A Very Special Pet - Summary | Major English Grade XI

Nicholasa Mohr

A Very Special Pet

The Fernandez family was very large. Graciela and Eugenio Fernandez had eight children: Pablito, Nellie, Carmen, William, Olgita, Freddie, Linda, and Baby Nancy. They were very poor. They had also two pets: Marialu, a large female cat, and Joncrofo, a small, skinny white hen with a red crest and a yellow beak.

The Fernandez couple had bought the hen two years before to feed eggs to their children. The hen lived in the kitchen. Despite good care for her comfort, she didn’t lay eggs.

Graciela and Eugenio had moved to Bronx from their village six years before. They had sold their land and livestock to provide the fare. They had been living in a small apartment in the town. They were hopeful about their progress in the future. Eugenio was working as a porter in Manhattan. He had to do other extra works for his family. He hoped to get promoted to the post of the freight-elevator operator. He used to talk to his wife and children about his dream. They would also become happy to hear that. The children had a hope that one day they would become rich and have a TV and telephone. But Mr. Fernandez had a hope to be able to buy a big farm in Puerto Rico.

One morning, Mrs. Fernandez sat in her kitchen and gave a thought for her family condition. They had been facing many economic problems. She looked around the kitchen and saw Joncrofo catching a cockroach. The hen was bad-tempered but the children loved her very much. They were proud of her because their neighbours did not have such a pet. Mrs. Fernandez remembered that she had done everything she could to make the hen produce eggs, but all in vain. She had lost her hope that the hen would ever lay eggs. So, she decided to kill it and cook for her family.  It had been six years since she killed the last chicken.

Mrs. Fernandez sharpened the cleaver. She would lie to the children that someone had untied the twine on her foot and when she opened the window she flew away. She told her three children, Olgita, Freddie and Baby Nancy, not to come in the kitchen. Then, she put a chair across the threshold to block the entrance.

When she got ready, Mrs Fernandez went near to the hen. When she tried to catch the hen, it nipped her finger sharply. Pulling the twine, she tried to catch the hen but the hen kept jumping. Snapping Mrs. Fernandez the second time, it ran away and cackled loudly.

Mrs. Fernandez grabbed a broom and hit the hen with its handle. After some blows, the hen dropped to the floor. When Mrs. Fernandez caught the hen, the three small children started crying. They had been watching their mother trying to kill the hen.

Mrs. Fernandez felt helpless. The children had already known. So, they would not eat meat. She wondered what she would do to the hen. Meanwhile, she found that the hen was alive. Then she placed her inside the box and dropped water and rum into her beak. Slowly the hen gained her consciousness. She lied to her younger children that she was trying to give the medicine to the sick hen. The children went back to their play. She put the cleaver and the chopping board away.

 

Important Questions Solutions:

1. How long has the Fernandez family lived in the apartment in the Bronx? How have they made an irrevocable decision by moving to the United States? 
Ans: Farnandez family has lived in the apartment in the Bronx for 6 years. They have moved to New York City for a better opportunity and chance. They have hoped that they would earn a lot of money in the United State and save enough money to buy their farm in Puerto Rico. They have made an irrevocable decision by moving to the United States because they cannot return to their village in reality. Their village was only in their dream.

2. What hints can you discover about what Garciela plans to do with Joncrofo? How is this decision related to her acceptance of the fact that Joncrofo will never lay eggs despite everything she has tried to get her to do so?
Ans: Graciela had actually planned to kill Joncrofo. Life was very difficult in the United States. The only family member, who earned, was sick. He had a bad throat. Graciela decided to kill the hen and serve it to family members. They had bought Joncrofo for the eggs but it never laid eggs. Therefore, it was useless to keep Joncrofo. Her decision of killing hen was related to the fact that Joncrofo would never lay eggs.

3. How does the title illustrate the importance the children attach to their pet hen, especially because they do not have things other children have?
Ans: Fernandez family had two pets. One and the very special pet was Joncrofo, a hen. Although the pet had a very bad temper, the children love it. They were proud of it because no one had such pets in their area. Despite the fact that they didn't have a telephone and television, the children were very happy with the hen. Even baby Nancy would love and clap when she saw the pet running to catch the insects. The children were satisfied with the pet though they did not have the things other children had. Therefore, it was a very special pet for them.

4. To what extent does the hen symbolize the family's predicament?
Ans: Fernandez family was in a difficult situation. They were migrated from their homeland, Puerto Rico, to the United State with the new dream. They had thought of earning a lot of money to buy their farm and other cattle. But it remained just a dream because Mr. Fernandez could not earn a lot of money. Similarly, they had bought a hen to give the fresh eggs to their children, but it couldnot produces any egg. Therefore, the hen symbolizes the hopelessness of the family.

