Std 9 English Lesson 1.2 A Synopsis – The Swiss Family Robinson

A Synopsis – The Swiss Family Robinson – Questions and Answers


adventure – dangerous undertaking, risky venture

graphic – pictorial, involving a lot of pictures

Swiss – someone from Switzerland

clergyman – a male Christian priest

self-reliance – self-dependence, trust in oneself

prudent – wise, judicious

natural sciences – a branch of science which deals with the physical world

husbandry – the activity of raising plants and animals for food

elements – components, parts

stretch – to make something longer, or to extend something

fiction – unrealistic or imaginary

synopsis – summary

evacuate – to leave (a dangerous place)

survive – continue to exist in spite of difficulties

weathered – seasoned (experienced) by exposure to weather

ship’s hold – the lower part of the ship generally used for storing the cargo

tropical – hot and humid

desert – (here ) alone or separated

reef – a line of rocks or sand at or near the surface of the sea

constructed – made

vessel – a small boat

tub – a wide, open, deep, round container with a flat bottom for holding liquids

ammunition – objects (such as bullets or shells) that are shot from weapons

pinnace – a small boat typically with sails, forming a part of a large ship

kegs : barrels

runners : stripes on which something slides

exuding : giving out, emitting.

abutting : having common boundary.

oppressive : distressing

albatross : a large, long-winged sea-bird.

stranded : left alone helpless

vicinity : close to

Warming up!

1. Do you know any stories about people who were lost in uninhabited places and were later rescued? Name them

Story 1:

Lost at sea – Voyage of Jesús Vidaña, Lucio Rendón and Salvador Ordóñez.

Just before sunrise on 28 October 2005, Rendón, Ordóñez and Vidaña, along with two other seafarers, left the Mexican port, to catch sharks in a 28 ft fiberglass boat. But they exhausted their fuel and strong easterly winds cast them adrift. Their families searched for several weeks, but the castaways were blown out into the high seas too fast and could not be found. Without a radio, the fishermen had no way to raise help.

The three survived for nine months on raw fish, seagulls, and sea turtles and by collecting rain in empty gasoline containers. However, two other companions, including the vessel’s owner, died from starvation after two months.

Hope returned to the stranded fishermen when they saw planes flying from the west. They realized that it would be easier to cross the ocean to the west, rather than attempting to turn into the wind to return to Mexico. They fashioned a sail with blankets and continued westwards, following the wind and the currents.

On 9 August 2006, their boat was spotted on the radar of a Taiwanese tuna fishing vessel, Koo’s 102, at a distance of 32 km. The captain ordered the crew to sail towards the signal to investigate. Soon they reached the stranded boat and picked up the three surviving fishermen. The survivors were reported to be “very thin and hungry, but otherwise healthy”. The sailors of the Taiwanese boat took them aboard and gave them food, medical care, and clothes. On 22 August 2006, where they were handed over to an official from the Mexican embassy in New Zealand, who arranged to have them flown back to Mexico.

They arrived back in Mexico on 27 August 2006, and after visiting their families they went back to San Blas to continue with shark fishing.

Story 2:

Captain Charles Barnard 

In 1812, the British ship Isabella, captained by George Higton, was shipwrecked off Eagle Island (part of the Falkland Islands). Most of the crew were rescued by the American sealer Nanina which was built and operated out of the whaling port city of Hudson, NY, and commanded by Captain Charles Barnard. Barnard, realizing that the castaways were unaware of the War of 1812, informed the survivors that they were at war with each other, but agreed to rescue them. Realizing that he would require more provisions for the expanded number of passengers, Barnard and a few others went out in a party to hunt for meat on the nearby New Island. During his absence, the British seized Nanina and left Barnard and his men on New Island. Barnard and his party were finally rescued by the British whalers Asp and Indispensable in November 1814. He later continued his career as a sealer and captain of the Charity in the South Shetlands in 1820–21. In 1829, Barnard wrote A Narrative of the Sufferings and Adventures of Capt. Charles Barnard detailing his life as a castaway.

2. Think of one of your favourite interesting stories and fill in/ draw an outline-chart like the one shown below.

Challenging problem:

Maurice and Maralyn Baileys’ journey began when they left Southampton, England, in their 31-foot (9.4 m) yacht Auralyn. Their intended destination was New Zealand. They passed safely through the Panama Canal in February and were on their way to the Galapagos Islands. At dawn on 4 March 1973, their yacht was struck by a whale and severely damaged. After transferring some supplies to an inflated life raft and dinghy and salvaging some food, a compass, and other supplies, the Baileys watched as Auralyn disappeared beneath the waves.

