Plays with Characters

                                                        1-HEAT LIGHTENING

                                               THEME OF THE PLAY

The play is a melodrama in which only three characters take part. A frightened girl enters a bus station on a stormy night in the early hours of the morning. A man is already present there. The girl seeks his help from a killer who is pursuing her after she had seen him disposing of the dead body of a woman in the darkness of the stormy night. The heavy rain and flashes of lightning followed by bursts of thunder outside symbolize the perturbed internal state of the girl. The man consoles her. Another man enters after sometime and the girl’s fear increases. However, the second man leaves when the bus arrives and after his departure it turns/comes out that the person whom she has been trying to escape is none other than her so-called sympathizer. Fortunately, she is saved by the timely arrival of a dog that forces the killer to run away. The play is a good example of melodramatic characteristics. The audience is thrilled by the arousal of strong feelings of suspense, pity and horror, happy ending, etc


The play opens in a bus station on a stormy night. A man enters the room from the “Men’s room” and soon after that a terribly frightened young girl rushes in there and bolts the door. She is sobbing. She tells the man that she is being pursued by a killer whom she had seen disposing of the dead body of a woman. Owing to drabness she could not recognize the killer’s features but was aware of his chasing her because of the splashing noises she heard after her. The man consoles her and encourages her to remember what the killer looked like but, anyway, she fails to do so. At the same time, a second man viably knocks at the door and is admitted there. The girl feels herself insecure in his presence and remains firmly unresponsive to advance towards her till the very last.

On the arrival of the bus the second man leaves the other two alone after chuckling at their supposedly immoral desire to be alone together and the action takes a dramatic turn when after his departure the first man comes out in his true colours and reveals himself to be the killer from whose clutches the girl was seeking escape. The girl at once rushes into the women’s room and bolts it from the inside. Luckily, at the same moment a dog seeking refuge from the storm comes there and seizing the man forces him to run away. The girl comes out and affectionately pats the dog.


  1. Why could not the girl describe the killer?

         The girl could not describe the killer because she had not seen him clearly due to the darkness of          night. It was also because she was very frightened.

  • What were the circumstances that forced her to leave her car?

          It was stormy night and her car ran out of fuel. Owing to this she had to leave her car.

  • Why was the girl frightened? What did she see in the car?

         The girl was frightened to see the dead body of a girl in the car.

  • What was the condition of the girl when she reached the bus stop?

         When she reached the bus stop she was sobbing. Her clothes were wet and hair was disheveled.

  • Why did she ask the help from the first man? Or who was following the girl?

         She asked the help from the first man because she thought that the killer who was dragging out the          dead body   of a girl would be chasing her.

  • What was the condition of weather?

         The condition of weather was very bad because it was raining heavily with lightening and thunder.

  • How did the second man accuse the first man of lying?

The first man hid the girl and pretended to be alone in the waiting room whereas the second man had already seen someone through the window glass. When she came out of the women’s room the second man accused him of lying.

  • Did the girl become suspicious of the first man as the play progresses?

The girl did not become suspicious of the first man as the play progresses. She thought him a sincere and truthful person because he assured her very tactfully of his full cooperation and help.

  • What is the impression of her about the second man?

She clearly suspects him to be a killer who was after her. It is why she avoids contact with him throughout his meeting.

  1. Why did she not accompany the second man?

         She did not accompany the second man because she suspected him to be a killer who was after her.

11.    When did the first man prove to be a killer? How did the girl recognize the killer? How did she realize   the truth?

When the second man departed, the first man took out a flash light from his pocket. She saw and recognized her flash light which was lost by her on the way. In this way she realized the truth that the first man was the same killer who was after her.

12.   Which is one of the beautiful sights of the world according to the second man? What          did the second man show the girl in the sky?

A big flash of lightening cutting the whole world into two is one of the beautiful sights in the world. This is what the second man wants to show her.

13.   How did the first man look?

         He was a pleasant looking man. He was of about thirty five. He was wearing a hat.

  1. How did the second man look?

         He was a nondescript type of man. He was tall and good looking person. He was about thirty years of          age.



