Annie Pearson was a mother and a wife and she had a ruined family – daughter, son and husband. She saw that her children and husband considered her like a slave (servant) at home, supposed to make food for them and iron their clothes and all the rest of the household chores (work). She longed (looked) for a change but was not prepared to make this change. In her opinion, everyone would feel upset if she corrected them.

One fine day, Annie was paid a visit by her neighbour Mrs. Fitzgerald. (Fitz + Gerald = FitzGerald). One thing you should know about Mrs. Fitzgerald is that she is a very strong character, a symbol of feminism or at least, a person who was much ahead of her time.

Having found Annie in such a mess, Mrs. Fitzgerald felt sorry for her so she decided to do something for the hapless (miserable) Annie Pearson. She exchanged her character with Annie’s and Annie’s with hers.

Once this done, the real Annie Pearson goes out and Fitzgerald remains in the house (as Annie) and wait. At first, Doris returns from her office. Doris is Mrs. Pearson’s daughter. She must be around 20 or more. When Doris entered, she found her ‘mother’ smoking cigarette and drinking bouts

Having changed personalities, Fitzgerald (now in Annie’s body) declared that she had decided not to cook for them, iron their clothes and wait for them to have food. She made it very clear that she was not willing to work in the house unless she were paid due respect and be thanked for every favor.

Finally came the HEAD of the family – George Pearson. When he saw what his children had seen and heard more than what the children had heard, George found no tongue in his mouth. His wife had never been like this. She called him a name that his friends teased him at the club and laughed at him.

The family learnt a great lesson that day. Mrs. Fitzgerald – oh, no, Annie, returned by this time. Later, the two friends returned their characters and the play ends happily, Annie Pearson duly accepted and respected.

Characters

  1. Annie Pearson
    A humble woman, mother of two teenage children. She is the sufferer in the play. Because she is not fond of correcting her husband and children, Annie is expected to be a silent figure in the family, doing all the work for all.
  2. George Pearson
    Annie’s husband. Though he is a man of self-importance, he is not respected in the society as he expects. At the club that he is a member, people call him nicknames. The only place he feels dominant is in front of Annie. He is gentle with his children, especially with daughter Doris, a ruined girl.
  3. Doris Pearson
    Doris is a ruined girl of around 20, the elder. She is already into an affair with a young man of the name Charlie Spence. She expects her mother to be doing works for her and doesn’t understand her mother’s struggles.
  4. Cyril Pearson
    The boy. He too, like his sister Doris, takes his mother for granted.
  5. Mrs. Fitzgerald
    A neighbor. She had spent her years in the Eastern countries where her husband had been a Lieutenant Quartermaster. She had learnt a little magic and black-magic there and is now ready to apply a little magic to help Annie, her friend.
  6. Magic
    Fitzgerald applies a rare kind of magic to infuse her mighty personality into Annie and takes her humble personality. When Doris and Cyril got home that evening, they found their humble mother behaving differently, boldly and making fun of them all. When George came home, he too had to face an out of the ordinary wife. The family realizes the worth of a mother and wife. When everything was done, Fitzgerald returns with Annie’s personality and gets her real personality back. Happy ending.