Scene 1:

To survive, they collected rainwater and when their meager food supplies ran out, began eating sea creatures such as turtles, seabirds and fish caught by hand or with safety pins fashioned into hooks.

Scene 2:

As they drifted in the open Pacific, the couple saw seven ships, but were unable to attract these ships’ attention since their signal flares failed and their emergency kit did not contain a signalling mirror.

Scene 3:

Their life raft began to disintegrate and required frequent reinflation.

Climax (the most interesting/exciting point):

They read and played card games early in their ordeal, but later the Baileys suffered terribly from malnutrition and friction-induced sores, the latter worsening due to the wet conditions in the raft. They encountered sharks and dolphins and had to endure severe storms.

The problem resolved & normalcy restored:

After traveling some 1,500 miles (2,400 km), the Baileys were rescued by the crew of the South Korean fishing boat Weolmi 306 on 30 June 1973. The couple was brought aboard in an emaciated state, having lost some 40 pounds (18 kg) apiece and with their legs barely able to support their weight. 


The Baileys returned to England and wrote an account of their ordeal entitled 117 Days Adrift (published with the title Staying Alive! in the United States), which was published in 1974 by Adlard Coles Nautical. The following year, they returned to the sea in their new yacht, Auralyn II.

Maralyn Bailey died in 2002 at the age of 61. Maurice Bailey died in December 2018.

Find the meaning of ‘anticlimax’:

an event, period, or outcome that is strikingly less important or dramatic than expected.

3. Divide the class into groups of 4-6. Each group selects for itself, one of the difficult situations listed below. Each group imagine themselves to be in that situation.

(a) marooned on an island

A group of passengers are marooned on an island in the middle of the ocean.

(b) lost in a forest

A group of pilgrims walking through a thick jungle have lost their way.

(c) stranded on the highway

A team of players from an office have got down at the wrong place on a highway at night. It is a lonely spot

  •  Describe their surroundings in 4-5 sentences.
  • Write the reactions of the companions using exclamations.
  • Using your imagination, write what is the only ray of hope for them.
  • Two members of the group are going out to try to get help. They can take any five things with them. Write what they choose, and why they choose it.


(a) marooned on an island

A group of passengers are marooned on an island in the middle of the ocean.

(students can solve this on their own)

(b) lost in a forest

(A group of pilgrims walking through a thick jungle have lost their way.)

Five friends, Akash, Jay, Rohit, Kalpesh and Dinesh, all of them fifteen years old, decided to go on a pilgrimage to the temple that was on the outskirts of their village. It was just a two hour journey by foot. They all met at 1 pm sharp and had planned to walk all the way to the temple, rest there for a few minutes after the darshan and return back before night fall. On the way they had to pass through a forest that was a slight hilly area, inhabited by cheetahs that had attacked humans before. But there was nothing to fear as they knew the terrain well and since it was day time they confidently ventured on. As a precaution each of them was carrying a big stick. Jay was also carrying his sister’s mobile phone.

 As they walked they sang songs and bhajans to pass their time. Kalpesh, who was a nature lover, would stop by to admire or inspect any plant or insect that caught his fancy. And so he would lag behind. The others had to wait for him to catch up. After a couple of such stops, the others warned him not to stop any more. He promised them that he wouldn’t and so they moved on with their journey. Now they were hurrying up because they wanted to reach on time and also return home before night fall.

Kalpesh: Wow! Look at this beautiful butterfly.

Jay: Hurry up, Kalpesh or we’ll be late!

Kalpesh: Yes, I’m coming.

After a little while…

Kalpesh: I’ve never seen such a wonderful flower before!

Akash: Oh no! Not again, Kalpesh!

Kalpesh: You all carry on, I’ll catch up with you.

15 minutes later….

Rohit: Where’s Kalpesh?

All call out to him in one voice: KALPESH!

After about 15 minutes, they realised that Kalpesh was not with them. They called out to him but did not get any answer. Rohit and Jay decided to walk back to find Kalpesh. They urged Akash and Dinesh to carry on. Both of them were carry a stick each, Jay had his sister’s mobile and a water bottle, while Rohit had a torch and some snacks. Another 15 minutes had gone by, Rohit and Jay couldn’t locate Kalpesh and so they decided to slipt up at a crossed road in order to find him. Meanwhile Akash and Dinesh who were travelling on that route for the first time, too got separated.

