The Hack Driver

The Hack Driver

The Hack Driver Summary

‘The Hack Driver’ Introduction

About the Author

  • Sinclair Lewis was bom on February 7, 1885, in Sauk Centre,
  • Minnesota, Sinclair Lewis studied at Yale University and worked as a newspaper journalist before becoming an acclaimed novelist.
  • Sinclair Lewis was a journalist and Nobel Prize winning novelist known for 20th century works like Main Street, Elmer Gantry and Babbitt.
  • In 1930, he became the first U.S. writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.
  • Lewis died on January 10, 1951 in Rome, Italy.

Gist of the Story

In this lesson, a young lawyer is made to serve summons instead of practising law. He hates his job as sometimes he is beaten up while serving summons in the shadowy comers of the city. Once he is directed by the law firm to serve summons on a man called Oliver Lutkins, who lived in a village called New Mullion. The young lawyer goes to the village with some expectations of village life but he is disappointed. He meets a hack driver who is a very helpful man according to him. He drives him in his horse-carriage around the village. He takes him to the people who know Lutkins, one by one in a quest of finding him. But no results to avail. He returns empty-handed to the city. There, he is reprimanded by the chief of his firm and is sent back to New Mullion along with a person who had worked with Lutkins. After reaching at the New Mullion station, the lawyer came to know that the person, who drove him around the village, himself was the Lutkins.

‘The Hack Driver’ Summary

Brief introduction: The narrator was a junior assistant clerk in a reputed law firm after doing his graduation with honours. He only appeared to serve summons. He did not prepare legal briefs. The narrator hated this unpleasant work and also the city life.
The narrator sent to serve summons: The narrator was sent to serve summons to Oliver Lutkins as he had ignored all his letters and was needed as a witness in a law case.

Went out to search for Oliver Lutkins: The narrator went out to search for Oliver Lutkins at New Mullion. The place was very muddy. It was not properly maintained. He reached there and met a delivery man with a hack. His name was Bill. He was a middle-aged man of forty years. The narrator told the hack driver that he had come there to serve summons to Oliver Lutkins. He also hired the narrator for two dollars per hour.

The narrator was taken around the town: The hack driver, Bill took the narrator around the town from one place to another. He first took him to Fritz’s Place. He told that Oliver Lutkins was there sometime ago. He might have gone to Gustaff’s barber shop for shaving. After going there he knew that Oliver Lutkins had already gone. Then they proceeded to Fritz’s and his mother’s house. But he was not there. The narrator was very much impressed with his behaviour and cooperative nature.

The narrator got frustrated: The narrator could not get Oliver Lutkins. He got frustrated. He was also apprehensive that his boss would reprimand him. After reaching at the office, he was ordered to go back to New Mullion again with a man who could recognise Lutkins.

Lutkins, none other than Bill: After reaching by the train at New Mullion, the narrator found Bill standing near his cart. He also narrated him the entire episode how Bill helped him. He was much happy with his cooperation. At this, the companion of the narrator was very surprised. He told that this man was none other than Oliver Lutkins and he knew him very well.

The narrator got hurt: When the narrator served the summons to Oliver Lutkins, he and his mother laughed at him. It seemed as if he were a bright boy of seven. This thing really hurt the narrator.

Lesson at a Glance

  • The narrator became a junior assistant clerk in a reputed law firm after graduating with honours.
  • He was not assigned to prepare legal briefs but to serve summons like a cheap private detective.
  • Even he had to go to dirty and shadowy comers of the city to seek out victims. Sometimes he was also beaten up.
  • He hated this unpleasant work.
  • So he thought of fleeing to his own hometown where he could practise law.
  • One day he was sent to a town named New Mullion to serve summons to Oliver Lutkins.
  • Nothing was good there except the delivery man at the station.
  • A hack driver agreed to help him in finding out Lutkins for two dollars per hour.
  • The name of the hack driver was Bill. He was very nice and friendly.
  • The narrator also believed in whatever the hack driver told him.
  • It was also difficult to find out the location.
  • The hack driver knew the whereabouts of Oliver Lutkins.
  • In his view, he was a dishonest person.
  • He said that Lutkins still owed his fifty cents on a poker game.
  • Bill said that he never paid anybody even a single cent.
  • The hack driver led him to Fritz’s. After enquiring about Lutkins, he told that he had gone over to Gustaff’s barber shop to have a shave.
  • Lutkins was not present there. Bill said that he must have probably gone to Gray’s shop for a shave. But, he had also not paid Gustaff the previous amount.
  • Bill had also gone to the place where Lutkins’ mother lived. But Lutkins was found nowhere.
  • Ultimately the narrator returned to the station without giving summons to Lutkins.
  • The narrator was reprimanded by his boss in the office.
  • The boss ordered the narrator to go back to New Mullion.
  • He also sent with the narrator a man who knew Oliver Lutkins very well. Because he had worked with him.
  • After reaching at New Mullion, the narrator found that Bill was standing at the platform near his hack.
  • The narrator introduced Bill to his companion and also narrated how he had helped him in searching Oliver Lutkins.
  • But to his great surprise, he told the narrator that he was not Bill but Oliver Lutkins himself.
  • The narrator served summons to Lutkins.
  • At this Lutkins and his mother laughed at him as if he were a boy of seven.

