The Gardener – Summary | The Magic of Words

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The GardenerUnit Six : Life and Death
The Gardener – Rudyard Kipling
The Magic Of Words

‘The Gardener’ ends surprisingly revealing the reality of Helen, the protagonist, and her relationship with Michael. Michael, whom Helen calls nephew, is in reality, her son whose father is unknown throughout the story. The gardener is a mysterious character who does not appear at first and in the middle but only at the last of the story creating confusions in the readers. Helen Turrell conceals (hides) the truth about Michael till the end of the story but she does not show any reaction when the gardener confidently says he will tell where her son lies.

The villagers of Hampshire believe Michael to be an unfortunate son of Helen’s late brother, George Turrell and his beloved (not wife). Actually it was not so. She had created a false story about Michael’s parents. Michael was born when Helen was in southern part of France. She had told lies about her trip that she had long troubles. Because of the fear of social stigma she had told another lie that she had arranged for the passage of the child and a nurse from Bombay. She was thirty-five when she gave birth to the child. She showed much fondness to the child despite the fact that she was not the child lover.

Michael was fearless, Philosophical, and fairly good-looking. At the age of six, he knew that Helen was not her real mother but his aunt. She did not allow Michael to say her mummy because she was unmarried. To escape from the society’s contempt, she made Michael know the false reality.

Michael got maturity in due course of time but his interest in Helen was constant and increasing throughout. Though Helen wanted him to go to Oxford University, he took war as his career. The First World War was going on. Many soldiers were killed during war. Michael was killed by the shell-splinter explosion. After getting full proof about his death, Helen, being a next of –kin, prepared to go and see his grave in Hazenzeelein the third Military Cemetery with perfect information.

In a teashop, three kilometers away from cemetery, she met an English Woman, Mrs. Scarsworth. They stopped in a hotel where Mrs. Scarsworth revealed that she had come there to see the grave of someone special to her and also that she was unmarried. Helen told lie that she had come to see her nephew’s grave.

Next morning she walked alone towards the grave. As she was searching at the mean time she saw a man knelt behind a line of headstones-evidently a gardener. He did not introduce with her neither did he salute her. He asked her who she was looking for. She said it was Lieutenant Michael Turrell, her nephew. He had finite compassion in his expression and eyes. He said he would show her where her ‘son’ lay. She went away, supposing him to be the gardener when she left the cemetery.

Important Questions

1. What is the real relation between Helen and Michael?
Ans: The real relation between Helen and Michael can be described as close relatives. Helen Turrell says that her brother George Turrell had a relationship with the daughter of retired non-commissioned police officer. She also says that before George Terrell’s death, George gave birth to a child, later on George died falling from a horse. According to Helen, she goes to French because of her lung problem and there she manages to bring the child from India. Her parents and brother are not alive to know the truth. She also says that Michael’s mother said nothing for child. At the graveyard the gardener, also she said Michael was her son. In fact, what she said to the villagers was false. She might have created this false story to keep the villagers silent. Otherwise, she would be condemned in the society. To tell the truth, she was unmarried. So she hid the real fact. In fact Helen and Michael were mother and son. She told all these lies so that she would not be condemned in the society.

2. How do we know who the gardener really is?
Ans: The person who was the eyewitness of the death of Michael was a gardener. According to this story, the gardener reveals the truth. The Gardener is seen at the end of this story at the graveyard. And when Helen reaches at the graveyard, the gardener asks Helen who she is looking for. When Helen replies that, she is looking for her nephew. Then the Gardener says “Come with me and I will show you where your son lies.” The gardener was able to show her Michael’s name through Helen hadn’t said any grave number. So I think that God was incarnated in form of a gardener. So the gardener must be God.

3. What was the effect of Michael’s death on Helen?
Ans: Helen was eager to know more about Michael’s death who had become a soldier. First he was sent to England but later on he was sent to Somme. One day a shell-splinter dropped and killed Michael. Helen becomes so sad when she heard the news about Michael’s death. She wrote many letters too many people and offices to find Michael’s death. The war stopped but she didn’t take any interest in the war. She sat on various relief committees. One day she got an official letter and there was news of Lieutenant Michael Turrell. She knew that Michael’s dead body was in Hagenzeele. Hagenzeele was the third military cemetery. Finally, she goes to Hagenzeele to see Michael’s grave.

4. Sketch the character of Helen.
Ans: Helen Turrell was a thirty five years independent young woman. She fell in love with a young man of lower status than her and became pregnant. Frightened with criticism of society, she made a false story that her brother George Turrell had a relationship with the daughter of retired non-commissioned police officer. She also says that before George Terrell’s death. George gave birth to a child, later on George died falling from a horse. According to Helen, she goes to France because of her lung problem and there she manages to bring the child from India. Her parents and brother are not alive to know the truth. She also says that Michael’s mother said nothing for child. She convinced Michael to say her auntie. At the graveyard the gardener also said Michael was her son. In fact, what she said to the villagers was false. She might have created this false story to keep her villagers silent otherwise, she would be condemned in the society. To tell the truth, she was unmarried. So she hid the real fact. In fact, Helen and Michael were mother and son. She told all these lies so that she would not be condemned in the society. She was victim of emotion and fear of social condemnation. At last, emotions got victory over fear.

5. “Helen Turrell is ashamed that Michael is her son.” Do you agree with this statement?
Ans: Helen Turrell says that her brother George Turrell had a relationship with the daughter of retired non-commissioned police officer. She also says that before George Terrell’s death. George gave birth to a child, later on George died falling from a horse. According to Helen, she goes to France because of her lung problem and there she manages to bring the child from India. Her parents and brother are not alive to know the truth. She also says that Michael’s mother said nothing for child. At the graveyard, the gardener also Michael said was her son. In fact, what she said to the villagers was false. She might have created this false story to keep her villagers silent. Otherwise, she would be condemned in the society. To tell the truth, she was unmarried so she hid the real fact. In fact, Helen and Michael were mother and son. She told all these lies so that she would not be condemned in the society.

Questions for Practice

  1. Give a summary of `The Gardener’. How do we come to know the Michael is Helen’s own son?
  2. Differentiate migraines from ordinary headaches and also write the measures the writer has suggested “In Bed” to do away with the misconceptions related to migraine headaches.

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2 Comments

  1. sneha_khanal
    Posted May 14, 2016 at 6:06 am

    Thanks again ☺☺

  2. abix drury
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 8:21 am

    this has not been explained perfectly

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