The Rattrap

About the author

 

Selma Lagerlof (1858-1940) was a Swedish writer whose stories have been translated into many languages. This story is set in the middle of the mines of Sweden which are rich in iron ore. The story is narrated in the manner of a fairy tale. It gives us the message that the emotions of love and acceptance can reform others.

 

Theme

The story is about an old disheartened peddler who is taken in and shown generosity by a young woman. Her generosity and kindness change his bitter attitude towards life. The peddler is a man who has fallen upon misfortune and now resorts to selling rattraps, begging, and thievery. He is very pessimistic about the world around him and sees the world as merely a “rat trap”. He believes that society tempts us with riches and fine things, and when we accept, we are caught in the trap and are left with nothing.

The story conveys a universal message that the essential goodness in a human being can be awakened through love, respect, kindness and understanding. It highlights the human predicament. Material benefits are the traps that most human beings are prone to fall into. Human beings do have a tendency to redeem themselves from dishonest ways as does the peddler at the end of the story.

 

Setting

This story is set amidst the mines of Sweden, rich in iron ore which figure large in the history of that country. The story is told somewhat in the manner of a fairy tale.

Characters

 

  • A peddlar with rattraps.

  • An Oldman: A crofter

  • Master Smith in the Ramsjo Iron Mill in Sweden

  • Helpers in the Mill: blacksmiths

  • Iron mill owner

  • Edla Willmansson – daughter of the Iron Mill owner.

 

Summary 

The story begins with a rattrap peddler who is in a rugged condition. He is dressed in rags and is very frail and looks starved. We learn he has no home and sometimes even begs and steals to survive in the world. He leads a lonely life with no one to care about him. One fine day, it strikes to him that this whole world is a rattrap itself. If we touch it, it will trap us and never let us go. He goes on to think that there are people out there who are already in this rattrap and reaching for the bait. On one cold evening, he reaches at a cottage to ask for shelter. An old crofter lived in that cottage who took in the peddler.

The crofter needed company, so he welcomes the peddler. He gives him hot food and even tobacco to smoke. They play cards and start talking. The peddler learns that the crofter got thirty kronor for selling his cow which he keeps in a pouch on the window frame. The peddler leaves the next day but after seeing the crofter leave his cottage, he comes back to steal the pouch of money.

After stealing it, he takes the woods to remain unsuspected. In the wood, the peddler meets an ironmaster who mistakes him to be his old comrade. He invites him over for Christmas, but he refuses. After that, the ironmaster’s daughter, Edla visits him and insists him to stay with them. In between, he feels sorry for stealing the crofter’s money. They help the peddler get a makeover and dress him in nice clothes and shave his beard off. After this, the ironmaster realizes he has made a mistake; the peddler was not his comrade.

Thus, the ironmaster thinks he is a fraud and decides to turn him in. However, Edla insists on letting him stay and celebrate Christmas with them. Her father agrees, and they celebrate Christmas together. Next day, the ironmaster and Edla learn that the peddler was a thief through the church about the incident at the old crofter’s. They head home in a hurry thinking he must have stolen all the silver. However, to their surprise, the peddler did not steal a thing. He left a note for Edla in the form a tiny rattrap. There was also a note thanking her for her kindness which saved him from the rattrap he got caught in. Most importantly, he also left the crofter’s money asking to return it to him.

To sum up, The Rattrap summary, we learn that we can change the world through kindness and compassion; in addition, it teaches us that materialistic things never bring inner joy, only love and respect does.

 

Gist of the lesson:

  • The peddler was a vagabond who sold rattraps with a little thievery on the side to make both ends meet. Had no worldly possession to call his own, not even a name

  • It amused him to think of the world as a rattrap.

  • Takes shelter at a crofter’s cottage. The crofter welcomed him, gave him diner, shared his pipe, played ramjolis with him also confided in him about his income and showed him where he put it.

  • Next morning, the Peddler steals the money and takes the back roads to keep away from people and gets lost in the jungle at night. While he wanders in the forest, he realizes that he has also got caught in the rattrap and that the money was the bait.

