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The Third Level | CBE Questions | NCERT Solution | Board Exam 2024

Updated: Feb 20

NCERT Solution









NCERT Official Audio Lecture on The Third Level by Jack Finney



BIOGRAPHY

  • Jack Finney’s first novel, ‘5 Against the House’, was published in 1954. It was made into a movie the following year.

  • Finney's greatest success came with his science fiction novel Time and Again (1970). It involves time travel to the past, a theme he had experimented with previously in short stories.

  • In 1987, Finney was given the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement at the World Fantasy Convention.

  • He lived in Mill Valley, California, and died of pneumonia and emphysema in Greenbrae, California, at the age of 84.

THEME


  • The lesson explores the science fiction genre of ‘time travel’.

  • The author interweaves fantasy with reality in his projection of time travel.

  • It is a story that weaves together a psychological journey into the past and present.

  • The lesson highlights the harsh realities of War. War has irreversible consequences thus leaving people in a state of insecurity.

  • Charley, the protagonist, wishes to be transported to the third level, the world of Galesburg, Illinois, 1894.

  • The story also deals with theme of escapism as a psychological refuge from the grim realities of the present day world.

  • It is also about modern day problems and how common man tends to escape reality by various means.



Paraphrase in Easy English


Page 1 ( Para 1)

THE presidents of the New York Central and the New York, New Haven and Hartford railroads will swear on a stack of timetables that there are only two. But I say there are three, because I’ve been on the third level of the Grand Central Station. Yes, I’ve taken the obvious step: I talked to a psychiatrist friend of mine, among others. I told him about the third level at Grand Central Station, and he said it was a wakingdream wish fulfillment. He said I was unhappy. That made my wife kind of mad, but he explained that he meant the modern world is full of insecurity, fear, war, worry and all the rest of it, and that I just want to escape. Well, who doesn’t? Everybody I know wants to escape, but they don’t wander down into any third level at Grand Central Station.


Paraphrase in Easy English


The presidents of the New York Central and New York, New Haven, and Hartford railroads will say that there are only two levels in Grand Central Station. But I believe there is a third level because I have been there myself. I spoke to a psychiatrist friend of mine about it, and he said that it is just a dream-like experience where my wishes come true. He also mentioned that I am unhappy, which made my wife a bit angry. However, he explained that he meant the modern world is filled with insecurity, fear, war, and worries, and I simply want to escape from it all. Well, who doesn't? Almost everyone I know wants to escape, but they don't go wandering into the third level at Grand Central Station.


Glossary

swear on a stack of timetables:

In the context of the story "The Third Level," the phrase "swear on a stack of timetables" is a figure of speech used to emphasize the certainty and conviction of the presidents of the New York Central and New York, New Haven, and Hartford railroads in their assertion that there are only two levels in Grand Central Station. It suggests that they are absolutely certain about their statement, to the point of making a strong oath, as if they were swearing on a stack of important documents.


Grand Central Station:


Grand Central Station, also known as Grand Central Terminal, is a major transportation hub located in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. It is one of the most iconic and historic train stations in the United States. Grand Central Station serves as a terminal for commuter trains and intercity trains, primarily operated by the Metro-North Railroad.


In the context of the story "The Third Level," Grand Central Station refers to the real-life transportation hub located in New York City. The protagonist of the story, Charley, discovers a mysterious third level within Grand Central Station that is not officially recognized by the authorities.



Page 1&2 (Para 2)

But that’s the reason, he said, and my friends all agreed. Everything points to it, they claimed. My stamp collecting, for example; that’s a ‘temporary refuge from reality.’ Well, maybe, but my grandfather didn’t need any refuge from reality; things were pretty nice and peaceful in his day, from all I hear, and he started my collection. It’s a nice collection too, blocks of four of practically every U.S. issue, first-day covers, and so on. President Roosevelt collected stamps too, you know.


Paraphrase in Easy English


According to the protagonist's psychiatrist friend and his friends, the reason why the protagonist believes in the existence of the third level is because he wants to escape from the challenges of reality. He believes that everything in his life, including his stamp collecting hobby, is a way for him to temporarily escape from the difficulties of the modern world.


The protagonist, however, disagrees with this explanation. He mentions that his grandfather, who lived in a different time, didn't need to escape from reality because things were peaceful during his grandfather's era. He takes pride in his collection, which includes blocks of four of almost every U.S. stamp issue, as well as first-day covers.


To support his argument, the protagonist mentions that even President Roosevelt, a respected figure, collected stamps as well.


Glossary:

temporary refuge from reality.’

the phrase "temporary refuge from reality" refers to engaging in activities or hobbies that provide a temporary escape or diversion from the challenges, stresses, and uncertainties of everyday life.


blocks of four of practically every U.S. issue

The phrase "blocks of four of practically every U.S. issue" refers to the protagonist's stamp collection. It means that the protagonist has collected sets of four stamps together for almost every stamp issue released in the United States.




Do you Know?

Stamp collectors often seek to obtain complete sets of stamps, which may include different denominations, designs, or themes. These sets are typically organized in various formats, such as blocks, which are groups of four stamps arranged in a square or rectangular shape.

first-day covers

"first-day covers" are special envelopes that have a stamp attached to them and are stamped by the post office on the very first day that stamp is released. Stamp collectors like to collect these envelopes because they are considered special and unique. They represent the first use of a new stamp, and they have a special postmark that shows the date of the stamp's release.


