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Two Gentlemen of Verona – AJ Cronin

Two Gentlemen of Verona is an emotional story of two boys. They were once well to do but war killed their father and made their only sister ill. Yet they were hopeful, determined and ready to work for their sister. They admitted her in an expensive hospital and worked far away in the city of Verona. Like two men, the two boys worked day and night to earn anything they could earn. They polished shoes in the morning, sold berries at noon and guided tourists in the evening. Their life was miserable yet they never knew that. They wanted someone to help them but never begged anyone.

Bit/Bits
  • On his visit to the city of Verona, the narrator met two extraordinary boys – Jacopo and Nicola, barely 12 and 13 years.
  • They sold berries at one time and at another time they were found shining shoes, selling newspapers at night.
  • The narrator found them to be very hardworking and ambitious. What are they earning this much for, he began to wonder.
  • He was impressed with their highly mature behaviour. They worked all the day around, did almost all works like slaves but they radiated a certain kind of gentleness in all that they did.
  • They were honest. They had a lot of self-respect. No, they are no ordinary kids!
  • The narrator had a few more days to stay in Verona. One day he asked the boys if he could do any help for them. One of the brothers requested him to drive them to Poleta, a hill station.
  • While driving to Poleta the next day, the narrator guessed that the boys lived there, for, Poleta was a hilly area.
  • They reached a hospital and the two boys went to the hospital, having asked the narrator to wait for them outside.
  • Driven by curiosity, the narrator followed them into the hospital and was met by a nurse. From the nurse the narrator learnt more about the boys.
  • The two brothers belonged to a very rich family. Their father had brought them along with their elder sister Lucia.
  • With war around, the family was thrown out of its comfort. Their father died in the war and sister fell ill. Once a singer, Lucia developed tuberculosis of spine.
  • After the war, the brothers took Lucia to Poleta and admitted her at this hospital. For Lucia’s treatment the brothers needed a lot of money so they found odd jobs in Verona.
  • Neither the hospital authorities had any idea what jobs they were doing in Venice. All that they knew was that they were working for some decent companies.
  • The boys never let their sister know that they were working like donkeys in Verona!
Textual Questions
  1. “We do many things, Sir,” Nicola answered seriously. He glanced at us hopefully.
    This statement reveals two aspects of Nicola’s attitude. In the first place, Nicola does not intend/wish to disclose his secrets to any stranger. In the second, he meant pure business with the narrator and his friend. He was not doing works for sympathy but for money.
  2. He colored deeply under his sunburn, then grew pale.
    This statement is about Nicola’s reaction to the narrator’s concerns about his shabby clothing and poor food against his extra hard work and high earning.
Extra Questions
  1. Why was the narrator initially attracted to the two boys?
    The two boys were too little to do works that they did in Verona. They had earnest eyes and refined behavior. Their weather beaten appearance and brown skin also attracted the narrator to them considering the amount of works that they did.
  2. Why, do you think, did the narrator and his companion buy the biggest baskets of strawberries from the two brothers?
    The narrator and his friend were attracted to the two boys. Determined to help the boys in their humble way, the narrator and his friend bought the biggest basket of strawberries from them.
  3. How did the narrator’s bond with the boys deepen in course of time?
    Having taken a special interest in the two boys, the narrator found them in his reach for any odd jobs. He could rely on them for a pack of American cigarettes, seats for the opera or for the name of a good restaurant. They were always willing to work.
  4. ‘They were childish enough, and in many ways quite artless.’ Explain.
    The two children were extremely innocent in their nature. Though they were in need of a lot of money for their sister’s treatment, they did not resort any unfair means to earn money. In a city like Verona, they too were able to resort to theft and snatching but the two of them, quite determined and in need, believed in hard work and honesty.
  5. What sort of seriousness did the narrator trace in the faces of the two brothers?
    The narrator traced in the faces of the two little boys a seriousness that was far beyond their age.
  6. Mention the odd jobs that the two brothers did in Verona.
    The two brothers did a number of odd jobs in Verona. They sold fruits, they polished shoes at busy squares, conducted tourists and sold newspapers at nights.
  7. What were the brothers doing in the windy and deserted square, beneath the lights at midnight?
    In the windy and deserted square, beneath the street lights at midnight, the two brothers were waiting for the last bus from Padua so that they could sell newspapers to the passengers.
  8. Why did the narrator say that Nicola and Jacopo must be earning quite a bit?
    It was quite ordinary that the narrator felt that the two boys earned quite a bit. He came to this conclusion from the fact that they did a lot of works for money at any time of the night and the day. They spent little on clothes and ate black bread and cheap figs.
  9. What favor did Jacopo want from the narrator? Why was Nicola indifferent to his brother?
    Jacopo wished the narrator give him and his brother a drive to Poleta where they went to meet their sister.
  10. Why did the narrator think that his destination was going to be some humble dwelling?
    The narrator knew from his association with the boys that they were poor and belonged to some very poor families. The way to Poleta, a small town on the hills, strengthened his speculations.
More Questions & Answers
  1. Why did the two boys leap out of the car when the car stopped in front of the villa?
    The villa where the car stopped was a hospital. The two boys leaped out of the car because they were greatly excited to see their sister who was under treatment in this hospital.
  2. What did the narrator mean when he said that the two boys “could not do” the work they do in Verona better?
    The narrator had a close association with the two boys. He knew all sorts of odd works they did in Verona. He was greatly impressed by the dexterity and willingness with which the boys worked and therefore believed that no one could such loads of work as they did.
  3. Why, do you think, were the boys silent while returning to Verona?
    The boys were returning after a weekly meeting with their sister. They were silent because their minds were overflowing with the thoughts of their sister’s pains, progress, of earning for the next payment and of the narrator who was so good to them to take pain for them.
  4. Why did the narrator not ask the boys anything about Lucia?
    The narrator knew that the boys didn’t want him to sympathize for their infirmed sister. He also knew that they had no idea about what he knew about them. So, in order to keep it a secret, to keep them feel proud of doing their works in Verona and to make them feel proud of what they did for their sister, the narrator didn’t ask anything about Lucia.
  5. Why are the boys, barely 12 and 13, called gentlemen?
    The two gentlemen of Verona were the two poor boys .They were truly gentlemen .They never gave up, never asked for help and didn’t accept the pity of the two visitors. They had their self respect in them. They never gave up the spirit of living. They helped the two visitors in every possible way, which we often see gentlemen doing. They didn’t tell the visitor about their plans. They did not want to expose it as the gentlemen do .They were very helping .They also loved their sister who was admitted in hospital. They were very poor but they visited the hospital every weekend and paid the hospital charges from the money which they earned through various works they did. They were truly the two gentlemen.
Next – Reference to Context Questions