English The Hack Driver Important Questions and Answers

Very Short Answer Type Questions

Question 1.
Was the help offered by the hack driver out of brotherly love or something else?
The hack driver helped the lawyer in finding Lutkins all day, but his helpfulness was not entirely of brotherly love. The young lawyer was paying him two dollars for an hour and thus he paid him for six hours, including the lunch hour too.

Question 2.
Why did the narrator call his work unpleasant?
The narrator was sent to serve summons. Fie had to go to all sorts of dirty and dangerous places. At times, he was also beaten by those very people. That is why he called his work unpleasant.

Question 3.
Describe the hack driver’s appearance in your own words.
The hack driver looked to be about forty years in age. His face was red. He wore dirty and worn out clothes but he was cheerful.

Question 4.
‘But he was no more dishonest than I’. Explain.
The narrator meant to say that the hack driver was as dishonest as him because he was getting paid for riding the narrator on his cart on the pretence of helping him.

Question 5.
The narrator was happy though he had not found Lutkins. Why?
The narrator had hated city life. This ride through the village made him very happy. He was overjoyed to meet the hack driver. So he was happy though he had not found Lutkins.

Question 6.
What impressed the narrator most about Bill? Mention any two things.
The first quality that struck the narrator was that Bill was a cheerful, friendly and helpful man. Secondly, he loved Bill for his simple and philosophical wisdom.

Question 7.
How did the chief react when the narrator returned to his town?
The chief was furious at the narrator’s failure to serve summons on Lutkins. He decided to send a man who knew Lutkins with the narrator the next day to serve summons on Lutkins.

Question 8.
Why did Lutkins pretend to be Bill Magnuson?
Lutkins pretended to be Bill Magnuson as he did not want to accept the summons and be a witness in the case.

Short Answer Type Questions

Question 1.
How did the young lawyer feel when he got to know about the reality of hack driver?
The young lawyer enjoyed the hack driver’s company while finding Lutkins. But as he came
to know that the hack driver himself was Lutkins, he was hurt. This was especially when Lutkins and his mother laughed at the lawyer as if he were a bright boy of seven. Later, he acknowledged their loving kindness too.

Question 2.
How did Lutkins’ mother react when she saw the lawyer?
In search of Lutkins, the hack driver took the young lawyer to his mother. He told Lutkins’ mother that the lawyer had come to serve summons to her son and had legal right to search the property. The mother got irritated and attacked him with hot iron rods. They both got scared and ran away from there.

Question 3.
Why was the narrator a little bit worried about his failure?
The narrator (lawyer) could not locate Oliver Lutkins so that he could serve him the summons. But Bill Magnuson befooled him. He wanted to return to New Mullion with a view to practising law. Even after serving summons to Oliver Lutkins, he and his mother laughed at him. It really hurt him.

Question 4.
Why does the hack driver offer to ask about Oliver Lutkins? [CBSE2012]
The hack driver was none other than Oliver Lutkins himself. He did not wish to take the
summons and go as a witness. So, he pretended to be a hack driver. He offered to help the lawyer so that the lawyer could not come to know about him from someone else.

Question 5.
How does the narrator find Lutkins eventually?
The narrator’s companion had seen Lutkins. When the narrator pointed out the hack driver to him, he told him that the hack driver was Lutkins himself. In this way, the narrator found Lutkins eventually.