Page 2 (Para 1)


Anyway, here’s what happened at Grand Central. One night last summer I worked late at the office. I was in a hurry to get uptown to my apartment so I decided to take the subway from Grand Central because it’s faster than the bus.


Paraphrase in Easy English


One night last summer, he worked late at the office. He was in a hurry to get uptown to his apartment, so he decided to take the subway from Grand Central because it's faster than the bus.



Page 2 (Para 2)

Now, I don’t know why this should have happened to me. I’m just an ordinary guy named Charley, thirty-one years old, and I was wearing a tan gabardine suit and a straw hat with a fancy band; I passed a dozen men who looked just like me. And I wasn’t trying to escape from anything; I just wanted to get home to Louisa, my wife.


Paraphrase in Easy English

In simple terms, the protagonist, a regular guy named Charley who was thirty-one years old, experienced something unexpected. He was dressed like many other men he saw, wearing a tan suit and a straw hat with a nice band. He wasn't trying to run away from anything or anyone; he just wanted to go back home to his wife, Louisa. Despite being an ordinary person, something out of the ordinary occurred in his life.



Page 2 (Para 3)


I turned into Grand Central from Vanderbilt Avenue, and went down the steps to the first level, where you take trains like the Twentieth Century. Then I walked down another flight to the second level, where the suburban trains leave from, ducked into an arched doorway heading for the subway — and got lost. That’s easy to do. I’ve been in and out of Grand Central hundreds of times, but I’m always bumping into new doorways and stairs and corridors. Once I got into a tunnel about a mile long and came out in the lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel. Another time I came up in an office building on Forty-sixth Street, three blocks away.


Paraphrase in Easy English


I went into Grand Central from Vanderbilt Avenue and went down the stairs to the first level where trains like the Twentieth Century go. Then I went down more stairs to the second level where suburban trains leave from. I went through an arched doorway to get to the subway but ended up getting lost. It's easy to get lost in Grand Central because there are many different doorways, stairs, and corridors. Even though I've been there many times, I always discover new paths. Once, I ended up in a long tunnel and came out in the lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel. Another time, I ended up in an office building on Forty-sixth Street, three blocks away.



Page 2-3 (Para 1)


Sometimes I think Grand Central is growing like a tree, pushing out new corridors and staircases like roots.

There’s probably a long tunnel that nobody knows about feeling its way under the city right now, on its way to Times Square, and maybe another to Central Park. And maybe — because for so many people through the years Grand Central has been an exit, a way of escape — maybe that’s how the tunnel I got into... But I never told my psychiatrist friend about that idea


Paraphrase in Easy English


Sometimes I imagine that Grand Central is growing like a tree. It feels like it's extending new corridors and staircases, similar to how roots spread out. I think there might be a long tunnel under the city, unknown to anyone, making its way to Times Square. Maybe there's another tunnel leading to Central Park too. And perhaps, because Grand Central has been an escape route for many people over the years, that's how I ended up in the tunnel by accident. But I never shared this idea with my psychiatrist friend.



Page 3 (Para 2)


The corridor I was in began angling left and slanting downward and I thought that was wrong, but I kept on walking. All I could hear was the empty sound of my own footsteps and I didn’t pass a soul. Then I heard that sort of hollow roar ahead that means open space and people talking. The tunnel turned sharp left; I went down a short flight of stairs and came out on the third level at Grand Central Station. For just a moment I thought I was back on the second level, but I saw the room was smaller, there were fewer ticket windows and train gates, and the information booth in the centre was wood and oldlooking. And the man in the booth wore a green eyeshade and long black sleeve protectors. The lights were dim and sort of flickering. Then I saw why; they were open-flame gaslights.


Paraphrase in Easy English


The corridor I was walking in started to curve left and slope downward, which made me think it might be the wrong way. But I continued walking anyway. The only sound I could hear was the echo of my own footsteps, and I didn't encounter a single person. Then, I heard a distant noise and voices, as if there was an open space up ahead with people talking. The tunnel abruptly turned left, and I went down a short set of stairs and found myself on the third level of Grand Central Station. For a moment, I thought I had returned to the second level, but I noticed that the room was smaller and there were fewer ticket windows and train gates.


I noticed a man sitting in the booth. He was wearing a green visor that covered his eyes and long black sleeves that protected his arms. The lighting in the area was not very bright, and the lights seemed to flicker. Then I realized the reason behind this—those lights were actually open-flame gaslights, which created a dim and slightly flickering glow in the surroundings.



Page 4 (Para 1)

There were brass spittoons on the floor, and across the station a glint of light caught my eye; a man was pulling a gold watch from his vest pocket. He snapped open the cover, glanced at his watch and frowned. He wore a derby hat, a black four-button suit with tiny lapels, and he had a big, black, handlebar mustache. Then I looked around and saw that everyone in the station was dressed like eighteen-ninety-something; I never saw so many beards, sideburns and fancy mustaches in my life. A woman walked in through the train gate; she wore a dress with leg-of mutton sleeves and skirts to the top of her high-buttoned shoes. Back of her, out on the tracks, I caught a glimpse of a locomotive, a very small Currier & Ives locomotive with a funnel-shaped stack. And then I knew.


