by J.B Priestley
About the Writer
Writer Name: J.B Priestley
Born: 13 September 1894, Manningham, Bradford, United Kingdom
Died: 14 August 1984, Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom
Spouse: Jacquetta Hawkes (m. 1953–1984)
Movies: Dangerous Corner, An Inspector Calls
This humorous play portrays the status of a mother in the family. The author brings out the plight of the mother very realistically in the play. Mrs Annie Pearson, the mother, is not treated well by her husband and children. With the help of her neighbour Mrs. Fitzgerald and a magic spell which temporarily allows them to interchange their roles, she stands up for her rights. Mrs Annie Pearson’s family is shocked at the change, but they learn to behave properly with her so that she gets the respect that she deserved.
She is Mrs Annie Pearson’s neighbour. She is quite strong-willed, knows magic and helps Mrs Annie Pearson to reform the spoilt members of Mrs Annie Pearson’s family.
Mrs Annie Pearson:
She is a pleasant but nervous type of woman whose excessive love and care has spoilt her two children and husband.
She is Mrs Annie Pearson’s daughter aged around twenty years. She fails to understand her mother’s struggle and doesn’t help her in household work.
He is Mrs Annie Pearson’s son who is equally demanding and never sympathises with his mother.
Mr George Pearson:
He is Mrs Annie Pearson’s proud husband who is not as respected in society as expected. He dominates his wife, but he is ridiculed in the club where he is a member.
About the Lesson
This chapter is based on the practical experience of a mother, Mrs Pearson, who is both ignored and snubbed by her own kids on a daily basis. She is treated as if she were a slave in her own home. Therefore, she has to feel a lot of ignorance and embarrassment every day not only from her son Cyril and daughter Doris but also from her husband George Pearson who has completely turned a blind eye from his middle-aged wife.
Her life takes a turn when she meets Mrs Fitzgerald, a fortune teller, and discusses her family members and their atrocious behaviour. Mrs Pearson narrates her each and everything from the scratch about her kids and their behaviour. Mrs Fitzgerald, who is a very strong and sinister personality, advises her to exchange their personalities so as to teach a good lesson to her kids as well as her husband.
At first, Mrs Pearson hesitates a bit to do so as she loves her family a lot and can’t see them being insulted by Mrs Fitzgerald, but when the latter encourages her and makes her realize the pains she bears due to her family members, she soon agrees to swap her personality with the personality of Mrs Fitzgerald.
Now, Mrs Fitzgerald casts a spell and with that, she swaps her personality with Mrs Pearson in a matter of seconds. Now, the scene changes, Mrs Pearson appears to be smoking and drinking who was earlier sitting idle and peacefully whereas Mrs Fitzgerald appears to be very calm and composed who was earlier smoking, drinking, and playing cards. Mrs Fitzgerald advises Mrs. Pearson not to tell anything about what has happened with them and to watch the game intently.
When Doris (her daughter) enters the home, she orders her mother to iron her yellow dress stating that she has to go on a date with her boyfriend Charlie Spence. She even objects to her mother’s smoking when she sees her doing so. On asking, Mrs Pearson replies very severely and advises her to do her works herself. Besides, Mrs Pearson makes fun of her boyfriend Charlie Spence calling him half-witted and buck teeth. Doris feels dejected and humiliated and starts crying when insulted and rebuked by her mother.
When Cyril (her son) enters, he asks his mother briskly if his tea is ready. Mrs. Pearson refuses and advises him to prepare himself if he wants to have. Seeing the reaction of his mother & crying of his sister, he raises his voice but nipped in the bud. Mrs. Pearson also advises him to mind his language when he calls Mrs. Fitzgerald an old fat bag. He is absolutely shocked to see the reaction of his mother when she asks for some stout if any left at home.
When Doris and Cyril talk about their being tired after working for a long time, she makes it very clear to both of them that they all will work equally from that day onwards i.e. 8 hours a day. She also talks about her being free and stresses free at weekends. She adds that she will not work at weekends and enjoy with her friends on Saturdays and Sundays.