“He colored deeply under his sun burn.”

  1. Who is he?
    He is Nicola, the elder of the two.
  2. What does the color here refer to?
    The color here refers to Nicola’s discomfort in being forced to reveal truths about their sister.
  3. Why is he, an Italian boy of just 12 or 13, sun burn?
    Nicola is said to be sun-burnt due to his restless works in the city and constant exposure to the sun.

RTC 2

“But every week, Lucia’s brothers have made their payment. I don’t know what they do. I do not ask. But whatever it is, I know they do it well.”
“Yes,” I agreed. “They couldn’t do  it better.”

  1. Name the first speaker.
  2. What for have the two brothers made their payment?
  3. What could be, probably, the reason why the speaker didn’t ask the boys about their work?
  4. What does the speaker think about the kind of ‘work’ that the two boys do in Verona?
  5. Why didn’t the narrator tell the first speaker about the kinds of works that the two boys did in Verona?

RTC 3

War had not broken their spirit. Their selfless action brought a new nobility to human life, gave promise of a greater hope for human society.

  1. Which war is referred to here?
    The WWII is referred to here.
  2. What had war broken, if not their spirit?
    The war was so disastrous that it broke the children’s comfortable family, killed their father, orphaned them and left their sister to a deadly disease.
  3. What was their selfless action? How was it selfless?
  4. What promise did the selfless action of the two boys bring to a war-hit country?
    Anyone who comes across the story of the two little boys gets motivated by the great hard-work and sacrifice they had rendered for their sister Lucia. Instead of emigrating to America as many people of their time did, the two boys stayed back to live for their infirm sister. Besides, their dedication to their sister’s service was unique and motivational.

RTC 4

“At the door of a little cubicle, the nurse paused, put her finger to her lips, and with a smile bade me look through the glass partition.”

  1. Who were inside the cubicle?
  2. Why did the nurse signal a gesture to the narrator to be silent?
  3. Why did the nurse smile as she bade the narrator look through the partition?
MCQs – Multiple Choice Questions
  1. Luigi the driver advised the narrator not to buy berries from the boys because…
    1. The berries were wild
    2. The boys were shabby clad
    3. He knew places where berries were sold cheaper.
    4. All the above
  2. Poleta is…
    1. A hilly area
    2. A slum
    3. A town
    4. A city
  3. The narrator drove the boys to Poleta…
    1. A day before his scheduled departure from Verona
    2. A week before his scheduled departure from Padua
    3. A  week before his scheduled departure from Verona
    4. On the same day when he was supposed to leave Verona.
  4. Lucia was suffering from…
    1. Cancer of spine
    2. Tuberculosis of spine
    3. Cancer of lungs
    4. Tuberculosis of lungs
  5. The two boys were waiting for the bus from Padua…
    1. In the early morning
    2. At midnight
    3. At night
    4. In the evening.
Long Answer Questions
  1. Do you think that the two brothers looked after their sister wholeheartedly? Support your answer with instances from the story.
  2. How does the life of Jacopo and Nicola promise hope for the society? (Answered in the Exam Pack)
  3. Justify the story as Three Gentlemen of Verona.
Integrated Grammar
Gap Filling – Reported Speech
  • Mr. Long Man: Hello, there! You have parked your car and blocked my exit. Will you mind parking in slot number 77 or 79?
  • Ms. Petra: Sorry, Gentleman but I do not have the keys. I apologize but you will have to be patient for a minute in the least.
  • Mr. Long Man: That is alright, Miss. I can wait.

Mr. Long Man felt like stuck in his car as a white Porsche was found parked blocking his car’s way. He brought to the notice of the woman-passenger in the Porsche that __(a)__ his exit. As politely as possible he asked her __(b)__ or 79. The woman, more polite than himself, informed __(c)__ the keys. However, she apologized and told him that __(d)__. Impressed, Mr. Long Man __(e)__ and said that he __(f)__. 

Editing – Rectify the incorrect word on each line:
  1. A black hole is a place in space where gravity
  2. pulls so much that even light can not get out.
  3. The gravity is so strong because matter has been squeezed into a tiny space. This can happen when a star is dying.

Because no light can get out, people can’t see black holes. They are invisible. Space telescopes with special tools can help find black holes. The special tools can see how stars that are very close to black holes act differently than other stars.

What do you think?

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