Punishment in Kindergarten: Questions, Summary,Analysis
NCERT Solutions For Class 10 English
Punishment in Kindergarten Summary
The poem ‘Punishment in Kindergarten’ is a childhood hurt recollection of the poet in the later years of her life. The poet was deeply hurt by the unkind words of a teacher. It is the incident when the poet was just a school kid. She had gone on a school picnic with her teacher and schoolmates. While other kids were playing, the poet stood alone because she was still new in the school. On seeing her alone, the teacher who had dressed blue- coloured frock threw harsh words at her. The harsh words deeply wound her heart. This was followed by one more thing that added more to her pain. The schoolmates who were sipping sugarcane laughed ridiculously at her when they heard the teacher daunting her. The poet could not bear this. She felt insulted. This made her hide in the hedge where she smelt the flowers and pain. With the passage of time, the poet has almost forgotten the painful incident and she is now satisfied with herself. Time and her adult viewpoint have healed the pain. The years have reduced the intensity and harshness of the hurtful incident. The angry words and laughing faces are vague and unclear. The years have gone by very fast. Certain incidents close to the heart are remembered others are forgotten. Life moves on. The poet is now adult look back on that painful incident peacefully. There is no need more to remember that childhood incident with pain.
Thus the poet is tinged with a noble sense of forbearance of ‘adult peace’ after ‘the years have sped along’. The poet has survived that pain and reached maturity transcending memory:…
No need to remember
That picnic day when I lay hidden
By a hedge watching the steel-white sun standing lonely in the sky.
The significance of the poem does not lie in ‘punishment’ but in the sense of hurt inflicted on the child by the harsh words of the teacher and the children’s laughter that only aggravated it. The ‘adult peace’ the poet because of the healing touch of time. It is the impact of the sadly moving flux of life that brings about spiritual tranquillity in the poet:
The words are muffled now, the laughing
Faces only a blur. The years have
Sped along, stopping briefly
At beloved halts and moving
Punishment in Kindergarten | Explanation and Analysis
We carry childhood memories with us into our adult life. Some may be painful, some happy. You may also remember certain unforgettable incidents from childhood. This poem is moving through the simple rendering of childhood memory. The poet recalls an incident from the past which is still very painful. Here we hear the voice of an adult but the hurt the child felt is recreated. Let us discuss it in detail:
The narrator who is now an adult recalls a painful incident of childhood. The incident happened in kindergarten on a bright sunny day. All the children were playing together. The narrator was sitting alone. 0n seeing this the blue-frocked teacher scolded her harshly in the presence of her classmates. She called her peculiar child for wanting to be alone when all were playing. In this stanza, the first line speaks of the present from the second line onwards the past is described
The narrator remembers the details of that painful day. The other schoolmates were sipping sugarcane juice on the lawn. When they heard the teacher shouting at the narrator. They turned and laughed in merriment at the narrator’s tears. Unable to bear the shame the child buried its head in the hedge. The forgotten.urt the child.rever.
We can very easily identify With the little child, can’t we? Children are hurt by very trivial things. What seems to be a major tragedy to the child will be to the Adult a silly matter. Notice the two voices in the poem- an adult voice which is able to talk openly about the incident that is not painful any more and the child voice which relives the agony of the past.
The adult voice speaks again in the present. The years have reduced the intensity and harshness of the hurtful incident. Time has healed the pain. The angry words and laughing faces are vague and unclear. The years have gone by very fast. Certain incidents close to the heart are remembered others are forgotten. Life moves on. The narrator is now adult look back on that painful incident peacefully and do not mind it any more. There is no need more to remember that childhood incident with pain.
Main Attractions of the Poem
The poet starts the poem by distinguishing’ today ‘ (i.e. the present) from the past. She still doesn’t feel like the world is her own as an adult, but it’s a bit more of her own than when she was a child. Note that while she says there’s no need to remember the pain caused by a careless adult who mocked her for her tendency to hold on to herself, the poem itself is an act of recollecting that event — another paradox that adds to those we’ve found.
