer : The girl , first, uses the burning matchstick like a tiny candle and holds her hands over it. Sitting with the lit matchstick she feels as if she were sitting beside a large iron stove, with shiny brass feet and top. She imagined that the stove was burning nicely and providing her with much needed warmth.

Question 5 : Why the burning matchstick is called a blessing?

Answer : The small flame of the burning matchstick appears no less than a blessing to the little girl because she is able to hold her hands over it. Her hands have become numb because of biting cold. Even in her house, she may not have received any relief from cold because of the cracked roof. However, sitting in the street beside a corner, she is able to warm herself a bit with the flame of the matchstick.

Extract – III

She struck another -it burnt clearly and where the light fell upon the wall, the bricks became transparent, like gauze. She could right into the room, where a shinning white cloth was spread on the table .It was covered with beautiful china and in the centre of it stood a roast goose, stuffed with prunes and apples, steaming deliciously. And what was even more wonderful was that goose hopped from the dish, waddled across the floor with carving knife and fork in its back, waddled straight up to the poor child! Then-out went the match, and nothing could be seen but the thick, cold wall.

Question 1 : What happens ever time the girl lights the matchstick?  What becomes translucent?

Answer : Every time the girl lights the matchstick she sees a new vision before her. She feels that the wall between her and the dining room becomes translucent and she could see what is going inside. As she was hungry she saw a table laden with food roasted goose and this delicious dish was itself reaching in her mouth. But it was girl’s imagination only. In reality, she was feeling cold and hungry.

Question 2 : What does she see inside the room?

Answer : In the room, the little girl sees a table with a beautiful snow-white table cloth spread over it and magnificent ceramic crockery laid on its top. She could see the streaming hot goose with its filling and the reeling and running around the table.

Question 3 : What happened when the matchstick burnt out?

Answer : Every time the matchstick burnt out, with the flame the images that the girl was able to see vanished too. Her strain of thoughts got broken and she came back to her reality, with nothing but the cold, damp walls before her.

Question 4 : Were the images that she saw real? What was the girl forced to do?

Answer : No, the images that the girl saw on lighting the matchsticks were not real but a figment of her imagination. The little girl was young and in an age when she should have turned about the streets carelessly and playfully, she was forced to shoulder the responsibilities of earning money. The images that she saw were actually the hidden desires of her heart.

Question 5 : What all vision does she see?

Answer : The girl, first, sees the wall between her and the dining room disappear. She sees the table and its magnificent spread. She is able to smell the roasted goose and sees it reeling on the floor and hopping on the girl, with fork and knife in its breast. Next, she sees a large Christmas tree, larger than she has ever seen. In the vision she sees the figure of her grandmother.

Extract – IV

One of them fell, streaking the sky with light. “Now someone is dying”, said the little girl, for her old grandmother, the only one who had even been good to her but who was now dead, had said,”Whenever a star falls, a soul goes up to God.”

She struck another match on the wall. Once more there was light and in the glow stood her old grandmother, oh, so bright and shining and looking so gentle, kind and loving.

Question 1 : What did the little girl’s grandmother say about the falling star?

Answer : The little girl recalled her grandmother telling her that the falling star signifies death. Whenever a star falls, a soul climbs to heaven. On seeing a falling star, therefore, the girl thought that someone must have died somewhere.

Question 2 : Whose death does the falling star signify?

Answer : Superstitious as might appear, in the story, the falling star does signify death. Strangely, the little girl dies in the end. The soul of her grandmother comes to take the little girl with her to heaven. Hence, the falling star signifies the death of the little matchstick girl.

Question 3 : Whom does the girl see this time? How is her image?

Answer : The little girl, in the final vision, sees her grandmother. The tall and beautiful image of her grandmother with her most loving and pleasing expressions stands before her. Against the bright flame of the matchstick, the reflection of grandmother looks bright too.

Question 4 : Why was the last image so important for the little girl?

Answer : The last image, being the vision of her grandmother, was the most important to the little girl for there was no one in the world who loved her more than her grandmother. Her grandmother was now dead and therefore on seeing her image, the girl became extremely happy.

Question 5 : Why did she rub the whole bundle of matches against the wall?

Answer : The little girl on seeing her grandmother was extremely happy, but at the same time, she was upset that just like the images of the stove, the Christmas tree, the roasted goose and so on, the image of her grandmother could vanish too as the matchsticks burnt out. In order to keep the image of her grandmother close to her and not to lose her again, she burnt the whole bundle of matches.