Then enters Mr. George Pearson, who does not want to have his tea that day as he a party at a snooker club, he also expresses his astonishment on seeing his wife smoking and drinking. When he objects, Mrs Pearson makes him realize that if he can drink, she too can. She even tells him that how people make fun of him at the club which disturbs him out and out. Mr George Pearson regrets his mistake of leaving his wife alone at home and spending the time with the people who are dual and who make fun of him at his back.
Seeing her family members’ insult, Mrs. Pearson asks Mrs. Fitzgerald to stop all that drama at once, but Mrs. Fitzgerald does not let her speak till she teaches all of them a good lesson of respecting and honouring their mother. Soon, they both swap their personality again. Now the daughter, the son and the husband get to learn a lesson and start supporting their mother and wife. Moreover, they start respecting the emotions and sentiments of their mother. They decide that they will not go out to parties or to meet anyone but to spend quality time with their mother who has sacrificed her everything for the sake of her kids.
portrayal – depiction
living-room – drawing-room
suburb – outlying area of a city
muslin-covered – covered with a muslin curtain
settee – sofa
sinister – strong
flurried – nervous and confused due to overwork
Cockney – style of speaking of people living in the East end of London
Irish – style of speaking of people living in Ireland
fortune teller – person claiming to have magic powers
out East – in the British colonies in Asia
Lieutenant Quartermaster – non-commissioned officer in British Army
put your foot down – be very strict
mistress – woman with authority
apologetically – as if feeling sorry
treating ’em like dirt – showing lack of respect
dubiously – in an unsure manner
unpleasantness – quarrelling
have it out – settle it finally
good gracious – an expression of surprise
embarrassed – feeling awkward
flustered – agitated
got the idea – understood me
gimme – give me
muttering – speaking in a low voice
go lax – looking like they are dead
puffing – smoking
complacently – feeling happy and satisfied
chuckling – laughing quietly
patience – a card game played by a single person
taken anything in – understood what is going on
astounded – surprised
fluttering – unsteady
square meal – full and satisfying meal
the Clarendon – name of a local restaurant
indignantly – with annoyance
rubbish – uselessly
be seen dead – like to be seen
buck teeth – upper set of teeth sticking out
half-witted – stupid
masculine counterpart – brother
off-colour – not feeling well
get cracking – work quickly
aggressively – forcefully
put my things out – lay out my clothes
staggered – shocked
laconic and sinister – briefly and meaningfully
wear that face – look so bad
Union – association of employees
bar – stop
movement – association of employees
never you mind – don’t bother
stout – strong beer
clot – idiot
in a huddle – come close together to talk
barmy – insane
fathead – idiot
concussion – serious injury to her head
far-fetched – unlikely
giggle – laugh in a silly manner
guffaw – laugh loudly
contempt – disgust
be your age – behave properly as per your age
do with – appreciate
a bit thick – unreasonable
airily – carelessly
aghast – horrified
passionately – with much emotion
blubbering – crying like a baby
solemn – formal and dignified
pompous – overbearing, self-important
bulge – stick out
fancied – feel a desire for
bewildered – confused, puzzled
distaste – dislike
aggrieved – feeling hurt
indignantly – in a displeased tone
standing jokes – permanent amusements
dazed – totally astonished
appealingly – urgently requesting
gloomily – sadly
greyhound races – races run by tall, slender dogs
dirt tracks – racing courses for motorcycles
ice shows – entertainment shows performed by ice skaters
sulkily – showing an irritated feeling
old bag – unpleasant elderly woman
smacking – bringing together with force so they make a sound
ushering – bringing
piecan – stupid person
severely – strictly
glowering – angry
putting ’em in their places – making them behave properly
doing ’em all a world of good – helping them to learn how to behave properly
eating out of your hand – completely under your control
glumly – sadly
crying her eyes out – crying uncontrollably
at sixes and sevens – in total confusion
bitterly – angrily
intimidated – frightened
taunting – teasing
tiddly – slightly drunk
in despair – hopelessly
a flash of temper – sudden anger
ticking her off – reprimanding her
’cos – because
go soft on – treat gently
spirit – enthusiasm
apprehensively – anxiously
rummy – a card game
cluster round – surround
Introduction of Mrs Annie Pearson and Mrs Fitzgerald
Mrs Annie Pearson and Mrs Fitzgerald are next door neighbours. Apart from this, there is no similarity between them. Annie is a pleasant and nervous looking woman in her forties. Fitzgerald is older and heavier with a strong personality. Annie has a soft voice whereas Mrs Fitzgerald has a deep, throaty voice.
