NCERT Textbook Question [Solved] of A Shady Plot Class 10th English Chapter 4.



Q.1. Given below is a list of words related to ghost and ghost stories with their jumbled up meanings against
them. Match the words/expressions with their correct meanings:

Apparition a supernatural appearance of a person or thing, a ghost, spectre or phantom.
Poltergeist German word, meaning ‘‘noisy ghost’’— a troublesome spirit that announces its presence
with unexplainable sounds and the creation of disorder.
Clairvoyance the supposed power to see objects or events that cannot be perceived by the senses.
Crystal Ball a globe of quartz crystal in which images, believed to portend the future, are supposedly
visible to fortune tellers
Eerie so mysterious, strange, or unexpected as to send a chill up the spine
Medium a person through whom the spirits of the dead are alleged to be able to contact the living
Transmigration to pass into another body after death: going from one state of existence or place to another.
Psychic capable of extraordinary mental processes, such as extrasensory perception and mental
Ouija Board a spelling board device intended to communicate with and through the spirit world, obtaining
answers to questions
Exorcist a conjurer who expels evil spirits by conjuration
Premonition a feeling of anticipation of or anxiety over a future event
Paranormal beyond the range of normal experience or scientific explanation
Tarot Card a set of 22 playing cards bearing allegorical representations, used for fortune telling
Vampire a reanimated corpse that is believed to rise from the grave at night to suck the blood of
sleeping people

  1. Answer the  following  questions
    • What genre of stories does Jenkins want the narrator to  write? Why?

Ans. The narrator is requested by Jenkins to write ghost stories with supernatural elements. The public de- manded such horrors and thrills and these kind of stories were a sure hit with the    people.

  • Does the narrator like writing ghost stories? Support your answer with evidence from the text.

Ans. The writer did not specialise in ghost stories. In fact he was surprised how the plot and other details occurred to him. The first story he had ever written had been a ghost story and it made him popular. So he starts liking the idea of writing ghost stories and says, ‘‘This writing business is  delightful.’’

  • What makes Helen, the ghost and other co- ghosts organize, ‘The Writers’ Inspiration Bureau’?

Ans. Helen had been a writer in her other life. In  her present state, she had been working as a reader on a magazine. When she became a ghost, she found others,  like her, who had suffered and they formed a Writers’ Inspiration Burea. Now they searched for a writer who was without ideas with a mind susceptible enough to accept these ideas.

  • Why had Helen, the ghost been helping the narrator write ghost stories? Why was she going on strike? What condition she places for providing continued help?

[C.B.S.E. 2012 (T-2)]

Ans. Helen had helped the narrator because he was keen to write ghost stories but had no ideas and his mind was impressionable. But now the ghosts were fed up of being called too often from their beds. They had given up haunting and had taken up answering questions on the Ouija board but people had started pestering them too of- ten. Helen promised to help the narrator if he would get  his friends and acquaintances to stop using the Ouija  board.

  • How does the ghost undermine the narrator’s faith in his ability to write ghost    stories?

Ans. The narrator refused to  believe  that  Helen had helped him to write all the earlier stories. He protested and said that he had never summoned her. But Helen said that she had come on her own, sat on his shoulder when   he was thinking hard and provided him good    plots.

  • Why does John want the ghost to disappear before his wife appears on the scene? What impression of his wife’s character do you form from his words? [C.B.S.E. 2012  (T-2)]

Ans. Lavinia, John’s wife, is a jealous lady. John does not want Helen to be seen by his wife for fear of complications in his married life. His wife is over sensitive and the sight of a ghost in her house will affect her badly. Lavinia is basically a lady, who is a spendthrift and social- ite, spending her time in parties and    friends.

  • Why does the narrator hesitate to be a part- ner to Laura Hinkle during Ouija Board party? [C.B.S.E. 2012 (T-2)]

Ans. Helen, the ghost, had asked the narrator to exert his influence in getting all his friends to stop using the Ouija board. Helen had told the narrator that all the ghosts were fed up of being summoned by the Ouija board players, at all hours and now they were going on strike. Helen had promised to help the narrator in his story, if he did the needful. So he was reluctant to get involved in something which he had been strongly forbidden to do.

  • What message does the ghost convey to the group that had assembled in the narrator’s house? What is their reaction to the message?

Ans. The ghost conveys to Miss Hinkle that Mr Hallock is a traitor and a woman by the name of Helen was calling for him. Immediately all the women along with the narrator’s wife gather around him and start staring at him accusingly. They behave as if he has been very sly, keeping relations with another woman, behind his wife’s    back.