Paraphrase in Easy English

As I looked around, I noticed brass spittoons on the floor. Suddenly, a glimmer of light caught my attention. I saw a man across the station taking out a gold pocket watch from his vest. He opened the cover, checked the time, and seemed displeased. He was wearing a derby hat, a black suit with small lapels, and had a large, black mustache styled like a handlebar. Then I observed that everyone in the station was dressed in a fashion reminiscent of the 1890s. I had never seen so many beards, sideburns, and fancy mustaches in one place before. A woman entered through the train gate wearing a dress with puffy sleeves and a skirt that reached the top of her buttoned shoes. In the distance, on the tracks, I caught a glimpse of a locomotive. It was a small Currier & Ives locomotive with a funnel-shaped smokestack. That's when I realized something significant.



Glossary:

derby hat:

A derby hat, also known as a bowler hat, is a type of round, stiff-brimmed hat. It is typically made of felt and has a rounded crown. Derby hats were popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and were commonly worn by men as a fashionable accessory. They were often associated with formal or business attire and were a common sight in the fashion of the 1890s.


tiny lapels

Tiny lapels refer to the narrow or small-sized lapels on a suit jacket or coat.


Do You Know?

Lapels are the folded flaps of fabric on the front of a jacket that are attached to the collar. They can vary in width and style depending on fashion trends and personal preferences. In the context of the story, it suggests that the man's suit had lapels that were narrower or smaller in size compared to the typical or more traditional lapel styles. This detail helps paint a picture of the fashion style of the 1890s, which often featured more understated or slim lapels.


handlebar mustache

A handlebar mustache is a style of facial hair where the mustache is grown out and styled to curl upward at the ends, resembling the handlebars of a bicycle. The ends of the mustache are typically twisted or shaped using wax or other grooming products to maintain the distinctive shape.


Do you Know?

The handlebar mustache style was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and it is often associated with a more formal or refined appearance. In the context of the story, it indicates that the man had a large mustache styled in this distinctive way, contributing to the overall fashion and aesthetics of the 1890s era.


sideburns

In the context of the story, the mention of sideburns suggests that many people in the station were sporting facial hair that extended down the sides of their faces, which was a common style during the 1890s.


leg-of mutton sleeves

In the context of the story, "leg-of-mutton sleeves" refers to a specific style of sleeves worn by a woman entering the train gate. These sleeves are described as being puffy and voluminous at the upper arm, tapering down to a fitted cuff at the wrist. The mention of leg-of-mutton sleeves helps to convey the fashion of the time period, indicating that the woman's dress was designed with this particular style of sleeves commonly seen in the 1890s.

Do you Know?

Leg-of-mutton sleeves, also known as gigot sleeves, are a style of sleeves that were popular during the late 19th century, particularly in the 1890s. They are characterized by their large, puffy shape at the upper arm, tapering down to a fitted or narrower cuff at the wrist. The sleeves resemble the shape of a leg of mutton, hence the name.


Currier & Ives locomotive

A Currier & Ives locomotive refers to a type of steam locomotive that was commonly depicted in the artwork and prints created by the Currier & Ives publishing firm during the 19th century.


Do you Know?
  • Currier & Ives was known for producing popular lithographs and prints that showcased various scenes of American life, including landscapes, cityscapes, and transportation.

  • The term "Currier & Ives locomotive" in the context of the story suggests that the protagonist caught a glimpse of a small locomotive on the tracks that resembled the ones often depicted in Currier & Ives prints. These locomotives typically had a distinctive appearance with a funnel-shaped smokestack and other characteristic features associated with steam locomotives of the time.

  • By mentioning a Currier & Ives locomotive, the story evokes a sense of nostalgia and reinforces the setting of the late 19th century. It helps to create a vivid image of the locomotive and contributes to the overall ambiance and historical context of the scene.



funnel-shaped stack

In the context of the story, "funnel-shaped stack" refers to the design of the smokestack or chimney on the locomotive that the protagonist catches a glimpse of on the tracks. The term suggests that the smokestack had a shape similar to a funnel, wider at the base and tapering towards the top.


The mention of the funnel-shaped stack helps to paint a visual image of the locomotive and its distinctive appearance. It indicates that the locomotive belonged to an older design, characteristic of steam locomotives from the past, such as those seen in the late 19th century. The detail adds to the overall atmosphere and setting of the story, reinforcing the idea that the protagonist has somehow entered a different time period.



Page 4 (Para 2)


To make sure, I walked over to a newsboy and glanced at the stack of papers at his feet. It was The World; and The World hasn’t been published for years. The lead story said something about President Cleveland. I’ve found that front page since, in the Public Library files, and it was printed June 11, 1894.

Paraphrase in Easy English

To confirm what was happening, I approached a young boy selling newspapers and looked at the pile of papers by his feet. The newspaper I saw was called The World, but I knew that The World hadn't been published for many years in the present time. On the front page of the newspaper, there was a story related to President Cleveland. Later, I went to the Public Library and searched through their files. I found the exact front page of the newspaper I had seen, and it was dated June 11, 1894.


This experience was unusual because it showed that somehow I had traveled back in time. The fact that I found the same newspaper front page in the library's archives served as proof that I had indeed gone back to the year 1894. It added to the mystery and intrigue of my situation.



Page 4 (Para 3)

I turned toward the ticket windows knowing that here — on the third level at Grand Central — I could buy tickets that would take Louisa and me anywhere in the United States we wanted to go. In the year 1894. And I wanted two tickets to Galesburg, Illinois.

Paraphrase in Easy English

I walked over to the ticket windows on the third level of Grand Central Station, knowing that from there I could purchase tickets for me and my wife, Louisa, to travel anywhere we wanted in the United States. But there was a catch - we could only travel to places in the year 1894. I specifically asked for two tickets to Galesburg, Illinois, a specific destination I had in mind for our journey.