It was getting dark now as evening had set in. All the boys were frantically calling out to each other and did not know what to do next. Jay who was carry a mobile phone decided to call and inform his mother. To his bad luck, the mobile had no signal. He tried switching his mobile on and off a number of times. After a few attempts, he did get the signal for a short while. He was able to connect to his mother’s mobile phone, but was soon disconnected.

Meanwhile, Jay’s mother started enquiring about him with the others boy’s parents. They soon realised that the five friends were missing. They headed straight to the police station and lodged a missing complaint there. The police in charge along with two of his constables and some villagers decided to go into the forest to search for the boys.

During this time, the boys had managed to locate each other. But it was totally dark now and they couldn’t see their way. They decided to stay there and spent the night in the forest. Of course they were tired, hungry, thirst and most of all very scared.  In order to boost their moral they all started singing songs as loudly as they could.

The search team comprising of the police and the villagers split into groups. At the same time the police men at the police station were able to locate the exact spot of Jay’s mobile phone. They informed the police of the search party. With this information the team was able to locate the boys. What a relief! They were soon reunited with their parents and promised them never to venture out alone.

(c) stranded on the highway

A team of players from an office have got down at the wrong place on a highway at night. It is a lonely spot

(students can solve this on their own)


1. Two separate words combine together to make a new word with a different meaning. They form Compound Words. Using a dictionary, find the meanings of the following compound words.

1. armloads – the amounts that can be carried in one arm or both the arms.

2. driftwood – pieces of wood that are floating on the water.

3. cross-currents – currents of air-flow across a room.

4. footprints – the impressions left by a foot or a shoe on the ground.

5. fireplace – a special space for a fire to burn in.

6. spyglass – binoculars or a small telescope.

2. The following words can be used as nouns as well as verbs. Make two sentences of your own, using them as a noun in one and a verb in another.

(a) hold: (a) Noun – She has a strong hold over her children.

(b) Verb – Let me hold the bag for you.

(b) value: (a) Noun – The value of this area has gone up since last year.

(b) Verb – We must value our the teachings of all religions.

(c) knot: (a) Noun –There are many knots formed on this rope.

(b) Verb – Please knot your shoe laces correctly.

(d) travel: (a) Noun – Long distance bus travel can also be enjoyed.

(b) Verb – Mr. Bharat travels regularly to Pune on work.

(e) return: (a) Noun –The return of their son from USA was welcomed by the parents.

(b) Verb – I have to return this book to the library.

(f) reach: (a) Noun – The target was within reach for the sales team.

(b) Verb – Rohit, please reach on time!

(g) knock: (a) Noun – The knock on the nose was too much for the boxer to handle.

(b) Verb – Please knock the door before you enter.

(h) attack: (a) Noun – The soldiers were not ready for the sudden enemy attach.

(b) Verb – The tribals attached the man eating leopard.

(i) mark: (a) Noun – The police were able to identify the thief from the mark on his cheek.

(b) Verb – The teacher instructed the students to mark all the difficult words from the lesson.

3. Given in a mixed order below are some good human attributes of the family. Pick out each from the box and write it against each line that reflects it.

(1) courage and daring (2) perseverance and positive attitude (3) foresight (4) family bonds (5) humanity and sensitivity (6) resorcefulness (7) knowledge and its application (8) cautiousness

(a) The father told Fritz, the gourds would make excellent bowls and spoons and they cut them into various utensils. resourcefulness.

(b) After some days, Elizabeth informed that she wanted the family to move to a safer place. cautiousness

(c) Thinking ahead of winter, father decided to create a place safe from the elements. Foresight

(d) Father taught the boys geometry and how to use triangles to measure big objects. Knowledge and its application

(e) …….. he believed, his daughter was still alive, after three years. Perseverance and positive attitude.

(f) Ten years had passed and the young boys grew to be young men and their parents were proud of them. Family bonds

(g) Fritz felt that someone needed his help and he was determined to find the sender. Humanity and sensitivity

4. Write in your own words, how the Robinson family made each of their homes.

First home: After landing successfully on the island the Robinson family set up a tent. The cut grass and spread it on the floor to soften it which also serves as a bed.

