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NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Literature Chapter 4 A Shady Plot

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NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Literature Chapter 4 A Shady Plot

NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Literature Chapter 4 A Shady Plot

NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Literature Chapter 4 A Shady Plot is part of NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English. Here we have given NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Literature Chapter 4 A Shady Plot.

All questions and answers from the NCERT Book of class 10 English Chapter 4 are provided here for you for free.

Board CBSE
Textbook NCERT
Class Class 10
Subject English Literature
Chapter Chapter 4
Chapter Name A Shady Plot
Category NCERT Solutions

NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Literature Chapter 4 A Shady Plot

(Pages 33 and 46)

Question 1.
Given below is a list of words related to ghosts and ghost stories with their jumbled up meanings against them. Match the words/expressions with their correct meanings :
NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Literature Chapter 4 A Shady Plot 1
NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Literature Chapter 4 A Shady Plot 2

(a) – (vii)
(b) – (xiv)
(c) – (ix)
(d) – (xi)
(e) – (viii)
(f) – (x)
(g) – (xii)
(h) – (xiii)
(i) – (iv)
(j) – (iii)
(k) – (i)
(l) – (v)
(m) – (vi)
(n) – (ii)

Question 2.
The title of the story is A Shady Plot. The dictionary defines the words as:

shady adjective
(а) Full of shade ; shaded.
(b) Casting shade : a shady grove.
(c) Quiet, dark, or concealed ; hidden.
(d) Of dubious character or of questionable honesty,

plot noun
(a) (i) a small piece of ground, generally used for a specific purpose: a garden plot.
(ii) a measured area of land.
(b) a ground plan, as for a building; a diagram.
(c) storyline-the plan, scheme, or main story of a literary or dramatic work, as a play, novel, or short story.
(d) a secret plan to accomplish a hostile or illegal purpose; a scheme.

Based on the definitions above can you predict what the story will be about? Make a brief note of your prediction in your notebook.


Seeing the definition given in the dictionary (as also given here), I can predict to some extent about the story. I think that it may be about some quiet, dark or concealed, or hidden matter that is not seen on the surface. Secondly, the matter may be covered up in a plot (storyline) as to be understood clearly. Thirdly, it may be possible that the story may relate to some sort of conspiracy for an attempted murder.

Or the story may be about some supernatural events that have been a part of literature. Ghosts may appear in human form, do some damage and trouble the innocent human beings for long. Ghosts, I presume, are associated mostly with evil.

The title does indicate these possibilities. What the story is all about will be clear after it is gone through.

Question 3.
Read the story given below. Your teacher will use a variety of techniques for different parts of the story. For example :

  • Silent reading
  • One student reading aloud to the whole class
  • Students reading in small groups
  • Dramatised reading in small groups

Activity meant for class level.

Question 4.
Based on your reading of the story above, answer the following questions by ticking the correct options.

1. The narrator earns his living by ……

(а) writing ghost stories
(b) working as a reader for a magazine
(c) working as a stenographer
(d) working as an accountant in a lumber company

2. The writer was overconfident about his ability to write ghost stories because ……

(a) whenever magazines wanted a ghost story, they got in touch with him
(b) he was always able to write a ghost story whenever he had to write one
(c) the readers appreciated his ghost stories
(d) he knew the ghost lady would help him write a good ghost story

3. The sight of the ghost materialising in his room filled the narrator with ……

(a) fear
(b) excitement
(c) joy
(d) anticipation

4. The ghost wanted John to

(a) stop his wife from using the Ouija board
(b) stop using the Ouija board himself
(c) stop his guests from using the Ouija board
(d) stop people from using the Ouija board

5. John wants the ghost to disappear before his wife enters the room and waves his arms at the ghost with something of the motion of a beginner when learning to swim. His movement shows his ………

(a) fear
(b) amusement
(c) desperation
(d) anxiety

6. When the narrator says his wife is never so pretty as when she’s doing something she knows he disapproves of, his tone is ……….

(а) amused
(b) ironic
(c) angry
(d) irritated

7. The ghost says “It’s all your fault”. ‘It’ here refers to ………

(a) the narrator’s wife’s anger
(b) the ghost’s anger
(c) the narrator’s wife leaving him
(d) the ghost materialising in sections

8. Gladolia wishes to leave the narrator’s house as ……….

(a) she does not like the Ouija boards
(b) she is afraid of the ghost
(c) she is afraid of magic and hoodoo
(d) she likes Ouija boards and hoodoo


  1. (d) working as an accountant
  2. (b) he was always able to write a ghost in a lumber company story whenever he had to write one
  3. (d) anticipation
  4. (d) stop people from using the Ouija board
  5. (c) desperation
  6. (b) ironic
  7. (a) the narrator’s wife’s anger
  8. (c) she is afraid of magic and hoodoo

Question 5.
Answer the following questions briefly :
(a) What genre of stories does Jenkins want the narrator to write ? Why ?

