By R H WOOD
POST EARLY FOR CHRISTMAS PREPARED BY SAJEENA SHUKKOOR, HSST (ENGLISH), TRIVADRUM
I. Character Sketch
The young lady Assistant is the most important character in the play Post Early for Christmas. She is polite and gentle. She is not annoyed when the deaf old gentleman mistakes her words repeatedly. She is not angry even when her customers are angry at times. Quite often people mistake her Post Office for an animal clinic, bar or a chemist’s store. But she patiently handles the situations without any fuss. She is punctual in her work. She believes in posting early for Christmas. She is concerned about her customers. She is reasonable and accountable. She has high moral obligation. When her customer’s parcel is damaged she feels responsible for the mishap and leaves the job. Thus the Assistant is a memorable character in the whole play.
(2) Mrs Smith
Mrs Smith is polite and gentle. She is punctual. She believes in posting early for Christmas. She is very cordial and friendly. She expresses her happiness in meeting Mrs. Jones after a long time and engages in friendly talk with her.
(3) Mrs Jones
Mrs Jones is impolite and rude. She is not punctual and she sends her presents in the last minute. When the Assistant suggests that she should have posted it earlier, she replies that it is her own affair. Her character is disgusting.
(4) Deaf Old Gentleman
Deaf Old Gentleman is a character who creates much of the fun in the story. Since he is deaf he
repeatedly mistakes the words of the Assistant. But he is rude and impolite. He is not aware of himself. He is proud and pretentious. Actually he tested the patience of Assistant who is polite to the core. In the meantime he becomes too much impatient.
Farmer is the character who created and precipitated the crisis in the play. It is he who announces the newspaper report about a time-bomb discovered in a London Post Office. He pretends as an expert and informs the Assistant how to detect time-bombs. Later it is he who identifies the ticking noise inside the parcel given by the tourist. He makes a fuss over an unnecessary matter. He does not go into the details of it. He does not try to unfold the truth behind the ticking noise and easily comes into the conclusion that it is a time-bomb. He tries to be a master in the situation and frightens everybody.
(6)Fussy Old lady
The fussy Old Lady is not aware of her surroundings. She mistakes the Post Office for an animal clinic. But once she realizes that it is a Post Office she says sorry. Then she buys stamps as an act of courtesy. She is polite and gentle. She lacks general awareness too because she does not know what a time-bomb is.
(7) Mrs. Higgins
Mrs. Higgins is the mother of the naughty child, Bertie. She is quite nagging. She always chides her son. Her language is not refined and good. But she scolds the boy for having poor grammar. She is fussy and gives too much importance to trivial matters.
Bertie is a naughty child who always plays mischievous pranks. He always annoys his mother with petty demands for engines and ice creams. He is untidy and careless. It is he who first notices the ticking sound of the parcel. When the Policeman was called up, he at first asks whether Bertie has done any mischief. Thus his naughtiness is notorious.
The Foreign tourist and his parcel is the pivot of the action of the play. He is mysterious looking with his strange accent. He gives extra importance to his parcel. He is careless and he leaves his gloves. He is a law abiding citizen. When he sees that his parcel is damaged he goes to complain the Postmaster General.
The Policeman is irrational and insensitive. Instead of enquiring about the genuineness of the parcel, he also easily jumps into the conclusion that it is a time-bomb. He is haughty and arrogant. If he had been a little bit sensible he could have avoided damaging the clock.
II. Humour in the play. Humour is not always innocent and harmless. Sometimes humour is roused at the cost of creating inconvenience to others. This is the type of humour created in the play Post Early for Christmas. The play evokes humour in the form of funny characters, witty dialogues and humorous situations. Situational humour is in plenty. The whole act is set in a Post Office. Much of the humour lies in the situations when the Post Office is mistaken for a bar or a chemist’s store or an animal clinic. In the beginning of the play itself the Assistant refers to the funny people in the world and gives us an idea what would be in store for us as funny characters. She says that a man came and asked her where he could get a stamp from.WThe dialogue with Deaf Old Gentleman evokes laughter. He always mistakes the Assistant’s words. It becomes more humorous when he finally says that the Assistant is deaf. Bertie, the naughty little boy’s character also rouses fun. He always annoys his mother with demands for engines and ice creams. When his mother Mrs Higgins asks about his grammar, he replies that she is at home, watching television. This is also humorous. The mother who is not good in grammar tries to correct her son’s grammar wrongly is also a situation for laughter. Fuss created over a parcel which is mistaken for a time-bomb is the most noticeable humorous situation. This becomes the climax of the play. Thus the characters, their traits and dialogues and incidents bring about humour in the play.
III. Aptness of the title
The title Post Early for Christmas refers to the main action of the play. The customer Mrs Smith says to the Assistant she believes in posting early for Christmas. To this the Assistant agrees that parcels are damaged in the last minute rush. When the Foreign Tourist comes to send the parcel he expresses his regret for not posting early. But the Assistant consoles that if it is a present it is well in time. This Christmas present – a clock is mistaken for a time-bomb and is damaged. The theme of the play centres round the unnecessary fuss over trivial matters. The message of the play is clear that we should not jump into a conclusion without thinking seriously. The title does not suggest the theme and message. But the main action of the play is posting Christmas presents on time. Hence the title is apt and appropriate.
IV. Questions related to the situations.
(a) Mrs. Jones: When I post my Christmas presents is my own affair. What does this tell us of Mrs Jones?
Mrs Jones is rude in her behaviour. Actually the Assistant tells a good thing in a very polite manner. But Mrs Jones reacts very impudently.
(b) What is the context of Bertie saying “She is at home Ma, watching the television”?
Bertie as well as his mother, Mrs. Higgins is weak at grammar. But Mrs Higgins asks him about his knowledge in grammar. She actually points out that he is not good at grammar. Bertie makes fun of this question and answers that she is at home watching television.
© How does the Farmer frighten the people?
The farmer frightens the people informing about a newspaper report. He says that a bomb disguised as a Christmas present is discovered in a London Post Office. He warns that any suspicious looking parcel should be reported at once to the local police station. As an expert, he says that a time-bomb can be identified by its ticking noise before they explode. When Bertie, the little boy notices the ticking noise from the parcel, the Farmer immediately identifies the same and jumps into the conclusion that it is a time-bomb. Thus everyone becomes panicky.
(d) Tourist :“I will sue you all, you blundering idiots”. What makes the Tourist say so? What makes him decide to see the Postmaster General?
The Tourist comes back to take his gloves which he leaves in the Post Office. He finds that his parcel is mistaken for a time-bomb and gets damaged. He has brought that beautiful clock all his way from Switzerland. He is shocked to see it ruined. So he decides to complain to the Postmaster General.
(e) Assistant: I am leaving the Post Office forever. Why does she leave the Post Office forever?
The Assistant is reasonable and accountable. She is concerned about her customers. She has high moral obligation. It is at her Post Office a parcel is mistaken for a time-bomb and damaged. She also becomes a party to its damage. So she feels the guilt. When her customer’s parcel is damaged she feels responsible for the mishap and leaves the job. She thinks that working in animal dispensary is better because animals don’t do such silly things.
PREPARED BY SAJEENA SHUKKOOR, HSST (ENGLISH), TRIVADRUM
From teacher text