Mrs Fitzgerald is a fortune-teller. She has learnt this art from the East. She is reading Annie’s fortune. She advises Annie to be strict and become the ‘boss’ in her family. Actually, Annie is not treated well by her family. At present, Mrs Annie Pearson has been reduced to the status of an unpaid domestic servant, who does all the work at home without even being requested for it or being thanked later on.
Mrs Fitzgerald Outlines the Plan to Reform Annie’s Family
Mrs Fitzgerald is very angry at the way Annie is treated like a servant by her family. One day, she suggests that they should temporarily exchange their personalities by using a magic spell that she had learnt in the East. She takes Annie’s hand and speaks some magic words. A transformation takes place and the personality of Mrs Fitzgerald shifts into the body of Annie and vice-versa.
Annie is scared, but Mrs Fitzgerald assures her that the change is reversible. Mrs Fitzgerald, now in the body of Annie, stays at Annie’s house and sends Annie (in Mrs- Fitzgerald’s body) to her house where she can relax.
Doris Gets a Shock
Doris, the daughter of Mrs Annie Pearson, a beautiful girl aged 20, enters the house. She gets shocked at seeing her mother smoking and playing cards alone. Doris asks about her yellow dress, but her mother does not respond. She asks for tea and her mother answers rudely, telling her to iron her dress herself and make tea if she wants to. Doris gets angry but gets a good scolding from her mother. Then Annie makes fun of Doris’ boyfriend, Charlie Spence, for having projecting teeth and being stupid. She tells Doris frankly that at her age she would have found somebody better than Charlie Spence. This strange behaviour is too much for Doris and she goes out of the room crying.
Cyril also Gets a Shock
Cyril, Annie’s son, enters the house and asks for tea in a demanding and angry manner. Annie tells him that she has not bothered to get tea ready. Cyril asks her if everything is all right with her. She replies that she has never felt better in her life. When Cyril enquires why she has not got the tea ready, Annie replies that she wanted a change and that’s why she has not bothered to make tea. Cyril announces that he is short of time, so she should get the tea ready immediately.
Cyril further enquires whether she has got his clothes ready. When she says no, he gets anguished. He asks his mother what will happen if they all talked like she was talking that day. Annie coldly replies that all three of them always talked to her like that, so what was wrong with her talking in the same tone. She says that if he does not want to do anything at home, he doesn’t have to. She adds that she has become a member of the Union so that she gets what she deserves.
The argument between Doris and Mrs Annie Pearson
Doris appears on the scene wearing a shoulder wrap. Annie remarks sarcastically about her dress. An argument starts between Doris and Annie. Doris comments that if she was looking awful, it was due to her mother only, who made her cry. Then Annie enquires if any strong beer was left. Cyril is shocked to know that his mother wants to drink it. He is unable to understand what is going on.
Discussion Starts between Doris and Cyril
Both Doris and Cyril are filled with horror and shock at their mother’s behaviour. Both wonder what has happened to their mother suddenly. Doris thinks that she got hit on her head by something. She says that the manner in which their mother spoke hurt her the most and made her cry. Both start giggling at the thought of what will happen if their mother keeps behaving in this weird manner in front of their father.
Annie’s Remarks About Her Family
Annie remarks that it was high time they grew up. Doris then asked her if they had done something wrong. Annie tells them that it is actually her children’s and her husband’s behaviour that bothered her the most. They always came, asked for something, and went without bothering to know whether she wanted to go out or how she was feeling. She always does her best to keep everybody happy but all three of them were not bothered about her.
Annie also remarks that while the three of them do a job of eight hours a day with two days off at the weekend, she goes on working seven days round the clock. She warns them that on weekends, she will also going to take two days off.
