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Oliver was born in the poor house of a small town on a cold, black night in the winter of 1837. A doctor and a poor old woman were present at the time of his birth. Oliver’s mother was a young beautiful woman. She was found lying in the street in front of the poorhouse. Her shoes were torn, and it appeared that she had walked a long distance before she reached that place. Oliver’s mother died soon after his birth. No one knew who she was, where she had come from and where she was going to. So, Oliver stayed in the poor house as an orphan.
Mr Bumble, the town’s officer, named the baby Oliver Twist. Mr Bumble was in charge of the poorhouse. He starved and ill-treated the children. He was selfish, proud and cruel. Oliver grew up to be a pale, thin child. He longed for love. His friends were the other children who lived in the poorhouse.
The children were served food in a large, stone hall. The watery gruel was kept in a metal basin at one end of the hall. The master would stand beside the basin and serve each child with a small bowl of watery gruel. The children were always hungry because they did not get enough food to eat. One evening, one of the bigger boys declared that he would eat the boy who slept next to him if he did not get an extra bowl of gruel. The small boys believed him and they were afraid of him. They held a meeting of all the boys and persuaded Oliver to ask for more gruel after supper had been served.
Summary of THE BOY WHO ASKED FOR MORE Chapter 4 Karnataka Board Class 8
Supper was served and the children drank it quickly. They forced Oliver to go and ask for more gruel. Oliver, with his bowl, went near the master and requested him to give him some more gruel. The fat master became pale. He could not believe his ears. Oliver repeated his request.
The master hit Oliver on his head. He caught hold of Oliver and called out for the beadle. Mr Bumble came running into the hall. He was terrified when he came to know of Oliver’s demand. He shouted at Oliver and said that he would be severely punished.
Oliver was locked up in a room to spend the night alone as a punishment for his courage and greed. Mr Bumble decided to send Oliver out of the poorhouse. He put up a notice on the outside of the gate the next morning. He offered a reward of five pounds to anyone who would take away Oliver from the poor¬house. In this way, Oliver’s friends became responsible for his expulsion from the poorhouse.
Qualities like kindness, love and compassion are the major theme of the story. This lesson is about a poor boy ‘Oliver’. His birth takes place in miserable conditions. His mother’s death adds to his misery. He was later named as ‘Oliver Twist by Mr Bumble, the town beadle, who was also in charge of the poor house. He starved and ill-treated the children who were under his care. The poor little boy’s plight in the poor house is highlighted. The sufferings of Oliver and the other orphans are dealt with, touchingly. One day circumstances lead Oliver to go forward and ask for more food. It was not for him but the sake of other orphans. Ultimately he was punished severely for doing so and was finally forced out of the poor house.
About the author
Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was one of the greatest English novelists. He was born in Portsmouth, England. He is famous for his criticism and attacks on social evils like child labour and cruelty meted out to children in institutions in England at that time. His famous works are: ‘The Pickwick Papers, ‘David Copperfield’, ‘ATale of Two Cities’, and ‘Great Expectations’. This lesson is an extract from his novel OliverTwist’.