Extract – V

But in the cold dawn, in the corner formed by the two houses, sat the little girl with rosy cheeks and smiling lips, dead-frozen to death on the last evening of the old year. The dawn of the new year rose on the huddled figure of the girl. She was still holding the matches and half a packet had been burnt.

“She was evidently trying to warm herself”, people said. But no one knew what beautiful visions she had seen and in what a blaze of glory she had entered with her dear old grandmother into the heavenly joy and gladness of new year.

Question 1 : What happens to the little girl in the end?

Answer : Trying to retain the image of her grandmother, the girl ends up burning all the matchsticks. In the final passage of the story, the girl has died. It is difficult to say whether she died of winter cold or of flaming matchsticks.

Question 2 : Discuss the last image of the child. How was the girl looking after death?

Answer : The last image of the dead child is peculiar because even while she had frozen to death, her cheeks were rosy and she had a smiling face. Leaning against the wall, the dead child looked beautiful and aroused the sympathy of passersby.

Question 3 : What did the people think? Why did the think so?

Answer : The passersby thought that the girl must have died while trying to keep herself warm by lighting the matchsticks. The people felt pity on the little girl but no one knew that whenever the girl lighted a matchstick, she could see a beautiful vision be it Christmas tree or delicious food laid on the table or her loving grandmother who was the only person who loved her.

Question 4 : Why were they wrong in their estimate?

Answer : The passersby were pitying the death of the girl, making assumptions about what led her to death. Thy were wrong in their estimate because the girl’s death was not to be pitied, as the girl had seen the most beautiful visions before dying. The girl’s face was smiling even in her death.

Question 5 : Was it possible that the girl was happy on the New Year?

Answer : Most likely, the girl was happy on the New Year. In death, she had been freed from her poverty and isolation and a life of baldness. Unknown to all, the girl had seen the most beautiful visions before dying. This perhaps explains that even in death she had a smiling face. Most importantly, the girl had now been united with her grandmother. Symbolically, the soul of her grandmother herself descended to take the little girl along with her to heaven.

Extract – VI

So the little girl walked about the streets on her naked feet, which were red and blue with cold. In her old apron she carried a great many matches, and she had a packet of them in her hand as well.

Question 1 : Who is ‘she’? What can you conclude about her condition from the above description?

Answer : ‘She’ in the extract is the little girl. As the little girl walked barefoot in the extremely cold weather selling matches, it can be concluded that she was very poor.

Question 2 : What time of the year was it? Why did she not want to go home?

Answer : It was New Year’s eve. The little girl did not want to go home as she feared that she might receive a beating from her father because she had not managed to sell even a single matchstick the whole day.

Question 3 : What did she use the matches for? What happened when she lit the first match?

Answer : She used the matches for keeping herself warm. When the little girl lighted the first match, it spluttered and burnt. She felt as if she was holding her hand on a warm bright flame like a tiny candle.

Question 4 : Whom did she love dearly? What did she say when this person appeared before her?

Answer : She loved her grandmother dearly. When her grandmother appeared before her, she requested her to take her with her. This was because she feared that her grandmother would disappear as soon as the match burns out.

Question 5 : What happened to the little girl at the end of the story? Would you consider this a happy ending or a sad one? Give one reason for your answer.

Answer : The little girl died at the end of the story. It was a  happy ending because in death, she had been freed from her life of poverty and isolation.

Short Questions

Question 1 : The events in the story, ‘The Little Match Girl’ were set on a single day, what day it was and what was the weather on that day?

Answer : It is true that all the events in the story occurred on a single day, that was, on the New Year’s Eve. The weather on that day was particularly cold. It had been snowing and snowflakes fell on the hair of the little girl. It was evening time and the freezing cold was forcing people to stay indoors.

Question 2 : The girl’s appearance was directly opposite to that of the weather. Is it true? Why?

Answer : The girl’s appearance and dress-up was strangely opposite to that of the weather. Despite the freezing cold, the girl moved along the streets bareheaded and barefooted. She had neither a hat nor any shoes to protect her from the cold. This conveyed a lot about her miserable condition.

Question 3 : What was the first image that the girl saw on rubbing the matchstick against the wall?