Essay Type Questions

Question 1.
Why could the narrator not succeed in his mission on his first visit to New Mullion?
The narrator (lawyer) was a junior level assistant clerk in a reputed firm. His only work was
to serve summons. He was sent to New Mullion with a view to summoning Oliver Lutkins. He had ignored all the letters. That was why he was needed as a witness in a law case.
When the narrator visited New Mullion for the first time, he could not get the trace of Oliver Lutkins. But it was not at all the fault of Oliver Lutkins. All these things happened due to the hack driver, Bill who met him at New Mullion and took him from one person to another. He also told a lie that he had met Oliver Lutkins a little while ago. Wherever he had gone, he kept the narrator standing behind him at the door. He took him to Gustaff’s barber shop then to Fritz’s and then to the poolroom. At all the places he got the same answer that Lutkins had left just a while ago. All these things were done by Bill just to befool the narrator.
Ultimately the narrator could not succeed in his mission on his first visit to New Mullion because he could not achieve his goal. And this visit proved to be a failure to him. For this, he even had to face the reprimand of his boss.

Question 2.
The narrator strikes us as a romantic idealist. Do you agree? Support your answer from the text.
The narrator is definitely a romantic idealist. He is fresh out of law school. He wants to have a real case. But, as a part of training, he is sent to serve summons. He finds it difficult to understand. He simply dislikes his job as he has to go to all dirty places. Further, he has a very romantic view of the country. He believes that villages are all pure and peaceful. There is no ugliness of the city in them. He also thinks that villagers are very honest and decent people. He has a habit of trusting people blindly. He believes in whatever someone says. In fact, he is very gullible. Later on, he realises that a village can also be ugly. He also experiences that villagers are not always simple and honest.

Question 3.
Describe ‘Bill’ as seen through the eyes of the narrator.
The narrator was much impressed with Bill. He first meets him at the station. He finds him to be friendly and cheerful. Bill is very helpful in his eyes as he offers to take him around in search of Lutkins. The narrator admires him when he goes looking for Lutkins on his behalf. Bill is full of a wonderful village charm. The narrator finds Bill to have a unique country wisdom. He admires him as a storyteller. He appreciates him a lot when Bill even goes to Lutkins’ mother’s place to find him. For the narrator, Bill is a friendly man who helps others generously. He is so impressed by Bill that he decides to settle down in the village.

Question 4.
‘Appearances are often deceptive’. Comment on the statement in the light of your reading of the story.
Things are not always what they seem to be. Appearances are often deceptive. The narrator reaches a village in search of Oliver Lutkins. He meets a hack driver at the station. The driver warns him about Lutkins. He takes him on a tour of the entire village in search of Lutkins. He tells the narrator about his experiences and about the village and its people. The narrator likes him for his helpful and kind nature.
He even forgets all about Lutkins. But, the next day he finds out that the hack driver was Oliver Lutkins himself. He realises that a simple and kind person was a trickster in reality.

Question 5.
Do you think Lutkins was right in befooling the lawyer and earning money by using unfair means? What precautions should one take to avoid a situation like the one in which the lawyer was placed?
Lutkins was not right in befooling the lawyer and earning money by using unfair means. This shows that Lutkins did not care for the law at all. If we are in the lawyer’s place, we should not believe in things as they are seen. We should judge every action taken by the other person carefully before accepting it. Instead of depending on others, we should carry out our enquiries ourselves. The lawyer was befooled because he let Lutkins do the finding and questioning and did not do anything himself. This resulted in his failure to serve the summons on Lutkins.

English The Hack Driver Textbook Questions and Answers

Read and Find Out (Page – 47)

1. Why is the lawyer sent to New Mullion? What does he first think about the place?
The lawyer was sent to New Mullion to serve a summons on Oliver Lutkins, who was needed as a witness in a law case.
He had expected the place to be a sweet and simple country village.

2. Who befriends him? Where does he take him?
The lawyer was befriended by a delivery man who introduced himself as Bill. He told him that he knew Lutkins and would help the lawyer in finding him. He took him to all the places where Lutkins was seen or was known to hang out. He took the lawyer to Fritz’s shop, where Lutkins played a lot of poker; to Gustaff’s barber shop and then to Gray’s barber shop; to the poolroom and several other places before finally taking him to Oliver’s mother’s farm. However, Oliver Lutkins was not found.

3. What does he say about Lutkins?
Bill told the lawyer that Lutkins was a hard fellow to catch. He was always up to something or the other. He owed money to many people, including Bill, and had never even paid anybody a cent. He also said that Oliver played a lot of poker and was good at deceiving people.