Page 4 (Para 4)

Have you ever been there? It’s a wonderful town still, with big old frame houses, huge lawns, and tremendous trees whose branches meet overhead and roof the streets. And in 1894, summer evenings were twice as long, and people sat out on their lawns, the men smoking cigars and talking quietly, the women waving palm-leaf fans, with the fire-flies all around, in a peaceful world. To be back there with the First World War still twenty years off, and World War II over forty years in the future... I wanted two tickets for that.


Paraphrase in Easy English

Have you ever been to Galesburg? it's a wonderful town. It still has big old houses made of wood, large lawns, and huge trees that create a roof-like canopy over the streets. In 1894, the town had longer summer evenings, and people would spend time sitting outside on their lawns. Men would smoke cigars and have quiet conversations, while women would use palm-leaf fans to keep cool. Fireflies would illuminate the surroundings, creating a peaceful atmosphere. I wanted two tickets to go back to that time, where the First World War was still two decades away and World War II was more than forty years in the future. I longed to experience that serene world again.



Page 5 (Para 1)


The clerk figured the fare — he glanced at my fancy hatband, but he figured the fare — and I had enough for two coach tickets, one way. But when I counted out the money and looked up, the clerk was staring at me. He nodded at the bills. ‘‘That ain’t money, mister,’’ he said, ‘‘and if you’re trying to skin me, you won’t get very far,’’ and he glanced at the cash drawer beside him. Of course the money was old-style bills, half again as big as the money we use nowadays, and different-looking. I turned away and got out fast. There’s nothing nice about jail, even in 1894.


Paraphrase in Easy English

The ticket clerk calculated the cost of the tickets. He glanced at my fancy hatband, but he still figured out the fare. I had enough money to buy two coach tickets for a one-way trip. However, when I counted the money and looked up, the clerk stared at me. He pointed out that the bills I had weren't the current money and accused me of trying to cheat him. He looked at the cash drawer next to him, perhaps considering calling the authorities. The money I had was from an older time, with bills that were bigger and had a different appearance than what we use today. I quickly left the scene because I didn't want to end up in jail, even in the year 1894.



Page 5 ( Para 2)


And that was that. I left the same way I came, I suppose. Next day, during lunch hour, I drew three hundred dollars out of the bank, nearly all we had, and bought old-style currency (that really worried my psychiatrist friend). You can buy old money at almost any coin dealer’s, but you have to pay a premium. My three hundred dollars bought less than two hundred in old-style bills, but I didn’t care; eggs were thirteen cents a dozen in 1894.


Paraphrase in Easy English


And that was the end of it. I left Grand Central Station the same way I had entered, I think. The following day, during my lunch break, I withdrew three hundred dollars from the bank, which was almost all the money we had. I used that money to purchase old-style currency, and this made my psychiatrist friend concerned. You can buy old money from various coin dealers, but it comes at a higher price. With my three hundred dollars, I could only get less than two hundred dollars' worth of old-style bills, but I didn't mind. In the year 1894, a dozen eggs cost only thirteen cents.



Page 5 ( Para 3)


But I’ve never again found the corridor that leads to the third level at Grand Central Station, although I’ve tried often enough.


Paraphrase in Easy English


But since that time, I have been unable to find the corridor that leads to the third level at Grand Central Station, no matter how hard I have tried. Despite my efforts, I haven't been able to locate the same pathway that took me there before.


Page 5 (Para 4)

Louisa was pretty worried when I told her all this, and didn’t want me to look for the third level any more, and after a while I stopped; I went back to my stamps. But now we’re both looking, every weekend, because now we have proof that the third level is still there. My friend Sam Weiner disappeared! Nobody knew where, but I sort of suspected because Sam’s a city boy, and I used to tell him about Galesburg — I went to school there — and he always said he liked the sound of the place. And that’s where he is, all right. In 1894.


Paraphrase in Easy English


Louisa was very concerned when I shared all this with her. She didn't want me to continue searching for the third level at Grand Central Station, and eventually, I stopped my efforts. I returned to focusing on my stamp collecting hobby. However, now both Louisa and I are searching for it again every weekend because we have proof that the third level still exists. Our friend Sam Weiner has disappeared, and no one knows where he went. But I have a hunch because Sam always expressed interest in Galesburg when I told him about it. I had attended school there, and he liked the idea of the place. And that's where he ended up, in 1894.



Page 5-6 (Para 5)


Because one night, fussing with my stamp collection, I found — Well, do you know what a first-day cover is? When a new stamp is issued, stamp collectors buy some and use them to mail envelopes to themselves on the very first day of sale; and the postmark proves the date. The envelope is called a first-day cover. They’re never opened; you just put blank paper in the envelope.


Paraphrase in Easy English

One night, while I was busy organizing my stamp collection, something surprising happened. I came across a special type of envelope called a "first-day cover." Do you know what that is? When a new stamp is released, collectors buy some and use them to mail envelopes to themselves on the very first day the stamp is available. The postmark on the envelope proves the date it was sent. These envelopes are called first-day covers. They are never opened; instead, blank paper is placed inside the envelope.


Page 6 (Para 1)


That night, among my oldest first-day covers, I found one that shouldn’t have been there. But there it was. It was there because someone had mailed it to my grandfather at his home in Galesburg; that’s what the address on the envelope said. And it had been there since July 18, 1894 — the postmark showed that — yet I didn’t remember it at all. The stamp was a six-cent, dull brown, with a picture of President Garfield. Naturally, when the envelope came to Granddad in the mail, it went right into his collection and stayed there — till I took it out and opened it.