  • Finally reaches Ramsjo ironworks, where he takes shelter for the night. The blacksmith and his assistant ignore him, but the master mistakes him to be an old acquaintance and invites him home. Though the Peddler does not correct the ironmaster, hoping to get some money out of him, he declines his invitation.

  • The ironmaster then sends his daughter who persuades him to go home with her. She notices his uncouth appearance and thinks that either he has stolen something, or he has escaped from jail.

  • The Peddler is scrubbed, bathed, given a haircut, a shave and a suit of old clothes of the ironmaster. In the morning light, the iron master realizes he is mistaken and that he is not the Captain. He wants to call the Sheriff. The peddler is agitated and breaks out that the world is rattrap and he too is sure to be caught in it. The ironmaster is amused but orders him out. The compassionate Edla convinces her father that he should spend the Christmas day with him.

  • The Peddler spends the whole of Christmas Eve eating and sleeping. The next day at church, Edla and her father come to know that the Peddler is a thief who stole thirty kroners from the poor crofter.

  • Back home, they found a letter addressed to Edla, signed as Captain Von Stahl and a rattrap as a gift from the crofter. In the rattrap were the three ten kroner notes of the crofter.

Textual Questions and Answers

Think-as-you-read Questions

Question 1. From where did the peddler get the idea of the world being a rattrap?
Answer: The peddler lived a dull and monotonous life. He had no family, no money and no relatives. He was a vagabond. So, being alone most of the time, he used to go on thinking. While thinking about the rattrap, he suddenly got the idea of the world being a rattrap.

Question 2. Why was the peddler amused by this idea?
Answer: The peddler had never been treated well by the world. So he felt happy thinking ill of the world. That is why he was amused by the idea that the whole world around him was nothing but a big rattrap.

Question 3. Did the peddler expect the kind of hospitality that he received from the crofter?
Answer: No, the peddler did not expect the kind of hospitality that he received from the crofter. He was always refused whenever he asked anyone for any kind of kindness. Thus, he had expected the same, but, to his surprise, the crofter treated him very kindly and gave him food and shelter.

 

Question 4. Why was the crofter so talkative and friendly with the peddler?
Answer: The crofter was a lonely man. He had no one in his house to give him company. He had no wife, no children. So when he saw the peddler, he was very happy to get someone to talk to.

 

Question 5. Why did he show the thirty kronor to the peddler?
Answer: The crofter narrated his story of living a comfortable life and having a good reasonable income that he made due to his extraordinary cow that gave a lot of milk. He told the peddler that he had earned thirty kronor last month. But the peddler expressed his disbelief. In order to make him believe, the crofter opened the pouch and showed the tramp the money.

 

Question 6. Did the peddler respect the confidence reposed in him by the crofter?
Answer: No, the peddler did not live up to the confidence reposed in him by the crofter. In fact, he abused the trust of the crofter. He returned after some time, opened the window of the cottage and stole the crofter’s hard-earned money.

 

Question 7. What made the peddler think that he had indeed fallen into a rattrap?
Answer: After stealing the crofter’s money, the peddler avoided the road and walked through the forest. Soon the night fell and he could not find his way out. He walked and walked without coming to the end of the wood. He finally realised that he was walking round and round the same spot. This made him frustrated and tired. Now he realised that he had indeed fallen into a rattrap.

 

Question 8. Why did the ironmaster speak kindly to the peddler and invite him home?
Answer: The ironmaster mistook the peddler to be his old acquaintance Nils Olof who was a captain and had resigned from the regiment long back. The ironmaster thought that the man was going through a bad phase in his life and so invited him home, especially as it was Christmas Eve.

 

Question 9. Why did the peddler decline the invitation?
Answer: The peddler declined the invitation, as he had stolen the money and was afraid of being caught. Accepting the invitation would be like throwing oneself voluntarily into a lion’s den.