The girl is about twenty-three. She seems to be a sensitive timid girl who is not strong enough to cope with any unusual untoward situation. She starts running as soon as she sees a man dragging a corpse of a woman in the stormy night to dispose it of. She even fails to notice the features of the killer in her nervousness; otherwise she could have recognized him who has been present in the bus station before she reaches there. She seeks his help and he very cleverly sympathizes with her and tries to find out how much she is able to recollect the appearance and features of the killer. She behaves very coldly towards the second man whom she considers an unwanted person and even suspects that he might be the killer. However, she behaves courageously as she dashes into the room and bolts it as soon as she realizes that the first man is the actual person whom she has been trying to escape.


He is a pleasant looking man of about thirty-five. He is actually the killer whom the girl saw disposing of the corpse of a woman on the roadside in the stormy night. He pursued the girl but after losing her, he managed to reach the bus station before her. When she reaches there in her perturbed state, he fully exploits the opportunity to find out how much she could recollect the appearance and features of the killer. He sympathizes with-her in her agonized state and wins her over to the extent that she considers him her guard protector and well-wisher. However, the girl proves herself smarter than he when he reveals his real identity to her by showing her the flashlight which she had dropped on the road in bewilderment.


The second man is an ordinary sort of person. He is tall, nice looking and about thirty years of age. He protests vigorously against being kept in the rain outside the bus station. But soon reconciles with the man and the girl present in the bus station. He is talkative and inquisitive about others and tries to win over the girl but fails to impress her in the company of the first man. His presence in the bus station prolongs the suspense of the play; otherwise his role in the play is minor one.



The play is a scientific fantasy.  Its major theme is the imaginative visualization of the scientific progress that might take place in future. At the same time it treats the tall chains of the human beings to be the most advanced race in the universe with caustic sarcasm. They urge to assert their power in an aggressive manner is something quite inherent in them but the situation puts them in a ridiculous position when, faced by Kreton, a being form an amazingly advanced world, their powerlessness and wretchedness is revealed. Whereas General Powers tries to dominate the scene by vain threats, Kreton continually responds with magnanimous goodwill in spite of all his powers.


“Visit To A Small Planet” is a thought- provoking play by Gore Vidal, an American playwright. In this play he comments on the American culture. He says that the people of 20th century are still in the beginning of their civilization as compared with those of the planets of other solar systems. The future man will be free from hatred and violence and feel pride in the

service of mankind.

As the play starts, Rogen spelding, a TV broad caster, is concluding his TV broadcast.   He interviews General Powers and asks him about a flying thing, which is moving towards earth. Powers says that it is only a meteor (a shooting star) not anything else like spaceship and move in space.   We shall be the first one to travel in space Concluding his broadcast Reger spelding talks to his wife and daughter, Ellen about his son-in-law, John.   He asks Ellen to marry someone who is hardworking, determined and willing to make up his mark in the world and not a rich person like John who keeps growing peanuts on his form.

All of a sudden John enters breathlessly and tells then that a strang thing is landing outside. All go out to see it. In the end it lands in the backyard of Spelding’s house in the rose garden. Spelding goes in and calls the police and army. John moves towards the thing landed, looking like a flying saucer and receives a person, Kreton who comes out of it. He is forty years old, hand some looking person dvessed in the fashion of 1860. On being asked, he tells that he is not American and he has came form other planet on a study trip this small planet, earth. He also tells that the people on earth are in the beginning of their civilization and they have primitive thinking habits.

Spelding wants to interview Kreton but he says that the authorities will not like it. He foretells that after some time the house will be in the control of army and the army men will question him about his visit and whereabouts. Spelding is surprised to hear this.

General Powers with his attendant and guards reach there and surrounds the house. He orders his attendant to inspect the spaceship, a flying saucer. Spelding introduces Kertan to powers, which asks him about the purpose of his visit. Kreton answers that it is difficult for him to tell.  “If I tell you will die before I finish”, says he.  He further tells that the people on his planet never die Powers threats that he will die if he is proved to be a spy.   Power’s attendants again come back and tell that there is nothing inside the ship. Kreton explains to them that such cars are common on his planet but he does not know how they move without instruments.

Powers takes Kreton into a separate room to question him. He tells him that as his nation never attacks others. He tell Powers that he can tell what others think and when he tells him that he is thinking of his promotion he is utterly confused. He further tells Powers that his people never travel because they can watch others with the help of monitors and others machines.

