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Grade 10 English Unit-4 Work and Leisure || Reading I Cabbage White Explanation and Exercise

Grade 10 English Unit-4 Work and Leisure || Reading I Cabbage White Explanation and Exercise

Grade 10 English Unit-4 Work and Leisure || Reading I Cabbage White Explanation and Exercise

Cabbage White

Sarah and Jamie stood on their tiptoe and gave the card from their school to the tall man behind the counter of a farm. The man frowned and made a face.


"So you're looking for some work, And who are you?" "I'm Sarah. I'm twelve. This is my brother Jamie; he's eleven."


"Shouldn't you be at school?"


"We are on holiday. And would like to earn some money and support our parents." The man lifted his hat and scratched his head. "Working in the farm is a quite tough job for kids like you. I need somebody big and strong to work here," he said.


"There must be some work for us in this big farm. Could you please find one?" Sarah pleaded.


"And right. Let's see. Do you know what a Cabbage White is?" the man asked.


"Yes. It's a beautiful white butterfly that lays its eggs on cabbages. And those eggs change into caterpillars.", answered Sarah.


"And do you know what the caterpillars do?"


"They eat the cabbage leaves!" shouted Jamie.


"Aren't you afraid of caterpillars?" asked the man.


"Not at all." retorted Sarah.


"Alright. So, I think I have a job for you."


"Oh! Thank you very much. And what is the work?", they said.

"I want you to check every single cabbage in the garden and eliminate all the caterpillars,” replied the man.


"" wondered Jamie.


"You pick them off and collect them."


"Is it alright if we collect them in one of these pails?"




"How much will you pay us?" Sarah asked.


"Let me see how you get on, first. If I am happy with your work, I'll not disappoint you with the pay. I'll be in the greenhouse. Get started and I'll see you later."


Shortly, armed with a pail each, the children approached the cabbage patch. It was so enormous. "There must be a million cabbages here!" Jamie said.


"At least!" Sarah said. "And if there are ten caterpillars on each cabbage that makes there a billion caterpillars!"


Sarah stood open-mouthed. The job looked really tough. Jamie wondered about her arithmetic, but knew better than to dispute. They started on the first row of cabbages. It was really a hideous job. The caterpillars wriggled as they were picked up. It took the two children ages to finish the first row, and already they couldn't see the bottom of their buckets for caterpillars. And all around them, the air was filled with Cabbage White butterflies. The insects seemed to be mocking them. They seemed to be saying: "We don't care if you kill our caterpillars. We can lay millions of eggs."


Sarah and Jamie were now very desperate.


Sarah struck out at a butterfly. She missed, of course. She watched it fly gaily away. Then she had an idea, as brilliant in its way as Einstein coming up with e=mc2.


"Jamie, caterpillars come from eggs, right?" He nodded at her remarks. "And where do eggs come from?" she inquired further.


"The Butterflies lay them." "Right. So", she reasoned, "if we get rid of the butterflies, there won't be any more eggs or caterpillars." "Right." Jamie agreed.


"So, why don't we get rid of the butterflies!"


"How?" he asked.


Nearby, there were beans climbing up bamboo poles. Sarah removed two poles. Two bean plants died. She handed one of the poles to Jamie, and then rushed into the cabbage patch, swinging her pole round and round trying to hit the butterflies. This seemed to Jamie like a good game, so he followed her. It is not easy to hit flying butterflies, but it is not difficult to hit them when they settle on cabbages. Soon the ground was covered with dead butterflies. Sarah and Jamie fought on until they were completely exhausted. Then they stood back to admire their work. There were hardly any butterflies left. There were hardly any cabbages left, either. It is  difficult to hit a butterfly on a cabbage without hitting the cabbage too. The cabbage patch looked like a battle-field. Not a cabbage was left standing. The children looked at each other. Without a word, they put down the bamboo poles and tiptoed out of the garden.


"He knows our names," Jamie said.


"But he does not know where we live," Sarah said.


"Thank goodness," they both said.