Questions & Answers

  1. What was wrong in the Pearson family?
    Annie Pearson’s family was an ideal one when observed from outside its fence but essentially something was wrong inside. The life of the family, Annie Pearson, had reached an alarming level of intolerance and impatience. She had her grunt unheard but wanted it heard by all. She had been living like a slave in the family, doing work for her husband and children. She wanted them to acknowledge her worth, at least recognize her presence in the family but she was too scared of speaking out lest a spark of ill feeling flew in the family.
  2. What went well in the Pearson family?
    When observed from outside, Annie Pearson’s family was an ideal one. The center of the family was a silent mother and wife so everything turned and moved silently. Her husband and children were free to live their lives unquestioned and they enjoyed a business class life, half spent at workplaces and half spent with society. They got their food prepared and served in time and got their clothes washed, mended and ironed by someone who never complained.
  3. Why is Mrs. Fitzgerald insisting upon Mrs. Pearson’s being the boss of her family?
    Because Mrs. Pearson’s husband and children considered her as a housemaid rather than a loving and caring mother and wife. They demanded everything from her, ordered her to make tea to tiffin and never thought of her pleasure and liking. They thought that it was her duty to work for them while they never considered her work as work.
  4. How was Annie Pearson responsible for her fate?
    To a certain level, Annie Pearson was herself responsible for her fate. She was, besides the other things, loving and caring. He loved and cared for her children and husband so much that they failed to understand her value and worth. She had wished to correct them but for fear of hurting them, she didn’t mention it.
  5. How did Doris and Cyril consider their mother?
    Both Doris and Cyril are employed so they are aware of the workload issues yet they had never got time to consider doing work. They took her for granted. They learned what their mother had wanted them to learn. Though their mother worked harder and longer, without a word of appreciation or salary, they could not see the essential worth and hardship of the works she did.
  6. What was Mrs. Fitzgerald’s unusual idea for helping Annie out?
    Mrs. Fitzgerald suggested equipping Annie with a bolder and stricter personality by means of magic. She offered to infuse her character into Annie in exchange of the latter’s weak character. By doing this, Mrs. Fitzgerald hoped to bring Annie’s family to encounter a change in the family system.
  7. What were the immediate effects of the magic spell? Mrs. Fitzgerald’s magic had far and near repercussions. When it was spelled, the two women stirred out of their selves and transformed into contrasting characters. Annie became the bold Fitzgerald and visa-versa. With the change of character, they also got the additional features such as sound and movement.
  8. Why didn’t Fitzgerald – as Doris’ mother – like her going out with Charlie Spence?
    Fitzgerald was of the opinion that Charlie Spence was not a pence worth young man to go out with. With buckteeth and half-witted, Spence was not the right man for a girl like Doris. She was also of the opinion that it was wise to give a man like him and go for a sensible one.
  9. Do you agree that Doris and Cyril’s behavior with their mother was extremely rude and unheard of?
    There have never been a son and daughter in stories or in real life who were as aggressive with their mother as Doris and Cyril had been. Their asking “is tea ready” and “you are going to iron it for me” are rude and out of the ordinary. When they are informed that tea was not ready and the dress was not ironed, their responses are equally unexpected. They talk like tyrants ordering to their slaves.
  10. WHAT WAS WRONG IN THE PEARSON FAMILY?
    Annie Pearson’s family was an ideal one when observed from outside its fence but essentially something was wrong inside. The life of the family, Annie Pearson, had reached an alarming level of intolerance and impatience. She had her grunt unheard but wanted it heard by all. She had been living like a slave in the family, doing work for her husband and children. She wanted them to acknowledge her worth, at least recognize her presence in the family but she was too scared of speaking out lest a spark of ill feeling flew in the family.
  11. WHAT WENT WELL IN THE PEARSON FAMILY?
    When observed from outside, Annie Pearson’s family was an ideal one. The center of the family was a silent mother and wife so everything turned and moved silently. Her husband and children were free to live their lives unquestioned and they enjoyed a business class life, half spent at workplaces and half spent with society. They got their food prepared and served in time and got their clothes washed, mended and ironed by someone who never complained.
  12. WHY IS MRS. FITZGERALD INSISTING UPON MRS. PEARSON’S BEING THE BOSS OF HER FAMILY?
    Because Mrs. Pearson’s husband and children considered her as a housemaid rather than a loving and caring mother and wife. They demanded everything from her, ordered her to make tea to tiffin and never thought of her pleasure and liking. They thought that it was her duty to work for them while they never considered her work as work.
  13. HOW WAS ANNIE PEARSON RESPONSIBLE FOR HER FATE?
    To a certain level, Annie Pearson was herself responsible for her fate. She was, besides the other things, loving and caring. He loved and cared for her children and husband so much that they failed to understand her value and worth. She had wished to correct them but for fear of hurting them, she didn’t mention it.
  14. HOW DID DORIS AND CYRIL CONSIDER THEIR MOTHER?
    Both Doris and Cyril are employed so they are aware of the workload issues yet they had never got time to consider doing work. They took her for granted. They learned what their mother had wanted them to learn. Though their mother worked harder and longer, without a word of appreciation or salary, they could not see the essential worth and hardship of the works she did.
  15. WHAT WAS MRS. FITZGERALD’S UNUSUAL IDEA FOR HELPING ANNIE OUT?
    Mrs. Fitzgerald suggested equipping Annie with a bolder and stricter personality by means of magic. She offered to infuse her character into Annie in exchange of the latter’s weak character. By doing this, Mrs. Fitzgerald hoped to bring Annie’s family to encounter a change in the family system.
  16. WHAT WERE THE IMMEDIATE EFFECTS OF THE MAGIC SPELL?
    Mrs. Fitzgerald’s magic had far and near repercussions. When it was spelled, the two women stirred out of their selves and transformed into contrasting characters. Annie became the bold Fitzgerald and visa-versa. With the change of character, they also got the additional features such as sound and movement.
  17. WHY DIDN’T FITZGERALD – AS DORIS’ MOTHER – LIKE HER GOING OUT WITH CHARLIE SPENCE?
    Fitzgerald was of the opinion that Charlie Spence was not a pence worth young man to go out with. With buckteeth and half-witted, Spence was not the right man for a girl like Doris. She was also of the opinion that it was wise to give a man like him and go for a sensible one.
  18. DO YOU AGREE THAT DORIS AND CYRIL’S BEHAVIOR WITH THEIR MOTHER WAS EXTREMELY RUDE AND UNHEARD OF?
    There have never been a son and daughter in stories or in real life who were as aggressive with their mother as Doris and Cyril had been. Their asking “is tea ready” and “you are going to iron it for me” are rude and out of the ordinary. When they are informed that tea was not ready and the dress was not ironed, their responses are equally unexpected. They talk like tyrants ordering to their slaves.
  19. Why was George upset when he was told tea was not ready?
  20. What did Fitzgerald bring to Mr. George Pearson’s notice? How did it surprise him?
  21. What were Mrs. Fitzgerald’s final advice to Annie?
  22. How does the family change at the end of the play?

