Facing Death Summary

The play starts with the conversation between Durand – the father and Adele – the daughter, where Adele expresses her frustrations about the ruining financial situations of their family with her father. She questions the responsibility of her father towards the family. Adele asks her father last time only after paying fire insurance. Pierre arrives with dues bills instead of bread and he whether he has paid fire insurance for the house or not. The father replies he has got a mortgage delivers the message from the butcher and the grocer who has asked for bills Durand family need to pay. Adele finds some packages containing candles and shows her disappointment with Durand for buying candles. Adele seems distressed for not having bread and she hesitates to receive hypothetical feelings that her mother would make the family from this bankruptcy if she would Antonio a paying guest for breakfast so she asks her father to receive him. She expresses her have been alive. Adele seems to be unhappy with her father.

Antonio comes for breakfast where Durand tells Antonio that they cannot run their business longer due to insufficient supplies as he further adds that they are bankrupt. Antonio seeks some help and wants to stay as a guest for one more month and he wishes to pay the bills in advance. Durand rejects his offer and clearly states that they cannot run their business any further. Antonio changes the topic and asks either Durand is by birth a Swiss citizen or not where Durand replies he is a Swiss citizen. Durand leaves the place to get bread.

Therese – the youngest daughter enters the scene and is delighted to see Antonio. Antonio praises the beauty of Therese and talks about their cat and there also comes Annette – another daughter of Durand. Antonio and Therese talk about the complications of their relationship and Antonio puts his arm around Therese and kisses her. Monsieur Duran gets upset when he sees this. Duran becomes possessive over his daughter and threats Antonio to leave the house. Antonio leaves the house after some discussion and his daughters seem to be unhappy and angry with their father’s behaviour. They argue with their father and question his behaviours and responsibilities and their discussion grows more and more.

Durand asks Adele to put out the fire and asks his other daughters to close the window and kiss him as he is going away to get money for them. He asks Therese about her relationship with Antonio and when Therese accepts the fact and Durand. suggests her to get married to him. Therese pleads with her father to forgive her for being unkind to him. Annette asks her father if he was going away and becomes confused and curious too about the return of Durand.

Adele comes in and Durand reveals his past to her. He states that he and his mother were French- they fell in love, came to Switzerland, got neutralized citizenship and settled there. He later has to leave his home in order to join France in the war against Germany and during that time, Adele’s mother with her carelessness and incorrect speculation ruined their parental property. However, it was Durand that accepted all the blame of the guilt after the death of his wife. Durand reminds Adere to take motherly care of her sisters and tells them about all the important things in the. house. Then, he sets fire in his house and instructs his daughter how to claim a large sum of money from the fire insurance agent showing as if has died because of the fire in the house. And, before all this, Duran has already taken poison and with his death, the play ends.

Facing Death Exercise Solution

Understanding the Text

Answer the following questions.

a.Where does the play take place? 

The play takes place in the dining room of the house where the family members of Monsieur Durand live.

b.Why do the grocery, the baker and the butcher send their bills to the Durand household? 

Ans.: The grocery, the baker and the butcher send their bills to the Durand household because the Durand family has a lot of due to pay the grocery, the baker and the butcher.

c.Why does Monsieur Durand spend money on candles when he doesn’t have money to buy even bread? 

Ans.: Monsieur Duran spends money on candles when he doesn’t have money to buy even bread because, for him, the emotion connected to late Rene is much greater than the bread and his hunger.

d.Why did Monsieur Durand sell his life insurance?

Ans.: Monsieur Duran sold his life insurance in order to get money and pay to someone who had irritated him with the due.

e. Why has Monsieur Durand paid for fire insurance? 

Ans.: Monsieur Duran had paid for fire insurance in order to get his house mortgaged (that is in order to take the loan to run the house.)

f.How did Monsieur Durand and Mrs. Duran run out of their inheritances from both the sides? 

Ans.: Monsieur Duran and Mrs. Duran were having bad chemistry. Mrs. Duran with her carelessness and foolish speculations ruined his inheritance which made them to left business. After that, some part of Mrs. Duran inheritance had to be used in the bringing up of their children. In this way, Mr. Duran and Mrs. Duran ran out of their inheritances from both sides

g.Why does Monsieur Durand tell a lie about his birth place? 

Ans.: Monsieur Durand tells a lie about his birth place because of the two reasons: (i) for the sake of his patriotism and (ii) for the sake of his wife.

h.What business is Monsieur Durand running to make a living ?

Ans.: Monsieur Duran was a pension proprietor, i.e. he ran a homestay like service where a tourist can come as a guest and stay with the family of that house but has to pay money for that.

i.What plan does Monsieur Durand have to help his daughters with money?