 

Question 10. What made the peddler accept Edla Willmansson’s invitation?
Answer: Edla Willmansson came to invite the peddler with her fur coat and a valet. She spoke in a very friendly manner and he felt confidence in her. She persuaded him to come home and promised him that he would be allowed to leave whenever he would like to.

 

Question 11. What doubts did Edla have about the peddler?
Answer: Edla noticed that peddler was very scared. She thought he could either be a thief or an escapee from a prison.

 

Question 12. When did the ironmaster realize his mistake?
Answer: When the peddler was given a bath, a haircut and had a shave, the ironmaster realised at the breakfast table that the tramp did not look like his regimental comrade and that he had made a mistake.

 

Question 13. Why did Edla entertain the peddler even after she came to know the truth about him?
Answer: Edla was a kind lady. She empathized with the poor peddler and understood how difficult his life had been. She was able to understand his loneliness and poverty. She entertained him even though she knew who he was. Moreover, it was Christmas eve and she wanted to extend Christmas cheer and goodwill to him.

 

Question 14. Why was Edla happy to see the gift left by the peddler?
Answer: Edla was happy to see the gift left by the peddler because it was symbolic of the positive change in the peddler. He had left the stolen thirty kronor in the rattrap along with a letter. He had requested that the money be returned to the crofter. Edla was happy to know he had realised his mistake and made amends.

 

Question 15. Why did the peddler sign himself as Captain von Stahle?
Answer: The peddler was accepted and welcomed to the house as Captain von Stahle. Edla gave the peddler a kind treatment and in spite of kowing the reality, she treated him like a captain. This awakened the latent goodness of his heart and he also behaved in a dignified manner and signed himself as Captain von Stahle.

 

Understanding the Text

 

Question 1. How does the peddler interpret the acts of kindness and hospitality shown by the crofter, the ironmaster and his daughter?
Answer: The peddler was a vagabond who had no house, no family. He used to sell rattraps. One evening when he was trudging along the road, he saw a cottage by the roadside. He knocked at the door and asked for permission for night stay at the forge. The owner of the cottage gave him shelter, food, tobacco and his company and confidences. He even showed him the thirty kronor that he had saved. But the peddler stole the money the next day, violating the trust of the crofter. Later, the peddler thought that the crofter’s hospitality was a bait for him to be trapped.

Similarly, the ironmaster’s hospitality also did not impress the peddler much because he was kind to him only because he thought him to be his old acquaintance. But, on the contrary, Edla’s kindness and hospitality stirred up the essential goodness in him because her kindness was without any selfish motive in it like the crofter who wanted company and the ironmaster who wanted to help his old friend. Edla wanted to give some comfort and happiness to the peddler even though she knew that he was a tramp.

 

Question 2. What are the instances in the story that show that the character of the ironmaster is different from that of his daughter in many ways?
Answer: The ironmaster was the owner of Ramsjo Ironworks. He wanted to send good quality iron to the market. He was a very vigilant observer and hardworking and used to visit his mill even at night for supervision. He was kind and sympathetic to the peddler. But his kindness to him is due to the fact that he mistook the peddler to be his old regimental comrade Nils Olof. That is why when he came to know the truth about the peddler, he got angry and threatened to call the sheriff.

On the contrary, Edla is more observant than her father. When she saw the peddler the first time, she thought he was either a thief or a jailbreaker. But she was unlike her father. She had special sympathy for the unfortunate people. When her father, knowing the reality of the tramp, asked him to leave, Edla insisted on him to stay to spend the Christmas with them. She knew that the peddler, didn’t have any place in the world and so she invited him to celebrate Christmas with them. It was only her tenderness and kind behaviour that aroused the essential goodness in the peddler.

 

Question 3. The story has many instances of unexpected reactions from the characters to another character’s behaviour. Pick out instances of these surprises.
Answer: ‘The Rattrap’ deals with human emotions. These emotions, at times, give rise to unexpected behaviour. One of the most important unexpected behaviour is of the crofter towards the peddler. When the peddler asked him for shelter in the night, he welcomed him and gave him food, tobacco and company. The crofter bestowed so much confidence in the peddler that he even showed him the thirty kronor that he had saved.