Reference to Context

“You all do talk like that. If there is something at home you don’t want to do, you don’t do it. If it is something at your work, you get the union to bar it. Now all that happened is that I have joined the movement.”

  1. Who are being referred to as you?
    Doris and Cyril are directly being referred to as you in the context while Mr. George Pearson is included in the list.
  2. What sort of talking do they all do?
    They, Cyril, Doris and Mr. George talk heedlessly. They shout and give orders.
  3. What does the speaker mean by comparing the works at home and works at work places?
    The speaker, Mrs. Fitzgerald in Mrs. Annie’s body, draws a stark contrast that exist between concept of office work and home work. It is always like that – the teacher in the school gets paid while the student who does homework gets scolded. Similarly, people take the works done by a wife for granted while works duly salaried is considered to be work. The author’s voice sounds criticism.
  4. What movement has the speaker joined?
    The speaker, Mrs. Fitzgerarld, metaphorically says that she has joined the House Workers’ Union, though such a movement is unheard of.
  5. At one point we see Mrs. Fitzgerald – as Mrs. Pearson – being laconic and sinister. What do you mean by these two words?
    1. Laconic – Speaking meaningfully and more sensibly in very few words. That is, when you are laconic, you speak a word or two but your hearers understand it easily.
    2. Sinister – Threatening; frightening; wicked, etc.

“Do you think she is barmy?”
“No, you fathead! You know, concussion. She might have.”
“Sounds farfetched.”
“If she is going to be like this when Dad comes home… (She giggles)

  1. What is it like being barmy? Being barmy is being crazy.
  2. Fathead. Does it suit Cyril at this time? Reasons? A fathead person is a stupid person. Cyril is somewhat fathead at this time because their mother’s reaction to hearing this could have proved disastrous.
  3. Why does Doris giggle? Doris giggled on imagining the kind of shock their father would receive at their mother’s hands.

“Here, steady, Mrs. Pearson – if you had to live my life, it wouldn’t be so bad. You would have more fun as me than as you have had as you.”

  1. What is still unsteady about Mrs. Pearson?
    After the magical possession of Mrs. Fitzgerald’s body, Mrs. Pearson was still uncertain about her future. She was worried about the drastic change that her children would be facing that day when they would mistake Mrs. Fitzgerald for her.
  2. What is the essential sarcasm in Mrs. Fitzgerald’s tone?
    Mrs. Fitzgerald is sarcastic about Annie’s helplessness. She taunts Annie saying that her life hadn’t been worth living for some time since she shouldered a burden rather than a family.

“It is not I who is being silly – and I must say it is a bit much when I have been working hard all day and you can’t even bother to get my tea ready. Did you hear what I have said about my yellow silk?”