Doris is really worried about what will happen if her mother takes a holiday on weekends. However, Annie assures Doris that she would do some work on Saturday and Sunday only when she is requested for it and thanked for whatever she does. She might go out for weekends also as she was fed up of staying in the house for years together. None of them has ever bothered to take her out.
Mr George Pearson is Shocked at his Wife’s Behaviour
Mr George Pearson now enters the house. He is about 50 years old and considers himself as a very important person. He gets annoyed at his wife who is sipping beer when he enters. He tells her that he does not want any tea as he has to go to the club for supper. The wife tells him that she has not prepared any tea anyway. At this, George gets annoyed that his wife is not bothered about him.
Annie continues to rebuke him, telling him that he is not respected in the club where He keeps going every day. She tells him that people at the bar in the club call him ‘Pompyompy Pearson’ due to his self-important behaviour. George cannot believe what Annie says and confirms the truth from his son, Cyril.
Annie tells her son that sometimes it does people good to have their feelings hurt. On hearing a knock, Cyril checks who it is and reports to Annie that it is Mrs Fitzgerald at the door. Annie tells him to let her come in.
The Real Mrs Annie Pearson Returns
Mrs Fitzgerald (actually Mrs Annie Pearson) enters and finds Doris in tears. Her family continues to get a scolding in front of her also. Mrs Annie Pearson (actually Mrs Fitzgerald) informs her that she was putting everyone in their place. When Mr George Pearson shouts at his wife, she threatens to slap his big, fat silly face.
Mrs Annie Pearson and Mrs Fitzgerald Go Back to their Original Personalities
The real Mrs Annie Pearson (now Mrs Fitzgerald) gets really disturbed and wants everyone to leave as she wants to talk in private with Annie (the real Mrs Fitzgerald).
She tells Mrs Fitzgerald that it is enough. Let them change back and get into their true selves. Mrs Fitzgerald again speaks some magic words and they again get back to their own selves. Mrs Fitzgerald says that she enjoyed every moment in her changed personality. Annie remarks that she did not enjoy this changeover. Mrs Fitzgerald wants Annie not to be soft on her family. She wants her to remain firm.
Annie says that she will be able to manage her husband and children now. Mrs Fitzgerald warns her not to give any apology or explanation, otherwise they will again start treating her indifferently. She must wear a tough look and talk to them rudely if she wanted them to behave in the right manner. For a change, when Annie smiles, her family members smile back and feel very relaxed. As they had cancelled their going out Annie feels that they all as a family should play a game of rummy. She also asks her children to prepare supper for the family, for which they readily agree. She also wants to have a talk with George, her husband, for which everybody agrees. The play ends on a happy note where the children and husband are willing to do whatever Mrs Annie Pearson suggests.
The two neighbours, Mrs Annie Pearson and Mrs Fitzgerald discuss Annie’s problems.
Mrs Fitzgerald suggests Annie to be the boss in her house and not to meet everyone’s demand.
Annie agrees that her children should treat her properly.
Mrs Fitzgerald points out that the children and husband should not be allowed to treat her as a servant; she also has the right to enjoy herself.
Mrs Fitzgerald suggests that they should temporarily exchange their personalities by using a magic spell she had learnt in the East.
A transformation takes place and the personality of Mrs Fitzgerald shifts into the body of Mrs Annie Pearson and vice-versa.
Mrs Fitzgerald, now in the body of Annie, stays at Annie’s house and sends her (in Mrs Fitzgerald’s body) to Mrs Fitzgerald’s house.
When Doris, daughter of Annie, a pretty girl, aged 20 years, enters the house, she observes her mother playing cards and smoking, which horrifies her.
Her mother refuses to make tea for her or iron her yellow silk dress. Doris is surprised at her mother’s behaviour.
After some time, Cyril, Mrs Annie’s Pearson’s son gets the same treatment when he enquires about his clothes being put out as he has to go again in the evening.
Annie continues drinking and both her daughter and son are shocked. They presume that something is certainly wrong with their mother.
Annie tells them that they are so engrossed in their own activities that they hardly care for her. She also informs them of her intention of not doing any household work on Saturday and Sunday.
