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Oliver Asks for More Summary, Theme| ICSE Class 9 English

 

 

ICSE Class 9 English Oliver Asks for More Summary, Theme, Character Sketch along with difficult word meanings and Question Answers from Treasure Chest Book

 

Oliver asks for More – Are you looking for Theme, Summary and Lesson Explanation for ICSE Class 9 English Lesson Oliver Asks for More from Treasure Chest (A Collection of ICSE Poems and Short Stories) book. Get Summary, Theme, Character Sketch along with difficult word meanings and Question Answers.
 

 

 

Oliver Asks for More ICSE Class 9 English 

By Charles Dickens
 
 

Introduction to Oliver Asks for More

Oliver asks for More is the story of an orphan boy named Oliver who is brought up in a workhouse. He lives in a world with no love and pity for him. He has to endure harsh living conditions in the workhouse where he is ill-treated and starved. When he was chosen for a risky task of asking for more food, he was sent into confinement. 
 

 
 

Oliver Asks for More Summary

Plot Summary (Storyline)

1. In a workhouse a woman died after giving birth to a baby boy. 

2. Mr. Bumble named the orphan, Oliver Twist.

3. Oliver and other boys at the workhouse were ill-treated and under-fed.

4.Oliver was chosen by the boys to ask the master for more soup.

5. After finishing his bowl, Oliver asked the master for more.

6. The shocked master hit him and locked Oliver in a cold, dark room for a week.

7. Mr. Sowerberry, the coffin maker, was encouraged to take in Oliver for five pounds.

 

 
 

Summary of the Story

The story begins with the description of a workhouse as a building for the poor and homeless. At the time when the story was written, workhouses homed the poor and homeless in inhumane conditions. The inmates were usually the old, the orphans or disabled- all who could not work in factories and generate income. The living conditions were so miserable that the able-bodied lazy people would rather work instead of living in a workhouse. 

 

Oliver was born in a workhouse to a poor young woman, who had been picked up from the streets. Oliver’s mother died after kissing her newborn baby on his forehead. Oliver was dressed in very old clothes as he was an orphan in a world which had no love or pity for him. 

 

As Oliver was an orphan, Mr. Bumble, an important officer in the town named him Twist. He used to name orphans in alphabetical order. 

 

At the age of nine, Oliver was a pale, thin child who like other orphans was under-clothed and under-fed. They were all fed watery soup thrice a day in a big hall. Each child had a small bowl into which the master served the soup. The children were always hungry and hence they decided among themselves that one of them would ask for more soup. Oliver, being the youngest and the weakest, was chosen to be the one to ask for more soup. 

The master, a fat man, turned pale with disbelief at Oliver’s strange request. He asked Oliver to repeat his request. When Oliver repeated his request, he hit Oliver with a spoon, caught him and called for help. Mr. Bumble rushed in. He too was shocked at Oliver’s apparent audacity to ask for more food. Oliver was locked up in a dark and cold room and a notice was put up at the workhouse gate that the one who took in Oliver would get a reward of five pounds. 

 

Oliver was a prisoner for a week. Each morning he was taken out of the dark room to wash, after that he was beaten by Mr. Bumble. Then he was taken to the large hall where the orphans had their soup. He would be again beaten by Mr. Bumble with a stick, in front of the other orphans. After all this, he was sent to his prison where he cried during the day and could not sleep at night as he was cold, lonely and frightened. 

 

One day, Mr. Sowerberry, the coffin maker for the workhouse residents was accosted by Mr. Bumble. Mr. Bumble pointed to the five pound reward and asked Mr. Sowerberry if he knew someone who wanted a boy to work. Indirectly, he tried to give away Oliver.
 

 
 

Title Analysis of the Lesson Oliver Asks for More

 

Oliver asks for More is an apt title for the story by Charles Dickens, as the entire story revolves around the journey of Oliver. 

The boys in the workhouse were expected by the authorities to survive on meals, consisting of a single serving of thin soup thrice a day which never satisfied their hunger. Hunger forced Oliver to ask for more soup. This led to an uproar and severe punishment to Oliver. He was beaten everyday in front of the other inmates of the workhouse to serve as a deterrent to them. 

The story has an introduction which gives the background, the main action-asking for more and the result is severe punishment. 

The plot of the story develops around Oliver’s audacity to ask for more food, hence the title is apt. 
 

 
 

Characters in  the Lesson Oliver Asks for More

 

  1. Oliver Twist

The protagonist is a nine-year old orphan. He lost his mother at his birth. He was born into a world which had no love or pity for him. As nothing was known of either his father or mother, he was named by Mr. Bumble, an important officer in the town. 

Oliver lived in a workhouse with other boys. They were all under-clothed and under-fed. He was fed a bowl of thin soup thrice a day. On Sundays, he and the other boys got a small piece of bread. Hunger drove the boys to try and ask for more food. They decided one of them must ask the master for more soup. Unfortunately, Oliver was chosen for this daring task. 