(b) Does the narrator like writing ghost stories ? Support your answer with evidence from the story.

(c) What makes Helen, the ghost, and her other co-ghosts organize The Writer’s Inspiration Bureau ? (V. Imp.) (CBSE 2016)

(d) Why had Helen, the ghost been helping the narrator write ghost stories ? Why was she going on strike ? What condition did she place for providing continued help ? (V. Imp.)

(e) How does the ghost undermine the narrator’s faith in his ability to write ghost stories ?

(f) Why does John want the ghost to disappear before his wife appears on the scene ? What impression of his wife’s character do you form from his words ? (V. Imp.)

(g) Why does the narrator hesitate to be a partner to Laura Hinkle during the Ouija Board Party ? (V. Imp.)
Why didn’t John want to partner Laura Hinkle at the Ouija Board party ? (CBSE 2016)

(h) What message does the ghost convey to the group that had assembled in the narrator’s house ? What is their reaction to the message ?

(i) Do you agree with the narrator calling the assembly of women “manipulators” ? Give reasons.

(j) Why is John’s wife angry ? What does she decide to do ? (V. Imp.)
Why did John’s wife get angry with him ? What did she decide to do ? (CBSE 2016)
Why is John’s wife angry and what does she decide to do ? (CBSE 2016)

(k) Why does John wish he were dead ? (CBSE 2016)

(l) When confronted by Lavinia about his flirtations over the Ouija Board, John insists that ‘the affair was quite above-board, I assure you, my love’. Bring out the pun in John’s statement.

(m) John’s apprehensions about his wife’s reaction to her encounter with the ghost are unfounded. Justify. (V. Imp.)


(a) Jenkins wants the narrator (Hallock) to write the ghost stories, that is, supernatural stories involving ghosts etc. The public wants to read horrors and the narrator’s supernatural stories have got that stuff. His ghosts look like real ones and his stories are popular.

(b) The narrator likes to write ghost stories or we can say he has no choice except to write such ones. He himself says that he is in no position to contradict Jenkins who wants ghost stories from him. Then his magazine is the only one magazine that prints his stuff.

(c) Helen, the ghost, tells Hallock the narrator that she used to write in the other life. She went to work as a reader on a magazine. But those were terrible days as their memory made her mistake purgatory for paradise. When she attained her present state of being she decided to do something. Since she and other ghosts suffered, they organized ‘The Writer’s Inspiration Bureau’.

(d) Helen, the ghost, had been helping the narrator write ghost stories because he had been without ideas for his stories. She went on strike because as a reader on a magazine she had had terrible days. She placed a condition that she would help him if he got all his friends and acquaintances stop using the Ouija boards.

(e) The ghost undermines the narrator’s faith in his ability to write ghost stories by putting a condition. She tells him that if he stops his friends and acquaintances from using Ouija boards, she will help him. Otherwise not. But Hallock couldn’t stop them from using these boards.

(f) John wants the ghost to disappear before his wife appears on the scene. It is because he is afraid that she wouldn’t tolerate his talking to another woman. His talking to ‘her’ might create problems for their married life. His wife is jealous like all other women placed in such a situation.

(g) The narrator hesitates to be a partner to Laura Hinkle because he doesn’t want to use Ouija board. Secondly, he doesn’t like Laura Hinkle as she is like a flirtatious crocodile and is a cheat.

(h) The group had been using Ouija boards despite the ghost’s not wanting it. So she called ‘John’ through them blaming him for cheating on her (Helen). The women’s reaction was that of being in trouble as they, too, were calling John’s name together.

(i) I agree with the narrator calling the assembly of women as ‘manipulators’. It is because they work through shortcuts and through dubious methods. Helen, the ghost, doesn’t want them to use Ouija boards but they do. So they all are ‘manipulators’.

(j) John’s wife is angry because she is jealous that her husband should talk to another woman. So she is like all women in this. She decides to leave John Hallock, her husband, getting angry over it.

(k) John wishes he were dead after he received a kind of threat from his wife on a slip of paper. It is that she is leaving him with a threat. Her lawyer will communicate with f him later about this all.