Mr George Pearson, Annie’s husband, comes and finds his daughter crying. He also gets shocked at his wife’s drinking and totally disapproves it.
George is enlightened by Annie that he was a laughingstock in his social circle. She tells him that people call him Pompyompy Pearson. George goes out in anger.
When Cyril objects to his mother about behaving badly with his father, he is criticised by his mother.
Now the real Mrs Annie Pearson in the body of Mrs Fitzgerald returns. George appears and complains about what was happening in his house to Mrs Fitzgerald.
Mrs Fitzgerald asks George and Doris to leave her and Annie alone for some time, promising that everything was going to be right.
When alone, Mrs Fitzgerald (at present Annie) chants some magic words and again their personalities get back in their bodies.
After this shock treatment, Annie’s family starts giving her more respect and attention. They also pay attention to her likes and dislikes.
Reading with Insight
Question 1: This play, written in the 1950s, is a humorous and satirical depiction of the status of the mother in the family.
What are the issues it raises?
Do you think it caricatures these issues or do you think that the problems it raises are genuine? How does the play resolve the issues? Do you agree with the resolution?
Answer: The play raises many serious issues. The first and foremost is proper appreciation of a housewife’s role and responsibilities. Those who work eight hours a day and forty hours a week treat the housewife as an unpaid domestic servant, who must carry out their orders. They neither request her nor thank her for her services. The second issue is the reciprocity of love and gratitude towards the mother or wife. The husband, son and daughter leave the lady of the house alone every night and go out to enjoy themselves in their several ways. They do not take any notice of her and have become thoughtless and selfish. The mother’s excessive love, care, and promptness to serve them also spoil them.
The problems the play raises are serious. The treatment is of course, comic. The playwright adopts an unusual method to resolve the issues. He takes the help of magic bf the East. Incantation of a magical spell helps in the interchange of the personalities. Now Mrs Pearson, with the strong and sinister personality of Mrs Fitzgerald, gives rough treatment to the daughter, son, and husband, respectively. Her stern looks and commanding tone suggests to them that she can be really tough. The spoilt member are brought round by the heavy dose of exposure of reality to them. They agree to stay and help in preparing the supper while the housewife has a talk with her husband.
The resolution of the issues seems far-fetched and unnatural but extreme means have to be adopted in disaster management.
Question 2: If you were to write these issues today, what are some of the incidents, examples and problems that you would think of as relevant?
Answer: Various responses are possible One such response is given below:
The incidents of unfair treatment to the fair sex at home, at work, in public transport and elsewhere will prove handy. The examples of exploitation of female workers with lower wages, harassment by seniors, indecent remarks, eve-teasing, and molestation can highlight the problems of social inequality that women face in practice. Even in the twenty first century women face the same problems in spite of the talk of women empowerment. The poor housewives have to bear the physical torment and mental anguish at the hands of bullish husbands who boast of their masculinity by inflicting physical violence, barbs, and taunts on the defence less women. Examples of rapes and sexual harassment which hug the limelight in daily newspapers can also be included to highlight the problems of insecurity of women in modem society.
Question 3: Is drama a good medium for conveying a social message? Discuss.
Answer: Yes, drama is certainly a good medium for conveying a social message. Direct moralising is often resented and usually ignored. Drama is a presentation of a slice of life through characters placed in various situations. The attention of the spectators centres round their actions and reactions. Most of them feel fully involved with the protagonists. The working out of the theme generally leaves a message—sometimes obvious and explicit but in most of the cases, indirect and implicit. The social message of these plays seems to come out of the interactions of the characters and their traits of character. The victory of evil over good is usually portrayed indirectly. These days we find many plays centred around themes creating social awareness such as evils of drinking and smoking; dangers of pollution, child labour, the decreasing female ratio and need to empower women.
Question 4: Discuss in groups plays or films with a strong message of social reform that you have watched.
