ICSE English — My Lost Dollar

My Lost Dollar
by Stephen Leacock

Introduction .. This short story bristles with subtle humour. Writing with an intention to amuse the reader, the story mixes comical expressions, moralizing, and self pity to weave a story around a friend’s failure to repay a loan of just one dollar. The author who has lent the dollar is too decent to ask for refund, but finds it hard to write it off from his mind. Resigned to his loss of the one dollar loan, the author relapses to introspection. The result – a hilarious ending to the saga of the ‘Lost Dollar’.
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Gist of the story .. The author’s close friend is going on a sojourn to Bermuda. Just before his departure, he wants some small change to pay off the taxi. He asks the author to lend him a dollar. The latter gives it readily. Todd departs for Bermuda.
Todd writes a letter to the author from Bermuda, but there is no dollar bill inside the envelope.
Twelve months go by. Todd has returned from Bermuda, but has not bothered to return the one dollar to the author. The lender is too decent to offend his friend by demanding his dollar back. He tries many ways to remind Todd about the dollar he owed, but due to some inexplicable reasons, the memory of the unpaid dollar refuses to enter Todd’s mind.
The author lists out the ways he attempted to remind his friend. First he went to the railway station to receive Todd when he returned from Bermuda. Todd was as cheerful as ever, but not the least embarrassed. The author’s agony mounts.
On another occasion, during an evening chat, the author broaches the subject of the American dollar by asking if it is circulation in Bermuda too. Todd replies, but the suggestion fails to kindle his memory about the ‘unpaid dollar’.
The author meets Todd almost every day in the Club, but Todd never mentions about his debt. Todd even says that he no longer remembers much about his Bermuda trip. The author is exasperated. He feels resigned to the loss of his dollar.
In desperation, he writes off the dollar. He adds Todd’s name to his list of people who have similarly defaulted in repaying their one-dollar loans. The author remains as friendly with Todd as before.
On another day, the author met Todd over dinner. Todd mentioned disapprovingly how Poland had defaulted in its debts. To the author’s distress, Todd did not appear to think of his own un-paid debt.
With his wounded feelings, the author begins a period of introspection. He feels, if forgetting loans is so human, he himself could have taken such loans and not repaid it. This realization unsettles him.
The feeling of moral guilt haunts the author. He wants his creditors to come forward and claim their refunds.
So disturbed the author is about this malaise of loan defaults that he wants to start a “Back to Honesty’ campaign. He is convinced that honesty should be the bedrock of all nations aspiring to greatness.
While concluding, the author wants his ‘forgetful’ friend Todd not to know of the torment the non-payment has caused to him. Comically, he wants the readers not to bring the copies of this story to the University Club Montreal frequented by Major Todd.

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Question 1 .. Why was the author reluctant to ask Todd to return the amount?

Answer .. The author felt that asking his dear friend Todd for the return of the ‘one dollar’ loan could look mean and greedy. Todd could get offended by such a request. So, the author stepped back from making such a request.

Question 2  .. Why do you think Todd didn’t pay back the one dollar he owed the author?

Answer .. It would be reasonable to assume that Todd had forgotten about the loan. He was a major in the army, and was not short of funds. The second assumption is that he felt was too small to be refunded.

Question 3 .. What sort of person the author was?

Answer .. The author was a man of principle. He was sensitive, courteous, and had a sense of self-respect. Despite his nagging indignation at Todd’s failure to return the dollar, the author didn’t allow the loss to affect their friendship. While pointing finger at  others, he was ready to look within to search for his own follies. This is why he thought that he might have failed to return small loans taken from others.

Question 4 .. What sort of feeling you get after reading the story?

Answer … The story makes excellent reading, when one looks for something comical, non-serious and light. It is pure, undiluted fun to see the torment suffered by the author when his friend didn’t return the money.

Question 5 .. Write the story in 150 words.

Answer .. Write yourself.

Some more questions with answers ...

1.Who is Todd ? What kind of relationship exists between Todd and the narrator?

Answer .. Major Todd is a friend of the narrator. They are good friends with mutual respect for one another.
2.When and why Tod borrow a dollar from the narrator ? How much time has passed since then?

Answer ..Todd wanted some small change to pay off the taxi. He didn’t have any. So, he borrowed it from his friend, the narrator. Twelve months elapsed, but Todd was yet to refund the one dollar loan.
3.Why Todd has failed to return a loan ? What does it tell us about him?

Answer .. Apparently, Todd felt the one-dollar loan to be too small to be repaid to his dear friend. The other reason could be that Todd was forgetful in nature. Anyway, the reader does not take the lapse not very approvingly.

  1. As far as the memory is concerned, how do the borrowers differ from the lenders ? Give an example from the story to support your opinion.

Answer .. It is safe to assume that borrowers, in many cases, do not take their repayment obligations very seriously. On the other hand, lenders seldom forget the loans that they have given, however trifling the amount could be. The very fact that the narrator found it hard to write-off the one-dollar loan given to his dear friend underlines such observation.