(l) The pun is on ‘the affair was quite above-board’. John admits flirting with Hinkle but he was compelled by his wife to couple with her. He himself didn’t want to couple with her on his own.

(m) John’s apprehensions about his wife’s reaction to her encounter with the ghost are unfounded. He thinks that Lavinia, his wife, would be jealous of her and would leave him. But it is never so. She looks at the ghost and should swoon due to fright. But she stands strong and faces her boldly.

Question 6.
Answer the following questions in detail :
(a) After her reconciliation with her husband, John Hallock, Lavinia writes a letter to her friend expressing how her relationship with him had almost been on the verge of breaking and what saved it. Write her letter. (V. Imp.)

(b) John Hallock reflects upon his experience with Helen’s ghost and in retrospect he finds it quite amusing. All the same he is relieved that he is no longer plagued by it. r Ironically, the self same ghost inspires his creativity and he writes a diary entry reflecting upon the comical aspect of his experience. Write his diary entry. (V. Imp.)


(a) 18, East End Road
15 September, 20 –
My dear Shermon
I hope you are feeling fine. I thank God that my household life is now safe. At one point it had nearly broken. I found my husband flirting with Miss Laura Hinkle on the Ouija board, though I myself had asked Hallock to couple with her. Seeing him thus I got out of control and wrote him a slip of paper. I wrote that I was going to leave him and my lawyer would talk to him. Earlier also, I had seen Hallock talking loudly while sitting in the dark. When I asked him why he was sitting in the dark, he didn’t give a suitable reply. He also told a lie that he was not talking though I had heard him talking to someone. You know, all men are alike. They can’t be trusted when they interact with other women.

The other day Gladolia, our cook, threatened that she won’t stay with us as we dealt with hoodooing and magic. I went straight to Hallock and asked him what he had been trying to conceal from me. Then I saw Helen, the ghost. I must have almost – fainted at seeing the ghost. But I faced her with all my strength. I asked her if she was Helen of Troy as we had heard this name the previous night while being at Ouija boards. She replied that she used to be Helen of Troy, New York. Then I understood what had been going on with Hallock in my absence. I regret having doubted Hallock. I begged forgiveness of Hallock. Now everything is alright.
With best wishes
Yours sincerely

(b) 13th September, 20 – 9.30 pm
It was really an amusing experience that a ghost named Helen visited me last night. I was sitting on the desk to write a ghost story and looking at the ceiling for inspiration. Helen materialized in parts before me. She told me some funny things which are hard to find in ghosts. First, she told me that she had been a writer herself, then a reader. They were overworked and formed ‘The Writer’s Inspiration Bureau’. They would visit the writers like me to inspire them. She then asked me to get my friends and acquaintances stop using the Ouija boards. Meanwhile, my wife had bought one such board and had organized a party of my wife’s Book Club. I tried that all women should stop using these boards but it didn’t happen. All the women heard the names of‘Helen’ from these boards. I stood transfixed at it. I felt nervous that my name was being called from these boards as ‘Traitor’.

I didn’t treat Helen as a ghost at all as she had all the attributes of a real human being. On the other hand, I cut jokes with her like what would happen if her parts got mixed up as she would appear in parts. Then she looked like an applicant for my advertisement. Finally, my wife told her that she thought she was Helen of Troy. But she told that she was Helen of Troy, New York. Truly, I never treated Helen as a ghost. I wish she would come again to me !


Question 7.
The narrator and his wife reveal something about their character in their words and actions. We also learn about them from what other people say. Can you pick out the words that describe them from the box given below ? Also, pick out lines and instances from the story to illustrate your choice.
NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Literature Chapter 4 A Shady Plot 3
NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Literature Chapter 4 A Shady Plot 4
NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Literature Chapter 4 A Shady Plot 5
John Hallock
1. Overconfident, creative, loves novelty and thrills
Extract: Jenkins said “Hallock,” …“give us another on the supernatural this time…. live propositions.”

4. Extract: And somehow I’d always been able to dig one up for him, so I’d begun to get a bit cocky as to my faculty, (overconfident, creative)

5. Extract : Well, I was in no position to contract Jenkins, for as yet, his magazine had been the only one to print my stuff. So I had said “Precisely!” in the deepest voice I was capable of, and had gone out. (protective)

Lavinia Hallock
Extracts :

1. “You know I bought the loveliest thing this afternoon.
Everybody’s wild over them !” (loves novelty and thrills)

2. It’s the duckiest, darlingest Ouija board, and so cheap, (spendthrift)

3. Lavinia cast a cold eye upon me. “You are acting very queerly”, she sniffed. “You are concealing something from me.” (suspicious, jealous)

4. Then my Lavinia turned waspishly to me again. “John, there’s not a bit of use trying to deceive me. What is you are trying to conceal from me ?” (jealous, suspicious)

Question 8.
Gladolia, the narrator’s cook, is an African. The language she speaks is different from that of the others. This is known as Dialect. A diqlect consists of words or phrases that reflect the regional variety of a language. An author often uses a regional dialect to make the dialogue more authentic. Initially a dialogue may seem a little difficult to understand. However, as you continue reading, the language will become more comprehensible

Working in groups, write what Gladolia’s words mean as shown.