Answer: For group discussion at class level. There can be varied responses. One such response is given below: The latest film I have watched recently is ‘SWADESH’. It has a strong message of social reform. It tells the story of an Indian scientist at NASA (America) who visits his ancestral home in India. The poor condition of the villagers and lack of basic facilities fills him with deep agony. He resigns his job in America and returns to his native country (Swadesh) to begin his work of rural uplift. He gives the villagers a message that self-help is the best help and we cannot depend for everything on the Government. This remote village is plunged in darkness after sunset as there is no electricity. With the help of a few villagers, the scientist is able to produce hydroelectricity and light the village homes. The water can be used for irrigation purposes also. Thus, the economic and social condition of the villagers undergoes a sea change.
Short Answer Questions
Q1. What picture of Mrs. Pearson emerges in the opening of the play ‘Mother’s Day’?
Ans. Mrs. Pearson is in her forties. She is a pleasant looking woman. She is a typical housewife. She takes delight in serving her family, though they take no notice of her. Even if they are thoughtless and selfish, she is very fond of them. She bears with them patiently as she does not want any unpleasantness in the house.
Q2. What was Mrs. Fitzgerald’s advice to Mrs. Pearson?
Ans. She advised Mrs. Pearson to be the boss of her own family.
Q3. Why is Mrs. Fitzgerald insisting upon Mrs. Pearson’s being the boss of her family?
Ans. Because Mrs. Pearson’s husband and children considered her as a housemaid rather than a loving and caring mother and wife. They treated her like a slave, ordered her to make tea and never thought that she, too, is a human being and needs rest. They thought that it was her duty to work for them while they never considered her work as work.
Q4. How was Annie Pearson responsible for her fate?
Ans. To a certain level, Annie Pearson was herself responsible for her fate. She loved and cared for her children and husband so much that they failed to understand her value and worth
. She had wished to correct them but for fear of hurting them, she didn’t mention it.
Q5. Write down Mrs. Fitzgerald’s opinion about a perfect household?
Ans. In a perfect household all the family members should be considerate towards the lady of the house. They are not supposed to order her but are supposed to lend a helping hand in the smooth running of the family. The lady sacrifices her entire life making the family happy and comfortable. She should be given due regard and recognition.
Q6. How did Mrs. Fitzgerald offer to help Mrs. Pearson to set her family right?
Ans. Mrs. Fitzgerald tells her plan and says that they would change their personalities with each other. She had learnt this art when she was in East. Mrs. Fitzgerald would look like Mrs. Pearson and vice versa. Thus Mrs. Fitzgerald offered to set Mrs. Pearson’s family right for her.
Q7. What were the immediate effects of the magic spell?
Ans. When it was spelled, the two women stirred out of their selves and transformed into contrasting characters. Annie became bold and started behaving like Mrs. Fitzgerald. She snatched the cigarette from Mrs. Fitzgerald’s mouth and put it in her own mouth.
Q8. How is George Pearson treated at the club?
Ans. The members of the Club laugh at George Pearson. His wife Mrs. Pearson says, “He is their one of their standing jokes at the club.” They call him “Pompy-Ompy” Person because they think him very “slow and pompous”. She tells that people always laugh at him behind his back. They call him names, but he is quite unaware about all this.
Q9. Mrs. Pearson was behaving strangely but her children were making fun of her. What does this show?
Ans. Mrs. Pearson, after having undergone a change in her personality started behaving with her children Cyril and Doris severely but they did not take her seriously. Deris said she might have hit her head and had a concussion, which caused her strange behaviour. She began to giggle, and Cyril felt it very strange. He wanted to stay and see what would happen on the arrival of their father.
Q10. Mention three things in the behaviour of mother that astonish Doris Pearson.
Ans. First, mother, as usual, has not got tea ready for her. Secondly, mother’s smoking. Thirdly, she is not in mood to iron her silk that she intends to wear that evening.
Q11. How does mother make fun of Charlie Spence?
Ans. Charlie Spence is Doris’s boyfriend. She intends to go out with him that evening. But mother makes fun of Charlie Spence. She says that Charlie has buckteeth and he is half-witted. She wonders whether Doris could not find of anyone better than Charlie Spence.
Q12. Why is Cyril Pearson astonished at mother’s behaviour?
Ans. First, mother has not got tea ready for him, as usual. Secondly, she has not got his things ready though she had promised in the morning to look through them in case there was any mending. Obviously, he is astonished at strange behaviour of the mother. Then, mother asks him whether there is any stout left in the house. He wonders why mother needs stout.