  1. Relying on what is said in the story, does the narrator have any hope of being paid back ? Why?

Answer .. The narrator is resigned to the fact that the one-dollar loan would ever be redeemed. He has vainly tried all decent tricks to remind his friend about the outstanding loan, but Todd has, quite intriguingly, refused to remember the loan he took. Later the narrator has tried to console himself thinking how he too had similar failing. He too had not paid the club dues in time. [Check this fact from the book.]

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138 thoughts on “ICSE English — My Lost Dollar

  1. Please answer these questions
    Q1. Why did Todd borrow a dollar from the narrator?
    Q2. Do you think the narrator is upset that Todd did not pay him?
    Q3. Discuss the various ways in which the narrator tries to remind Todd of his debt?
    Q4. The narrator unwittingly reveal’s his character while musing over Todd’s behavior. Discuss.
    Q5. What techniques are used by Leacock to create humour in the story?

  2. ANS:1 todd borrow the money from the author because he had to pay the loan for the taxi in which he came to Burmuda.so the author lent him one dollar..

    ANS:2 no narrator was not upset the thing he was only thinking that is it really like this to lend a dollar and do not give it back.

    ANS:3 The ways in which author tries to take dollar back was :-
    1. he went to railway station to take the todd.
    2. he tell him about the american dollar and ask that if he used it once or not.

  3. Hello sir I am having my boards going on and I require notes on some chapters is it possible for you to send them to me or post it as I read your notes and am amused and also feeling sad that I could not get through this site earlier where there is a person like you nobody can get less than 98 in English
    I require help on the following chapters:-
    1.The kabuliwala
    2.God Lives In The Panch
    3.A doctors Journal Entry for August 6,1945

  4. Thank you so much
    i had lost the book of ‘the collection of poems and short stories’ and was thinking how to learn all the lessons in it

    • I don’t have the book with me now. however, I have posted an answer basing on my memory iin reply to one reader’s question. Read it to draw your hints for the question.

    • One dollar is too trifling an amount to break one’s head on. Yet, the author couldn’t let go of this and kept trying to recover it from his friend. He wanted not to appear greedy and mean before his friend, and so, couldn’t ask him directly to return the amount. Instead, he tried various indirect means to remind his friend about the outstanding one dollar. On the return of the friend, he broached the matter in so many ways taking care to shroud his intention to recover the amount. If he was indeed a decent man, he should have either written off the tiny loan or asked his friend politely for refund. He did neither. Like a greedy money lender he pursued the amount doggedly. So, it was nothing but hypocrisy.

      • what about todd’s hypocrisy at mocking at poland for not repaying her debts while he himself is in a similar position?

      • sir, are you on facebook i f so, then contact me on – “max kanton”, or message me , or you can simply add me because soon i will be giving my board exams and i will need a lot of help, hope you will be standing nearby to help me, have a great day. 🙂

        • No, Mayanak, I am not on Facebook. However, you may mail me in the following mail id.
          broadbase.knowledge@gmail.com. I will happily render you any help you might need. State your Class, stream CBSE/ ICSE/ State Board etc. How much you are scoring presently in English etc. etc.

  5. please answer me these questions
    1.who is tod ? what kind of relationship wxists between todd and the narratoe?
    2.when and why todd borrow a dollar from the narrator ? how much time has passed since then?
    3.why tod has failed to return a loan ? what does it tell us about him?
    4.as far as the memory is concerned , how do the borrowers differ from the lenders ? give an example from the story to support your opinion.
    5.relying on what is said in the story, does the narrator have any hope of beibg paid back ? why?

  6. I have question from chapter “My lost dollar”
    (1) When did Stephen Leacock part with his dollar ? How?
    (2) Decribe trhe way in which the author repeatedly wished to remind his friend of the dollar.
    (3) Why does the author brood over a lost cause? how?
    (4) How does the author justify his act of borrowing?
    (5) Comment on the irony of the text.

  7. (3) Why does the author brood over a lost cause? how?
    (4) How does the author justify his act of borrowing?
    (5) Comment on the irony of the text. Pls find me d ans of dis ques
    Gseb board class 11 chapter the lost dollar

  8. Why does the author brood over a lost cause? how?
    plzzzx sir ans this question…std :11th
    i want ans of this question in 4 to 5 sentences

  9. I have question from chapter “My lost dollar”
    (1) When did Stephen Leacock part with his dollar ? How?
    (2) Decribe trhe way in which the author repeatedly wished to remind his friend of the dollar.
    (3) Why does the author brood over a lost cause? how?
    (4) How does the author justify his act of borrowing?
    (5) Comment on the irony of the text

  10. I have question from chapter “My lost dollar”
    (1) When did Stephen Leacock part with his dollar ? How?
    (2) Describe the way in which the author repeatedly wished to remind his friend of the dollar.
    (3) Why does the author brood over a lost cause? how?
    (4) How does the author justify his act of borrowing?
    (5) Comment on the irony of the text.