Column A Column B
(a) Misto Hallock
(b) de Missus
(c) sho t’inks you’s lost!
(d) she done ‘phone you dis mawnin’
(e) fo’de lawd’s sake
(f) not to stop to argify now
(g) I’s gwine t’ quit.
(h) I don’t like no hoodoos.
(i) I’se done lef dis place
(j) I is
• Mister Hallock

(b) (The) Mrs.Answer:

(c) she thinks you have (been) lost
(d) she phoned you this morning
(e) for (the) God’s (Lord’s) sake
(f) not to argue now
(g) I am going to quit
(h) I don’t like (black) magic, hoodoo etc.
(i) I have left this place
(j) I am.

Question 9.
Read and understand the following ghost phrases and expressions :

(a) To give up the ghost — to die or to stop trying
(b) A ghost of a chance — a poor chance, not likely to happen
(c) The ghost at the feast — something or someone that spoils your enjoyment by reminding you of something unpleasant
(d) Ghost town — a town where most people have left-abandoned and deserted
(e) Ghost-write — to write for someone else
(f) Lay the ghost of something/somebody (to rest) — to finally stop being worried or upset by something or someone that has worried or upset you for a long time
(g) Ghost image — secondary image, esp. one appearing on a television screen as a white shadow, caused by poor or double reception or by a defect in the receiver
(h) the ghost of a smile — faint trace of a smile
(i) As white as a ghost — very pale or white in the face

Now complete the following story by using the appropriate phrases in the blanks given below :

I was alone in a place that bore a deserted look like that of a (a) _____ I increased the pace of my footsteps as I walked through the dark forest. I felt someone walking behind me. I turned immediately and spotted the contour of a figure in the form of a (b) _____ It smiled at me wickedly. I started shaking with fear and perspiring profusely when I felt its skeletal hand upon my neck. I woke up with a start, relieved that it was only a nightmare.

This was not the first time I had had one. It had all started when I had watched the horrendous horror film with an eerie ghost character that had a scary ghost of a smile on its face. It had been almost a month. The strange thing was that I saw a similar face at the station the next morning. That was uncanny.

I was to attend a dinner at my friend’s at Northanger Abbey that night. I had decided to narrate my experience to the group that would assemble there although I knew there was (c) _____ that they would be convinced.

After everyone had finished pouring their drinks to themselves, I cleared my throat and started narrating my spooky experience. However, every one of the group started accusing me of being (d) _____ and held me responsible for spoiling the spirit of revelry. I gave up the ghost and sat quietly waiting for the party to be over. Back at home, the fears returned. I knew I had to talk about my experience to somebody to feel better. I have now decided to (e) _____ and publish my experience under a pseudonym. Only then can I (f) _____


(a) ghost town
(b) ghost image
(c) a ghost of a chance
(d) the ghost at the feast
(e) ghost-write
(f) lay the ghost of something

Question 10.

Ghosts and haunting have fascinated the public for centuries. Although many doubt the existence of ghosts or other paranormal entities, many people dedicate their lives to searching and recording paranormal activity. Ghost tours, support groups, and research societies, to name just a few, permeate our society and seek to answer questions about paranormal activity.

Interview your friends, relatives and people in your neighbourhood about whether they believe in the existence of ghosts. Ask them to tell you of any specific experiences they might have had in this context. In your groups identify the most fascinating anecdote you gathered on the basis of your interactions. Narrate it to the class.


For students’ self-attempt. One sample Answer is given below :

A group of four young boys developed a desire to see a ghost. They had heard that one could see a ghost at or around midnight near Shiela cinema. They deliberately bought the tickets for the night show. After the show was over they walked out in a romantic mood hoping to encounter a beautiful damsel. Their wish somehow materialized and they saw a really beautiful damsel. She beckoned one of them as they were scattered at some distance from one another. It was around 1 : 30 am. By chance the boy beckoned by her had heard that ghosts have their feet (toe and fingers) to their back side. He happened to see her feet this way. A chill settled at once down his spine. He concluded that the damsel was, indeed, a ghost. He panicked and shouting ran and ran. Meanwhile, his friends, too, had taken to their heels. (As narrated to the author by one of his friends)

Note : Students can add a spicy kind of language and hot dialogues for narrating to the class or acting before it. They may add some blood-curdling signs and sounds. These should look like those of the ghosts. Strange cries in between could make the show realistic and thrilling.

