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THE RATTRAP-Question and answers

1. What was the peddler’s philosophy about rattrap? Why did it amuse him?

Ans: The peddler’s philosophy was that the whole world is a rattrap with several baits in it. As one is tempted to bait and touches it the door is closed and everything comes to an end like in a rattrap. The thought amused him because he has so far been selling rattrap; but not fallen in this world’s rattrap.

2.The reader’s sympathy is with the peddler right from the beginning? Is it justified? Give reasons.

Ans: The rattrap peddler draws reader’s sympathy because of his poverty. The author’s description of his clothes and appearance like –“his clothes are in rags, his cheeks are sunken and hunger gleams his eyes” and his resorting to begging and petty thievery to keep his body and soul together evoke reader’s sympathy

3. Who do you think was at fault-the ironmaster or the peddler? Give two reasons.

Ans: I think the ironmaster was at fault because it was he who invited the tramp to his house for the Christmas thinking him to be his old acquaintance; but on knowing he was not his acquaintance he could not oppose his daughter’s decision to offer him Christmas cheer.

4.Why was the peddler grateful to the ironmaster and his daughter?

Ans: The peddler was grateful to the ironmaster and his daughter as they empowered him to release himself from the world’s rattrap through their selfless hospitality, love, sympathy, compassion, and understanding.

5.What idea suddenly struck in the mind of the rattrap peddler?

Ans: One day the peddler was moving along the road suddenly an idea struck to his mind. He viewed that the whole world was a big rattrap to trap the people in. It offered, riches, joys, shelter, food, heat and clothing like the rattrap offered cheese and pork to tempt to the rats. The world existed only to set baits for the people. Anyone who was tempted to touch the bait, the rattrap was closed in on him.

6. Who was Crofter and how did he welcome the peddler?

Ans: The Crofter was an old man, who lived alone in his house. . The old crofter was an affectionate and generous host. One dark evening when the peddler knocked at the door of the Crofter. He was very hospitable person and offered him supper and bed to sleep He amused him with the game of ‘mjolis’. He told the fact that he earned thirty kronor by selling the milk of his cow.

7. How did the peddler rob the crofter?

Ans: The Crofter was living alone in his house. So, he needed someone to talk in his loneliness. That time the peddler reached at his house. He welcomed him. The crofter had taken out and stuffed thirty kronor in the presence of the peddler. Both left in the morning. After half an hour, the peddler returned, smashed the window pane and stole thirty kronor from the pouch and hung it on its usual place.

8.Why did the peddler accept Edla’s invitation?

Ans: Earlier the ironmaster had tried his best to invite the peddler to his house for Christmas. He wanted his company but he declined his offer. So the ironmaster sent his daughter to invite him as she had better power of persuasion. She looked at the peddler compassionately. Her friendly manners aroused confidence in him. So he accepted her invitation.

9. When the ironmaster threatened to call the Sherriff. How did the peddler conduct?

Ans: The peddler defended himself that he was a poor man. He said that the whole world is nothing but a big rattrap. All the good things that are offered to him were just baits. The baits were set out to drag a poor man into trouble. In case the Sherriff came to lock him up, the day was not far when the ironmaster would be trapped himself.

Long answer questions

Q.1. How can we transform and clean an evil doing person. Give examples from the story ‘Rattrap’.


“The rattrap.” Express the universal theme highlighted by the author in the story.


How did the line of thought bring a change in the life of the rattrap peddler?

Ans: The author, Selma Lagerlof has highlighted a universal theme in this story. It is that we can arouse the goodness in the life of a man by love, understanding, sympathy and respect. Once upon a time there was a man who went around selling self-made small rattraps of wire. His condition was too miserable to beg and do petty things. One day he thought that the whole world around him was a big trap. It offered riches, joys , food, shelter and clothing like a bait offering cheese and pork in a rattrap for the rats. Those who were tempted to touch the bait, it closed on them bringing an end to everything. One dark evening he stayed at crofter’s cottage, he was given food and shelter. But the next morning he stole thirty kronor from there. Then he kept on walking all day long on the same path in the forest. On hearing the sound of hammer strokes, he reached the iron mill and lay near the surface. The ironmaster mistook him to be his old acquaintance and invited him for Christmas cheer but he refused. He sent his daughter, Edla who persuaded him to their house. After he well dressed and came, the iron master found that he mistook him. So he ordered him to get out at once. The young girl wanted him to stay as they promised him Christmas cheer. He was treated like real captain with food. In their absence when they were at the church he left at the church they learnt the rattrap seller had robbed the old crofter. So they became worried. When they returned they found that the stranger had taken nothing with him and left behind a Christmas gift for Edla. She found a small rattrap, thirty kronor and a letter in it. The letter stated that she had taken him as if he were a captain, so he would be nice to her as a captain. It had given him power to cleanse himself.