Q13. What, according to Doris, could be the reason for mother’s strange behaviour? Does Cyril agree with her?
Ans. According to Doris, mother might have hit her head or something that could have been the cause of her strange behaviour, Cyril agrees that mother’s behaviour was rather, odd but Doris’s idea seems to him too far-fetched.
Q14. What is mother’s future plan as revealed to Doris?
Ans. Mother tells Doris that she would work like them forty hours a week and have two days off i.e. Saturday and Sunday. She might make their bed or do a little bit of cooking on her off- days if she is properly asked and thanked for everything she does. She adds that she might go off on weekend days for a change.
Q15. Why does Doris ask mother whether she had fallen or hit herself with something? How does mother react to it?
Ans. Doris asks mother whether she had fallen or hit herself with something because she is under the impression that mother had gone barmy because of some violent shock. Mother becomes aggressive to hear this and asks her to behave properly and stop asking such silly questions.
Q16. What is odd, according to Mrs. Pearson, in the behaviour of George, when he is annoyed with her for not getting his tea ready?
Ans. George tells Mrs. Pearson that he does not want any tea. When Mrs. Pearson tells him that there is no tea ready for him he gets annoyed. She wonders why he is annoyed at not getting his tea ready while he does not want it. This seems rather odd to her.
Q17. How does Mrs. Pearson make fun of her husband?
Ans. Mrs. Pearson tells her husband that they laugh at him at the club and call him Pompy- ompy Pearson because they think he is so slow and pompous. When his son Cyril also confirms it, he is shocked and staggers out of the room.
Q18. Why is George Pearson astonished when Mrs. Fitzgerald calls him ‘George’? How does Mrs. Pearson make fun of him?
Ans. Mrs. Fitzgerald is their neighbour. Obviously, George Pearson is astonished when she informally calls him ‘George’. Mrs. Pearson makes fun of him saying that his name is, after all, George, and then asks him mockingly whether he thinks he is Duke of Edinburgh.
Q19. Why did Mrs. Fitzgerald request Mrs. Pearson to change back? Who were these two ladies actually?
Ans. Mrs. Fitzgerald was, in fact, Mrs. Pearson in Mrs. Fitzgerald’s body. She saw how miserable her husband and children were feeling. She could stand it no longer. So, she requested Mrs. Pearson to change back.
Q20. What was Mrs. Fitzgerald’s final advice to Mrs. Pearson?
Ans. She advised Mrs. Pearson to be tough on them for a couple of hours. She also forbids to feel sorry for the drama and give any explanation or apology. If she stays firm, they will eat out of her hands obediently.
Q21. What change do you notice in George, Doris, and Cyril at the end of the play?
Ans. They are no longer thoughtless and overbearing in their behaviour. Cyril and Doris agree to get supper ready while their mom have a talk with their father. She also asks for a nice family game of rummy. All agree with her. She finally thanks her neighbour and bids her goodbye. As she walks out of the room, the family gathers round mother.
Long Answer Type Questions
Q1. Give a brief character-sketch of Mrs. Pearson.
Ans. Mrs. Pearson is a loving wife and mother. She is very fond of her husband and children. She looks to all their needs. She does her best to keep them happy. Mrs. Pearson is a simple-hearted woman. But she is gentle to a fault. She does feel that her husband and children are thoughtless. Her husband and children work eight hours a day and five days a week. But the poor mother has to work all the hours of the day and all the days of the week. Yet the husband and the children have for her no word of praise or gratitude. This is what pains Mrs. Pearson. But she is too weak to protest. It is Mrs. Pearson’s own weakness that has spoiled her husband and children.
Q2. Give a brief character-sketch of Mrs. Fitzgerald.
Ans. Mrs. Fitzgerald is Mrs. Pearson’s neighbour. She is a strong-minded woman. She has a dominating nature. She believes in equal rights with men. She believes that women have the liberty to do anything that men do. Mrs. Fitzgerald feels strongly that the woman should be the mistress of her own house. Mrs. Fitzgerald is very intelligent also. She knows how to cure people of their waywardness. She handles Doris, Cyril, and George very intelligently. She gives each of them a good pounding. She puts them in their proper places. She makes them realise that a mother and a wife is also a human being. Thus, she helps Mrs. Pearson to rein in her husband and children.