When he asked for some more soup, the fat master went pale and could not believe his ears. Oliver had to repeat his request. The master hit him with a spoon, then seized him and cried for help. Mr. Bumble rushed in and was told what crime Oliver had committed. Mr. Bumble too was shocked at Oliver’s audacity. He believed that Oliver would grow up into a criminal and ‘One day they will hang the boy’.

As a punishment for his rebellion, Oliver was locked up in a cold and dark room for a week. A notice was put outside the house gate stating anyone who would take in Olive would get five pounds. Everyday he was severely beaten with a stick. This extreme punishment was to set an example so that others would not dare to ask for more food let alone rebel against the authority of the master or Mr. Bumble. Oliver cried the whole day but he could not sleep at night as he was cold, lonely and frightened. 

Oliver is presented as a child in need, highlighting the cruel conditions of the workhouse system. 

 

  1. Mr. Bumble

Mr. Bumble was an important official in the town. He named Oliver. He named babies in alphabetical order. Thus, giving Oliver the name Twist implying that there had been many babies who had lost their mothers at birth and nothing was known about their parents. He was a cruel autocrat. He was aware that the children were under-fed and under-clothed. He rushed in when the master cried for help and he suspected that the children had revolted. The harsh treatment given to Oliver was done as to set an example so that other would never dare to challenge his authority. 

Mr. Bumble is also a smooth talker. He tells the coffin maker that he would soon become rich. He must be hinting to deaths at the workhouse or the five pound reward that would come with Oliver or both

 

  1. The Master

The master was Mr. Bumble’s subordinate. He was opposite to Oliver Twist in appearance. He was fat while Oliver was pale and thin. However, he was so shocked at Oliver’s request to give him more soup that he turned very pale and started screaming. 

 

  1. Oliver’s friends

They are all boys living in the workhouse. These boys are cold because they are not clothed well and hungry because they are fed with a bowl of thin soup. 
 

 
 

Themes of the Lesson Oliver Asks for More

  • Poverty and Social Injustice: Oliver, an orphan forced into workhouses, represents the plight of the poor in England. The workhouse officials’ cruelty and the little food portions highlight the harsh realities faced by the underprivileged. When Oliver dares to ask for more food, he challenges the established system that thrives on exploiting the most vulnerable.
  • The Cycle of Abuse and Oppression:  Oliver’s experience in the workhouse exemplifies the cycle of abuse and oppression faced by the poor. They have little power to fight back and are often trapped in a system that exploits them.
  • The Importance of Compassion and Humanity:  Mr. Bumble, in charge of the workhouse, represents the lack of compassion within the system. However, the presence of a few kind characters, like the old woman who offers Oliver some warmth, provides a glimmer of hope.
  • Spark of Rebellion:  Despite the hardship, Oliver displays remarkable resilience. By simply asking for more, he demonstrates a spark of defiance against the oppressive system. This act, though seemingly small, is the first step towards potentially breaking free from his circumstances.

 

 
 

Background Setting of the Story Oliver Asks for More

Charles Dickens sets the story in early 19th century England. The story begins with the description of the birth of a boy, later named as Twist, in a workhouse in England. Neither the name of the town or city is given nor a date when the action took place. The only fact that is in focus is that events occur in a workhouse, an institution where the poor people are ill-treated and ill-fed. As such, Dickens wants to portray a common social issue and leaving its immediate setting quite vague. 

However, from the descriptions of the condition of the inmates in the workhouse, the readers can easily comprehend the issue of poverty and child abuse.
 

 
 

Narration Style of Oliver Asks for More

The story is narrated from a third-person point of view. The person is called an omniscient narrator, who happens to be the author himself as he can see things from all perspectives. 
 

 
 

Writing Styles used in Oliver Asks for More

Irony 

Sharp irony is persistent in this story. For example, the children who are of growing age were given less food so that they starve whereas the master was fat and healthy. 

 

Imagery

The author has used a language that produces pictures in the minds of the people reading or listening. For example,

  • “The bowls never needed washing, because the boys cleaned them with their spoons until they shone.”
  • “The master was a fat, healthy man, but he went very pale. He looked with surprise at the small boy. ‘What?’ said the master at last in a quiet voice. ‘Please, sir,’ repeated Oliver, ‘I want some more.’

 

 
 

Word Meanings Oliver Asks for More

 

Word

Meanings

Workhouse

A government-run institution that provided basic food and shelter to the poor.

Orphan

A child whose parents have died.

Pale

Having very light skin color, often due to illness or lack of sunlight.

Meager

Very small or insufficient in amount.

Seized

To grab or take hold of someone or something suddenly and forcefully.

Coffins

Boxes in which a dead person’s body is buried.

 

 

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