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Best Seller Summary in English by O.Henry
Best Seller Summary in English
The story is set in a typical American background with the twists and turns associated with an O. Henry story. It traces the life of a travelling salesman John Pescud, who believes that bestselling romances are the product of an over-imaginative mind. He finds the stories impossible to believe and feels that they are far removed from real life. He finds it hard to digest that an American man from Chicago would feel so deeply about a girl as to follow her to a remote European country with an unpronounceable name and fight half a dozen soldiers to win her hand in marriage.
Ironically, when he recounts the story of his own marriage to his travelling companion, the reader is exposed to events that are as extraordinary as a best seller. He meets his wife for the first time in a train and follows her as she changes train after train, travelling all the way from Pittsburgh to Virginia only because he falls in love with her. He stays in a local hotel, finds out all about her background and then approaches her to inform her of his intentions of marrying her. Then, he proceeds to meet her father, informs him about his background and his intentions of marrying his daughter, charms him with his stories, and finally gets his permission to marry his daughter.
Best Seller Summary Questions and Answers
Based on your reading of the story, answer the following questions by choosing the correct option.
a. The narrator says that John was ‘of the suff that heroes are not often lucky enough to be made of ’ His tone is sarcastic because:
(i) he hated John.
(ii) he felt that John was a threat to him.
(iii) John was not particularly good-looking.
(iv) nobody liked John.
He felt that John was a threat to him.
b. Pescud felt that best-sellers were not realistic as:
(i) American farmers had nothing in common with European princesses.
(ii) men generally married girls from a similar background.
(iii) American men married girls who studied in America.
(iv) American men did not know fencing and were beaten by the Swiss guards.
Men generally married girls from a similar background.
c. ‘Bully’, said Pescud brightening at once. He means to say that:
(i) he is a bully. ‘
(ii) his manager was a bully.
(iii) he was being bullied by his co-workers.
(iv) he was doing very well at his job.
He was doing very well at his job.
d. The narrator says that life has no geographical bounds implying that:
(i) human beings are essentially the same everywhere.
(ii) boundaries exist only on maps.
(iii) one should work towards the good of mankind.
(iv) he was happy to travel to other countries.
Human beings are essentially the same everywhere.
Answer the following questions briefly.
a. One day last summer the author was travelling to Pittsburgh by chair car. What does he say about his co-passengers?
The author’s co-passengers were well- dressed ladies who refused to open their windows and men wearing identical looking business suits with the same expressionless faces.
b. Who was the passenger of chair no. 9? What did he suddenly do?
The passenger of chair no. 9 was a travelling salesman named John Pescud of Pittsburgh, who the narrator was acquainted with.
He suddenly threw a book to the floor between his chair and the window, in disgust.
c. What was John Pescud’s opinion about best sellers? Why?
John Pescud felt that the stories in such books were of a poor quality and far removed from real life.
d. What does John say about himself since his last meeting with the author?
According to John, he was on his way to becoming prosperous. His salary had been raised twice along with receiving a commission. He had bought some real estate and was on the way to buy some shares. He was also married now.
e. How did John’s first meeting with Jessie’s father go ?
For the first few seconds of John’s first meeting with Jessie’ father was a little nervous but they soon hit it off. John got him to laugh at his stories. They talked for two hours. He was honest with his intentions and asked the colonel to give him a chance to woo his daughter.
f. Why did John get off at Coketown?
Some time back Jessie had admired some petunias growing in some of the houses in Coketown, so John had got down there in the hope of finding some saplings of these flowers to take back for Jessie.
g. John is a hypocrite. Do you agree with this statement? Substantiate your answer.
(Encourage the students to think creatively andformulate their own answers.)
Yes, John was a hypocrite because on one hand, he was making fun of the romantic stories written in best-sellers but on the other hand, he himself had had a romantic marriage. He had followed the girl he had seen in a train to her hometown, changing a number of trains till he had landed in her hometown, met her father, and wooed her in the style of any romantic hero of a best-seller.
No, John was not a hypocrite. In my opinion, he probably had not realized that his love story was as romantic as the stories of the best selling novels that he so disliked were meant to be.
h. Describe John A. Pescud with reference to the following points:
Physical appearance: He had a small, black, bald-spotted head. He was a small man with a wide smile, and an eye that seemed to be fixed upon that little red spot on the end of one’s nose.
His philosophy on behavior: He believed that when a man is in his home town, he ought to be decent and law-abiding.
His profession: He was a travelling salesman for a plate glass company based in Pittsburgh.
His first impression of his wife: She was the loveliest creature that he had set his eyes upon.
His success: He’d had his salary raised twice since he last saw the author and he got commission for his sale. He had bought some real estate and the following year the firm was going to sell him some shares of stock.
Rearrange in the correct sequence as it happens in the story.
Pescud sees a girl (Jessie) reading a book in the train.
Pescud instantly gets attracted to the girl (Jessie)
Jessie takes a sleeper to Louisville.
Pescud follows her but finds it difficult to keep up.
Jessie arrives at Virginia. .
Pescud goes to the village to find out about the mansion Pescud speaks to the girl (Jessie) for the first time.
Jessie informs Pescud that her father would not approve of them meeting.
Pescud meets Jessie’s father.
They meet alone two days later.
They get married a year later.
A newspaper reporter hears of the marriage of Pescud and Jessie. He interviews them and writes an article for the paper entitled: A Modern Romance.
Pittsburgh, 19 March, 20xx
And we thought romances were the creations of highly imaginative minds! Recently I had the privilege of interviewing Mr and Mrs Pescud of Pittsburgh on their fairy-tale romance which culminated in marriage a year ago.
Mr John Pescud is a highly successful man working for Cambria Steel Works as a travelling salesman selling plate-glass. He comes from a humble background while Mrs Pescud belongs to an old aristocratic family of Virginia. How they met can make any best-selling novel pale in comparison!
Well, Pescud first saw his wife, Jessie reading a book in the train in which he was travelling. He got instantly attracted to her and followed her as she changed several trains till she finally reached Virginia. In fact he says that during that time his business took a back seat!
Jessie’s father came to receive her at the station at Virginia and Pescud followed them till they reached their mansion. He booked himself in a hotel and found out details about the family from the landlord of his hotel. On the third day, he met Jessie alone for the first time and informed her of his intentions of marrying her. Jessie was obviously taken aback and informed him that her father may not approve of him and probably would set the hounds on him. Pescud was not a man to be frightened so easily. He met Jessie’s father at the mansion. The meeting was surprisingly a pleasant one and a year later he married Jessie. Today, the old Colonel, her father lives with them in Pittsburgh!
As Shakespeare had wisely said—“All’s well that ends well!”