The Rattrap By Selma Lagerlof
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About The Lesson
The Rattrap is a wonderful story. It gives voice to the writer’s conviction that no man is criminal by birth.
Secondly, every sinner has a trace of goodness in him which can be awakened through love and
understanding. Loving care can change a thief into a decent fellow. This is the theme of the story.
The man in rags was a poor vagabond. He used to beg as well as steal. But he had a thinking brain and
skill to make rat traps. He was a peddler. The wire made rattrap gave him an idea that the whole world
was like a trap. It offered the bait of riches , shelter , food etc to innocent people to entrap them first and
then get them punished by law.
The protagonist/hero of the story was tired and hungry and in need of a shelter for the night. He found a
generous old man/a crofter in a cottage. He was tempted to steal the host’s money. He was caught in
the trap himself. He lost his way in a forest. He took shelter in an iron forge. The ironmaster mistook
him for his old comrade , a captain. He sent his daughter to bring the captain home to celebrate
Christmas . The hospitality and the sympathy of the hosts changed his view of the world. He was
touched deeply by the goodness of the young lady. It proved a turning point in his life. He left the stolen
money at the Ironmaster’s home to be returned to the old man and started a new life.
Characters in the story :
- Rattrap seller/ peddler/ vagabond /intruder/ tramp/ tall ragamuffin/ guest / stranger / Von Stahle
- The old man/ crofter
- Iron master/ owner of Ramjso Ironworks
- Edla Willmansson /daughter of Iron master
- Captain Nils Olof Von Stahle/ an old acquaintance of iron master
- The valet / servant at manor house
- Sheriff/ Police officer / official
- Master Blacksmith and his helper who sat in the dark forge near the furnace
- Elizabeth -wife of Iron master who is no more
- Very short answer type questions: (For RTC purpose)
- What is the theme of the story ?
Ans. Loving care can change a thief into a decent
- How did the peddler earn his livelihood?
Ans. By making and selling rattraps.
- What kind of life did he live ?
Ans. Sad and miserable like a thief or a beggar
- What strange idea about the world struck
Ans. The whole world was a big Rattrap.
- From where did the peddler get the idea of
world being a rattrap ?
Ans. From his Rattraps.
- Why was he amused by this idea?
Ans. World was not kind to him.
- Why was the crofter so talkative and friendly
with the peddler ?
Ans. As he was alone , he was happy to have
- Did the peddler respect the confidence
reposed in him by the crofter?
Ans. No, he stole 30 kronors.
- Why did the ironmaster speak kindly to
peddler and invite him home ?
Ans. Mistook him for an old acquaintance.
- What doubts did Edla have about the
Ans. Either stolen something or escaped from jail.
- When did iron master realise his mistake?
Ans. After he got the peddler wear new clothes
after being bathed and shaven.
- Why did Edla still entertain the peddler even
after she had known the truth?
Ans. Invited and promised to stay and celebrate
- What did Edla and her father hear at the
Ans. Rattrap seller stole 30 kronors from an old
- Why was Edla happy to see the gift left by
the peddler ?
Ans. Her trust was not broken
- Why did the peddler sign himself as Captain
Von Stahle ?
Ans. Raised himself to the level/stature of Captain.
Short answer type questions:
- Why does the peddler think that the world was a rattrap?
Ans. While going round selling his rattraps, he strikes an idea that the whole world around him is nothing but arattrap. It offers riches , joy , shelter, food etc to the people as the rattrap offers cheese and pork for the
rats . It also reflects his thinking ability.
- The crofter can be called a good host . Why ?
Ans. He not only gave shelter to the peddler for a night but also served him supper. He welcomed the peddler
with a smiling face . He played cards with him.
- What brought about a change in the life of the peddler ?
Ans. It was Edla’s kind , sympathetic behaviour and hospitality . She did not think it better to chase away a
man whom they had invited.
- Why did the peddler sign himself as ‘ Captain Von Stahle’ ?
Ans. The peddler wrote “since you have been nice to me all day long as if I were a Captain. So I want to be
nice to you as a real Captain.
- Why was Edla happy to see the gift left by the peddler ?
Ans. The letter had words of praise for Edla’s kindness and hospitality . She was happy to see the gift which
was a reward of his goodness. Her trust was not broken.
- Long answer type questions: (Character Sketches)
- ● Rattrap Peddler
- Makes living by selling rattraps
- Business not profitable
- Has to beg and steal
- Strikes an idea one day
- Whole world is a rattrap
- Stays at old man’s house one night
- Steals his 30 kronor
- Lost his way in woods
- Reached an iron mill
- Stays at the house of iron master
- Influenced by Edla’s loving care
- Raised himself to real Captain
- Starts living a happy life finally
● Edla Willmansson
- Daughter of iron master
- Kind, compassionate, shy, modest ,
- A great host
- Keen observer with a sharp intelligence
- Persuades the tramp to accompany her
- Requests her father to let the peddler stay
- Receives the gift of a rattrap with a letter
and 30 kronors
- Brings out the hidden but inherent
goodness of the peddler
- Old man without wife or child
- Lives in a cottage by roadside
- Happy to get someone to talk to in his
- Simple , generous and hospitable
- Gives rattrap seller shelter for the night.
- Serves porridge , offers big slice from
tobacco roll and plays cards
- Tells/trusted rattrap seller about his past
- Proud of his cow which supports him,
earns 30 kronors
- Shows the pouch hung at window frame