Q.2. How does the metaphor of the rattrap serve to highlight the human predicament.

Ans: The author Selma Lagerlof tells a universal theme through all her stories. One cannot imagine how dull and sad a vagabond might be walking slowly along the roads for his bread. The metaphor of the rattrap struck on one such occasion. He was plodding along the road, duly lost in his own meditations. The whole world about him- the whole world with its lands, seas, cities and villages was nothing but a big rattrap. The world had never existed for any other purpose than to set baits for people to trap them. The world offered riches, joys, food, shelter and clothing like a bait offering cheese and pork in a rattrap for the rats. As soon as anyone is tempted and he to touches the bait, it closes on him and then everything came to an end for him in life. Like the poor rattrap seller, people get tempted to the pouch baits hung on the window frame, break the window pane and steal the kronor. For self-temptation people like the peddler don’t want to undeceive others about themselves. The touching of the bait always makes people realize that they are caught in the world rattrap now. It is their turn now, they must stop, cherish it as their pastime of thinking about the known who get trapped and others who were circling around the trap. They must rise above the baits and shun evil doings like Captain Von Stahle.

Q.3. 'The Rattrap' is a story in which a good deed or an act of kindness changes a person’s view of the world. Discuss with reference to the theme of the story. ?

Ans: ‘The Rattrap’ is an entertaining and philosophical story that reveals the theme of the human tendency to redeem oneself from dishonest ways. The tramp proves the idea that the essential goodness of human beings can be awakened through understanding and love. Circumstances had forced the peddler to indulge in petty crime. Even though he used to sell rattraps made from scrap metal, his poverty had brought out the worst in him, making him bitter and killing his conscience. The tramp’s view of the world was a cynical one; he envied those who were better off than him. He believed the world to be like a rattrap that offered temptations like shelter and food for entrapping victims. The peddler does not hesitate to steal the money from the crofter even though he enjoys his hospitality and warm welcome.

Pangs of guilt trouble him when he loses his way in the forest. His bitter and hardened temperament receives a chance for repentance when he encounters the iron master and his daughter.

The author brings about an effective twist in the story to show that innate goodness exists in all human beings. It takes a little love, understanding and an act of friendship to bring it to the fore. The iron master’s daughter showed him sympathy,love and respect and restored his dignity and self-esteem. This touched a chord in the heart of the peddler who at once felt that he was no longer the nameless tramp that he had been all his life but somebody with an identity. Motivated by Edla’s kindness, he redeemed himself by returning the stolen money and feeling sorry for his deed .!


Q.4.How has the author of ‘The Rattrap’ developed the theme of the story?


Ans: The author, Selma Lagerlof, has used the 'rattrap' as a metaphor to develop the theme of the

story. Almost all human beings find it hard to resist the temptations of the materialistic  world and consciously fall into the trap. The world is a rattrap where human beings constantly fall prey to various baits kept for them.


However, the author has brought across the idea that all human beings possess an essential goodness which can be tapped through love, compassion and understanding. An individual can redeem himself from dishonest ways if he makes an effort.

The peddler of rattraps calls the world a big rattrap. The material benefits like riches and joys, shelter and food, heat and clothing are temptations that allure a person to fall into the rattrap. Once a person accepts the bait, he or she is trapped forever. The peddler gets tempted to steal the crofter’s money. Too afraid to move about in the open, he chooses to move through the woods. Later, it is the kind, sympathetic and generous treatment given to him by Edla and her father that helps him get transformed and free himself from the feelings of guilt and, later, from the rattrap itself forever. The rattrap becomes a symbol of worldly temptations and the peddler symbolizes man’s efforts to keep them at bay.


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