This stanza is about children’s tendency to be cruel to others. The other children’s cruelty here reflects that of the woman who called the speaker ‘ peculiar ‘. Curiously, the poet joins the words “the flowers and the pain,” things that are not usually associated with each other. There is the implication that perhaps she associates. There is the implication that she may associate flowers with pain due to the painful memory she laughs at as a child.
The muffled words and blurred images remain in the speaker’s mind as an adult. Unlike Wordsworth, Das does not indicate that there was anything about her childhood that she cherishes or sees as sacred. However, she does indicate that even though she probably shouldn’t remember this particular memory, she cannot help recalling it. The repetition of “no need to remember” reinforces the paradox that the poem itself is an act of remembrance. The final image of the poem, the steel-white sun standing lonely in the sky, connects the speaker with the sun: it is lonely, just as she is, and perhaps its presence reminds her every day of the day from her childhood that she does not want to remember.
Punishment in Kindergarten | Questions-Answers
Q. What does the line, “Today, the world is a little more my own” mean?
Ans. The narrator who is now an adult has gained more conﬁdence and greater control over her life. She is now satisfied with her life. She has gained an adult peace of mind. Painful incidents in childhood do not hurt any more. There is no one like the old teacher who can hurt her because of her adult viewpoint.
Q. Who was the blue-frocked woman? Why does the poet remember her?
Ans. The blue-frocked woman was a teacher who scolded the narrator for not playing with other children. The poet remembers her because she insulted her with harsh words which put a deep cut on her heart.
Q. What hurts more physical punishment or harsh words?
Ans. The physical pain caused by a physical punishment heals over time, but harsh words make a deeper cut. Words can break someone’s heart. They can create deep hurt that does no heal up quickly. Thus, harsh words I think hurt more than physical punishment.
Q. Why did the other children laugh at the poet?
And. The other children laughed at the poet in merriment. They enjoyed when the teacher scolded the poet.
Q. Why do you think the words of the blue rocked woman are muffled now?
Ans. The years have diluted the intensity of the pain and the adult narrator is able to recount the incident with an “adult peace”. The years have reduced the intensity and harshness of the hurtful incident. Time and an adult point of view have healed the hurt. The angry Words and laughing faces are vague and unclear.
Q. How different is the world today to the poet?
Ans. The poet is now an adult and has gained an adult peace of mind. Painful incidents in childhood do not hurt any more. She has now gained more conﬁdence and greater control over her life.
Q. How many speaking voices are there in the poem?
Ans. There are two speaking voices — one of an adult and the other of child
Q. The poem moves through two time zones which are they?
Ans. The past and present
Q. Why did the teacher scold the child?
Ans. The teacher scolded the child because the child sat alone without joining the playing schoolmates.
Q. To what is the teacher’ s scolding words compared?
Ans. The teacher scolding words are compared to pots and pans which when thrown make a lot of noise.
Q. What were the teacher’s angry words to the child?
Ans. The teacher called the child peculiar for not joining her schoolmates having fun.
Q. Why does the narrator say, “No need to remember the pain”?
Ans. The narrator who is now an adult is able to look back on the pain childhood incident with peace. Time and an adult point of view have healed the hurt.
Q. Why is the day described as “honey coloured?
Ans. The day was sweet and peaceful before the teacher scolded the child.
Q. What drained the peace of the “honey coloured day”?
Ans. The teacher’s angry words drained the peace of the “honey-coloured day?
Q. What were the schoolmates doing?
Ans. The schoolmates were sitting in groups on the lawn sipping sugarcane juice.
Q. How did the schoolmates react to the teacher’s angry words to the child?
Ans. The schoolmates laughed in merriment at the child’s tears.
Q. What did the child do to cover up her hurt and pain?
Ans. The child buried her face in the sun-warmed hedge.
Q. What added to the hurt inﬂicted by the teacher?
Ans. The ridiculing laughter of the schoolmates added to the hurt.
Q. What are the phrases used by the poet to express the healing power of time‘ reducing the hurt caused by the childhood incident?