  • Do you agree with narrator calling the assembly of women ‘manipulators’. Give

Ans. The narrator’s state of mind, or his problem, was not known to either his wife or the other women. So psychologically he felt that they were trying to trap him or malign him needlessly. What the women were saying had been indicated on the Ouija board, they were just finding the connection so the narrator is not justified in calling them ‘manipulators’ for they were not doing it deliber- ately. It is intrinsic to women’s nature to see more than what really exists so they cannot be blamed  for    this.

  • Why is John’s wife angry? What does she decide to do? [C.B.S.E. 2012 (T-2)]

Ans. John’s wife blames her husband of infidelity, carrying on with Helen behind her back. She decides to leave him and go to back to her grand mother. Rest of the details will be chalked out by the    lawyer.

  • Why does John wish he were  dead?

Ans.  John’s  marital life had reached a dead end.  He hated being accused of deceiving his wife, whereas no such thing had ever happened. His wife had threatened to quit and he hated all the accusations that had been hurled  at him.

  • When confronted by Lavinia about his flirta- tions over the Ouija Board, John insists that ‘‘The affair was quite over-board, I assure ’’ Bring out the pun in this   statement.

Ans. John’s answer was quite intelligent and double-edged, the real meaning only he knew. His affair was rightly over-board, since it was over the Ouija Board all the problem had begun. Helen, the ghost had forced  him to influence his friends to do away with the boards  and she was the one who had maligned him in front of his wife  and  her friends.

  • John’s apprehensions about his wife’s reac- tion to her encounter with the ghost are un- founded.

Ans. John believed that his wife was a sensitive little woman who was too scared of even a mouse. A real heart attack would happen to her if she saw a ghost in her living room. But his doubts were unfounded. Lavinia did not tremble for a moment and patiently observed and lis- tened to Helen, the ghost. She never swooned and there was a satisfied smile on her face    instead.

6.             Answer  the  following  questions  in  detail :

  • After her reconciliation with her husband, John Hallock, Lavinia writes a letter to her friend expressing how her relationship with him had almost been on the verge of breaking and what saved it. Write her   

Ans.  Post Street

10 September, 20 xx Dear Anne,

I am extremely sorry for not responding earlier. My life had taken a strong turn and I was left grappling with some apprehensions. Believe me, you were uppermost in my mind but I wanted to sort out my domestic problems and then write to you with a clear frame of mind.

Last month I underwent a very bad phase of my life. You know how proud I am of John and his creative abilities. I have always appreciated his skill in churning  out excellent stories along with being a considerate husband. He has always supported me in my endeavours, but  sometimes  even  honesty  is  also  put  to  test.    Once

during the Book Club game with my friends, the Ouija board hinted that John was having an affair with someone called Helen. I was dumb founded and I threatened to quit. You know, I am impatient I can never tolerate infidelity. I had packed my suitcase and was on the verge of deserting John, when I discovered to my surprise, it was an apparition, a ghost, named Helen who was haunting him. Who would believe that ghosts are found in today’s world? Nevertheless I’m happy that I discovered the truth eventually. Now all is well and there is no reason to worry.

However, I blame myself for all this ruckus. I never gave him chance to explain, nor did I show faith in him. I should have remained unflinching in my trust. So  the famous quote proved true in my case ‘‘Jealousy, thy name is woman’’. I have learnt my lesson    now.

Please write to me about yourself also. Your friend,


  • Discuss the significance of the title of the lesson, ‘‘A  Shady ’’

Ans. The title ‘A Shady Plot’ is most appropriate because most of the situations and characters remain unclear and foggy. At first instance the writer is plagued by doubts regarding the plot of the story. He tries really hard and it appears he is chasing the shadows in search of a ghost story. The appearance of the ghost is open to interpretation. Is it there, or is it not there? There is doubt regarding the existence of Helen, she is spooky and gives rise to apprehensions. The existence of Helen is questionable, no one else will believe it, it is beyond the realm of reality. Moreover, doubts are cast over John’s character, his honesty is questioned, his relationship with Helen is hidden, concealed and he alone knows it. The appearance of Helen upsets John’s life. His wife and cook threaten to quit and shadows of divorce looms large over his relationship with his wife. The plot for a new story remained ‘‘unclear’’ for a long time. It is only in the end, that John can visualise an excellent plot in its perfection. Moreover, the ghost and apparitions are always believed to remain concealed, relegated to shady and dark areas. The appearance of Helen from darkness and retreat to darkness highlights the relevance of the   title.