Question 11.
Do you think a story has an atmosphere ? Complete the following blanks to make up your ghost story by choosing the correct options.
NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Literature Chapter 4 A Shady Plot 7
NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Literature Chapter 4 A Shady Plot 8


(a) door of the castle
(b) fearfully
(c) terrifying
(d) apparition
(e) knife
(f) ghoulish

Now that you have shared a ghost story / anecdote as well as completed a guided story in the class, create your own Ghost story on the basis of the starters given below:

(a) Stephen knew he would never sleep. The noises, those horrid sounds, would keep him awake…
(b) Tap, tap, tap. Was it the branches of the nearby tree, or fingernails against the window ?
(c) People often say, ‘There’s no such thing as ghosts…

You are familiar with the key elements of a short story viz setting, plot, conflict, character and point of view. Given below are specifics to be kept in mind while writing a Ghost story. Also make use of the vocabulary that you have learnt from the story A Shady Plot.

  • Colours, sounds, feeling words
  • Strong definite characters
  • Creating suspense
  • Setting the scene and the atmosphere
  • Describing the weather
  • Clear opening line
  • Personal feelings
  • Clear ending
  • Describing the sounds
  • Adding a dramatic element
  • Mystery

NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Literature Chapter 4 A Shady Plot 9

Students to attempt on their own. Such questions are never asked in the examinations.

Question 12.
While conventional Ghost stories are scary and gruesome, several modern versions are humorous. The Canterville Ghost, by Oscar Wilde, is one of the best ghost stories written in the vein of laughing satire. The story that you just read is another example in case. Humour arises out of the narrator’s ability to laugh at himself, clever use of language as well as comic situations. Discuss within your groups what makes the Shady Plot humorous. Share your views during a whole class discussion.


Meant for discussion at class level. Some information given below will help the students greatly in their discussion :

‘A Shady Plot’ is not actually a ghost story as per the genre. It is like ‘The Canterville Ghost’ by Oscar Wilde, a laughing satire. The ghost Helen is a ghostly figure but is more a human than a ghost. The author has drawn her character and role humorously and with a colour of satire on ghosts. There are valid points for it. First, the humorous ones :

→ ‘Helen’ wears spectacles—no ghosts will do that
→ Hallock’s asking her that she comes in sections and if these got mixed up what would happen
→ Hallock isn’t scared of the ghost but he must, instead cuts jokes and puts strange questions
→ Treats her as if she were an applicant for his advertisement
→ Ghost’s going on strike, forming a Union
→ Finally, she calls herself‘Helen of Troy, New York’

Satirical aspects :

→ Helen’s character as a ghost a full-fledged satire on ghosts
→ Hallock’s talks to her satirical
→ Forming of a Union, going on strike too funny
→ Helen’s behaving like a human being and Hallock like a lord of the ghosts underpinning the existence of ghosts
→ Helen a character of a ghost – making her an object of pity.

Question 13.
Listen to the extract from The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde and complete the following tasks as directed.

1. Answer the following questions :

1. The Ghost loved the stormy weather because ….. (Complete the statement by ticking the correct option)

(а) he liked the rain
(b) he liked the strong wind that shook and rattled all the windows and doors in the old house
(c) his plan would fail otherwise
(d) such weather was ideal for frightening the people in the house.

2. The Ghost was particularly angry with Washington and wished to frighten him because ….. (Complete the statement)

3. The Ghost did not wish to frighten Virginia because ….. (Complete the statement)

4. The Ghost was most angry with ….. (Complete the statement by ticking the correct option)

(a) Mr and Mrs Otis
(b) Virginia
(c) Washington
(d) The Twins

Write two striking qualities of the Ghost as are revealed in this extract.

(a) _______________
(b) _______________


1. (d) such weather was ideal for frightening the people in the house.

2. he kept on removing the famous Canterville blood-stain by using his Pinkerton’s Paragon Detergent

3. she had never insulted him in any way, and was pretty and gentle

4. (d) The Twins

5. (a) determined, (b) resolute, (c) unrelenting, (d) revengeful, (e) humane (Choose any two)

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