Ans.: Monsieur Duran has fire insurance and he plans to kill himself in the fire so that his daughters can get a huge sum of money (five thousand francs) as compensation from the fire insurance company.

j.How does Monsieur Durand die ? 

Ans.: Monsieur Duran sets the fire in his house and he takes the poison in such a way that it would appear that the fire has killed him. He does this so that his daughter can get a huge sum of money from the fire insurance company. Thus, Monsieur Duran dies.

Reference to the context

a.Sketch the character of Monsieur Durand 

Ans.: Monsieur Duran is the central character of this play. He is a very loving, caring and responsible father and head of the family. He is a pension proprietor, formerly connected with the state railroad. He loves his wife very much and leaves his country in order to stay with her and he too loves his country very much and leaves his wife for some time in order to defend his country from his enemies. He is a widower with three daughters. His daughters don’t like him the way they like their mother because they think of him as an unsuccessful father who is not able to take care of his family. Monsieur Duran seems to be protective towards his daughter and is tensed when he saw Antonio kissing his daughter Therese. Monsieur Duran is an ideal man who loves his wife very much and takes the blame for wrong deeds that she did throughout her life. He even appears bad and irresponsible in the view of his daughters even if he was not so in order to develop love and respect in the daughters towards their mother. A loving and responsibility-burdened father, Monsieur Duran kills himself at the end of the play in order to secure the future of his daughters.

b.How do we know that the Durand family has reached a dead end? 

Ans.: Duran family seems to be in quite problems and is not able to manage even food and breakfast. Mr. Duran mentions his family as bankrupt in the play while in conversation with Mr. Antonio. They are unable to buy bread and coffee for the family too. The grocery, baker and the butcher have sent their bills to the Durand family because Durand family has a lot of dues to pay them and they too have warned that the Duran family would not be provided with the further supply. Also, Duran in the play states that when his business was down for three months, just one American family came and saved him. The Duran family has reached such a dead end that Duran at the end of the play even kills himself so that his daughters can claim the money of his death from the insurance company. This all shows that the Duran family has reached a dead end.

c.”The mother, though already dead, seems to have had a great influence on the daughters, especially Theresa.’ Do you agree ?

Ans.: Yes, I agree with the statement that the mother though already died seems to have had a great influence on the daughters especially Theresa. Throughout the play, all three daughters and especially Theresa, seem to praise their mother and all the problems that arose in the family and the guilt of the family becoming bankrupt are pushed towards Monsieur Duran.

The daughters too including Theresa possess more respect for their mother than their father. The daughters also have a belief that if the mother had been alive, then she would have definitely solved the crisis the family was going through although the father before dying points out that their mother is the real cause of the problems at the end of the play.

d.Discuss the relationship between Monsieur Duran and his wife. 

Ans.: Monsieur Duran and his wife married after they fell in love. Monsieur Duran and his wife originally from France, however, when they met with one another, they left their country, came to Switzerland, got the naturalized citizenship and settled there. The relationship between Monsieur Duran and his wife was sound earlier. But, later when Monsieur Duran left Switzerland and allied with the French army against the Germans, after that their relationship gradually degrades. Mrs. Duran too through carelessness and her foolish speculations ruined their paternal inheritances completely. This made Mr. Duran give up his business and start the pension, i.e. a small hotel. Mr. Duran at the end of the play tells his daughter Adele that Mrs. Duran had told lie to her children and blames all faults on her husband. Thus, we can reach the conclusion that the relationship between Monsieur Duran and his wife was not good.

e.’Money determines the relationship between characters in this play.’ Elaborate this statement with examples from the play.

Ans.: The main reason behind all the problems that have occurred in Monsieur Duran’s family is money. Earlier, Monsieur Duran had a good relationship with his wife, however, when his wife loses all their paternal inheritances because of her carelessness and foolish speculations, the condition of the family declines from there. And, hence they had a bad relationship throughout their life. Likewise, the daughters in this play did not have a good attitude towards their father earlier since their father could not provide them with the money to fulfil their needs. Monsieur Duran at the end of the play even kills himself thinking that his daughters would get money from the insurance company and their attitude towards their father would change when they would get the money. Hence, we can argue that money determines the relationship between characters in this play.

f.Monsieur Duran kills himself so that his daughters would get 5000 francs as compensation from the insurance company. What does his plan tell us about him? 

Ans.: In the play, Monsieur Duran is almost hated by all his daughters since he could not save the family from bankruptcy. In most of the scenes, the daughters think of him as an irresponsible father. Lately, his family has had many dues and bills to clear off. Even they are struggling for getting bread and milk. However, Duran has unconditional love for his daughter. As he cannot progress in his business to save his daughters from being bankrupt and homeless, he plans to kill himself. He takes poison and makes circumstances in such a way that it looks that the fire has killed him so that his daughters could get a large sum of money, i.e. 5000 francs in the form of compensation from a fire insurance company. Thus, his plan tells us the unconditional love and sacrifices that a father makes in order to make the future of his children better as Monsieur Duran sacrifices in the play himself for the sake of his daughters.

g.Discuss Facing Death as a modern tragedy. 