Powers remains in touch with the chief that they are going to open Kreton’s spaceship, he asks them not to do so.  As they “do not refrain from it, he shuts the door of space ship and builds an invisible protective around the ship. Because of it the guards cannot touch the ship, Kreton says that they cannot blow his ship.   This thinking makes him feel giddy.   He says to Powers you always think stronge things. Our minds are different from those of yours. You all always behave in an emotional way. When Gen. Powers tells Spelding that his house is under martial law and it will be not be vacated, Kreton says that as he is the cause of the trouble, he is leaving. Powers says that he cannot leave. Kreton replies, you always take strangers your enemies powers asks if his people want to establish relations with his people. Kreton tells that he had not engaged in trade. In the end, Kreton tells that he had come to take charge of the earth and assures him the people here will remain happy. Powers, listening all this, orders his attendant to arrest Kreton. As they move towards him, they feel that they cannot touch him and they have to stop a foot away. Kreton says he is going to take rest and will see them in morning. He leaves saying good-bye.


1-Mr, Spelding

Roger spelding is a middle-aged, unpleasantly flattering and vibrant person. He is a television commentator. He lives at an old homestead in Silver Glen, Maryland, and U.S.A He protests that his wife and daughter Ellen do not listen to his broadcasts keenly. He even taunts them for that. He does not like his daughter’s intention to marry her lover John who he thinks has no initiative to make progress in his life. He is a friend of the military commander General Powers whose public statement regarding the flying object seen by the people, he broadcasts with firm conviction. But he had to face awkward moments when the objective facts disprove his announcements. He is most flattering to Kreton and offers him his hospitality in a most friendly manner although a few moments ago he was dubious about him.

2- Mrs. Spelding:

She is a straightforward sort of naive woman. She seems bored and knits passively which her husband broadcasts on T.V. Contrary to her husband’s opinion she likes her daughter’s lover, John. When father and daughter quarrel, she simply remarks, “Please don’t quarrel. It. always gives me a headache.” She refrains from interfering in their quarrel. She takes interest in the visit of Kreton to their house but wants that her garden should not suffer any damage due to the landing of Kreton’s flying machine there. But her attitude towards Kreton is very friendly and hospitable.

3- Ellen:

Ellen is a vivacious girl of twenty. She is the daughter of Mrs. Spelding. Like her mother she also feels bored to listen to here father’s T.V. broadcasts. She is a modem girl fully conscious of her rights. She loves John and intends to many him although her father does not approve of her choice. Ha dislikesJohn for being merely a farmer although he is hardworking, Ellen argues with her father vehemently in support of her choice of John as her husband. Her reaction to the arrival of Kreton is also very enthusiastic and been. She tries to stop John as he heads towards the spaceship as soon as it lands in their rose garden. She is realty worried about John as he gets near the spaceship and asks her father to arrange a gun as a precaution. When her father suggests to leave the house, she refuses to leave without John. She is faithful to her fiance in letter and spirit. Her reaction to Kreton’s visit is also very inquisitive. She tries to know about him and rather makes him concede that he is from some unknown planet and has come on the earth to study the people of the earth, who according to him are in the early stages of their civilization and this study fascinates him. Her attitude towards Kreton, like that of her mother is quite friendly and hospitable. She even hopes that Kreton will condescend to give them a side in his flying^machine.

4- John:

John is a young farmer. He is a lover of Spelding’s daughter, Ellen. He is hard working and intends to work diligently on his farm. Ellen persists in her intention to marry him in spite of her father’s cold response to their affair. He is a daring inquisitive youth. It is he who informs the Speldings about the possible landing of the flying object in their vicinity. As soon as it lands he rushes to find out the truth. Although Ellen feels real worries about him and calls him to return he does not budge or retreat and he is the first human being to talk and shake hands with the alien and question him boldly about his planet and travels. When he learns that Kreton can read human minds and emotions and taunts them for it, he decides to think only of his agriculture. This   shows   his   single-mindedness and straightforwardness.