Ans. The angry words of the teacher are “mufﬂed now” and the “laughing faces” of the schoolmates “only a blur”
Q. What metaphor does the poet use to describe life?
Ans. The poet describes life as a journey with “beloved halts” and incidents.
Q. What do you understand by the phrase “adult peace”? without feeling hurt.
Ans. The child is now an adult and has gained an adult peace of mind. Painful incidents in childhood do not hurt any more.
Q. How was the child different from her schoolmates.
Ans. Unlike the schoolmates who loved to play, she preferred to be alone.
Q. Why is the sun describes as “steel-white”?
Ans. The sun is steel white because it seems to be harsh and cruel to the child due to the heat and also the harsh and cruel behaviour of the teacher and schoolmates.
Q. Pick out the compound adjectives in the poem.
Q. Why are the children called funny?
Ans. They laugh at other’s tears.
Let us now analyse the poem as a literary piece.
Explanation and Analysis
Today…..little more my own: The narrator is now an adult and more confident has gained more control over her life
No need to remember the pain: in adult life, there is no need to remember childhood pain but memories take you over and force you to recall old incidents.
A blue—freaked woman: a teacher in the kindergarten who wore a blue frock. “Blue frocked” is a compound adjective that describes the now ‘woman’. The child remembers all the detail clearly even the colour of the teacher’s dress.
Throwing words: scolding loudly and harshly
Like pots and pans: This is a simile. The comparison is between word; shouted in anger and “pots and pans” which make a lot of noise when handled roughly.
To drain …….. peace: just as pots and pans are used to collect or drain things, also the words of the teacher drain the beautiful day with of its peace
drain: to empty.
honey—coloured day: a beautiful sunny golden day that promised sweetness and peace.
why don‘t you? …. are: The child’s desire was to be alone. This was no understood by the teacher who saw her behaviour strange.
Clusters: in groups, The contrast between the narrator who was alone and the other children who sat in groups made clear here.
they turned and laughed: children can be unknowingly cruel as they laugh at another discomfort.
buried my face: bent my head and hid my face.
sun-warmed: made warm by the heat of the sun.
hedge: a boundary wall made of small plants planted close together.
mufﬂed: not very clear blur, dim, unclear picture. Time with its healing power has reduced the intensity of the harsh words and clear memory of the cruel laughing faces.
sped along: gone very fast. (‘sped’: a past tense form of the verb ‘speed’)
beloved: something or someone that/who is love hats: memorable things or landmarks in life. The poet, here, uses the metaphor of life as a journey with halts and landmarks.
Adult peace: peace of mind an adult gets through wisdom.
Steel-white: white like steel. The quality of harshness and cruelty is suggested here. The sun seems to be harsh and cruel because :
a) It is noon and very hot.
b) The harsh and cruel behaviour of the teacher and schoolmates makes it so
standing lonely: standing all by itself. There is a similarity between the lonely sun and the lonely sky.
Paragraph questions and Answers
1. Describe the painful, incident the child experienced in kindergarten?
Ans. On a beautiful peaceful day, the kindergarten children were out on a picnic. The adult narrator remembers this incident which happened during her childhood. Whereas all the other children were sipping, sugarcane juice and having fun, the child was sitting alone and apart from the others. The blue-frocked teacher who noticed this scolded the child and called her peculiar for not joining others in their fun. On seeing this the other children laughed at her and her tears. Unable to bear the shame and ridicule, the child buried her head in the hedge. The hurt and the pain of that day lingered in the mind of a child. Now, the years have diluted the intensity of the pain and the adult narrator is able to recount the incident with an “adult peace”
2. What do you understand about the character of the child in the poem?
Ans. The child is very shy and sensitive. This is clear from the way she reacted to the teacher’s angry words. She is very easily hurt and cries for the slightest reason. When the teacher scolded her in the presence of schoolmates, she could not bear it. She wanted to hide and buried her face in the nearby hedge. She was an introvert and preferred to be alone. The fact that she carried the scar of that incident into her adult life shows how sensitive she was. She was peculiar as the teacher called her because she did not enjoy the usual fun and games children loved.