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CBSE Competency Based Questions:
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The Rattrap | NCERT Solution| CBE Based Questions | Board Exam 2024

Updated: Jul 30, 2023

Lesson Architecture

NCERT Solution: ( Page 34)

Q1. From where did the peddler get the idea of the world being a rattrap?

Ans. One day the peddler thought of one thought when he had been thinking of his rattraps. The thought was that the whole world about him with its lands and seas, its cities and villages-was nothing but a big trap. It offered riches and joys, shelter and food, heat and clothing in the same manner as the rattrap offered cheese and pork. Thus he got the idea of the world being a rattrap.

2. Why was he amused by this idea?

Ans.The world had never been very kind to the peddler. So it gave him unwanted joy tho think ill of it . He thought of people who had let themselves be caught in the dangerous snare. He was amused how people let themselves be caught in the dangerous snare and how others were still circling around the bait. He also thought of those people who were still circling around the bait to be ensnared.

3. Did the peddler expect the kind of hospitality that he received from the crofter?

Ans. The peddler was accorded a warm welcome by the crofter-the owner of the cottage. The crofter served him porridge for supper and tobacco for his pipe. He also played a game of cards with him till bed time. This hospitality was never expected as the peddler usually met with sour faces when he asked for shelter.

4. Why was the crofter so talkative and friendly with the peddler?

Ans. The crofter had no wife or child. He was all alone felt lonely in his cottage. He had lived a lonely life where he lived. So he poured out his heart to the stranger and received him very warmly.

5. Why did he show the thirty kronor to the peddler?

Ans. The crofter informed the peddler that by selling his cow’s milk to the creamery, he had received thirty kronor . The stranger must have seemed incredulous to believe in his story. So he showed the money to him to make him believe what he said.

6. Did the peddler respect the confidence reposed in him by the crofter?

Ans: No, the peddler did not repose the confidence reposed in him by the crofter. He looked at the thirty kronor, which ultimately became a bait for him. He stole the money and went away. Thus, he betrayed his own benefactor.

Think As You Read ( Page 37)

1. What made the peddler think that he had indeed fallen into a rattrap?

Ans. The peddler stole the crofter's money and turned off the road into the woods. But after walking a lot, he realized that he had been walking around in the same part of the forest. Thus he recalled his thoughts about the world being a rattrap and he himself had got trapped into it.

2. Why did the ironmaster speak kindly to the peddler and invite him home?

Ans. The ironmaster saw the steam rise from the peddler's wet rags. He did not follow the example of the blacksmiths who hardly looked at him carefully. He mistook him for his old regimental comrade Nils Oof . The peddler's tramp-like appearance made the ironmaster empathetic towards the peddler and hence he invited the peddler home.

3. Why did the peddler decline the invitation?

The peddler was already preoccupied with the guilt feeling of stealing thirty kronor from the crofter. He thought of throwing himself into the lion's den if he accepted the invitation of the ironmaster. Therefore, he declined the invitation.

Think As You Read ( Page 41)

1. What made the peddler accept Edla Willmansson’s invitation?

Ans. Edla's graceful interaction and powers of persuasion influenced the peddler so much so that he felt 'confidence' in her invitation to visit her house. She addressed him as captain and showed her solidarity at him for having a bad patch. Subsequently, when she invited him on the Christmas Eve, he could not help accepting her invitation.

2. What doubts did Edla have about the peddler?

Ans. Edla thought that although things went downhill with the peddler, still she did not think there was anything about him to show that he had once been an educated man.

3. When did the ironmaster realise his mistake?

Ans: On the instructions given by the ironmaster, the valet bathed the peddler, cut his hair and shaved him. The peddler was then dressed in a good-looking suit of the ironmaster. But he did not seem to be Nils Olof- Captain Stahle. So the ironmaster looked at him with puckered brow. He then realized that it was impossible to mistake him for an old acquaintance.

4. How did the peddler defend himself against not having revealed his true identity?

Ans. The peddler explained that he was not to be blamed for this shocking revelation. All along he had maintained that he was a poor trader. He had pleaded and begged to be allowed to stay in the forge. He agreed to put on his rags again and go away.