5-General Power:

General Powers is a military commander. He is a vigorous product of the National Guard. He is a typical military officer. As soon as he learns from Spelding that an alien has landed in his courtyard, he reaches there with his assistant and a company of troops. He is quite authoritative and even haughty in his behaviour with the alien. He is irritated when his interrogation of Kreton does not make any progress and even threatens Kreton to beware of him. But, ironically, Kreton exposes his limited vision by telling him that he could not understand his explanation even in another five hundred years. When General Powers orders use of force against Kreton or his flying -machine he is made to lick the dust as they fail to cause any harm to either the flying machine or Kreton. (f) Kreton: Kreton is the protagonist of the play. He is in his forties, a mild, pleasant-looking man with side-whiskers and dressed in the fashion of 1860. He is an alien who belongs to another planet in another planetary system unknown to the astronomers of the earth. He lands on earth in his flying machine in the courtyard of the Speldings. His race belongs to a very advanced stage of civilization. He displays unusual wit, intelligence, potential and patience. He behaves very graciously even when he is threatened with the use of force by General Powers. He possesses miraculous powers of defending himself and his flying machine. His visit to the earth is prompted by his inquisitiveness and interest in the human race. He tells that study of human civilization is his hobby, which he has been carrying on for years. According to him human civilization is only in its initial stages of development and he is particularly interested in this phase and perhaps this has led him to visit the earth to have first hand knowledge and experience of it.


  1. How does Kreton prove his extraordinary powers?

      Mr. Kreton, a man from some far-off planet has extraordinary powers. He proves his extraordinary powers by

      reading the mind of General Powers, creating an invisible wall around his spaceship and by making General

Powers and AIDE stagnant on their feet. His knowledge about the earth and claim to conquer and rule the whole world solitarily also prove his extraordinary powers.

  • What is the purpose of the visit of Kreton? Or why does Kreton come on earth?

The purpose of his visit is to study the primitive minds and civilization of the people. His theme of study is to know about the progress and development made by the people on the earth. He also wants to conquer and rule the whole world.

  • What is the theme of the study of Kreton? Or how much knowledge has Kreton about the earth?

His theme of study is to know about the progress and development made by the people on the earth. He has full knowledge of earth. He says that earth is divided into five continents. It is mostly water. It has one moon and its civilization is just in its initial stages.

  • How much advance is the civilization of Kreton than that of the earth?

      The civilization of Kreton is 2000 years more advanced than that of the earth.

  • Can the people of the earth compete with the people of Kreton? Or why can the people of the earth not      compete with the people of Kreton?

      The people of the earth cannot compete with the people of Kreton because the civilization of the people of       Kreton is much more advanced than that of the people of the earth.

  • How much damaging is violence in life?

      Violence is very much damaging in life because it destroys peace and love and gives birth to terrorism,       injustice and disorder in the society. It also becomes a hurdle in the way of progress and development of an economy.

  • How much impressive were the morals of Kreton?

      The morals of Kreton were very much impressive. He was very gentle and polite person. He was very amicable         with everyone. He did not take any thing ill. He did not show anger when General Powers attacked him. He       answered everybody’s questions with patience. He tried his best to pacify the curiosity about him and his     planet.

  • What is the role of General Powers in the play? Or who was General Powers?

      General Powers is dutiful and powerful chief of the National Guard. He is faithful to his beloved country. He       tries to know the purpose of coming of Kreton. He tries hard to arrest Kreton but his extraordinary powers save   him.

  • What type of life do you see in year 5000?

      In year 5000, life on the earth would be fully mechanized. The manifestations of science and technology will      be        seen in every walk of life. Life will be of supernatural style.

  1. How does Kreton impress General Powers?

      Kreton impresses General Powers by his extraordinary powers of reading the mind of General Powers, creating          an        invisible wall around his spaceship and of making General Powers and AIDE stagnant on their feet.

       Or General Powers gets impressed by Kreton when he reads his thoughts of promotion.

                                        3-THE OYSTER AND THE PEARLS


The theme of the play is that there is a pleasure in serving the needy, worth pursuing at the expense of strict observance of facts. The writer’s act of buying the oyster found by Clay, even though he knew fully well that there was no pearl in it, and Harry’s selfless concern for Clay’s poor family have the evergreen sense of spiritual bliss which it is impossible to-achieve by taking up a rigidly factual attitude towards life, as Miss McCutcheon does. Then, it is shown that contentment, coded in Harry’s phrase “take – it – easy’, is far superior to a slavish hankering after material gains. To do good to others should be our foremost objective in life.


