The Last Lesson is a story set in Alsace, a territory that was disputed over by France and Germany. At the time of the story France was defeated by Prussia led by Bismarck. The French districts of Alsace and Lorraine had passed into Prussian hands. An order had come from Berlin that only German was to be taught in the schools of these districts. the author, Alphonse Daudet, brings out the effect of this order on the people of Alsace through this story.
All of a sudden the people realize that their identity is closely tied up with their native language, French. Language is not merely a means of communication. Language is the very soul of a community. It is the identity of the people. As the French teacher M. Hamel says, "When a people are enslaved, as long as they hold fast to their language, it is as if they had the key to their prison."
After receiving the order from Berlin, M. Hamel announces that he is leaving as they will no longer need a French teacher. Suddenly the young students as well as the adults of the community realize how important French is to their existence and sense of freedom. There is a feeling of solidarity and patriotism at the school, as old and young, the people of Alsace cling on to their language, their pride and joy. They realize that preserving their language will preserve their identity.
1. For Franz, what was more tempting than going to school and why? 2. Why was Franz afraid when he was going to school that day? 3. What was F. expected to be prepared with for school that day? 4. What had been put up on the bulletin board? 5. What is the significance of the bulletin board in the story? 6. Who was Wachter? What did he say to Franz and why? 7. What did M. Hamel say to Franz when he was late? 8. What did Franz notice was unusual about the school that day? 9. Who did M. Hamel blame for the neglect of learning in Alsace? 10. What