In another instance, the peddler was first persuaded by ironmaster to come to his home and when he realised his mistake, he got furious and threatened to call the sheriff. Yet another and the most unexpected reaction is that of Edla Willmansson. When the peddler was asked to leave immediately, Edla closed the door and insisted that the tramp stay at their home for Christmas. She showed extraordinary kindness to him. The most unexpected behaviour was that of the peddler. Edla’s kindness brought out the essential goodness in him and he left the home leaving behind a gift for Edla along with the money he had stolen.

 

Question 4. What made the peddler finally change his ways?
Answer: It was ironmaster’s daughter Edla’s kindness and empathy that changed the peddler. Throughout his life, the peddler had never received such kindness. Initially, when Edla invited him home, she gave him the freedom to leave whenever he wanted.

Later, when the ironmaster realised his mistake, he wanted to call the sheriff but out of kindness allowed him to leave. But Edla closed the door and insisted on him to stay for Christmas. Her kindness brought out the essential goodness in the tramp. Edla not only served him good food and looked after him very well, but she also offered him to come to their house every Christmas. This generous and kind nature worked as a catalyst to bring about a positive change in the peddler. Thus, by returning the stolen money along with a rattrap as a Christmas present along with a note for Edla, the peddler left the house honourably.

 

Question 5. How does the metaphor of the rattrap serve to highlight the human predicament?
Answer:  The story deals with the metaphor of ‘Rattrap’. It refers to the theory that life is one big rattrap. It exists for a purpose to set baits for people. It offers riches and joys, luxuries and comforts, food and shelter, heat and clothing exactly as a rattrap offers cheese and pork. The moment anyone lets himself be tempted to touch the bait, it closes on him and then everything comes to an end. The peddler in the story was caught into the trap by the hospitality received at the crofter. His extreme poverty forced him to steal the money. He was at this moment caught into the trap of his own guilt.

Even at the ironmaster’s house he is caught in his own trap. But it is Edla’s extreme kindness and generosity which enabled him to come out of this trap of his and leave the house as a freeman, after confessing his wrong deed and leaving the stolen money. Thus, the metaphor of rattrap very aptly highlights the fact that if you take something you want wrongfully, you will usually get trapped in life.

 

Question 6. The peddler comes out as a person with subtle sense of humour. How does this serve in lightening the seriousness of the theme of the story and also endear him to the reader?
Answer: The peddler is one of the most interesting characters in this story. His theory of rattrap is an excellent example of humour in the story. The very idea of comparing a man’s greed for money and wealth to a rat which hungrily looks around for food and finally gets in the trap, evokes humour. Moreover, the tramp himself committed the same error by stealing the crofter’s money is so ironical. The peddler’s attempt not to undeceive the ironmaster, despite being afraid to accept the invitation, is very comical.

Some of the other funny scenes are when he displayed his smartness after he was recognised by the ironmaster. The display of his anger and frustration at the point when the ironmaster threatened to call the police is also very humorous. In spite of all the things that he did, he came out to be a very lovable character and endears us when he confessed his guilt and left the house in an honourable manner leaving the stolen money, a note and a Christmas gift for Edla.

Talking About The Text

 

Question 1. The reader’s sympathy is with the peddler right from the beginning of the story. Is the sympathy justified?
Answer: ‘The Rattrap’ is written in the backdrop of industrial revolution in Sweden in the second half of the nineteenth century. Many families were displaced by the growing industry and some people were reduced to a life of extreme poverty. The peddler in the story was a victim of such an economic change. He managed his life by begging and stealing. The pitiable state in which he was living evokes the sympathy of the reader. Even when he stole the money of the crofter, we don’t consider him to be a criminal. It was taken as a normal reaction of a poor man when he saw so much money easily available to him.

Thus, the peddler’s extreme poverty and the circumstances in which he lived, justifiably make the reader sympathetic to him from the beginning of the story.