“The Oyster and the Pearl” is a beautiful sentimental comedy by William Saroyan. In this play, he draws a miserable picture of the poor people and their social problems. As he believes in the basic goodness of character, he shows that there are people who help them & try to lessen their difficulties and make their life worth living. In a way, he suggests that the people who help others in adversity always derive eternal satisfaction and peace of mind. The play is full of humor and it ends at a happy note.

The play deals with the life of Clark Larabee who lives in O-K-by-the-Sea, a town near the sea. Most of the people here are poor. They only have a garden and a few chickens and they make money by selling eggs and vegetables.

Clark Lara bee has four children. He has many quarrels with his wife because she wants him to provide all the necessities of life. As he has no money, he leaves the town and starts working at Salinas. His son Clay wants to bring his father back and give a present to his mother. He gives an advertisement in a newspaper. He needs money for it. One day, he goes to a beach and finds an oyster there. He believes that it has a costly pearl in it and he can earn a lot of money by selling it.

Harry Van Dusen, a barber, supports his view as he knows all about Clay’s family. He wants to help him & bring peace to his family. He makes a plan to provide him the money. When a writer visits Harry, he tells him the whole story and urges him to help the Clay family. Miss Mac, a new teacher in the town, does not like Harry’s idea to support Clay’s belief that there is a pearl in the oyster but when he exposes the truth, she agrees with him.                                     

On Harry’s suggestion to help Clay, the writer agrees. He decides to buy the oyster. He pays three hundred dollars and gets it. He does not want to get it opened to get the pearl as his main motive was to help Clay and his family through this plan. He considers it more valuable to help the poor than to have a costly pearl. He sacrifices the worldly things and derives joy and happiness. He himself says in the play.

“As far as I am concerned the whole thing’s a pearl.”

In the mean time Clark comes back home after reading the advertisement in the newspaper. With this the play ends at a happy note and the writer is found much delighted at his great deal to bring .pleasure to the Lara bee family.

Saroyan, through this play, tries to convey the idea that we should always help the poor and the needy so that they may lead a happy life and we may be able to derive spiritual pleasure out of it.


  1. Where does the play take place?

      The play takes place at the shop of Harry Van Dusen a barber of the town O.K-by-the-sea\ in California.

  • Why is Harry sitting on the barber’s chair?

      Harry is sitting in the barber’s chair because he is being given a haircut by his apprentice namely Clay       Lassabee.

  • According to Harry how does one bring merriment to the tired old human heart?

      According to Harry one can bring merriment to the human heart by performing some artistic activity or       creative work such as composing a symphony, painting a picture, writing a book and inventing a philosophy.

  • What is Harry’s philosophy?

      Harry’s philosophy is stoic-‘take it easy’ in order to live happy.

  • How much did Harry pay the barber’s shop?  

      Harry paid seventy-five dollars for his barbershop.  

  • How long has he been in

      He has seen there for twenty-four years.

  • How many barbers in O.K-by-the sea?

      There are no barbers in O.K-by-the-Sea except Harry Van Dusen.

  • How much does Harry charge for haircuts?

The regular charge is one dollar per haircut, but Harry being a considerate person charges usually a half or even a quarter according to the financial position of the customer.

  • Where is clay going?

      Clay is going towards the beach to find something “real good” which he would sell in the market to earn  money.

  1. Why does clay need money?

Clay’s father has left his for some quarrel. Clay wants to put an advertisement in the newspaper to get his fugitive father back home. This is why he needs money.

  1. What/why does clay want to advertise in the local newspaper?

Clay wants to put an advertisement in the newspaper to appeal his fugitive father to get back home.He requests him to forget everything. All the members of family are missing him. It is also a good fishing season and he can earn his livelihood here living with his family.

  1. What has happened to clay’s father?

Larra bee’s family is poor. Clark has four offspring. He rows with his wife persistently for a month for poverty and then one day he leaves the house without informing members of his family and starts working in Salinos.

13. Who is Miss McCutheon badly?  How does she feel about her job?

Miss Mccutcheon is the new school teacher at O.K-by-the-Sea. She is so disheartened with the rude behavior of the students that she wants to quit and go back home but it will be the negation of her ambition.

14. What is Miss McCutheon lookng for?  

Miss Mccutcheon is looking for a good atmosphere for teaching. She looks for the changed attitude of the children towards their studies.  

15. How does she feel about the children of the town?

She feels that the children of the town are uninterested in their studies. They are careless and rude. They spend most of their time in playing games instead of learning education.

