Chapter 5 Mother’s Day

Text Book Questions and Answers

Mother’s Day About the Author

J.B. Priestley was born at Manningham, which he described as an “extremely respectable” suburb of Bradford. His father was a headmaster. His mother died when he was just two years old. Priestley was educated at Belle Vue Grammar School, which he left at sixteen to work as a junior clerk at Helm & Co., a wool firm in the Swan Arcade. During his years at Helm & Co. (1910-1914), he started writing at night and had articles published in local and London newspapers.

Mother’s Day Main Theme

This humorous play by J.B. Priestley is set in 1950 when the position of the mother and the housewife was subordinate. She worked for everyone in the family, but got no recognition or words of gratitude.Mrs Pearson is such a housewife and mother. Her neighbour Mrs Fitzgerald is much more assertive and feels Mrs Pearson should not allow herself to be bullied by her family. She should not pamper the family .members and assert herself a lot more.

Mrs Fitzgerald and Mrs Pearson exchange personalities. Mrs Fitzgerald is in Mrs Pearson’s body. Mrs Pearson goes to Mrs Fitzgerald’s house. The first family member to return home is Doris, Mrs Pearson’s daughter. She wants tea and her yellow silk dress ironed. Mrs Pearson tells her to do these jobs herself. She speaks disparagingly of Doris’ date with Charlie Spence. Doris is amazed and starts crying. Next, Cyril, Mrs Pearson’s son, comes and gets the same treatment. Then George Pearson, the husband, comes. He is surprised to find her drinking stout and tea not ready. She speaks to him in the same fashion and tells him that his friends at the club laugh at him.

By this time the real Mrs Pearson is anxious and comes. After some humorous exchanges, she and Mrs Fitzgerald get back into their original personalities. Mrs Fitzgerald leaves advising Mrs Pearson to remain firm.Mrs Pearson is able to have her way. George, Doris and Cyril decide to stay at home. Doris and Cyril agree to cook for the family that evening.

Mother’s Day 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.
(i) What are the issues it raises?
(ii) 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:
(i) The main issue is of the status of a woman. She deserves respect and recognition in her own family.
The husband and children should share domestic choses. The issues raised are genuine. Such a situation exists in many homes even today. The problem raised is genuine.

(ii) The play resolves the issue by resorting to an extraordinary measure. Mrs Fitzgerald’s personality enters Mrs Pearson’s body. In exchanged personality Mrs Pearson deals firmly with her family members, stands up to her rights and tells others that they need to help too. The resolution of the problem is symbolic. Any woman can be firm and take a stand. The need to enter another’s body is not there. Only a change of attitude is needed.

Question 2.
If you were to write about these issues today, what are some of the incidents, examples and problems that you would think of as relevant?
Answer:
In the Indian scenario most of these issues are still relevant.

  • The woman is the only one who works in the house.
  • Even a career woman has to discharge domestic duties.
  • Men spend their time outdoors and find entertainment outside the house.
  • Usually children lead their own insulated lives, unaware of the mother’s needs and unappreciative of her services.

Question 3.
Is drama a good medium for conveying a social message? Discuss.
Answer:
Drama is a powerful medium and should be exploited for conveying social messages.
The reasons are:

  • Everyday situations can be taken as themes.
  • Humour, comedy and satire can be used to ridicule the undesirable practices.
  • Dialogue, acting and play presentation leave a deep impression on the audience.
  • Social values can be reinforced.

Question 4.
Read the play out in parts. Enact the play on a suitable occasion.
Answer:
To be done by students.

Question 5.
Discuss in groups plays or films with a strong message of social reform that you have watches.
Answer:
In the Indian scenario most of these issues are still relevant.

  • The woman is the only one who works in the house.
  • Even a career woman has to discharge domestic duties.
  • Men spend their time outdoors and find entertainment outside the house.
  • Usually children lead their own insulated lives, unaware of the mother’s needs and unappreciative of her services.

Chapter 5 Mother’s Day