  11. I have question from chapter “My lost dollar”
    (1) When did Stephen Leacock part with his dollar ? How?
    (2) Decribe trhe way in which the author repeatedly wished to remind his friend of the dollar.
    (3) Why does the author brood over a lost cause? how?
    (4) How does the author justify his act of borrowing?
    (5) Comment on the irony of the text.

  12. I have questions from chapter P.T.Usha against all hurdles
    (1)What was the motivating event in P.T.Usha’s early life ?
    (2)Describe her achievements at the international level.
    (3)How did the difference of a fraction of a second change P.T.Usha’s approach to competition ?
    (4)”Losing is the key to winning.” Explain.
    (5)”Marriage is not the end of a woman athlete’s life ? Do you agree ? Why?
    (6)What are the problems she faced in life ?
    (7)Give an account of the awards she received.

  13. continue …………
    (8)What is P.T.Usha’s mantra for success ?

    Write in detail on:
    (1)P.T.Usha’s childhood
    (2)P.T.Usha:Anonymity to Fame

  14. chapter:Kite- flying (11th science)
    (1)Why is the author in a pensive mood ?
    (2)Give instances from the lesson to prove that the author was an introvert.
    (3)Do you think that the author was a novice in kite flying? Why?
    (4)What transformation took place in the author after he bought the kites?
    (5)What has the author compared kite flying to?How?
    (6)Comment on the ending of the story.
    Write in detail:(1)The Speaker’s Views on Kite -flying
    (2)A Pen Portrait of the Central Character

  15. Chapter:Convocation Address (11th science)
    (1)How is convocation a beginning and not an end?
    (2)What challenges would the graduates have to face in future?
    (3)How can the farmers share the profit of production?
    (4)Mention the ways in which prices are controlled in operation Flood.
    (5)What opposition did the White Revolution face and how was it controlled?
    (6)Write in your own words the message Kurien wished to convey to the graduates.
    Write in detail:(1)The Importance of Co-operatives
    (2)Operation Flood

  16. chapter:Father’s Help (11th science)
    (1)Why was Swami reluctant to go to school?
    (2)How did Swami try to mislead his father?
    (3)Give instances to prove that Swami’s father was an angry man.
    (4)what effect did the letter have on Swami?
    (5)What was Swami’s state of mind before entering the school.
    (6)How did Swami instigate his teacher to punish him?
    (6)How did Swami instigate his teacher to punish him?
    (7)What was the approach of Samuel towards Swami initially and later on that day?
    Write in detail:(1)Swaminathan
    (2)Ending of the Story

    Chapter:What is Intelligence?
    (1)Why did the author think of himself as the most intelligent person?
    (2)What effect did the aptitude test have on the author’s schedule?
    (3)Give instances to prove that each professionalis intelligent in his own way.
    (4)”I’d proved to be a moron”.Explain.
    (5)How did the auto repair man outwit the author?

    Write in detail:
    (1)The Auto Repair
    (2)Intelligence

  17. hello,I have a question on the lost dollar…..but i need the answer immediately…
    -Comment on the irony of the text.
    in 5-6 lines.
    please help:)

  18. got the answer just tell me if it is correct-

    There are a few ironical strains in the story.
    1. Todd borrows a dollar not quite out of need, but more so out of convenience. He did not need the dollar to buy anything important. Instead, he used it to pay the cab driver.
    2. Throughout the story, the speaker feels awful about Todd not returning the dollar. It bothers him quite a bit, but it is only towards the end does he realise that he might have done the same to many others!
    3. The plot begins with one dollar and ends with the speaker talking in terms of a large scale campaign!

    • He is, undoubtedly, an eccentric man with no trace of pragmatism in his nature. Non-recovery of trffling amount like one dollar from a close friend should not worry a normal person. But, because of his nagging nature, he broods over the matter and becomes pensive.

  19. I really appreciate a retired engineer to do such a fantastic job helping children who are in great trouble with their English .Thank you sir and may God bless you and may God extend your life span so that you may continue to help we children .

  20. Sir I would be very grateful to you if you could answer these questions.
    I’m in Std 8, ICSE board.

    Q: What does the author say happens with him when someone borrows a dollar from him? [ 3 marks ]

    Q2: How does borrowed dollar lead to humour in this story? [ 4 marks ]

    Thanks

  21. Sir I am Ameen. I try my best to score in the exams but I am not able me to score . I am in 10th grade ICSE syllabus. Can u I find a solution for it.

  22. good morniong sir, i am in class 9, icse board. we have an upcoming test on this lesson and it will be an essay type question on this lesson. would you please help me? the test is day after tomorrow

      • sir the possible questions are as follows:
        1. describe the fight going on in Todd`s mind
        2. does Todd feel sorry for anything? describe in your own words
        3. describe the confusion in Todd`s mind about showing the story to his friend

        • Gayatri,
          I feel the questions have defects. Todd was never bothered, restless, nor embarrassed. It is the author (lender) who lost sleep over his un-realized one-dollar loan. So, in the three questions replace Todd with author. Then answering them will make sense.

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