16. What does harry advise her to do?

Harry advises her to go to Francisco for some new job. He feels the town O.K-by-the-Sea too dull and drab for her youth and intelligence. If she resides here it will not be suitable for her.

17. What kind of haircut Miss McCutheon want?

      Miss Mccutcheon wants a poodle haircut.
18. Does Harry give women haircuts?

      No, Harry doesn’t give women haircuts. However, he doesn’t consider himself skilled enough to give her a             poodle haircut. 

19. Why does Miss McCutheon want a poodle haircut?

She wants a poodle haircut to change her appearance, which would then, suit the fashion of the town more appropriately.

20. Where has Clark been?  How did he get to OK.-by-the-sea?

He has been working in Salinas since he left his family. He got a ride down in a truck    and made a stop- over at O.K-by-the-sea whole passing through that region.

21. What does Clark give Harry? For what purpose?

       He gives Harry thirty dollars that he had saved to give to his family.

22. How far is it to Hollywood from O.K.-by-the-sea?

      Hollywood is about two hundred miles straight down the highway from O.K-by-the-Sea.

 23. What work does the man do?

      He is a writer.

24. What did Clay find near Black Rock?

      Clay found an oyster near Black Rock.

25. What does clay believe in the Oyster?  How much is it worth?

      Clay believes that there is a costly pearl inside that oyster. He thinks it is worth at least three hundred dollars.

26. Does McCutheon believe there is a peart in the Oyster?

No, she does hot believe that there is a pearl in Clay’s oyster. She suggests that it is just Clay’s wishful thinking that makes him hope that there is a pearl in his oyster but the truth is otherwise.

27. Why does McCutheon have a chair with three legs?

      Miss Mccutcheon has a chair with three legs with which she wants to bring things form the sea.

28. What kind of judge is Applegarth?

      According to Harry, Applegarth judged animals at a county fair one time, so he was nicknamed judge.

29. What year is it?

      It is 1953.

30. What does greley have in the bottle?

      Greeley has seawater in the bottle.

31. Why do they want Wozzeck to come?

Wozzeck is an expert watch repairer in the town. They want him to come to the shop so as to open the oyster without damaging it or the pearl, if there is one inside it.

32. Who suggests to open the Oyster?

Miss Muuctheon suggests to open the oyster so that the mystery whether there is a pearl in it or not may be solved.

33. How does Harry describe the people of O.K.-by-the-Sea?

Harry describes the poverty of the inhabitants of O.K-by- the-Sea. They need money to make both ends meet. Some of them go to other places for jobs. A few get pensions. Every family has a garden and a few chickens, and they earn some money by selling vegetables and eggs. Some times there are quarrels in the family between husband and wife due to financial problems. In spite of their poverty, they are contented and have peaceful lives.

34. How does McCutheon view Harry’s thinking about the pearl in the Oyster?

Miss Mccutcheon criticizes Harry’s thinking about the pearl in the oyster. She thinks that Harry is misguiding Clay regarding a precious pearl in his oyster.

35. Why does the judge think that McCutheon will not last as teacher? 

      The judge thinks that Miss Mccutcheon is very pretty and delicate to adjust herself as a teacher in their town.

36. What king of character does the judge think is needed?

      He thinks that their town needs an old, experienced and strict teacher for children.

37. What is Applegarth’s complaint about the sea?

Applegerth thinks that the quality of the stuff the sea throws on the beach is not good. The children pick everything from there and leave nothing for the old people.

38. What kind of gadget does the writer describe?

The writer tells about a gadget in New York that is like a safety razor and which could be easily used by anybody to give a haircut to anybody. s

39. How much does he pay?

      The writer buys the oyster for three hundred dollars.
40. Does the writer open the Oyster? Why not?

The writer does not open the oyster because he knows that there is no pearl inside it, but he buys it for three hundred dollars because he wants to help Clay’s poor family.

41. Why does Clark Larrabee return?

Clark Larrabee returns home as soon as he reads the classified advertisement given in the local newspaper requesting him to return home as the whole family misses him very much because he realizes that his children love him and need his presence at home.

42. What does the writer do with the Oyster?

      The writer puts the oyster in his coat pocket before he leaves Harry’s shop.

Author: readingi

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