Second home: Their second home is a tree house built on the other side of the island. After selecting the tree on which the house will be built, the father and son first built a ladder from bamboos. Later as they built the platform and the tree house the father teaches his sons geometry and how to use angles to calculate distances.

Third home: They had been using their first tent house as a camping place. When that gets destroyed by the winder winds they decide to build a stronger house. So they built their third house which is a cave carved by the family themselves on the rock abutting the campsite. They also cut windows in the rocks to allow circulation of air and for sunlight to enter the cave. It has four rooms with a fire place which serves as their winter house.

Fourth home: When one of their huts is completely destroyed by the elephants, the family decides to build a stronger house. Instead of building a house on stilts which the elephants could easily knock down, they plan to use four strong trees of equal size, approximately twelve feet apart, as foundation for the new house. First they make a bamboo platform and build four walls around it. They use the bark of the trees they have cut down as a waterproof roof for the house. The flooring of the house is constructed to stick out that acts as a porch. They also make sheds for their animals and for stocking their food. This is the fourth house that the family built.

Extra Textual Questions:

1. In what way is a work of fiction different from a fact file?

Ans. The write creates a work of fiction from his imagination. He can twist and exaggerate facts anyway he likes. Whereas a fact file is a based on actual happenings and the write cannot move out of its boundaries. He has state the facts as it happened.

2. How did the family reach the tropical island?

Ans. The shipwrecked family found themselves within sight of a tropical desert island. So they decided to get to the island. The family constructed a vessel out of tubs and filled them with food and ammunition and all other articles of value they could safely carry. Over the next few days, William (father) attached the floatable old kegs to one another and built a bow that curved around them. They rowed all their way and safely reached the tropical island.

3. Why did mother wish to shift the family to a tree-house?

Ans. Their current camp was not only exposed but also very dry and hot. If they built a house up in one of the large trees, they would be safe from jackals.

4. How did the mother occupy herself while the tree house was being built?

Ans.  While the tree house was being built, the mother tended to the garden and that was able to produce healthy plants like corn, melons, pumpkins, and cucumbers.

5. What was the third place the family decided to reside in? Why did they wish to shift there?

Ans. They had been using their first tent house as a camping place. When that gets destroyed by the winder winds they decide to build a stronger house. So they built their third house which is a cave carved by the family themselves on the rock abutting the campsite. They also cut windows in the rocks to allow circulation of air and for sunlight to enter the cave. It has four rooms with a fire place which serves as their winter house.

6. What made the family change over to their fourth residence? What precaution did they take before building it?

Ans. When one of their huts was completely destroyed by the elephants, the family decided to build a stronger house. Instead of building a house on stilts which the elephants could easily knock down, they plan to use four strong trees of equal size, approximately twelve feet apart, as foundation for the new house. First they make a bamboo platform and build four walls around it. They use the bark of the trees they have cut down as a waterproof roof for the house. The flooring of the house is constructed to stick out that acts as a porch.

They also make sheds for their animals and for stocking their food.

7. Do the changes in the family’s residence remind you of the history of man’s evolution?

Ans. Yes. As man evolved from ape like creatures to the modern man, he underwent a lot of changes. First he lived in a tent, later in caves, and then he was able to build a tree house. All the while improvising his residence and discovering new tools on the way.

8. How did Fritz learn about another victim, forsaken on a far away island?

Ans. On the shore of another island, Fritz had knocked down an albatross, which was threatening to attack him and found a rag tied to the large bird’s leg. On the rag was a message that an Englishwoman had been stranded on the ‘smoking rock.’

9. Who was the victim and how long had she survived?

Ans. The victim was a young woman, Jenny Montrose and she had survived for three years.

10. Who is included in the word ‘Everyone’ in ‘Everyone was amazed…’?

Ans. ‘Everyone’ includes the passengers, and crew of the British vessel that had come to rescue the Swiss family.

11. How does the adventure come to a happy end?

Ans. Elizabeth and her husband did not wish to live anywhere but on the island. They had been there for so long and had grown used to their life. Earnest and Jack wanted to stay on the island too. Jenny, Fritz and Franz decided to go to Europe on the British vessel. Before Fritz left, he told his parents of his love for Jenny and his wish to marry her. Since each want was happy with their decision, the adventure came to a happy ending.

5. Expand the following ideas in a paragraph or two :-

(1) Where there is a will, there is a way.

