“Three Questions”


“Three Questions”

Leo Tolstoy

1. Character of the Tsar.

Answer: The main character of the story ‘Three questions’ is the Tsar. He wants to reach out and touch for perfection. He always wants to be correct and successful. When the wise man of his kingdom fails to satisfy him, he continues his search persistently. He comes to the hermit for the answers. When he notices that the hermit is frail and tired, he takes his spade. He is caring and responsible. He takes care of the wounded man. He is kind, compassionate and a man of virtue. So he promises to send his own physician to attend the wounded man and to restore his property.

2. Why did the Tsar go to the hermit? Why did he go there in disguise? How did the Tsar visit the person?

Answer: The Tsar was desperately searching for the right answers of his three questions. But the learned man of his kingdom confused him more by giving different answers to his questions. So he decided to consult the hermit who was famous for his wisdom. The hermit lived in a wood and he never left the wood. The Tsar knew that the hermit received none but common folk. So the Tsar put on simple clothes, disguised himself as a simple folk, left his royal horse and bodyguard behind and went to the hermits hut alone.

(The Tsar saw that the hermit was breathing heavily while striking the spade into the ground in front of his hut.)

3. ‘You are already answered’. Do you agree with the interpretation of the three answers given by the hermit? If so support your answers?

Answer: In the end of the story the hermit answers the questions of the Tsar through the direct experiences of the incidents. To the first question he explains that the most important time is ‘now’ or present time.  As the Tsar was digging the hermit’s bed, he could avoid death and the attack by his enemy.

To the second question he answers that the most necessary man is he with whom he is or who is right before him. This is also true because the Tsar treated the wounded man with kindness and as a result turned an enemy into a friend. The last answer is that the most important work is to do good to man before him. This is valid because taking care of the hermit and wounded man he was rewarded by escaping death, gaining friendship and getting answers to the questions.

4. “Forgive me” – who said this? Who was the bearded man? Why did the bearded man ask for forgiveness? (How did the hermit save the wounded man? Or How did the Tsar nurse the wounded man?)  

Answer: The bearded man said this.

The bearded man was actually a sworn enemy of the Tsar.

The bearded man in Leo Tolstoy’s short story “Three Questions” came to settle an old revelry with the Tsar because had executed his brother and seized his property. The man ambushed to kill him on his way back from the hermits place. When the day had passed and the Tsar did not return, he came out in search of the Tsar. But the Tsar’s bodyguard recognised the man and wounded him fatally. He ran into the hermit’s hut to save himself and fainted there. The man would have died as he was bleeding profusely. (‘The king and the hermit helped the wounded man by providing him shelter and protection.’ The Tsar and the hermit unfastened the man’s clothing.) The Tsar washed the bleeding wound and bandaged it again and again with his handkerchief and a towel had the hermit. He provided him water and rest with the help of hermit. (When the man realised that person whom he was trying to kill had saved his life, he repented for his sin and prayed for the Tsar’s forgiveness.)

5. How was the Tsar’s enemy transformed to a loyal friend? Or

How was the Tsar’s reconciled with his enemy? How did the Tsar make peace with his enemy?

‘You do not know me, but I know’ – who said this and to whom?

Answer: The wounded man said this to the Tsar.

It was unknown to the Tsar that he had an enemy who was so determined to kill him and followed him to the wood. When he was about to attack the Tsar, his bodyguard recognised him and wounded him fatally. The wounded man ran into the hermit’s hut where the Tsar nursed him till he revived. When the man returned to conciseness and realised that the Tsar saved his life, he repented. He asked for forgiveness and promised to serve his saviour faithfully throughout his life and would instruct his sons to do the same. The Tsar became happy to have gained an unknown enemy for a loyal friend. He not only forgave the man but also promised him to restore his property. He assured him that he would send his servants and his own physicians to look after him. Thus, they both reconciled with each other peacefully.

6. What were the three questions of the Tsar? What did he do as the question occurred to him? Why did he need the correct answer to those questions? What did he do when he was not satisfied with the question of the learned men?

Answer: In the story ‘Three Questions’ a Tsar was puzzled by three important questions of life. The first question that the Tsar wanted to know was about the time when to begin a work. The second question was about the person whom the Tsar should pay heed to and whom to avoid. The third question was about the most important task to do.

He thought that the answers of these three questions would earn him every success and he would never fail in anything if he could know the answers to these questions.

So he issued a decree throughout his kingdom announcing that whoever could answer these questions would receive a great reward.

      Being dissatisfied with the answers given by the learned men, the Tsar decided to meet and consult with a hermit who was famous for his wisdom.

7. What were the answers given by the learned men to the first question of the Tsar? Or

What did the learned men say in reply to the first question of the Tsar? Or

What were the answers of the learned men to the Tsar’s three questions?

Why did not the reward to the learned men?

Answer: In response to the three questions of the Tsar learned men came to answer him but they all answered his questions differently. In reply to his first question, some said that to know the right time for every action , one must draw up an accurate table of events and actions according to the days, months and years and follow them strictly. Some said that it was impossible to decide early the right time for every action. Others said that one should have a council of wise men who would help him to fix the proper time for every action. Some scholars said to consult a magician for knowing the right time for every action because only he could know beforehand what was going to happen. (Equally various were the answers to the second question. Some said that the Tsar needed the councillors most. While others said that the priests were the most important persons. Others gave importance to the doctors but a few said that the warriors were the most necessary persons.) (In reply to the third question, some learned men said that science was the most important thing in the world. Some opined that an extraordinary skill in warfare was the most important thing to for the Tsar. While some other gave prime importance to religious worship.)

(The answers of the learned men did not satisfy the Tsar; rather they perplexed him more .So he did not reward anyone.)

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