5. Why did Edla still entertain the peddler even after she knew the truth about him?

Ans. Edla being empathetic in nature could not ask the peddler to go away. Moreover, she promised him Christmas cheer. She could understand the cruelty inflicted on the peddler by the society and wanted him to enjoy a day of peace with them. Hence she still entertained the peddler even after she knew the truth about him.


1. Why was Edla happy to see the gift left by the peddler?

Ans. On opening the package of the gift, Edla was happy to see the contents. She found a small rattrap with three wrinkled ten kronor notes and a letter addressed to her. The peddler wanted to be nice in return for her goodness. Moreover, she got relief as she thought that he might have stolen the money and spoons.

2. Why did the peddler sign himself as Captain von Stahle?

The ironmaster extended an invitation to the peddler to his house mistaking him for Captain von Stahle. He was treated well even after his identity was revealed. The peddler wanted to pay them by the same coin and therefore, signed himself as Captain Von Stahle.

Understanding the Text ( Page 43) 1. How does the peddler interpret the acts of kindness and hospitality shown by the crofter, the ironmaster and his daughter?

Ans. The peddler was an altogether different person when he met the crofter. He was mistreated by people. So he had negative attitude towards the society. In spite of being so hospitable a host, the crofter was cheater by him. The peddler considered thirty-kronor as a bait for poor traveller like him.

On the other hand, he accepted the invitation of Edla with the expectation that the ironmaster might throw him a couple of kronor. But the model behaviour and the unparalleled hospitality that Edla and ironmaster showed at him made him a completely different person. Edla's pitiful attitude and genuine compassion influenced him. Her words of love and affection for a peddler transformed him into a real human being.

2. What are the instances in the story that show that the character of the ironmaster is different from that of his daughter in many ways?

Ans. The ironmaster used to work in a fit of impulsiveness. As soon as he saw the peddler in the forge, he mistook him for his old regimental comrade without judging his identity properly. He became personal in his description of his family story to him and even invited him to visit his house. This is a sheer act of impulsiveness.

In his house when he came to know that the peddler was not Nils Olof, his old regimental comrade, he became very arrogant with the peddler and started threatening him with the name of a sherif. It goes on to justify the fact that he was a head-strong person.

On the other hand, his daughter was very much empathetic and hospital by nature. She extended a very warm behaviour and made the peddler feel comfortable in her house. Even after knowing his real identity, she kept her cool and asked him to stay back till the Christmas got over. Her compassionate attitude and model behaviour changed the peddler into a real human being. Therefore, she symbolizes true Christian values.

3. The story has many instances of unexpected reactions from the characters to others’ behaviour. Pick out instances of these surprises.

Ans. The following are the instances

1. The crofter had been very hospital to the peddler. He provided the supper, shelter, tobacco roll and played cards with the peddler. In spite of being so nice with the peddler, the peddler robbed him of thirty-kronor.

2. The ironmaster mistook the peddler for Captain Von Stahle and invited him to his house. But the peddler refused his invitation. But when Edla influenced him with her soft words, the peddler surprised everyone by accepting the invitation.

3. On the instruction of the iron master, the valet bathed the peddler ,cut his hair and shaved him. He was then dressed in a good-looking suit of the ironmaster. But he did not seem to be Nils Olof- Captain Stahle. Thus the peddler gave an unpleasant surprise to the ironmaster with his tramp like appearance.

4. On discovering the identity of the peddler, the ironmaster asked him to get out from his house. But Edla surprised her father by going against his instruction. She asked the peddler to stay back till the Christmas.

5. Lastly , while going away, the peddler surprised everyone by leaving the Christmas present, thirty kronor and a rattrap for Edla. He had also surprised everyone by addressing himself as Captain Von Stahle at the end of a letter written to Edla.

Q4. What made the peddler finally change his ways?

Ans. Edla was kind and hospital to the peddler. She defended the peddler when her father was about to turn him out. She was still empathetic towards the peddler even after knowing his real identity. She offered him the suit as Christmas present and invited him to spend the next Christmas with them. Her love and understanding aroused the essential goodness of the peddler and he changed his ways.

