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
Sadly on.

Punishment in Kindergarten
Punishment in Kindergarten

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.

Punishment in Kindergarten

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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 Poetic Devices

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.


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.

Punishment in Kindergarten: Questions, Summary,Analysis


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One thought on “Punishment in Kindergarten: Questions, Summary,Analysis

  • 17 Aug 2019 at 2:21 PM

    Why was the speaker called a peculiar girl? What was peculiar about her behaviour? How was she expected to behave?

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