 

Question 2 . ‘The Rattrap’ focuses on human loneliness and the need to bond with others. Comment.
Answer: No doubt the story focuses on human loneliness and the need to bond with others. The protagonist of the story, i.e. the peddler, was a vagabond who had no family and led a lonely life. As he had no companion to talk to, he was left to his own meditations. The crofter was also a lonely man with no wife or children. When he saw the peddler, he was happy to get someone to talk to. That is why he treated him with good food and tobacco. Moreover, the ironmaster and his daughter Edla too were leading a lonely life. The ironmaster’s wife died long ago, and his sons lived abroad. They had no family and friends to celebrate Christmas.

Thus, the story deals with the loneliness of human beings in different situations and their struggle to cope with loneliness.

Question 3. The story is both entertaining and philosophical.
Answer: ‘The Rattrap’ has both entertaining and philosophical aspects. The very title of the story is metaphorical. It refers to the theory that life is a big rattrap and sets baits for people. Instead of cheese and pork, life offers riches and joys, luxuries, food, shelter, etc. As soon as a human being gets tempted to touch the bait, it closes on him. The peddler got trapped in such a situation when he stole the money of the crofter.

Despite the philosophical aspect of the story, it always remains interesting and binds the reader till the end. The character of the peddler is so entertaining. The very idea of the peddler himself falling into the trap is humorous. The story has a clear and excellent progression of the theme. There is always an element of curiosity. The climax of the story is enthralling. When Edla and ironmaster come back from the church with an idea that the peddler must have taken away all the silver, they find a gift and the stolen money left by him.

Thus, the story is narrated in such a style that it entertains the reader, besides providing a philosophical insight into life.

Short Answer Type Questions (3 Marks; 30-40 words)

 

Question.1. In what sense was the world a big rattrap according to the peddler?
or

Why did the peddler think that the world was a rattrap?
Answer. The peddler was an extremely poor man who earned his living by selling rattraps he made himself from the materials he got by begging. His mind, thus, was always preoccupied with rattraps. One day, he suddenly thought of the whole world was a big rattrap. He felt that the shelter, food, clothes, riches and joys that the world provided were all baits set to entrap man just as a rattrap offered cheese or meat to entrap rats. As soon as one was trapped, everything came to an end.

Question.2. Why did the peddler derive pleasure from his idea of the world as a rattrap?
Answer. The world had never been kind to the poor peddler. Wherever he went, he was greeted with sour faces and was turned or chased away. Therefore, he derived pleasure from thinking ill of the world in this way. Moreover, he perhaps envied those whose lot was better than his and was rather amused to think that someday they too would be tempted by the bait and be caught in the Rattrap.

 

Question.3. Why did the peddler knock on the cottage by the roadside? How was he treated by the Owner Of the cottage?
Answer. The peddler knocked on the cottage by the roadside to seek shelter for the night. The owner of the cottage was a crofter who lived there alone. He regarded the peddler as welcome company and treated him quite hospitably. He not only put him up for the night, but also offered him food and played cards with him.

 

Question.4. Why did Edla plead with her father not to send the vagabond away?
or
Why did Edla still entertain the peddler even after she knew the truth about him?

Answer. Edla had always thought the peddler to be a poor, homeless tramp. Therefore, she didn’t feel cheated when his true identity was revealed. Instead, she felt very bad for him and his miserable condition and pleaded on his behalf. She and her father had promised him Christmas cheer, and she felt that it would be wrong to send him away.

 

Question.5. What conclusion did the ironmaster reach when he heard that the crofter had been robbed by the peddler?
Answer. It was at the church that the ironmaster and his daughter heard that the crofter had been robbed by a peddler, who, no doubt, was the one they had sheltered at the manor house. The ironmaster at once concluded that the peddler would probably have stolen all his silverware in their absence and ran away.

Question.6. What was the content of the letter written by the peddler to Edla?

Answer. The peddler had written that since Edla had treated him like a captain, he wanted to be nice to her in return. He did not want her to be embarrassed at Christmas by a thief. He had requested that the crofter’s money that he had stolen be returned. He further wrote that the rattrap was a Christmas present from a rat who would have been caught in the world’s rattrap, if he had not been raised to the status of captain, which motivated him to reform himself.

