NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Chapter 3 - The Letter

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Chapter 3 - The Letter Exercise 22

Solution 1

Below are some of the points mentioned as a sample. Please use your imagination to elaborate further on the feelings depicted in the image.

  • Old
  • Waiting
  • Tired
  • Hardworking
  • Dejected
  • Grief stricken
  • Lonely



Solution 2

Based on the points you have written down in the previous answer, give reasons as to why you thought so. This answer depends on your views and opinions.



Chapter 3 - The Letter Exercise 29

Solution 4a

(iv) strength of will

Solution 4b

(iii) went there with faith and hope

Solution 4c

(i) lack of empathy



Chapter 3 - The Letter Exercise 30

Solution 4d

(iii) he was unwell and not able to walk to the Post Office

Solution 4e

(ii) a letter from his own daughter

Solution 5a

Ali was an old coachman who used to be an expert hunter in his youth. After the marriage of his daughter Miriam, he had become lonely and forlorn. He longed to hear from his daughter who had seemingly forgotten him. He went to the post office daily to see if there was any letter from his daughter Miriam.

Solution 5b

Ali had a daughter whom he loved very much. After her marriage to a soldier, she left for his regiment in Punjab. For five years, Ali had not received any news from her. He loved her so much that every morning at 4'o'clock, braving the bitter cold, he visited the post office hoping to receive some news from her. He was the first to arrive at the post office and would always occupy a particular seat in a corner of the building. With infinite patience, he waited every day and went away empty handed every time.

Solution 5c

Ali frequented the post office for five years in the hope of receiving a letter from his daughter Miriam. The clerks at the post office would call out his name in jest to see him come to the door in anticipation. They would ridicule him to no ends. The postmaster himself would call him a mad man. He was therefore a familiar face at the post office.



Solution 5d

As Ali grew older, his only child Miriam married a soldier and left him. He had no news of his daughter who was the sole reason for his existence. He then understood the meaning of love and separation. He could no longer enjoy the sport that he was so adept in. Loneliness crept into his life and he gave up hunting. He now understood the grief that hunted animals experienced when they were separated from their parents. He spent his time admiring the green cornfields and came to the conclusion that the whole universe is built through love and that the grief of separation is inescapable.

Solution 5e

Initially, the postmaster comes across as an indifferent man with a dull expression on his face. There was not an inch of animation or liveliness in his features. He was ill tempered and rude; he would lash out at Ali and call him a mad man.

It was only later when he failed to get the news about his sick daughter's well being that he understood Ali's grief and anxiety. His haughty temper left him and he was filled with remorse and sorrow for the poor old man who had spent nights in the same suspense for the last five years.

He was perplexed when an apparition of Ali visited him. He then experienced a change of heart and empathised with the pain Ali felt.

The postmaster may have been a kind man, but his monotonous job and other circumstances in his life had changed him into an impatient and indifferent person. He understands the value of love and longing only after his experience with Ali.

Solution 5f

Ali had not visited the post office for many days as he was ill. On his return he begged the postmaster to tell him if there was a letter for him from his daughter Miriam. The postmaster answered him in a rude and curt manner by saying, "What a pest you are, brother!"

I do not agree with this statement.

Ali was a grief stricken father who longed for news from his only daughter. He had been ill so he couldn't visit the post office for a few days. When he met the postmaster, he could not contain his impatience any longer.

He spoke kindly and begged of the postmaster for news from his daughter. Even if the postmaster was in a hurry to leave, he could have been more considerate towards the old man.



Solution 5g

Ali had made the post office a place of pilgrimage for the last five years. Due to his ill health, he had not visited the post office for several days. His face already showed signs of imminent death. In spite of his failing health, he had made one last attempt to visit the post office.  He had hoped that the postmaster would show him some mercy and agree to deliver his daughter's letters to him. However, he was reprimanded by the postmaster for being a 'pest'.  

Ali's eyes were filled with tears as he felt helpless. He was tired and exhausted and knew his end was near. His humiliating experience at the post office made him lose all hope and his patience was exhausted. However, he had faith that his daughter would not abandon him but would write to him someday. Unfortunately, he would not be there to receive the letter when it arrived.



Solution 5h

The postmaster's daughter lay ill in another town and he was anxiously waiting for news from her.

When the post arrived, he found a letter addressed to Coachman Ali and he was in shock. In his sorrow and anxiety, his haughty temper left him and laid bare his human heart. After spending a single night in suspense, anxiously waiting for news from his daughter, his heart was brimming with sympathy for the old man who had spent his nights in the same suspense for the last five years.

When he heard that Ali had died 3 months ago, he accompanied Lakshmi Das to the grave and placed Miriam's letter on it.

At the office, he sat by the charcoal sigri waiting for news about his daughter's health. His heart was filled with remorse for failing to understand Ali's ordeal. 



Chapter 3 - The Letter Exercise 31

Solution 6

This is a sample answer. It is recommended that you read the lesson carefully to add more to the table below.

