The Earth Summary Questions and Answers
Write down a summary of The Earth.
Answer: it is quite sad that children who owe so much to their parents do not look after them. As they depended on their parents in their infancy the latter also depends on them in old age. The theme of neglect of the parents in the current writing makes a painful but compelling note. There is another side to the issue: some parents by their pampering approach encourage children to become self-centered. H E Bates in this story presents such a case of defective upbringing. By their imprudence, the parents here make a young man selfish and cruel.
The story is about the Johnsons and their child Benjy. Johnson is a preacher who develops an excessive fondness for talking that virtually incapacitates him for hard work. He neglects work on his farms, his economic transactions and is unaware of what is happening in his household.
His son, Benjy, shows symptoms of mental retardation. He however manages to read write and learn elementary arithmetic. The doctor suggests that he should be put on some practical task. The parents accordingly give him a piece of land where he sets up a poultry business.
The result is startling. In a short time, Benjy turns out to be quite prosperous by practicing modem methods. His deposits in the local bank increase not only because of rising business but also because of the kindness of the parents who never demand any money from him. When Benjy turns twenty-one Johnson hands over to him the bank passbook. Benjy takes it without a show of gratitude, without even the formal thank you. The parents sense something abnormal in this gesture, but they keep mum.
There is a maid, Florence, on the farm who is now married to Benjy. This marriage took place in spite of the opposition of Mrs. Johnson. When Mrs. Johnson objected to certain habits of Florence, she was coolly told by Benjy to live separately. By this time the farms of Johnsons had become unproductive for want of attention. The final below to them came when Benjy took away their lands and turned them out.
The story makes a bitter reading. It is a psychological study of a callous child. But the writer does not ignore the shortcomings of Johnson who talked so much that he must have had an idea that the earth designed, created, and nourished by God would take care of itself… They had lived a vague, trusting life without a system as a result they had nothing.
Sketch the character of Johnson.
Johnson has been presented in this story as a victim of the cunning and cruelty of his simple-looking son, Benjy. But H. E. Bates has made a critical study of the principal weakness of Johnson also. There is one crucial remark about him – he himself was lazy man with too large a trust in Providence. And this laziness combined with this obvious positive – like trust in providence ruins Johnson.
Johnson is a preacher who loves talking so much that he indulges in it more as giving vent to his ideas than as serious business which should be conducted at the appropriate time. Faith in God he had, but this faith should have been joined to industry and commonsense. Instead of attending to farming, he wastes his time over idle talk.
But Johnson is a very kind and considerate father. The retarded mental development of Benjy makes Johson more favrourably disposed to him than usual Again, his treatment of Benjy is guided by misguided kindness. He watches Benjy grow into a selfish and cruel young man without thinking of any suitable corrective step. The upshot of all this poor neglect of practical business is that the arrival of Florence creates a barrier between the son and the parents.
With great insight into human affairs. H,E. Bates has presented this shocking case of Johnson in order to highlight the value of prudence and practicality.
Sketch the character of Benjy.
The complete focus in the story is on the nature and disposition of Benjy, the only child of Johnson born with ugly features. Benjy shows signs of mental retardation for whose treatment he is taken to a doctor. The latter advises Johnson to put the boy to some practical business to make him use the mental powers that he has. Benjy is asked to keep hens.
The boy who is otherwise imbecile understands every aspect of poultry farming. In a short time, he uses his studies to organise his business very scientifically, leading to his quick prosperity. But Benjy grows also into an utterly selfish and cruel person who pockets the passbook of his account in the bank without a word of thanks to his parents.
Benjy marries Florence in a heat of passion and this brings a woman who creates a barrier between him and his parents. A woman of poor taste, she shows a complete disregard of the feelings of Benjy’s parents, leading to final separation.
The way Benjy turns out his parents from their land is almost difficult to understand. Here is a case of cunning transforming itself into incurable cruelty and self-centeredness. H.E. Bates has therefore rightly repeated that behind simplicity Benjy had sharp cunning that deceived everybody.