 

Question.7. What were the contents of the package left by the peddler as Christmas gift for Edla Willmansson?
Answer. The package left by the peddler as a Christmas gift for Edla Willmansson comprised a small rattrap with three wrinkled ten kronor notes in it, which the peddler had robbed from the crofter. It also contained a brief letter for Edla explaining the peddler’s conduct.

 

Question.8. Why did the peddler decline the invitation of the ironmaster?
Answer.The ironmaster has mistaken the peddler for an old regimental comrade and invited him home. The peddler declined the invitation because he was carrying the money he had stolen from the crofter. He knew that if the ironmaster discovered his identity, he would hand him over to the police. Therefore, for him, going to the manor house was like walking into a lion’s den.

 

Question.9. Who was the owner of Ramsjo iron mills? Why did he visit the mills at night?
Answer.The owner of the Ramsjo iron mills was an ex-army man and an ambitious and prominent ironmaster. He was very particular about the quality of his products and visited the mills even at night to make sure that good iron was shipped out from his mills.

 

Question.10.How did the ironmaster react on seeing the stranger lying close to the furnace?
Answer. When the ironmaster saw a stranger in rags lying close to the furnace, he went near him and removed his slouch hat to get a better view of his face. Due to dim light in the forge and the peddler’s dirty appearance, he mistook him to be Nils Olof, an old acquaintance of his regiment. He was delighted to see him and invited him home for Christmas.

 

Question.11.Why did the stranger not tell the ironmaster that he was not Nils Olof?
Answer. The stranger did not tell the ironmaster that he was not Nils Olof because he thought that if the gentleman believed that he was an old friend or acquaintance of his, then he might take pity on him and help him with some money.

 

Question.12.Why was the crofter so talkative and friendly with the peddler?
Answer. The old crofter was lonely and leading a dreary existence as he had no wife or children. He was happy to get someone to talk to and share his thoughts with, even though it was a tramp. So he welcomed the peddler who was quite a patient listener, and extended his hospitality to him.

 

Question.13.Why was the peddler surprised when he knocked on the door of the cottage?
Answer. The peddler had never been treated kindly by the world. He was meted out cold treatment wherever he went. He was pleasantly surprised when the crofter greeted him with warmth and hospitality. Ordinarily, he always met ‘sour faces’ when he knocked for shelter and food, and was usually turned away.

 

Question.14.Why did the peddler keep to the woods after leaving the crofter’s cottage? How did he feel?
Answer. After stealing the money from the crofter’s, the peddler was cautious to. avoid the public, highway lest he be identified and caught. He got into the woods but finally realised that it was a big and confusing forest. The end of the forest was nowhere in sight and he felt lost. That’s when he recalled his thoughts about the world being a rattrap and he realised that he had indeed become a victim of a rattrap.

Question.15.What made the peddler finally change his ways?
Answer. The peddler believed in giving back to the world what he received from it. He was always treated with contempt and hostility and so he never did anything good. However, Edla’s kind and caring behaviour finally changed him. She had treated him with love and respect befitting a captain, even after realising that he was a poor vagabond. The trust that Edla showed in him made him change his ways and he decided to live with dignity and respect.

Question.16.Why was Edla happy to see the gift left by the peddler?
Answer. Edla felt very dejected when she came to know about the theft of the crofter’s money by the peddler, but the gift left behind, which consisted of a small rattrap and three wrinkled ten kronor notes, restored her faith in him. She felt happy because her trust in him had been justified. Her kindness had finally changed the peddler and brought out his essential goodness.

Question.17.”Edla sat and hung her head even more dejectedly than usual.” Which two reasons forced her to behave in that manner?
Answer. Edla had shown kindness to the peddler even after knowing that he was not a captain. This was.the reason why she felt all the more dejected when she came to know that the peddler whom she had sheltered was actually a thief, who had recently robbed a crofter. Secondly, she also felt bad because the peddler had disproved the faith which she had shown in him.

