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The Man Who Knew Too Much Summary in English by Alenxander Baron
The Man Who Knew Too Much Summary in English
The Man Who Knew Too Much is a humorous story set in an army training camp. It highlights the attitude of one of the trainees at the camp, Private Quelch, who has a habit of showing off his knowledge in an attempt to outshine the other trainees in his batch. Private Quelch focuses all his energies into becoming an army officer and winning the coveted ‘stripe’. In his attempt to impress his seniors he reads up the training manual, often sitting up late at night to do so. He, however, becomes unpopular with his batch mates because of his habit of lecturing them on any topic related to their training, right from the use of guns to the different ways of cleaning them. Things come to a head when he meets Corporal Turnbull, a tough war veteran, who has to lecture them on grenades. But as usual, before Corporal Turnbull can start, Private Quelch starts off with his knowledge of grenades, irritating the Corporal, who then asks him to take over the class.
A delighted Quelch delivers his lecture at length, blissfully unaware of the rising irritation of the Corporal. Finally he has to pay for his over enthusiasm by being sent to the cookhouse as punishment, much to the amusement and relief of his batch mates. However, even in the cookhouse Quelch cannot keep himself from lecturing the poor unsuspecting cooks on the correct method of peeling potatoes.
The Man Who Knew Too Much Summary Questions and Answers
The ‘Professor’ knew too much. How did he prove himself? Fill up the space with suitable examples from the story, using the given clues:
a. about muzzle velocity:
‘A voice interrupted. ‘Two thousand, four hundred and forty feet per second.’ It was the Professor.’
b. after a thirty mile walk:
‘…but infuriated us all with his horrible heartiness. ‘What about a song, chaps?’ is not greeted politely at the end of thirty miles.’
c. his salute on payday:
‘His salute at the pay table was a model to behold.’
d. the loud sound of a high flying invisible aeroplane:
‘Without even a glance upward the Professor announced, “That, of course, is a North American Harvard Trainer. It can be unmistakably identified by the harsh engine note, due to the high tip speed of the airscrew.’”
e. about hand grenades:
‘The Professor was speaking again. “Shouldn’t you have started off with the five characteristics of the grenade? Our instructor at the other camp always used to, you know.’”
f. during cook house duties:
‘…and from within came the monotonous beat of a familiar voice. “Really. I must protest against this abominably unscientific and unhygienic method of peeling potatoes. I need to only draw your attention to the sheer waste of vitamin values ’”
Based on your reading of the story, answer the following questions by choosing the correct options.
a. Private Quelch was nick-named ‘Professor’:
(i) his appearance.
(ii) his knowledge.
(iii) his habit of reading.
(iv) his habit of sermonising
Because of his habit of sermonizing.
b. One could hammer nails into Corporal Turnbull without his noticing it because:
(i) he was a strong and sturdy man.
(ii) he was oblivious to his suroundings.
(iii) he was a brave corporal.
(iv) he was used to it.
He was a strong and sturdy man.
c. The author and his friend Trower fled from the scene as:
(i) they had to catch a train
(ii) they could not stand Private Quelch exhibiting his knowledge
(iii) they felt they would have to lend a helping hand.
(iv) they did not want to meet the cooks.
They did not want to meet the cooks.
Answer the following questions briefly.
a. What is a ‘nickname ’? Can you suggest another one for Private Quelch ?
A nickname is a short name that is given to a person to highlight his/her quirks. Another nickname for ‘the Professor’ can be ‘the Pastor’.
b. Private Quelch looked like a “Professor” when the author first met him at the training depot Why?
Private Quelch looked like a professor with his lanky, stooping body, and hom rimmed spectacles. Moreover, he had the most annoying habit of sermonizing on any topic under the sun.
c. What does the dark, sun-dried appearance of the Sergeant suggest about him?
It suggests that he had spent most of his time out of doors and was very experienced.
d. How was Private Quelch’s knowledge exposed even further as the Sergeant’s classes went on?
