Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 486
"The Last Class" tells the story of Franz's last French lesson. The Germans have just taken over the Alsace region and have banned the teaching of French in all schools.
At the beginning of the story, Franz is blissfully unaware that the Germans are taking over. Even when the Blacksmith, foreshadowing the grave news Franz is about to hear, tells him to get to school quickly because it's not safe, Franz presumes he is only joking.
So Franz made haste at last, although he was sure that the blacksmith was not in earnest, and he arrived all breathless, at his class.
Though Franz's naive tone continues through the story, at times it seems mixed with a sad feeling he doesn't quite comprehend. When he finds out that that this will be his last French lesson, for example, he feels a sense of guilt about how he had previously just wasted time in class.
Franz’s last lesson in French! And he could not write it without mistakes! He remembered all the time that he had wasted, the lessons he had missed in hunting for birds’ nests, or skating on the river. He thought of his books that would remind him always now, of his laziness–his grammar, his history, a present from his friend, the school-master, from whom he must part now with so much pain.
His teacher, Monsieur Hamel, confirms these thoughts to him. In his words, there is a sense that they are all at fault for the German invasion. If people had been more diligent in their efforts to learn French, and perhaps Monsieur Hamel in his own efforts to teach it, then it would have been more difficult for another culture to take over.
Ah, that has been the great fault in our Alsace, that of always putting off learning until...
(The entire section contains 486 words.)
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