Paraphrase in Easy english


That night, while going through my collection of oldest first-day covers, I discovered one that seemed out of place. It shouldn't have been there, but it was. The envelope had been mailed to my grandfather at his home in Galesburg, as stated on the address. Surprisingly, it had been in his possession since July 18, 1894, as shown by the postmark. Strangely, I had no recollection of it. The stamp on the envelope was a six-cent, dull brown one featuring President Garfield. Naturally, when the envelope arrived in the mail, my grandfather added it to his collection and kept it there until I eventually took it out and opened it.



Page 6 (Para 2)

941 Willard Street

Galesburg, Illinois

July 18, 1894


Charley I got to wishing that you were right. Then I got to believing you were right. And, Charley, it’s true; I found the third level! I’ve been here two weeks, and right now, down the street at the Daly’s, someone is playing a piano, and they’re all out on the front porch singing ‘Seeing Nelly Home.’ And I’m invited over for lemonade. Come on back, Charley and Louisa. Keep looking till you find the third level! It’s worth it, believe me!


Paraphrase in Easy english

The note inside the envelope wasn't blank. It had a message written on it:


941 Willard Street

Galesburg, Illinois

July 18, 1894

Charley,

I started to hope that you were correct. Then I started to believe that you were right. And, Charley, it's true; I discovered the third level! I have been here for two weeks now, and at this very moment, someone is playing the piano down the street at the Daly's house, and everyone is gathered on the front porch, singing the song "Seeing Nelly Home." They have invited me over for some lemonade. Charley and Louisa, come back! Keep searching until you find the third level! It's truly worth it, believe me!


The note is from someone in Galesburg, dated July 18, 1894, who is confirming that they have indeed found the elusive third level. They express their excitement and joy about the experiences they are having in the past and invite Charley and Louisa to join them. They encourage them to continue their search for the third level, assuring them that it's worth it.



Page 6 (Para 2)

The note is signed Sam. At the stamp and coin store I go to, I found out that Sam bought eight hundred dollars’ worth of old-style currency. That ought to set him up in a nice little hay, feed and grain business; he always said that’s what he really wished he could do, and he certainly can’t go back to his old business. Not in Galesburg, Illinois, in 1894. His old business? Why, Sam was my psychiatrist.


Paraphrase in Easy English


The note is signed by someone named Sam. I found out at the stamp and coin store that Sam had purchased eight hundred dollars' worth of old-style money. With that amount, he could start a small business selling hay, feed, and grain, which he had always expressed a desire to do. It seems that Sam cannot return to his previous profession. It's interesting to note that Sam was actually my psychiatrist.




STORY SEQUENCE

  • The story begins with the mention of a third level at the Grand Central Station , which in reality has only two levels.

  • Charley informs the entire experience to his psychiatrist friend, Sam. Charley thought he experienced time travel and had reached somewhere in 1890s.

  • His friend, Sam informs him that he has experienced hallucination.

  • According to Sam, in order to avoid the burden of modern life, Charlie experiences the third level of the Grand Central Station.

  • Sam informs Charley that his stamp collection is also an effort from his end to escape into the past.

  • His grandfather also collected stamp but in olden days, they had not experienced consequences of war and there was peace, harmony and security.

  • Charley then explains how he chose to take the Subway to his apartment instead of the usual bus after a late night shift. He did this in order to save time.

  • He describes himself as an ordinary man of 31 dressed in a tan gabardine suit and a straw hat with a fancy band..

  • Charley comes to the part of the incident where he entered the Grand Central from Vanderbilt Avenue and took the stairs to the first level where one boarded trains like the Twentieth Century. Then he went down another floor to reach the second level from where the suburban trains leave. From there he entered an arched doorway and got lost.

  • Once he entered the wrong lobby and reached Roosevelt Hotel and another time in an office building which was three blocks away. But this time he reaches the third lievel.

  • He wondered that Grand Central was expanding at a very fast rate because Grand Central is a place of exit for innumerable people.

  • The unusual corridor he had entered into began angling left and slanting downward However, he kept on walking. There was no one except him and the voice of his feet echoed.

  • He finally heard the sound of people talking from a distance, then he took a left and walked down the stairs again only to reach the third level of the Grand Central.

  • He noticed, the room was smaller, there were fewer ticket windows and train gates, and the information booth in the centre was wood and old looking. The man in the booth was also different and the station was dim-lit for there were open-flame gaslights.

  • As the clerk calculated the fare, Charley just had enough for one sided journey. Just as he took out money, the clerk informed that this is not the acceptable legal tender.

  • He ran out because he didn’t want to go to jail.

  • The next day during lunch he exchanged his 300 dollar for old style 200 dollars only. The loss does not trouble him as he thinks that in Galesburg everything will be cheaper.

  • But unfortunately he could never find the corridor leading to the third level again despite hard efforts.

  • His wife Louisa was pretty worried when she got to know about it all. And advised him not to look for third level any further.

  • One night Charley came across a first-day cover. It is an envelope (with a stamp on it) that stamp collectors mail to themselves on the first day of its sale to mark the date. The envelopes are blank inside and are not meant to be opened.

  • While searching for stamps, Charlie accidentally discovers a letter, which bears a postmark on a faded six-cent stamp with a picture of president Garfield. The envelope was sent on July 18, 1894 to Charley’s grandfather.