A few guidelines




  • An old man was walking through the town, now and again drawing his tattered clothes tighter to shield his body from the cold and biting wind
  • his lonely way
  • …supporting himself on his old staff.
  • the old man went back slowly to the bench on which he had been accustomed to sit for five long years.
  • ..such loneliness had come into his life since the day Miriam had gone away.
  • he went away empty handed.
  • he doesn't get many letters.
  • a pitiable figure a century before his time.
  • there was no one with enough sympathy or understanding to guess the reason
  • the whole town was wrapped in deathly silence
  • the sky was darker now and the cold more intense
  • but for the faith and love that warmed him, he could not have borne the bitter cold.
  • But when the evening of his life was drawing in,
  • he dragged along a cheerless existence.
  • ..the young partridges bereft of their parents
  • ..grief of separation is inescapable.
  • he wept bitterly.
  • it was a struggle for him to breathe and on his face were clear signs of approaching end.
  • his eyes were filled with tears of helplessness
  • Today is my last day; my very last, alas!
  • …to my grave.
Solution 7



happy memories light up a life that is nearing its close

Happy memories come to one's mind and they are a source of joy when one is nearing death. 

the sounds helped him along his lonely way

The sounds of grinding mills and the sweet voices of women singing accompanied him on his journey to the post office.

the cold used sleep to extend its sway over all things even as a false friend lulls his chosen victim with caressing smiles

The early morning cold uses sleep to take control over all just like a fake friend influences his victim with his smiles and sweet talk.

when the evening of his life was drawing in, he left his old ways and suddenly took a new turn

When he was approaching old age, he gave up hunting and changed his ways.

the whole universe is built up through love and that the grief of separation is inescapable

 Every one experiences love and also the grief associated with separation the loved ones.

the post-master, a man with a face as sad and as inexpressive as a pumpkin, would be seen sitting on his chair inside

The postmaster who sat on the chair inside had an expressionless face.

And so the clerk, like a worshipper of Vishnu, repeated his customary thousand names

Just as a devotee of Vishnu chants his name a thousand times, the clerk also repeats his regular thousand names.

The haughty temper of the official had quite left him in his sorrow and anxiety, and had laid bare his human heart

The grief that the postmaster experienced finally made him give up his haughty temperament and his heart was filled with remorse.

Chapter 3 - The Letter Exercise 32

Solution 8

i) Children are leaving joint families to set up homes on their own.

ii) Pressures of modern life

iii) Individualistic aspirations of the young.

iv) Poverty and search for work.



Solution 9

This answer depends on creativity and imagination. Please use the following guidelines to write this answer.

  • I will never forget this day.
  • It is a day of sorrow and deep regrets.
  • Doubt and remorse are both eating into me.
  • I failed to understand another man's grief and now he is no more.
  • I will never be able to make it up to him.
  • But my dealings with Ali over the past few years have been an eye opener.
  • He taught me what love is.
  • His daughter abandoned him but he still had faith in her.
  • Ali taught me that family is the most important thing.
  • He died hoping that she would write to him.
  • Now that I am in his shoes, I can empathise with him.
  • My heart is brimming with sympathy for the poor old man who had spent nights in the same suspense for the last five years.
  • I will think twice before I ridicule another man's suffering.



Solution 10a

This answer depends on each student's views and opinions.

A few guidelines

The background

  • The postmaster was in a very troubled state.
  • He had spent the night anxiously waiting for news about his daughter.
  • When the post came in, he saw an envelope of the colour and shape he had expected.
  • He snatched it, but it was addressed to Coachman Ali.
  • He realised at once that it was the letter the old man had awaited all his life.
  • He began to feel the suffering and pain the poor old man had gone through.
  • Since he did not receive his letter, he anxiously went to the office at 3 in the morning. He decided to give Ali the letter himself and make amends for the way he had treated the man.
  • He heard a soft knock on the door; he felt sure it was Ali.

Had the postmaster's imagination deceived him or was it really Ali?

It may have been that the postmaster was dreaming/imagining that he saw Ali (Reasons)

  • The postmaster was so tired that he dozed off and dreamed.
  • He heard a knock on the door and saw Ali at the doorstep.
  • He was leaning on a stick with tears in his eyes.
  • Lakshmi Das may have been at the door; the postmaster must have imagined Ali since he was in his sleep.


 It may have been the spirit/ghost of Ali that had visited the postmaster (Reasons):

  • His features that were hard before were softened by lines of kindliness.
  • In his eyes had an unearthly look that made postmaster shrink back in fear and astonishment.
  • Ali disappeared and the postmaster could not tell where he had gone.
  • Laksmi Das informs him that Ali had actually died three months ago.
  • Miriam's letter was lying near the doorway.
  • Even after leaving, Ali's image was still before the postmaster's eyes.
  • It may have been the spirit of Ali returning to make peace with the postmaster because he had a change of heart.



Solution 10b

This is a class activity that needs to be enacted by the students.