Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Conjurer's Revenge Q&A

(The Conjurer's Revenge by Stephen Leacock taken from An Anthology of Short Stories for students of ICSE Schools,India)

1.By referring to the story, narrate how the conjurer carries on his performance despite the Quick Man’s objections.
The conjurer performed several tricks for the audience. However, each time he performed a trick the Quick Man in the audience would say that the trick was done with the help of items hidden up the conjurer’s sleeve. When the conjurer produced a fish bowl from a piece of empty cloth – the Quick Man said that this must have been up his sleeve. For all the other tricks that the conjurer performed – which includes rings, eggs, cards, bread, live guinea pig and a rocking chair – the Quick Man said that the must have had it up his sleeve. This constant comments by the Quick Man upset the conjurer but he did no show it and went on with his trick. However, the Quick Mans comments made the audience feel that the tricks were nothing special and were as a result of the conjurer having things hidden up his sleeve. This upset the conjurer. However, in spite of his discomfort, he went on performing one trick after the other till he could take it no more. He decided to take revenge. Appearing to perform a trick using items borrowed from Quick Man – he took the Quick Mans watch and pound it to pieces. He paid no heed when Quick Man told the audience that the watch had been slipped into the conjurers sleeve. The conjurer then took the Quick Man’s handkerchief and punched holes in it. The Quick Man thought that this also was a trick which he did not understand. The conjurer then took the Quick Man’s hat and trampled on it. He then proceed to burn the Quick Man’s collar end smashed his spectacles. The Quick Man, all the while thought that this was just a trick. However, later the Quick Man and the entire audience towards the end realized that what the conjurer did with the Quick Man’s things were actually destroyed and were not tricks. Thus the conjurer took his revenge.

2. Give the character sketch of the conjurer. What do you find humorous in this character? How does the conjurer keep up the suspense till the end of the show?

The conjurer was a skilled magician. He was so talented that the could produce even a fishbowl from an piece of empty cloth. He could do difficult tricks like extracting eggs from a hat. The conjurer was also a person who could think on his feet. When he wanted to do a teach the Quick Man a lesson he quickly thought of what he would do and even thought of a background introduction to the trick. He called it a Japanese trick invented by the natives of Tipperary. This shows that he had a good imagination. The conjurer tolerated the Quick Man for a long while before taking revenge. This shows that the conjurer had a lot of patience. From the language used by the conjurer one can say that that he was well educated.

The humorous part of his character is the seriousness with which he asked for various items of clothing and accessories from Quick Man. At no point of time did he even let Quick Man realized that he was taking revenge for Quick Man spoiling his show. The way he ends the show also shows how he uses serious words to create peals of laughter among the audience.

The conjurer keeps up the suspense till the end of the show by not letting either Quick Man or the audience realize that the “trick” that he was performing at the end of the show was not a trick but was the real destruction of the possessions of Quick Man.

3.What role does Quick Man play in the story? If the Quick Man were not there, how would the story end.
Quick Man is the heart of the story. From the beginning of the conjurer’s show, Quick Man keeps spoiling the show for the conjurer by saying that he had things hidden up his sleeve. This upset the conjurer and spoiled the show for the audience. Therefore, the Quick Man may be considered to be the villain of the story. The Quick Man also is the cause of the final trick of the conjurer which lead to much amusement for the audience.

If the Quick Man were not there, the story would have ended very uneventfully without the conjurer have to do a “trick” in which there was no magic. The story would have ended in the audience dispersing after having witnessed the conjurers tricks. There would have been no humor in the story.

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