5. What precautions does Garciela take to prevent the children from knowing what she plans to do?
Ans: Garciela was a very wise and careful woman. She was very conscious not to let her children know about her secret plan. Her plan was that she would tell them that the hen flew away because someone has united the twine. She told the younger children not to come into the kitchen because she is cleaning it. She blocked the entrance door with the chair, a rag and newspapers so that the children could not come in. This was the precaution she took.

6. What prevents Garciela from going through with her plan to kill Joncrofo?
Ans: Joncrofo cackled noisily, when Garciela started to chase the hen in the kitchen. The noise became so terrible when she began to beat the hen with the broom. When the hen was dropped on the ground, the children arrived there and shouted at her mother. They asked for Joncrofo. Now she thought that it was useless to kill the hen because the children would never eat it. Thus, the noise and sudden arrival of the children prevented her from going through with her plan to kill Joncrofo.

7. How does Mohr suggest correspondences between Garciela and Joncrofo?
Ans: Mohr suggests that Garciela and Joncrofo correspond each other. Garciela makes the knife and the chopping block ready and bends and looks Joncrofo right in the eyes. The hen stares back without any fear. After whispering "Joncrofo", she walks over the hen. To the great surprise, the hen runs away from her reach. She follows hen and starts hitting it with a broom. Finally, when Joncrofo lays unconscious on the ground she also get tired.

8. How does Joncrofo symbolize the connection to Puerto Rico and to the idea of keeping this dream alive?
Ans: Joncrofo is a very special pet for Fernandez family. Everybody in the family loves it. It always reminds the Fernandez family of Puerto Rico. They will take with them when they return to their village. Joncrofo also reminded Garciela of her native village where she helped her mother kill a chicken. When they were in the village, the hen was not tied up. It could freely play and run. The village is not crowded like the town. Whenever the family members remember the free play of hen, they remember the homeland that they left behind.  
More Related Questions And Answers: 

9. If you or your children were starving, would you ever consider killing your pet for food? Why or why not?
Ans: Everyone has a different hobby. Like some people, I have a hobby of having pet animals like a parrot, goat, pigeons, etc. I have kept a parrot and goat as my pets. I named parrot as a Champa and goat as Chameli. I love them very much. They are also very obedient and obey me what I say or like. I often play with them. I don't sleep or eat when my Champa and Chameli got sick. I can't imagine its unnatural death. I don't think that I can kill my pets for the food of my family. When an animal is kept as a pet animal, it becomes like a family member. We love them and share happiness and sorrow with them. How can we think of killing such close animals? If the children are starving, I would search for other sources for the food. One or two pets would not be enough forever. They may satisfy one or two-three day's hunger but it is not the permanent solution. On the other side, since pets become part of a family, no one would like to have it. So, I would not kill my pet for food even my children are starving for the foods.

10. Do you know a family that has moved to America to have a better life? How do their experiences compare to these of the family Mohr describes?  
Ans: I have a very friendly neighbour living next to my house. His name is Sandesh Magar, very friendly and hardworking person.  Sandesh and his family have moved to America for a better opportunity and chance. They also sold a small plot of land and livestock for the journey to America. A few weeks before, Sandesh had written me a letter describing American life. He still has not got a good job yet. He is working as a salesman in a small clothes production company. He also explained that he is the only person to earn money for his entire family. So their life in America was very difficult and thinking of Nepal frequently. Their experiences were totally same described by Nicholasa Mohr described in "A Very Small Pet". It was very difficult for them to settle first. They have to learn many things there. Although Sandesh earned money, he could not save because their family expenditure was very high. Their dream of earning a lot of money and returning to their native country was not fulfilled.  Sandesh and their family were living in America with the mind and thought in Nepal.  

11: Did you ever have an experience of living away from your home? What circumstances led you to live away from home?
Ans: I have experience of living away from my home and family after when I passed my SEE Exam. I live in the remote village of the kingdom where there are no campuses/plus two levels. When I passed my S.E.E., my family got me admitted to campus. The campus was at a distance of two day's walk from my village. There I took a room in rent and started living there. Initially, I found it a very uneasy and difficult task. I had to cook myself, wash clothes, wash pots, etc. I didn't use to live that way earlier and found it very hard. Gradually I was habituated in every action and did not find anything difficulties. I was alone in my room and there was no one to help me. Slowly I made friends and removed loneliness. Sometimes my father used to write to to me which would encourage me to face the problems. With the dream of a golden future, I was living away from my family.  

 

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