5. How does the metaphor of the rattrap serve to highlight the human predicament?

The world is a big rattrap. Human beings are always under baits in the form of their desire to possess material things. Life's offering riches and jjoys, shelter and food, heat and clothing amount to being various baits. The peddler fell prey to baits like thirty kronor in the story as well as visiting the manor house. Towards the end of the story he got an opportunity to purge himself of all his sins when he had decided to leave thirty kronor and the Christmas present that Edla gave him.

Similarly, we all are susceptible to similar baits in life. The moment we give in, we tend to be trapped. Therefore, we need to be careful about our approaches towards life and not fall under temptations in the form of rattraps. Thus the story presents this fact of temptation and consequent sin and the way to purge oneself of it in a very interesting manner.

6. The peddler comes out as a person with a subtle sense of humour. How does this serve in lightening the seriousness of the theme of the story and also endear him to us?

The peddler's sense of humour can be prominent in the story in the following circumstances.

1. When the ironmaster makes him ' Nils Olof', he replies humorously that God knows things have gone downhill with him.

2. He takes ironmaster's thunder lightly when his real identity is revealed. He warns the ironmaster that he too would be caught in the trap one day if he called out sheriff to arrest him.

3. He also calls himself a rat in his note to Edla and signs himself as Captain Von Stahle. This incidence is very humorous and endears himself to us.

Author Biography

  • Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf was a renowned Swedish author.

  • She was born with severe injuries to her hip, and as a child she was unable to walk.

  • This often kept her inside and she was unable to involve herself in activities with other children. She therefore developed a passion for reading and writing from a very young age.

  • She is famous for having been the first ever female writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1909.

  • A universal theme runs through all of her works- a belief that the essential goodness in a human being can be awakened through understanding a love.

  • She was a campaigner for women’s suffrage and intervened with the Swedish government and royal family to help individuals escape from Nazi Germany to Sweden.

2. Theme

  • This story is set in the middle of the mines of Sweden which are rich in iron ore.

  • The story deals with how human beings are prone to traps owing to greed for material things.

  • The hospitality and love symbolizing the Christmas spirit transforms the rattrap seller into a real human being.

  • The author has beautifully brought out human loneliness and the need to bond with others.

  • The Rattrap is based on the theme that the essential goodness in a human being can be awakened through understanding and love.

3. Character Introduction

  • The Peddler : A vagabond who sold rattraps for a living, does petty thievery and begging.

  • The Crofter : A poor generous person robbed by the Peddler.

  • The Ironmaster : A law-abiding person, who owns Ramsjo Ironworks.

  • Edla Willmansson The ironmaster’s daughter is a kind and compassionate lady.

3. Story Sequence

(i) Key Points

  • Once there was a rattrap seller who besides selling rattraps also resorts to begging and stealing.

  • His clothes were in rags, his cheeks were sunken and hunger gleamed in his eyes.

  • Once while moving along the road, an idea came to him that the world was a big rattrap.

  • It offered comforts and joys just like the rattrap offered cheese and pork.

(ii) Key Points

  • While plodding along the road, one evening he came to a little grey cottage and asked for shelter for the night.

  • The owner was a crofter who during his days of prosperity worked at the Ramsjo Ironworks.

  • The Crofter even shared the fact that he had earned thirty kronor by selling the cow’s milk.

  • Next morning half an hour after he parted from the crofter, he again came back to the crofter’s house.

  • The peddler went up to the window, smashed a pane and took out the thirty kronor from the pouch.

(iii) Key Points

  • He lost his way in the forest and realised that he was walking in the same part of the forest.

  • He was caught in a rattrap. The entire forest, with its trees, trunks and branches, seemed to him like a prison that offered no escape.

  • He heard the sound of the regular thumping of a hammer. He realised that the sound was coming from an iron mill.

  • He reached the Ramsjo Ironworks, which was then a large plant with smelter, rolling mill and forge. He entered the ironworks.

  • The master blacksmith rather haughtily granted him permission to stay.

(iv) Key Points

  • The ironmaster visited the forge for his inspection and noticed the peddler.

  • He mistook him in the dim light for an old regimental comrade and addressed him as Nils Olof.

  • The ironmaster invited him home. As the peddler was not interested to enter into the lion’s den, he declined the invitation.