  1. Why does Doris think that her mother is being silly?
    In fact Doris didn’t find her mother being silly though she put it that way. She found her mother extraordinarily different and out of her wits. She had never got home from her work without her mother waiting for with tea and having done all her work such as washing and ironing her clothes but today there was no tea ready and her clothes were not ironed. Besides, for the first time she saw her mother smoking and planning to go out for dinner.
  2. Why didn’t Annie Pearson get tea ready for Doris?
    Annie Pearson was a changed character already. She had got tea ready but only for serving her. She believed that she worked much more works than her daughter and son and she no longer agreed to work like a servant in her own family.
  3. What for had Doris asked her mother to keep her yellow silk ready?
    Doris had made plans to go out with her boyfriend Charlie Spence and she had thought of wearing her yellow silk dress on this occasion.

“I was yawning at your jokes before you were born.”

  1. What does this mean? 
    Mrs. Fitzgerald – as Mrs. Pearson – had a low regard for the kind of jokes that Doris and Cyril cracked at their age. She liked them behave more mature and behaved as grownups. She means that their jokes had already been old even before the birth of her children.
  2. What sent Doris into tears on hearing this?
  3. What does Mr. Pearson mean by saying he ‘doesn’t surprises?’

GEORGE: [staring at her, annoyed] You ought to have known! Why ought you to have known? Nothing to do with you, Mrs Fitzgerald. Look— we’re at sixes and sevens here just
now— so perhaps you’ll excuse us…

MRS PEARSON: [before Mrs Fitzgerald can reply] I won’t excuse you, George Pearson. Next time a friend and neighbour comes to see me, just say something when you see her—Good evening or How d’you do? or something— an’ don’t just march in an’ sit down without a word. It’s bad manners…

Mrs. Pearson – (Taunting him) Why don’t you get off to your club? Special night tonight, isn’t it? They’ll be waiting for you – wanting to have a good laugh. Go on then. Don’t disappoint ’em.

  1. How does Mrs. Pearson taunt Mr. George?
  2. Whom shouldn’t Mr. George disappoint?
  3. How does Mr. George feel about this taunting?

George – (Bitterly) That’s right. Make me look silly in front of her now! Go on— don’t mind me. Sixes and sevens! Poor Doris been crying her eyes out! Getting the neighbours in to see the fun! [suddenly losing his temper, glaring at Mrs Pearson, and shouting] All right – let her hear it. What’s the matter with you? Have you gone barmy – or what?

  1. What made Mr. George lose his temper? (2 mark)
  2. Whom does Mr. George let hear about his family matters? (1 mark)

George – (Staring at her, bewildered) Either I’m off my chump or you two are. How d’you mean — “No, no — please, Mrs Fitzgerald”? Look — you’re Mrs Fitzgerald. So why are you telling yourself to stop when you’re not doing anything? Tell her to stop— then there’d be some sense in it. [Staring at Mrs Pearson] I think you must be tiddly.

  1. Why does Mr. George think so?
  2. Why did Mrs. Fitzgerald call Annie ‘Mrs. Fitzgerald?’

George – (In despair) Don’t look at me. I give it up. I just give it up.

  1. Why is Mr. George in despair?
  2. What does Mr. George give up? Why?

Doris – (Sulkily) I was going out with Charlie Spence tonight— but now I’ve called it off…

  1. Why did Doris call of her meeting with Charlie Spence?

Special Questions

  1. For a successful family experience, all should do a little sacrifice. Which of the characters of the play do not do their bit of sacrifice? How did that bring the family to peril? (100 words)
  2. Woman pets her husband and children at the start but later she gets bored of it and wants freedom. As a newly married wife, she runs around doing work for her husband, out of love. As a mother, she takes care of her kids – washing, bathing, babysitting. However, she feels bored of it at a point but can’t tell them that she is bored. This is the root cause of the plight of a mother. Do you support this view? Write a debate in 150 words in favor or against the motion – Woman is herself responsible for her Slavery in the Family.

Biju John is an educational writer, educator and the author of OM - The Otherwise Men. He gives live classes on Skype and Facebook. You can attend his 3 Day Classes (English & Business Studies) in Delhi, Bangalore, Qatar and Dubai. His Contact number is 91 9810740061.

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