Q3. How were George, Doris, and Cyril all ungrateful to Mrs. Annie Pearson?
Ans. George, Doris and Cyril are all ungrateful. Each is worried about himself or herself only. George doesn’t want tea, yet he grows angry with his wife because she hasn’t made any tea for him. Doris wants her mother to iron her yellow silk dress because she is going out to meet her boyfriend. Cyril says he is tired after his eight-hour day. But none of them ever thinks of poor Mrs. Pearson’s fate. Everybody orders her about as if she is their servant. Really, they are all very ungrateful.
Q4. How did Mrs. Fitzgerald help Mrs. Pearson to be the boss of her family?
Ans. Mrs. Fitzgerald is Mrs. Pearson’s neighbour. She offers to help Mrs. Pearson in setting her family right. She knows some magic and effects a change of personality with Mrs. Pearson. Now she looks as if she were Mrs. Pearson and vice versa. She sends Mrs. Pearson to her own house and herself stays in Mrs. Pearson’s house. When Doris, Cyril and George come in, she deals with them very severely. She makes them realize how unfeeling and selfish they are. Thus Mrs. Fitzgerald helps Mrs. Pearson to be the boss of her
Q5. ‘Husbands, sons, daughters should be taking notice of wives and mothers, not giving them orders and treating them like dirt.’ What do you think about it?
Ans. The problem of wives and mothers is a universal one. Husbands, sons, and daughters treat them like dirt. They order them about as if they were their servants. They go out to enjoy with their friends, leaving the poor mothers and wives at home. They think they have done much work during the day. And when they come home, they want to be served like kings and princes. Really, it is something very unfortunate. All husbands, sons and daughters must think that the poor wife and the mother is also a human being and has the same feelings and desires as they have.
Q6. Contrast the characters of Mrs. Pearson and Mrs. Fitzgerald.
Ans. Mrs. Pearson is a loving mother and a gentle wife. She works hard to keep her husband and children happy. But she gets no praise or regard for it. Her husband and children are very thoughtless and selfish. They treat her as a servant. Mrs. Pearson feels unhappy about it. But she is too weak to protest.
On the other hand, Mrs. Fitzgerald is very outspoken. She can brook no injustice. She believes in equal rights with men. To make it clear, she even smokes and drinks. She says that husbands, sons, and daughters should take notice of wives and mothers. They should not treat them like dirt. She asks Mrs. Pearson to be the boss of her family.
Q7. How does Mrs. Fitzgerald put Doris, Cyril, and George in their places?
Ans. Mrs. Fitzgerald knows some magic. She uses it to change her personality with that of Mrs. Pearson. Soon Mrs. Pearson’s daughter, Doris, comes in. She asks Mother for tea, but Mother says that there is no tea ready for her. Doris had wanted her mother to iron her yellow silk. But the mother refuses to do any ironing for her. Doris has never seen her mother behave like this. She is in tears. When Cyril and George come in, they, too, receive the same kind of treatment. Mother tells them that henceforth she, too, will work eight hours a day and five days a week. While all this is going on, Mrs. Fitzgerald (who is in fact Mrs. Pearson) enters. The two ladies change back into their real personalities. They heave a sigh of relief when Mrs. Pearson calls them back with a smile. But now they have learnt their lesson. Thus Doris, Cyril and George are brought to their places.
Q8. Bring out the theme of the play ‘Mother’s Day.
Ans. In this play, Priestley tries to depict the fate of most housewives. The poor housewife has to work all hours of the day and all days of the week. She works hard to keep her husband and children happy. But the husband and children are almost always thoughtless. They have no regard for the feelings of the poor mother. They treat her as a servant. Alter their work, they go out to spend their evening with friends. The poor mother has to stay at home and keep working. Her husband and children never think that she, too, is a human being. They never realise that she, too, needs some rest and entertainment. Such husbands and children need to correct themselves.