Ans. The proverb means that, if we have the will power to do something then there surely will be a way (solution) to achieve it, no matter how difficult the task could be. As students we are constantly given homework, assignments, and projects and at the same time we have to get good grades in the examination. At times we get stuck up completing these tasks. We should not give up but try out different means to do it, even if we need to seek help, we should.

And as we grow older, we are given bigger projects. Sometimes they may seem ‘impossible, which we should change it to ‘it is possible’. We should remember that all the greatness that man as achieved today is because of his spirit to never give up. All the great monuments, the great machines, the great work of art and the progress in science and technology were once a fragment of someone’s imagination. And in future too man will always strive hard to reach greater heights. For man has learnt from History that where there is a will there is a way.

So as students we shouldn’t get bowed down by a daunting task and easily give up but strive harder and success will surely come. It is this strong will and firm determination that will lead us to a path to victory.

(2) Courage and resourcefulness are the keys to overcome problems.

Ans. Whenever we encounter a problem or obstacle, the first thing we want to do is try our best to avoid it and let it pass. We heave a sigh of relief when we are successful at it. We are scared to tackle it for the fear of failure. But that is not the right way to handle it. We should inculcate the habit of preparing ourselves to take the bull by its horns. Courage and resourcefulness will help us overcome our problems.

Being resourceful means developing the ability of thinking and acting promptly to a given situation. If we our resourceful, we will be able to find multiple ways in solving a problem. We will be able to come up with ingenious ideas. We will be able to tactfully and creatively devise plans. If one solution doesn’t work, we will have the courage to try out something else. We will be determined to face the problem head on and not give up till we are successful.

Resourcefulness will give us the courage to overcome challenges. And courage will help us discover new horizons. And once you get addicted to it you will always look forward to enjoy the thrill of victory.

6. Individual Project: Choose any novel / book that you enjoyed. Prepare a synopsis of the novel. It should include the major events and the links between them as described in the novel. You may prepare a chapterwise outline first, and then put the outlines together to write a brief synopsis.


This is a story about the statue of a Happy Prince and a little Swallow. The Happy Prince was a beautiful statue stood on a tall column high above the city. The statue was covered with thin leaves of gold. He had sapphires for his eyes and a ruby in his sword. One night a little swallow flew over the city. He was tired and want to spent the night between the feet of the Happy Prince. As he was ready to sleep just then a large drop of water fell on him. It was curious as there were no clouds in the sky. Then another drop of water fell on him. The swallow decided to look for another place just then third drop fell on him, he looked up and saw that these were the tears from the eyes of the Happy Prince and the swallow filled with pity. The swallow asked ” who are you” and why are you crying? The Happy Prince told the swallow that he lived in a palace while he was alive and had a kind human heart. There was no sorrow at all and his and his courtiers called him the happy prince. After his death he had been set up on a high pillar, his heart is made up of Lead yet and it always weeps when he see the ugliness and misery of his city. He told the swallow that far away in a little street a little boy of a seamstress is sick. He is crying and his mother could not give him oranges to eat. He asked the swallow to give his ruby to the poor women when he was going to Egypt. But he obeyed the Happy Prince and then he flew and laid the ruby on the table of the poor women. Then the Happy Prince saw a writer. He was suffering from cold and was hungry. Happy Prince asked the swallow to give one of the sapphire to the writer. The swallow did not want to pluck out the sapphire from his eyes, but he obeyed him unwillingly. After that the Happy Prince saw a match girl and her matches fall into the gutter. At his command the swallow very unwillingly plucked out the sapphire from the other eye of the Happy Prince and now the Prince was totally blind. the swallow slipped the sapphire into the palm of the match girl. Then the Happy Prince allowed the swallow to fly away to Egypt, but the swallow decided to stay with the blind Prince forever. The swallow reported about the sufferings of the starving people. At the command of the Happy Prince the swallow took of the golden leaves from the statue and distributed them among the poor people. Now the statue was dull and grey. The frost made the swallow colder and colder and he was about to die. He flew to the Happy Prince who bade him kiss him on the lips. The swallow fell down die at the feet of the statue. The lead heart of the Prince broke into two. The Mayor ordered that the statue should be pulled down because it was neither beautiful now useful. The broken heart did not melt in the furnace. It was thrown away on a dust heap where the dead swallow was also lying. God asked the angels to bring the two most precious things in the city. God praised the angel’s choice in bringing him the leaden heart of the Happy Prince and the dead swallow.

7. Read about the novel ‘Robinson Crusoe’ by Daniel Defoe and ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ by Jonathan Swift.