Answer : In the first image, the girl saw the wall between her and the dining room disappeared. She saw a table with a beautiful tablecloth and the most magnificent crockery displayed over it. She also saw the roasted goose filled with apple and dried plums hopping from the table to the floor with carving knife and fork in its back, hopped towards the little girl.

Question 4 : Why did the girl see the vision of her grandmother? Why was this vision proved the last one for her?

Answer : The girl saw the vision of her grandmother in the end. She saw it as she was very fond of her grandmother. She only loved the little girl. Now perhaps the grandmother had come to take the girl with her to end her suffering at this Earth.

Question 5 : Where did the grandmother and the child go? What was the place like?

Answer : The grandmother descended from heaven. She carried the girl in her arms and together both rose higher and higher into the sky and entered the gates of heaven, a place with no misery. There would be no cold, no starvation and no beating but love of which the girl seemed to have been deprived of throughout her life.

Long Questions

Question 1 : What all visions does the girl see on burning the matchsticks? How are they important to her?

Answer : The little match girl is the central character of the story ‘The Little Match Girl’.

Life of the Little Girl : She has been living in acute poverty struggling to make both ends meet. Struggling with severe cold the girl took shelter in the corner made by the joint of two building. The cold forces the girl to dare to lit a matchstick in the light of which she sees some beautiful visions. The girl sees several images on burning the matchsticks.

The First Vision : First, she sees the inside of a place to which she could have never gained access .She sees a dining parlour; a table with a fine spread and delicious food. She, then, sees the roasted goose with knife and fork in its breast, hopping at the girl.

Other Visions : With the next matchstrike, she sees a grand and larger than live Christmas tree. The girl has not ever seen such a huge and beautiful Christmas tree. Thereafter, the girl sees a falling star and her mind is immediately taken to the image of her grandmother.

The Final Vision : She sees the most beautiful and charming image of her grandmother. This final vision, she wants to hold on to and therefore keeps burning the matches.

Importance of Visions : Through her visions her happy moments have been shared. The visions gave immense joy to the little girl. Imaginary visions played a very important role to set the background of the story so their role cannot be ignored.

Question 2: Were the images that the girl saw real? What were they actually?

Answer :  The images seen by the girl were not real but imaginary. They were fragments from the girl’s hidden desires.

Life of Little Girl : Living a life of a complete deprivation, the girl did observe the prettiest that life offered some. Marching along the streets to sell the matchsticks, she could not escape the fun and frolic that marked the New Year’s Eve. She could smell the roasted goose, hear the happy rubbish of the people. The images of the fine table, with its magnificent spread and delicious food were all dreams that came true in the girl’s imagination.

Desire for Love : Love was the other missing aspect of her life. With her grandmother, now dead, there was no one who cared for her. Rather, she feared beating from her father and thus, chose to stay back in the streets. That is why, along the other images that she saw, she also envisioned her grandmother as the girl wished to be united with her.

Question 3 : Discuss the role of the people in the story ‘The Little Match Girl’.

Answer : The role of the people in the story bears no significance as the story is set in a background where people cannot notice the little girl until she is discovered dead yet there are some points that should be discussed to throw light on the people’s apathy towards her.

People Fail to Notice the Girl : The story revolves around a cold and gloomy place where it is quite impossible for the people to spot the girl so they cannot be blamed for her pitiable condition. It seems the girl has been trying to sell matchsticks since morning in a market place, crowded with people who are preparing for the celebration of the New year’s Eve. The people must have seen her bareheaded and barefooted but no one had come forward to help her or has even noticed her condition just opposite to the weather. It is sheer demonstration of apathy on the part of civilised human towards a helpless poor girl.

Self-centered and Apathetic : The people are so absorbed in their own joy that the miserable condition of the girl could not draw the attention of any of them. Had any of the people helped her, she could have been saved. Later, when the girl dies with cold, the people notice her and guess that she has died trying to warm herself but nobody bothers why a little girl has to spend night in such a terrible cold that has claimed her life. The people do not seem to be noticing her rosy cheeks and smiling lips which are looking alive even after she has passed away. Thus, we may conclude that the people in the story are ignorant and apathetic. Had people bothered to buy matchsticks from her so that, she could he helped monetarily, perhaps she would have returned home. People spend lots of money on themselves and family while celebrating New years Eve, but not a single soul bothered about the little girl who was turning on the streets of a market place bareheaded and barefooted.