(Adapted from Happy Days and Short Stories by Jake Allsop)



tiptoe: walking quietly on the balls of one's feet without the heels touching the ground.

frowned: furrowed one's eyebrows in an expression of disapproval, displeasure, or concentration.

tough: strong and durable, difficult to cut, break, or chew.

pleaded: make an emotional appeal, make a sincere and earnest request.

eliminate: remove or get rid of completely, to exclude.

greenhouse: a building with glass walls and roof, used for growing plants that need warmth and protection.

open-mouthed: with one's mouth wide open in amazement or surprise.

dispute: an argument or disagreement between two or more people.

hideous: ugly or disgusting to look at, extremely unpleasant.

wriggled: move in a twisting or contorted motion, make small twisting movements.

gaily: in a joyful or cheerful manner.

exhausted: extremely tired or fatigued.

admire: regard with respect, approval, and pleasure, to praise or appreciate.


A. Match the following meanings in the left column with the correct words in the right.

a. to laugh at somebody in an unkind way                      i. frown

b. very unpleasant                                                           ii. plead

c. to twist and turn body or part of it with quick,              iii. open-mouthed

short movements

d. in a cheerful way                                                                 iv. dispute

e. very surprised or shocked                                          v. hideous

f. to ask for something in a serious and emotional way vi. gaily

g. to make a facial expression indicating disapproval    vii. mock

h. to argue or disagree strongly with somebody             viii. wriggle



i. mock

ii. ideous

iii. wriggle

iv. gaily

v. open-mouthed

vi. plead

vii. frown

viii. dispute


B. The word tiptoe refers to the way of walking with one's heels off the ground, in order to make them taller or to move very quietly. Consult a dictionary and find the meanings of the following words related to walking.

sneak      stroll        lurch        stagger            stride               stumble


Sneak      : to move quietly and carefully in order to avoid being seen or heard.

Stroll        : to walk in a slow, relaxed way, especially for pleasure.

Lurch       : to walk or move suddenly in an uncontrolled way, especially because you are surprised, in pain, or have lost your balance.

Stagger    : to walk or move unsteadily, as if about to fall, because you are weak, tired, or drunk.

Stride       : to walk with long steps in a particular direction, especially in a confident way.

Stumble   : to almost fall over something or to walk in a way that is not steady.


C. Answer these questions.

a. Why do you think the man frowned his face when Sarah and Jamie gave him their school card?

Ans:- The man might have frowned his face when Sarah and Jamie gave him their school card because he thought that they were too young to work and should be studying in school instead.


b. Why were Sarah and Jamie looking for a job instead of going to school?

Ans:- Sarah and Jamie were looking for a job instead of going to school because their family was facing financial difficulties and they needed to earn money to support themselves.


c. Why was the man ready to give them work in his farm?

Ans:- The man was ready to give them work in his farm because he needed help with his farm work, and Sarah and Jamie were willing to work hard.


d. What work were they supposed to do at the man's farm?

Ans:- Sarah and Jamie were supposed to pick the caterpillars off the cabbages in the man's farm.


e. Were there really a million or billion caterpillars in the cabbage field? If not, what do Sarah and Jamie mean by a million or billion caterpillars?

Ans:-  There were not really a million or billion caterpillars in the cabbage field. Sarah and Jamie exaggerated the number to emphasize the enormity of the task and the difficulty of the work.


f. What were Sarah and Jamie desperate about?

Sarah and Jamie were desperate because they were finding the job of eliminating caterpillars from the cabbage field to be very tough and time-consuming.


g. What was Sarah's 'brilliant' idea?

Ans:- Sarah's 'brilliant' idea was to get rid of the Cabbage White butterflies that laid eggs on the cabbages, which then turned into caterpillars.


h. Were the children happy with their work? Give reasons for your answer.

Ans:- No, the children were not happy with their work. They found the job of picking caterpillars off the cabbages to be difficult and unpleasant. Additionally, they became frustrated with the number of butterflies and caterpillars, which led them to try to get rid of the butterflies by swinging bamboo poles at them. The end result was a destroyed cabbage patch and exhausted children.


i.  Why did they run away from the farm secretly?

Ans:- The children ran away from the farm secretly because they destroyed all the cabbages while trying to kill the butterflies, and they were afraid that the man would be angry with them and he would punish them instead of paying.


D. Read the story and write 'True' for true statements, and 'False' for false ones. If the information is not given in the text write 'Not Given'.

a. Sarah and Jamie's parents were unable to work to support the family. Not Given

b. Sarah and Jamie have never been to school. False

c. The man decides to pay them upon the completion of their work. True

d. Sarah and Jamie had not expected to find so many caterpillars in the cabbage field. Not Given

e. Sarah's idea finally worked to finish off their job. Ture

f. They were caught by the farm owner while running away. False



About the Story: Cabbage White

A. Setting

The story takes place in a farm, where Sarah and Jamie go in search of work during their holiday. The setting includes the farm's counter, where they first approach the tall man to ask for work, and the large cabbage patch where they eventually end up working. The cabbage patch is described as enormous, with rows and rows of cabbages, and there are many Cabbage White butterflies flying around. The children spend most of their time in the cabbage patch, picking off the caterpillars from the cabbages and later trying to get rid of the butterflies. There is also a greenhouse where the man behind the counter goes while the children are working. Overall, the setting is rural and agricultural, with a focus on the farm and its produce.