  • Ironmaster informed peddler that his wife Elizabeth was dead, his sons were settled abroad and he lived with his daughter Edla.

  • He sent his daughter, Edla to persuade the Peddler to visit his home and the peddler accepted the invitation.

(v) Key Points

  • The peddler felt guilty and cursed himself for stealing the Crofter’s money.

  • The next day being Christmas Eve the ironmaster was happy that he would be spending his time with an old friend.

  • Edla was doubtful about the Peddler as he didn’t display the slightest sign of being educated.

  • The Peddler was asked to be well groomed. He was wearing clothes which belonged to the ironmaster.

  • The ironmaster then realised that the tramp was no friend of his.

  • The Peddler made no attempt to defend himself and just accepted his fate.

(vi) Key Points

  • The ironmaster being very angry, said that he would take him to the sheriff.

  • The peddler reacted that the world being a a big rattrap one day ironmaster would also fall into the trap.

  • The Peddler was asked to stay back for Christmas and was invited to spend even the next Christmas with them.

  • The ironmaster and Edla gifted him the suit that he was wearing as a Christmas present.

  • The Peddler kept staring at her in boundless amazement.

(vii) Key Points

  • On their visit next morning to the Church, the ironmaster and his daughter learned that a rattrap Peddler robbed an old Crofter who once worked at their Ramsjö Ironworks.

  • On returning home ,the ironmaster asked the valet if the Peddler was still there.

  • The valet informed him that the peddler had left but he had not taken anything with him, but had left a package.

  • Edla found a rattrap. In the rattrap were three wrinkled ten kronor notes and a letter addressed to Edla.

(viii) Key Points

  • In his note Peddler wrote that he wanted the money to be returned to the Crofter on the roadside .

  • The crofter had the money pouch hanging on the window frame as a bait for poor wanderers.

  • He further wrote that the rattrap was a Christmas present from a ‘rat’ who could avoid the rattrap because he was raised to the status of a captain.

  • He even signed the letter as ‘Captain von Stahie’.

  • He was totally a changed man.


  • The story is about a rattrap seller. Begging, petty thievery and selling rattraps were occasionally his means of livelihood.

  • One day he realized that the whole world is a rattrap . It offers riches, joys, shelter, food etc as bait and if tempted human beings are trapped forever.

  • Once he cheated a crofter who gave him shelter one night. He stole thirty kronor.

  • While travelling through a forest, he took shelter at a iron mill where he met ironmaster, the owner of the mill.

  • The ironmaster mistook him to be his old regimental comrade.

  • Ironmaster’s daughter, Edla took the peddler home and extended a warm welcome to the peddler.

  • Peddler’s own identity is revealed and the ironmaster became angry when he discovered the real identity of the peddler.

  • Edla asks the peddler to stay till the Christmas celebration.

  • As Edla was very nice to him, the peddler gifted her a rattrap, returned thirty kronor and wrote a letter to her.

  • He wrote that if he had not been raised to the level of a Captain, he would have been trapped in the rattrap.

  • The peddler wrote himself as Captain von Stahle and left the house.


The message of "The Rattrap" revolves around the transformative power of compassion, empathy, and the potential for personal change. Selma Lagerlöf weaves together various themes and narrative elements to convey this central message. Here are some key points that elaborate on the story's message:

1. The Capacity for Redemption: The story suggests that every individual, regardless of their past actions or circumstances, has the capacity for redemption and transformation. The vagabond, who initially sees himself as a victim trapped in a rattrap-like world, undergoes a change of heart through the kindness and compassion shown to him by Edla Wilmansson. This transformation emphasizes the inherent goodness within people and their ability to break free from negative patterns.

2. The Power of Kindness: Kindness has a profound impact on the human spirit. Edla's genuine acts of kindness towards the vagabond, such as providing him with shelter, food, and companionship, challenge his cynical worldview and inspire him to question his own behavior. The story highlights the potential ripple effect of a single act of kindness, as it can spark change and encourage others to reevaluate their own actions.

3. The Destructive Nature of Materialism: The story critiques the pursuit of material wealth as a source of happiness and fulfillment. The vagabond's desire for riches and his thieving tendencies symbolize the trap of materialism, which ultimately leads to dissatisfaction and a sense of entrapment. Lagerlöf suggests that true contentment lies in human connections, empathy, and a genuine appreciation for the simple joys of life.