  • The letter reads that Sam had reached the third level and had been there for two weeks. He asks Charley and Louis to never stop searching for the third level and come back.



Recapitulation


  • The story revolves around a 31 year old man named Charley, who experienced something weird.

  • One day after work coming from he reached the third level of the Grand Central station (which does not actually exist).

  • He shares his experience with his psychiatrist friend Sam who thought he experienced time travel and had reached somewhere in the eighteen-nineties.

  • He went looking for the third level but failed to find it. It worried his wife.

  • Charley thus resorts to his stamp collection in order to distract himself when suddenly one day he finds a letter from his friend Sam who had gone missing recently.

  • He encourages Charley and Louisa to never stop looking for it.



Conclusion

  • This story brings us to the conclusion that people find it difficult to adjust with unpleasant things of everyday life.

  • Like any common man, Charlie too appreciates the ‘pleasures of everyday life.’

  • He wants to go back to past because 1894 was much more peaceful , secure and quiet than the contemporary world.

  • The insecurities and anxiety that come with war, terror and stress of modern day had occupied the common men like Charlie so much so that he wants a temporary relief from the pungent realities of life.


NCERT Solution:


Read and Find Out ( Page 1 & 5)


1. What does the third level refer to ?

Ans: The third level refers to the medium of escape from the present into the past. It is a psychological adventure for Charley for whom it is an escape from the current day worries, anxieties and tensions.


2. Would Charley ever go back to the ticket-counter on the third level to buy tickets to Galesburg for himself and his wife?


Ans: Third Level is a psychological adventure for Charley only. In reality it does not exist. His friend Sam refers to it as 'a waking -dream wish fulfilment only. Therefore, there is no possibility for Charley to ever go back to the ticket -counter on the third level to buy tickets for himself and his wife.




Reading with Insight ( Page 7/Vistas)


CBE Questions with Answers


1. Do you think that the third level was a medium of escape for Charley? Why?


Ans: For Charley the third level was a medium of escape . -a waking -dream wish fulfilment only. He could discover that the modern world was replete with insecurity, fear, war and stress. Therefore, he became nostalgic and travelled psychologically to the past in Galesburg of 1894.


2. What do you infer from Sam's letter to Charley?


Ans: Sam was influenced by Charley's insistence on the existence of third level at Grand Central Station. Like Charley he too became stressed from modern day anxiety, fear and tension . Therefore, he escaped into his imaginary world of third level. Sam's letter proves the fact that he was influenced by the Charley's ideas about the third level. The details of Galesburg and the year 1894 , which Sam furnished in his letter, goes on to prove that Sam himself liked the place and endorsed the fact that the third level does exist.





3. 'The modern world is full of insecurity, fear, war, worry and stress.' What are the ways in which we attempt to overcome them?


Ans: The modern world is replete with workplace pressure, societal pressure and other inescapable burdens of existence. We cannot just bypass them as they are the inevitable truth of life. As we cannot avoid them, we should learn to live with them. Insecurity, fear, war, worry and stress have become embedded into the society owing to pursuit of matter and greed for astronomical attainment in life by the society at large.


Therefore, every human being has to pass through this inevitable fact of life. They need to come to terms with every crisis - disaster, war, death and so on. They should remain preoccupied with their respective works, do their woks sincerely with utmost devotion and loyalty and leave the rest to the hands of the circumstances. We must understand that what cannot be cured must be endured.


4. Do you see an intersection of time and space in the story?


The story is an example of intersection of time and space. It can be divided into modern world and the world of the 1890s.


Firstly, two levels of Grand Central Station highlights the present time where as the third level belongs to the world of Galesburg, Illinois of 1890s. Moreover, the architecture of two levels of Grand Central is different from that of the third level.


Secondly, the reference of the writer of 21st century through the mention of New York Central , New York, New Haven , Hartford and of olden time with the reference of Galesburg, Illinois of 1890s clearly presents an intersection of time and space. His visit to the third level of Grand Central and the description of the place indicates the world of the nineteenth century.


Thirdly, Charley and his his wife Louisa belong to the modern time, yet he rushes to get two tickets to visit Galesburg of 1894 points to intersection of time and space.


Fourthly, the reference of letter that was mailed to Charley's grandfather on July 18, 1894 also hints at intersection of time and space as both Charley and Sam belong to the modern world.




5. Apparent illogicality sometimes turns out to be a futuristic projection. Discuss.

  • After reading the story we get to know that Charley was interested in travelling to Galesburg with his wife Louisa. However, he couldn’t locate the third level again.

  • The first time round, he found the third level by accident. When he reached the ticket-counter, he realised that the currency he had with him was not useful as it belonged to a different period.

  • He went back to convert his three hundred dollars into the “old-style currency” that could enable him to buy two tickets to Galesburg. However, when he returned to the Grand Central, he could not find the corridor leading to the third level. His psychological journey is an instance of illogicality.

  • We can conclude that our minds tend to go back to the past , which is an escape route to get rid of unpleasant reality around. But there may be an indication of some futuristic projecton like the catastrophe theory given in ' The Adventure' by Jayant Narlikar.

6. Philately helps keep the past alive. Discuss other ways in which this is done. What do you think of the human tendency to constantly move between the past, the present and the future?

Ans:

Philately refers to the collection and study of postage stamps. Stamp collecting certainly makes us nostalgic and gives way to the past world as it has pictures of the people or things of the past. We love to ruminate over the facts and figures of the past when the pictures on the stamps make us feel curious to do research on things that interest us. For instance, the narrator’s seeing the stamps and first-day covers brings to life the past of his grandfather.

