The story "The Last Lesson" was written by Alphonse Daudet. Franz, the narrator of the story, was running late for school one day and was worried about not learning the rules of participles that his teacher asked him to do. As Franz hurried to school, he noticed a crowd in front of the village's bulletin board. Since he was already late for school, Franz did not stop to read the news. When he reached school, Franz couldn't hear the usual bustling sounds. Franz entered the class embarrassed and afraid but was surprised when M. Hamel kindly asked him to take his seat. After he sat down, Franz noticed that M. Hamel was dressed in clothes he wore only on important days like inspection or prize-giving days. Franz was then surprised to see the sight of villagers occupying the last benches that would otherwise be empty. As Franz wondered what was happening, M. Hamel informed them in a grave tone that this would be their last French lesson. Since Germany took over Alsace and Lorraine after the war, it had been ordered that only German would be taught in schools. Franz was shocked by the announcement and wished he had paid more attention to his studies instead of playing around.
Franz then heard his name being called for recitation. Completely unprepared, Franz made several errors as soon as he began and stood there feeling ashamed. Again, instead of scolding Franz, M. Hamel spoke about the general tendency in the village to put off learning. M. Hamel then spoke about how French was the clearest and most logical language and must guard the language. While they continued with the lessons for the day, Franz found himself paying attention to every word that M. Hamel uttered. It was a deeply emotional moment for M. Hamel to leave behind his forty years of hard work. Even the villagers seemed to be overcome with emotion. Finally, when the lesson ended, M. Hamel stood up to speak. He only managed to write "Vive La France!" on the board and dismissed the class with a wave of his hand.