7.                The narrator and his wife reveal something about their character in their words and actions. We also learn about them from what other people say. Can you pick out the words that describe them from the box given below? Also, pick out lines and instances from the story to illustrate your choice.


shy arrogant loyal clever over-confident manipulative
protective self-disparaging suspicious sceptical jealous          fearless
firm shrewd strong gullible sly creative



Person Extract  from story What it tells  us about  the character
John Hallock 1.     in the end things had always come my       way   ….. somehow I’d always been able to dig one (plot)

up for him, so I’d begun    to get     a  bit cocky as to my ability (to write   stories).

2.     ‘‘But  my ghosts aren’t a bit like you    ——’’. sceptical
3.     ‘‘We  scout around until we find a writer    without ideas and with a mind soft enough to accept    impression.’’ gullible
4.     ‘‘I’ve  got the bulliest plot for a ghost    story creative
5.     Why,  that sensitive little woman couldn’t   bear

to have mouse say boo at her and what would she  say to a ghost in her own living room

Lavinia Hallock 1.     ‘‘I  bought the loveliest things  this afternoon. Everybody’s wild over  them’’ loves novelty and thrills
2.     She had the alarming tendency to    take every new fad that came along and work it to death. Spendthrift
3.     John, you are hiding somebody in here who it is ? suspicious
4.     ‘‘It  is bad enough to have you first over    the Ouija board  with  that hussy’’ jealous
5.     Buys the Ouija Board but says it is for John’s research manipulative
6.     Does not flinch when she meets the    ghost but talks to her  casually. strong
  1. Gladolia, the narrator’s cook, is an The language she speaks is different from that of the others. This is known as Dialect. A dialect consists of words or phrases that reflect the regional variety of a language. An author often uses a regional dialect to make the dialogue more authentic. Initially a dialogue may seem a little difficult to understand. However, as you continue reading, the language will become more comprehensible.

Working in groups, write what Gladolia’s words mean as shown.


Column A Column B
Ÿ Misto Hallock

Ÿ de Missus

Ÿ shot’inks  you’s lost!

Ÿ she done ‘phone you dis   mawnin’

Ÿ fo’de lawd’s sake

Ÿ not to stop to argify   now

Ÿ I’s  gwinet’ quit.

Ÿ I don’t like no  hoodoos.

Ÿ I’se  done  ef’ displace

Ÿ I is

Ÿ Mister Hallock

Ÿ The  Mrs (Mistress)

Ÿ She thinks you are  lost

Ÿ She did phone you this   morning

Ÿ For the Lords’  sake

Ÿ Not to stop to argue   now

Ÿ I am going to  quit

Ÿ I don’t like  hoodoos

Ÿ I’d have left this   place

Ÿ I am



  1. Now complete the following story by using the appropriate phrases in the blanks given below:

Ans.   I was alone in a place that bore a deserted look   like that of a graveyard. I increased the pace of my foot- steps as I walked through the dark forest. I felt someone walking behind me. I turned immediately and spotted the contour of a figure in the form of a spirit. It smiled at me wickedly. I started shaking with fear and perspiring pro- fusely when I felt its skeletal hand upon my neck. I woke up with a start, relieved that it was only nightmare.

This was not the first time I had one. It had all started when I watched the horrendous horror film with a eerie ghost character that had a scary ghost of a smile on  its face. It had been almost a month. The strange thing was that I saw a similar face at the station the next morning. That was uncanny.

I was to attend a dinner at my friend’s at Northanger Abbey that night. I had decided to narrate my experience to the group that would assemble there al- though I knew there was no proof so that they would be convinced.

After everyone had finished pouring their drinks to themselves, I cleared my throat and started narrating my

spooky experience. However, every one of the group started accusing me of being horrifying and held me responsible for spoiling the spirit of revelry. I gave up the ghost and sat quietly waiting for the party to be over. Back at home, the fears returned. I knew I had to talk about my experience to somebody to feel better. I have now decided to write and publish my experience under pseudonym. Only then can I breathe  in  peace.

11. Do you think a story has an atmosphere? Com- plete the following blanks to make up your ghost story by choosing the correct   options.


A Ghost Story

She opened the cemetery-gate (secret door/ spaceship’s hatch/ door of the cottage/ cemetery gate/ door of the castle/ cockpit) silently (brashly/ loudly/ silently/ stupidly/ fearfully/ joyously). Standing in front of her was a terrifying (terrifying/ handsome/smelly/ anonymous/ tiny/ huge/ bossy) apparition (policeman/ spy) apparition/ which/ prince/ wizard) with a rod (wand/ rose/ rod/ knife/ scythe/ coded message) in his/ her (its) her ghoulish (ghoulish/ bony/ beautiful/ fair/ manly/ gloved/ magical) hand.

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