The other ways in which we can keep the past alive include letter, photographs, historical monuments, paintings and so on.

Human beings by nature love to switch between the past, present and future. Past, present and future are interconnected. What we are today is due to our action in the past, and what we shall be tomorrow is due to our action today. So every course of action is related to the past, present and the future. Existential worries act like a catalyst, which compel human mind to move between the past, the present and the future. ‘ The Third Level’ is a study of the human mind caught in this cycle of time.




7. You have rad ‘Adventure’ by Jayant Narlikar in Hornbill Class XI. Compare the interweaving of fantasy and reality in the two chapters.


Adventure by Jayant Narlikar supports the catastrophe theory with the help of Professor Gaitonde. He went through the book on the Battle of Panipat and went to the Azad Maidan. The catastrophic influence affected his mind and he read something else in the book later. Similarly in ‘The Third Level’ Charley’s psychiatrist friend Sam diagnoses him as a product of ‘a waking-dream wish fulfilment.’ It is due to Charley’s escap from the modern world of insecurity , fear, war, worry etc When Charley tells his experience of third level to Sam, it strikes his mind that one can visit Galesburg from the third level. Therefore, with the help of catastrophic theory he started thinking of Galesburg and psychologically went there. Charley may have also visited to Galesburg through stamp seeing. Sam’s letter and Charley’s previous visit to Galesburg goes on to prove that there is an interweaving of fantasy and fact into these two stories.




Extra Questions


Q1. What does the narrator think of Grand Central? What does it symbolize?

Ans :The narrator thinks that Grand Central is growing like a tree. It pushes out new corridors and staircases like roots. There are long tunnels under the city on their ways to Times Square and to Central Park. The Grand Central symbolizes the labyrinth that this world is with its intricate and tangled pathways. It has always been an exit, a way to escape.

Q2. What strange things did the narrator see when he reached the third level of Grand Central?

Ans :Charley noticed a difference in the way things looked at the third level of the Grand Central Station. It was smaller, with fewer ticket counters and had an old look of the 1890s with wooden booths, dim open-flame gaslights, brass spittoons and an old-style locomotive with a funnel shaped stack. Even the people’s attire was old fashioned and men had funny handle-bar mustaches and sideburns. The whole setting was in contrast to the modern times.

Q3. How did the narrator come to know that he was actually at the third level of Grand Central? Ans :The narrator walked over to a news boy. He glanced at the stack of newspapers. It was The World and The World had not been published for years. The lead story was about President Cleveland. Later on, he confirmed from the public library files that the newspaper was dated 11th June 1894.

Q4. How does the narrator’s psychiatrist friend react to the narrator’s statement that the third level exists?

Ans :The narrator’s psychiatrist friend, Sam Weiner, says it is ‘a waking-dream-wish fulfilment’. He says that the narrator is unhappy and the modern world is full of insecurity, fear, war and worry. So, he wants to escape and has created an imaginary third level.

Q 5. How did Louisa react when the narrator told his wish to go to the third level to buy tickets?


Ans :When the narrator told Louisa about his wish she got pretty worried. She was a loving and a caring wife. She got alarmed at Charley’s claim of having been to the third level. His exchanging the currency was a cause of concern. She thought the third level to be a product of Charley’s imagination and asked him to stop looking for it. However, after some time they both started looking for the third level.




Q6. What happened to the narrator’s psychiatrist friend Sam Weiner?


Ans : One day the narrator’s psychiatrist friend Sam Weiner disappeared. He always said that he liked Galesburg very much and its sound. From this I deduce that even Sam was affected by the stress of modern living and sought temporary refuge by travelling through time.

Q7. Why was Charley sure that his psychiatrist friend had gone back to the year 1894 in Galesburg?


Ans :Charley’s psychiatrist friend Sam had disappeared. One night going through his first-day covers, Charley found one dated 1894 and with his Grandfather’s address on it. He opened and found inside a letter from Sam addressed to him. He invited him to the third level saying that it was worth it.

Q8. What is the first-day cover? Describe the first-day cover envelope that the narrator found among his collection.


Ans : At that time when a new stamp is issued, stamp collectors buy some of them and use them in order to mail envelopes to themselves and the postmark proves the date. That envelope is called the firstday cover.

The first-day cover envelope was dated July 18, 1894. It was addressed to his grandfather in Galesburg. It carried a letter from Sam addressed to Charley. The stamp was a six-cent, dull brown, with a picture of President Garfield.



Q9. What did the narrator find about Sam Weiner when he went to the stamp and coin store?


Ans :When the narrator went to the stamp and coin store he came to know that Sam had bought eight hundred dollars worth of old currency. That ought to set him up in a nice little hay, feed and grain business. He always wanted to do that. He didn’t want to go back to his old business. Not in Galesburg, Illinois, in 1894, Charley felt that the services of a psychiatrist would not be needed in Galesburg of 1894, his friend would be jobless there.




CBE-Based Questions:


Q1. What would have Sam done in Galesburg for his living? Why? [CBSE 2020]


Ans: Given the time period in which Sam finds himself in Galesburg, Illinois, in 1894, it's likely that he would have pursued a livelihood that aligns with the prevalent economic activities and opportunities of that era. One plausible option for Sam's living could be:


Establishing a Business:

Sam might have used a portion of the old-style currency he purchased to start a business, considering that he always wished he could own a hay, feed, and grain business. The agricultural nature of Galesburg and the surrounding areas during that time would have provided ample opportunities for such enterprises. Sam's familiarity with city life and his desire for a more straightforward lifestyle could have led him to embrace the agricultural sector as a means of earning a living.