B. Characters

Sarah - A twelve-year-old girl who is on holiday with her younger brother Jamie. She is determined to find work to support her parents and is not afraid of caterpillars.


Jamie - Sarah's younger brother who is eleven years old. He accompanies Sarah on her job-seeking mission and joins her in the cabbage-picking job.


The tall man behind the counter of the farm - The man who Sarah and Jamie approach in search of work. He is initially hesitant to give them a job because he believes that the job of picking cabbages and eliminating caterpillars is too tough for children. However, he eventually gives them the job after Sarah assures him that they are not afraid of caterpillars.

Cabbage White - A white butterfly that lays its eggs on cabbages. Its eggs eventually turn into caterpillars that eat the cabbage leaves. The man behind the counter of the farm assigns Sarah and Jamie the job of picking off the caterpillars from the cabbages.



The story begins with two children, Sarah and Jamie, who are looking for work during their school holiday. They approach a farm and give a card from their school to the tall man behind the counter, hoping to get a job. The man initially hesitates to give them work, as he believes that farm work is too tough for children. However, Sarah and Jamie insist that they want to earn money to support their parents. After some consideration, the man gives them a job to eliminate all the caterpillars from the cabbage patch.


Sarah and Jamie start working in the garden armed with pails. The cabbage patch is enormous, and they soon realize that the job is tougher than they anticipated. They must pick every single cabbage in the garden and remove all the caterpillars. It takes them a long time to finish the first row of cabbages, and they are already struggling to keep up with the number of caterpillars they are collecting. To make matters worse, the air is filled with Cabbage White butterflies, which seem to be mocking them.


Sarah, frustrated and desperate, strikes out at a butterfly but misses. She then has an idea to get rid of the butterflies to prevent them from laying eggs and creating more caterpillars. She reasons that if they get rid of the butterflies, there won't be any more eggs or caterpillars. Sarah and Jamie start swinging bamboo poles to hit the butterflies. They destroy most of the butterflies, but in doing so, they also destroy all the cabbages. The cabbage patch looks like a battlefield, with not a single cabbage left standing.


Realizing the extent of the damage they have caused, Sarah and Jamie leave the garden, hoping that the man won't find out where they live. The story ends with them reflecting on their actions and hoping that they haven't caused any trouble for their family.


Overall, the story highlights the challenges of hard work and the unintended consequences of impulsive actions. It also emphasizes the importance of thinking things through before acting and considering the consequences of our actions.



The theme of the story could be seen as problem-solving and determination. Sarah and Jamie are faced with a difficult job of picking off caterpillars from the cabbage plants, but they find a creative solution to the problem by getting rid of the butterflies instead. They are determined to complete the job, despite how difficult it may be, and they continue to work until they are exhausted.


Another possible theme is the idea of taking initiative and the value of hard work. Sarah and Jamie go to the farm looking for work, and they are willing to do any job they can to support their parents. Even when faced with a challenging task, they do not give up but try to find a way to make the job easier.


Overall, the story teaches the value of perseverance, creative thinking, and hard work in achieving success.


Here are some literary tools present in the story:

Dialogue: The story is mainly told through the conversations between the characters.

Imagery: The descriptions of the cabbage patch and the butterflies create vivid images in the reader's mind.

Irony: The fact that the children end up destroying the entire cabbage patch instead of just removing the caterpillars is an example of irony.


Metaphor: The Cabbage White butterfly is a metaphor for the idea that small actions can have big consequences.

Foreshadowing: When the children first see the cabbage patch, they are overwhelmed by its size, which foreshadows the difficulty of the task they have been given.

Symbolism: The bamboo poles that the children use to swat the butterflies are symbolic of their resourcefulness and willingness to take action.

Allusion: The story alludes to the idea that nature can be both beautiful and destructive.

Hyperbole: Sarah's statement that there are a billion caterpillars in the cabbage patch is an example of hyperbole.

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