4. The Importance of Empathy and Understanding: "The Rattrap" emphasizes the significance of empathy and understanding in bridging divides and fostering change. Edla's ability to see beyond the vagabond's outer appearance and treat him with compassion demonstrates the power of empathy to break down barriers and challenge preconceived notions. The story encourages readers to look beyond surface judgments and engage in genuine connections with others.

5. The Influence of Perspective: Lagerlöf highlights the impact of one's perspective on their experiences and actions. The vagabond's cynical worldview, shaped by his past hardships, leads him to engage in dishonest behaviour as a means of survival. However, Edla's compassionate perspective challenges his beliefs and opens up new possibilities for him. The story suggests that by shifting one's perspective and embracing empathy, individuals can change their own narratives and transform their lives.

In essence, the message of "The Rattrap" is that compassion, empathy, and a willingness to see beyond appearances can break down barriers, inspire personal growth, and lead to redemption and positive change. It encourages readers to reflect on their own actions, challenge societal traps, and embrace the transformative power of kindness in creating a more compassionate and understanding world.

CBE-Based Questions

3 Marks

Q1.How does the peddler’s conception of the world as a rattrap breed in his mind?

Q2. Despite his philosophical insights, the vagabond fails to resist temptations. What would you attribute this to? Explain with reference to any instance from the text.

Q3. Why did the peddler knock on the cottage by the roadside? How was he treated by the owner of the cottage?

Q4. Why did Edla invite the peddler to stay with her family?

Q5. ‘The man was just as generous with his confidences as with his porridge and tobacco.’ What was the outcome of this?

Q6. Why did the peddler not reveal his identity to the ironmaster? Justify your answer.

Q7. How did the identity of the peddler brought to light?

Q8.How did the peddler realise that he himself had fallen into the rattrap? Give an example to support your answer.

Q9. What made the peddler accept Edla Willmansson’s invitation? Explain.

Q10. Why do you think the peddler felt unwonted joy to think ill of the world?

Q11.Why was Edla so kind towards the peddler even after he was discovered?

Q12.How did the peddler react after the ironmaster discovered that he was not the Captain?

Q13. How did the peddler pay his gratitude to ironmaster & his daughter?

Q14. What kind of hospitality was extended to the peddler on his visit to the ironmaster's house?

CBE Questions (5 Marks)

  1. Discuss the significance of Edla Wilmansson's character in the story. How does her kindness impact the vagabond?

  2. Explore the theme of personal responsibility in "The Rattrap." How do the characters illustrate this theme?

  3. Discuss the significance of the rattrap seller in the story. How does his interaction with the vagabond contribute to the narrative?

  4. How does Selma Lagerlöf use symbolism throughout the story? Discuss the symbolic significance of the cottage, the iron and copper, and the rattrap itself.

  5. Analyze the role of storytelling in the narrative. How do the stories shared by Edla and the rattrap seller influence the vagabond's transformation?

  6. Explore the theme of trust in the story. How does trust, or the lack thereof, impact the relationships between the characters?

  7. Reflect on the theme of self-discovery in the story. How does the vagabond's journey lead to self-realization and personal growth?

  8. How did the concept of 'bait' illustrated through the character peddler in the story? Explain with the help of instances given in the story.

  9. Both the crofter & Edla Willmansson were kind towards the peddler. But the peddler's attitude towards the both was a mismatch. Why do you think Edla was more persuasive than the crofter in the transformation of the peddler? Make a comparative answer with instances from the text.

  10. Trust is a difficult choice, which may or may not be rewarded. Examine this statement in the light of peddler's action with respect to the crofter & the ironmaster.

  11. The story also focuses on human loneliness and the need to bond with others. To what extent do you think is the society responsible for man's predicament. Justify your answer in respect to the treatment meted out to the peddler from the lesson 'Rattrap' & Derry from 'On the Face of It.'

  12. The peddler's instance calls for a need to integrate people from the marginalized sections into the mainstream society. Justify the statement with respect to Edla's demonstration of love, compassion and charity.


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