Ans.: A tragedy is an event that causes great suffering, destruction and distress, such as a serious accident, crime or natural catastrophe. The play ‘Facing Death’ too is a tragedy since Monsieur Duran, the major character of this story kills himself at the end of this play. And, facing death has been a modern tragedy in much of modern literature.

During the past days, there were different types of tragedy, such as heroes suffering because of war or disease or epidemics or cruel king and of such types. However, with many states changing into the federal republic from authoritarian dictatorship and outburst of scientific and technological advancement, the fate of being doomed from such tragedies has diminished greatly and the nature of tragedy has changed significantly. In addition to this, many of the people at the present are unable to pace up their lives with such scientific and technological advancements and in fact, have been the victim of these things. Not only this, the modern characters encounter several problems such as bankruptcy, degrading familial relationships owing to bankruptcy, failing to cope with changing times and having too high ambitions that largely get unfulfilled, which ultimately leads them to no choice other than facing death. Hence, facing death had rapidly developed as modern technology.

Reference beyond the text

a. Write a few paragraphs describing the role of the father in the family. 

Ans.: There is a crucial role that a father endows in the family. The father plays a great role in the growth and development of children and the whole family as well. We can’t say whether the father’s role is more or less important than a mother’s role, because that would be just like saying whether our left leg is important or the right one. We need both of them to stand, walk, and run (to run a family). The specific values that a father imparts to a family may vary by culture, nationality, and socio-economic status. One of the major roles of the father in the family is maintaining the safety and security of the family. The father is the protector of the family and secures the family from different arising problems. Another role a father plays in a family is modelling behaviour. A father is a best-doing person and a role model to every family. Likewise, the other important role a father plays in a family is maintaining discipline. Another important duty a man as a father should do is possessing and promoting the character of tenderness. Tenderness: many men have struggled with coming to terms with their own masculinity because the roots can be traced back to their father’s lack of affection and tenderness for them. Being tender and compassionate to your wife and children can be transformational in the members of a family. Wives feel loved and appreciated, daughters feel validated and treasured, and boys feel secure and encouraged. The tenderer a father is the better intent and rapport a family does support. Hence, the above-mentioned are the roles or values that are exclusive to the father, but such roles from a father give a lot of contribution to the family.

b.In his famous essay “The Experimental Novel,” Emile Zola says:

This is what constitutes the experimental novel: to possess a knowledge of the mechanism of the phenomena inherent in man, to show the machinery of his intellectual and sensory manifestations, under the influences of heredity and environment, such as physiology shall give them to us, and then finally to exhibit man living in social conditions produced by himself, which he modifies daily, and in the heart of which he himself experiences a continual transformation.

To what extent do you agree with Zola’s idea that human beings’ intellectual as well as emotional capacities are determined by their environment and heredity? Discuss with examples including Facing Death. 

Ans.: Emile Zola is a French novelist, journalist, playwright and essayist. In the above excerpt, Emile Zola presents how a novel endows experimentalism. He states that an experimental novelist should understand all the physical as well as a hidden mechanisms of the existence of human beings. In simple words, the conclusion of Zola’s saying is that human beings’ emotional capacities are determined by their environment and heredity. We can agree on this to a certain degree. In my view, a human beings’ intellectual as well as emotional capacities are determined greatly by the environment but I am not convinced by the idea that heredity determines a human beings’ intellectual as well as emotional capacities.

Death’ too, In the play ‘Facing Death’ too, we can find the perception of major characters of the play being developed as per the environment. At the beginning of the play, the daughters of Monsieur Durand (even the readers of the play) thought that their father was the main reason for their family reaching the stage of bankruptcy and they had a view that if their mother was alive, she would handle everything finely. However, when their father reveals the truth at the end of the play, the perception greatly changes towards him. Likewise, from the play, it has been mentioned that when Monsieur Durand leaves his wife in order to protect his nation, the wife engages herself in a bad environment and through her carelessness and her foolish speculations ruin the paternal inheritances completely. However, she gradually blames her husband Mr. Durand for this all and creates a type of environment in the family, where every daughter grows up having a bad attitude towards their father. Likewise, what makes Monsieur Durand to develop the sentiments and develop a plan to kill himself in order to save his daughters is the environment and circumstances that he encounters. This shows that how the environment where a person is exposed to, develops his/her ideas, views and attitudes accordingly. However, there is not a direct role of heredity in this in comparison to the environment a person gets exposed to. Thus, we can say that intellectual, as well as emotional capacities, are determined by their environment rather than the heredity.