Q2.What would you describe as your “waking dream wish fulfilment”? Explain. [CBSE Question Bank 2021]


"Waking-dream wish fulfillment," as explained by Sam, refers to the phenomenon of experiencing a dreamlike scenario that fulfills one's deepest desires or wishes while being awake. In the context of the story, the Third Level at Grand Central Station serves as a manifestation of this concept.


Q3. What genre does ‘The Third Level’ belong to?


"The Third Level" by Jack Finney belongs to the science fiction and fantasy genre. The story explores the concept of time travel and the existence of a mysterious third level at Grand Central Station that allows characters to escape to the past.


Q4. Why do you think Charley withdrew nearly all the money he had from the bank to buy old-style currency? [CBSE Question Bank 2021]


Ans: Charley withdrew nearly all the money he had from the bank to buy old-style currency because he needed it to make purchases on the Third Level at Grand Central Station. When he initially tried to buy tickets with modern currency, the clerk rejected it, considering it counterfeit. To avoid suspicion and ensure a successful transaction, Charley exchanged his modern money for old-style bills, matching the currency used in the year 1894 on the Third Level. This decision was driven by Charley's determination to explore the mysterious Third Level and his understanding that the currency of the time was necessary for any transactions in that unique temporal space.


Q5. How would you evaluate Sam’s character? Elucidate any two qualities, and substantiate with evidence from the text. [CBSE Question Bank 2021]


Ans: 1. Curiosity and Adventurous Spirit:

Sam's character displays a strong sense of curiosity and an adventurous spirit. He actively explores the mysterious Third Level, embracing the idea of time travel and the opportunity to experience life in a different era. The evidence for this quality is found in Sam's letter, where he expresses his excitement about finding the Third Level: "I got to wishing that you were right. Then I got to believing you were right. And, Charley, it’s true; I found the third level!"


2. Willingness to Embrace Change:

Sam exhibits a willingness to embrace change by choosing to stay in the past once he discovers the Third Level. Instead of being apprehensive about the unfamiliar environment of 1894, Sam fully immerses himself in the experience, even enjoying social interactions with people from that time. The evidence lies in his letter, describing the atmosphere in Galesburg, "someone is playing a piano, and they’re all out on the front porch singing ‘Seeing Nelly Home.’ And I’m invited over for lemonade."

Sam's character is marked by a combination of curiosity and adaptability, making him open to unconventional experiences and willing to explore the unknown.


Q6. At the beginning of the story, Sam is sceptical of Charley’s discovery of the third level. By the end of the story, the reader is told that he found the third level and travelled back in time. How would Sam diagnose himself? [CBSE Question Bank 2021]


If Sam were to diagnose himself, considering his initial skepticism and eventual embrace of the Third Level and time travel, he might attribute his transformation to a shift in perspective or a reevaluation of his beliefs. Sam could diagnose himself with a change in mindset or a newfound openness to unconventional possibilities. This transformation could be described as a realization of the potential for extraordinary experiences beyond the constraints of conventional thinking, possibly aligning with concepts of personal growth and a broadening of one's worldview. However, as the story doesn't explicitly delve into Sam's self-diagnosis or psychological analysis, this interpretation remains speculative.


Q7. Imagine that you come across Louisa’s diary. What might you find in it about the third level? Compose at least one diary entry based on any of the events from the story, ‘The Third Level’. [CBSE Question Bank 2021]


Ans: Diary Entry - Louisa's Perspective:


July 25, 2024

Today has been an extraordinary day, and I feel compelled to document it in my diary. Charley has been persistent in his search for the elusive Third Level at Grand Central Station, and I couldn't help but share his skepticism initially. However, something remarkable happened.

Charley returned home with an old-fashioned envelope in his hands, and inside was a letter from Sam. Yes, our dear Sam, the one who doubted the existence of the Third Level. In disbelief, I read Sam's words recounting his journey back in time to 1894. His descriptions of Galesburg, Illinois, and the simplicity of life there were vivid, almost enchanting.


I find myself torn between skepticism and a yearning to believe. Could Charley's discovery be true? Sam's letter seems genuine, and the presence of a first-day cover mailed to my grandfather in 1894 adds a layer of credibility. Charley's excitement is infectious, and now, we embark on a joint quest every weekend to find this mysterious Third Level.


Is it a waking-dream wish fulfillment, as Sam initially thought? Or could there be a portal to another time right under our noses? Time will tell, and I can't help but feel a mix of apprehension and exhilaration as we continue this intriguing journey.

Louisa


Q8. Imagine that you have found the third level. Would you take this opportunity to travel to the past or let it go? Why/why not? If yes, where would you go from the Grand Central?

Ans:


The choice to travel to the past or let the opportunity go would likely depend on individual preferences, attachments, and motivations. Some might be drawn to the allure of a simpler time, free from the complexities of the modern world. Others might choose to remain in the present, valuing the advancements and opportunities that come with contemporary living.

If one were to decide to travel to the past from the Grand Central Third Level, the destination would be a deeply personal choice. It could be a place with sentimental value, a historical period of interest, or simply a desire to experience a different era. Galesburg, Illinois, as mentioned in the story, might be a popular choice due to its idyllic portrayal in the narrative. The decision would hinge on individual aspirations, nostalgia, and the desire for a particular time and place.

 

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