When Quelch interrupted the Sergeant’s class with added information about the speed of the bullet of a rifle, the Sergeant was not amused and as soon as his lecture got over he asked Quelch some pointed questions on the subject, hoping to catch him on the wrong foot, but the Professor’s knowledge on the subject was so thorough that it only enhanced his reputation.
e. What did the Professor mean by ‘intelligent reading’?
According to the Professor, it meant reading up beforehand all that one could, about the subject at hand. For example, he had thoroughly read the training manual beforehand and was therefore able to answer all the questions being asked about the rifle.
f. What were the Professor’s ambitions in the army?
The Professor wanted to become an army officer and win a ‘stripe’.
g. Did Private Quelch’s day to day practices take him closer towards his goal? How can you make out?
Yes, Private. Quelch was deeply focused on his goals. He borrowed training manuals and stayed up all night to read them. He badgered his instructors with questions. He drilled enthusiastically, saluted and marched smartly in a bid to impress his instructors and seniors.
h. Describe Corporal Turnbull.
Corporal Turnbull had the reputation of being a tough man—physically, mentally, and emotionally. He was a great soldier and was known to have returned from the battle field with all his equipment correctly accounted for. He was not a man to be trifled with. He accurately judged the character of the Professor and sent him to the cook house to curb his habit of showing off.
i. How did Private Quelch manage to anger the Corporal?
Private Quelch managed to anger the Corporal by interrupting his lecture on grenades with his own input on the subject.
j. Do you think Private Quelch learnt a lesson when he was chosen for cookhouse duties?
No, Private Quelch did not learn a lesson because it is mentioned that the narrator heard him lecturing the cooks on the best way of peeling potatoes.
“At first, Private Quelch was a hero in the eyes of his fellow soldiers.” Support this observation with suitable examples from the story in about 80-100 words.
It is true that at first the narrator and the others at the training camp were in awe of the amount of knowledge Quelch had about everything under the sun and that is why they had nicknamed him “Professor”. Therefore, the narrator says that when he was able to answer all the questions the Sergeant asked him about rifles accurately it “enhanced” his glory in the eyes of his colleagues.
At another place the narrator mentions, “He had brains. He was sure to get a commission before long.” Again, commenting on his hard working nature he writes, “He worked hard. We had to give him credit for that”, and again, “He was not only miraculously tireless but infuriated us all with his heartiness.” And finally he writes, “At first we had certain respect for him but soon we lived in terror of his approach.”
Private Quelch knew “too much”. Give reasons to prove that he was unable to win the admiration of his superior officers or his colleagues.
Though everyone agreed that Quelch knew too much, he soon lost all their respect because of his habit of correcting his colleagues publicly whenever they made a mistake. If anyone shone at his work, he made sure to outshine them. He was always trying to patronise them and show off his knowledge to them. After a while they just couldn’t take his condescending ways any longer and steered clear of him.
You are the “Professor”. Write a diary entry after your first day at the cookhouse, describing the events that led to this assignment, also express your thoughts and feelings about the events of the day in about 175 words.
21 January 20xx
Today was my first day at the cook house! It wasn’t as bad as I had thought it would be! But I was appalled to see how little the cooks know about cooking. Today I had to lecture them on the correct way of peeling potatoes. They have been peeling them so thickly that a lot of the vitamins are getting lost! By the time I complete my term here I will have taught them a thing or two.
After all, I was chosen by Corporal Turnbull for this task. I think he was greatly impressed by my knowledge of grenades. He let me give the whole lecture by myself. Even the Sergeant had been impressed by my knowledge of rifles. I have no doubt they think I am the best trainee in the camp! I know that I march the best and my hut is the cleanest. I simply love reading the training manual. I know the others call me “Professor” behind my back because of all my knowledge. I feel so good. I am eagerly waiting for my stripe. Only then will I fulfil my dream of becoming an army officer. I wonder whether I will get the Best Trainee Award.