Question.18. Why did the peddler sign himself as Captain von Stahle?
Answer. The peddler owed his transformation to the kind treatment meted out to him by Edla. In spite of knowing the truth about him, she had honoured and treated him like a captain. She had awakened the latent goodness in his heart. He wanted to repay Edla for her kindness. His signing himself as Captain von Stahle shows that he wanted to retain the dignity and respect accorded to him.

Long Answer Type Questions (6 Marks, 120-150 words)

Question.1. How did the peddler feel after robbing the crofter? What course did he adopt and how did he react to the new situation? What does his reaction reveal?
Answer. The crofter had treated the peddler with hospitality and had even reposed his trust in the poor vagabond. Still the peddler robbed him and was quite pleased with his smartness. However, the fear of getting caught haunted him. So, he avoided the public highway and turned into the woods. It was a big and confusing forest, and due to the approaching darkness, the peddler lost his way. He got exhausted moving around the same place and was filled with despair. He began to feel that the forest was like a big rattrap and the thirty kronor he had stolen were like a bait set to tempt him.
His reaction reveals that he was feeling guilty for having stolen the crofter’s money. His  heart was filled with remorse and self-loathing for his act of weakness. However, his thoughts are perhaps also a way of justifying his crime.

Question.2. The story, The Rattrap’ is both entertaining and philosophical. Do you agree with this statement? Why/Why not?
Answer. The story, ‘The Rattrap’ is indeed, both entertaining and philosophical. The fast-paced narrative in the third person, generous use of dialogue by the author and different characters belonging to different mindsets and locales make the story interesting and entertaining. Besides, the author has managed to keep up the suspense till the end.
The incidents in the forge, with the ironmaster coming at midnight, hold our attention. The peddler’s incessant refusals to the ironmaster to accompany him, but his accepting Edla’s invitation in one go, the ironmaster’s realisation of his mistake, and Edla’s sympathy and generosity, all make the story quite gripping. While all the above events make the story interesting, there is also an element of philosophy in the story.
Somewhere, the peddler’s theory of the world being a rattrap is true. One feels caught up like a rat in the entrappings of the world. Some people fall into this trap never to come out of it again. The story teaches us that, as human beings, we are not above temptations.

 

Question.3. The story focuses on human loneliness and the need to bond with others. Explain.
Answer. All. the characters in the story suffer from loneliness and are dreary souls. First, the tramp appears to lead a sad, monotonous existence, left to his own musings. He is always greeted by sour faces and cold words.
The old crofter’s fate has been somewhat kinder to him. Bereft of his wife and children, he lives all alone in a cottage by the roadside and is rather happy to have visitors around.
We also have the ironmaster and his daughter, Edla, who have no company for Christmas. The ironmaster’s wife is dead, and his sons are settled abroad.
He, with his daughter, are happy to play hosts for his friend. Thus, all of them have a strong desire for bonding and comradeship. The crofter is happy to be friends with the peddler, although only for a night. It is the bonding with the ironmaster’s daughter that transforms the peddler. The love, understanding and dignity that he gets from the girl makes him leave his dishonest ways and redeem himself.

 

Question.4. Give examples from the story, The Rattrap’ to show how the ironmaster is different from his daughter.
or
Compare and contrast the character of the ironmaster with that of his daughter.

Answer. The character of the ironmaster was quite different from that of his daughter. He was an ambitious and arrogant man. When he saw the peddler, he mistook him for his old regimental comrade, and invited him home, but this was more out of his sense of pride than out of sympathy or generosity.
When the ironmaster realised that he had been mistaken, he called the peddler dishonest and threatened to call the Sheriff. When he learnt that the peddler was a thief, he was ‘ worried about his own silverware.
On the other hand, Edla, the ironmaster’s daughter, was a kind and compassionate lady who was really sympathetic and considerate towards the peddler right from the beginning. She treated him with respect and dignity even after knowing that he was not a captain. It was her generous attitude which finally changed the peddler, bringing out the essential goodness of his nature.

 

 

 

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