Read and Find Out (Page – 50)

1. What more does Bill say about Lutkins and his family?
Bill told the lawyer that he knew Lutkins’ mother. He said that she was a terror. He narrated an incident when he took a trunk to her once and she almost took his skin off because he did not treat it like a box of eggs. He also said that she was about nine feet tall and four feet thick. She was very quick and could talk a lot. He said that Oliver Lutkins must have heard that somebody was chasing him and consequently, would have gone into hiding at his mother’s place.

2. Does the narrator serve the summons that day?
No. The narrator did not serve the summons that day.

3. Who is Lutkins?
The hack driver himself was Oliver Lutkins. He was an important witness in a law case.

Think about It

1. When the lawyer reached New Mullion, did ‘Bill’ know that he was looking for Lutkins? When do you think Bill came up with his plan for fooling the lawyer?
It is more likely that Oliver made the plan to fool the lawyer right after he came to know
from the latter that he was looking for a man named Oliver Lutkins. Oliver knew that he was needed as a witness in a law case. So it is entirely possible that he was prepared for such a situation. It was a matter of chance that the lawyer ran into Oliver himself.

2. Lutkins openly takes the lawyer all over the village. How is it that no one lets out the secret? {Hint: Notice that the hack driver asks the lawyer to keep out of sight behind him when they go into Fritz’s.) Can you find other such subtle ways in which Lutkins manipulates the tour?
Lutkins was always the first to enter the places where he took the lawyer. He prevented the lawyer from directly talking to the people at these places. In this manner, he would take them into his confidence. This is probably the reason why no one let out the secret. After they did not find Lutkins at Fritz’s, they went to Gustaff’s barber shop, where again he went in first and the lawyer lingered at the door. Before going to Lutkins’ mother’s house, he gave a terrifying description of Lutkins’ mother and urged the lawyer to let him try and talk to her. Again, Lutkins was the one who went up to her first. The lawyer was only standing back and listening. He told her everything about the lawyer and why he had come, which was a sufficient clue for her to understand what was going on. It should also be noted that at the station, he had asked the lawyer if he was in a hurry to find Lutkins. The lawyer told him that he had to catch the afternoon train back to the city. This perhaps helped him concretise his plan to take the lawyer around the town till it was time for him to catch the train back to the city. In this way, he always kept ahead of the lawyer and managed to manipulate the entire tour.

3. Why do you think Lutkins’ neighbours were anxious to meet the lawyer?
Lutkins took the lawyer all across New Mullion in search of Lutkins himself. He successfully fooled the lawyer-an educated man of the city. During this process of deception, almost all the people in the town got to see the lawyer. This episode would have become the talking point of the town. According to Lutkins, his neighbours were the only people in town who had missed seeing the lawyer and hence, wanted to meet the lawyer.

4. After his first day’s experience with the hack driver the lawyer thinks of returning to New Mullion to practise law. Do you think he would have reconsidered this idea after his second visit?
After his first day’s experience with the hack driver, the lawyer had considered returning to New Mullion to practise law. However, he realised during his second visit that he had been literally taken for a ride by the hack driver (who himself was Lutkins). In this, Lutkins was helped by the townspeople. After becoming the laughing stock of the town, it is most likely that the lawyer would have reconsidered his initial idea of working there.

5. Do you think the lawyer was gullible? How could he have avoided being taken for a ride?
It can be said that the lawyer was gullible. He could have avoided being taken for a ride if he had noticed what the hack driver was doing. The hack driver was the one who did all the talking and the lawyer remained a mere spectator. The lawyer could have taken control of the proceedings by asking the hack driver to step aside and by doing his work himself. Instead, he allowed the hack driver to take control of the situation. The lawyer was too impressed by the hack driver’s pleasant and friendly personality, and was thus ignorant of what was actually taking place.

Talk about It

1. Do we come across persons like Lutkins only in fiction or do we encounter them in real life as well? You can give examples from fiction, or narrate an incident that you have read in the newspaper, or an incident from real life.
Yes, the people like Lutkins do exist in reality. There was a report on such incidence in newspaper recently. A woman deceived the state government authorities by acting as an IFS officer. She was provided with official security and all the perks of being an IFS officer for ten months. Later on, upon inspection she came out to be a con woman.

2. Who is a ‘con man’, or a confidence trickster?
A con man is a person who wins the trust of someone and then leverage it for personal gains. In the given story, Lutkins first gets into the good books of the lawyer and on the pretext of helping him to find the witness, he gets unfair money from him. A con man or a confidence trickster means the same thing.

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