His First Flight by Liam O’ Flaherty


“His First Flight” by Liam O’ Flaherty is an inspirational story. It is about a young seagull who is afraid to fly. Despite their far shorter wings, his younger siblings soared fearlessly while he could not gather the confidence to trust his own wings. The young seagull cries out of starvation hoping his mother would help him. The mother seagull motivates the young one enough to get him to learn flying. The baby seagull realises the importance of belief and faith.


His First Flight – Brief Summary


Before starting this story children we have to understand what is the real meaning of this lesson.

Whenever a child starts the first step of his life, for this step we have lots of confusion and afraid in our mind, towards it. the remove this afraid and confusion there is a major role played by the parents.

By catching the theme the author wrote the story on Seagull. The young seagull was alone on his ledge. His parents, two brothers and a little sister had flown away the previous day. But the young seagull is afraid of flying. He fears his wings will not support him and he will fall down into the sea. So, he is left behind on the ledge. Two days passed. The young seagull got nothing to eat. He was feeling very hungry. Now the mother acts very wisely. She wants to end her young one’s fear. She knows he is very hungry, She comes flying to him, She has a piece of fish in her beak. She comes very near to the ledge but does not land on it. He dived at the fish that was in his mother’s beak. He falls downward into space to fly. All his fear goes. The other members come flying around him: They make cries of joy. Then they land on the green sea. He also lands with them. His legs sank into the sea. He cried in fear but then his belly touched the water. He sank no further. He began to float on the sea. All the family praised the seagull. That was his first flight.


Detailed Summary


There was a young seagull on his ledge alone. His two brothers and his sister had left the day before. He was scared to fly with them. Somehow, as he took a little way forward to the brink of the ledge and tried to flap his wings, he was scared. The vast expanse of the sea stretched underneath, and it was a long way below—mile down. He was confident that his wings would never carry him, so he bowed his head and ran back to the little hole under the ledge where he slept at night. And when one of his brothers and his little sister, whose wings were much shorter than his own, raced to the brink, flapped their wings, and flew away, he failed to muster up the courage to take that plunge which seemed to him so desperate.

His father and mother had come around calling to him shrilly, upbraiding him, threatening to let him starve on his ledge unless he flew away. But for the life of him, he could not move. It had been twenty-four hours by then. Nobody had contacted him since then. He had spent the previous day, all day, watching his parents fly about with his brothers and sister, perfecting their flight skills and showing them how to skim the waves and dive for fish. His older brother had indeed caught his first herring and devoured it while standing on a cliff, while his parents surrounded him with a pleased cackle. And the whole family had spent the morning taunting him with his cowardice on the large plateau halfway down the opposite cliff.

The sun was now rising the horizon, blazing on the ledge facing the south. He sensed the heat because he hadn’t eaten since the previous nightfall. He carefully walked out to the brink of the ledge, then stood on one leg with the other leg tucked under his wing, closed one eye, and the other, and appeared to fall asleep. They really didn’t take much care of him. He saw his two brothers and his sister sitting on the hill, sucking their heads in their necks. His father was wearing feathers on his white back. His mother was the only one smiling at him. She was standing on the plateau on a little raised hump, her white breast leaning forward. Now and then, she ripped a piece of fish that laid at her feet and scraped either side of her beak on the rock. He was maddened by the sight of food. So much he liked to rip food like this, scratching his beak now and then to get it. “Ga, ga, ga,” he cried, begging her to get him food.

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“Gaw-col-ah,” she shouted derisively. Yet he kept calling plaintively, and after a minute or two, he made a happy shout. His mother had taken up a bit of the fish and had flown over to him. He leaned forward enthusiastically, tapping the rock with his legs, attempting to get closer to her as she sailed over. But when she was just opposite him, she stopped, her wings motionless, a slice of fish in her beak just within sight of her beak. He waited a moment in confusion, wondering why she didn’t get any closer, and then, maddened by starvation, he dived at the fish. He dropped out and down into space with a deep cry. Then he was overcome by a monstrous fear, and his heart stood still. He couldn’t hear it. But it only lasted for a minute. He felt his wings stretch out the next minute. The breeze flew against his breast feathers, then under his stomach, then against his wings. He could see the tips of his wings slicing into the air. He wasn’t going to crash headlong. He was rising slowly, downwards and outwards. He was no longer scared. He just felt a tad dizzy. Once upon a time, he flapped his wings and rose up. “Ga, ga, ga, Ga, ga, ga, Gaw-col-ah,” his mother swooped by him, her wings sounding loud.

He responded to her with another yell. Then his grandfather flew over him crying. He saw his two brothers and his sister racing above him, curvetting and banking, and roaring and diving. Then he totally forgot that he hadn’t always been able to run, and he commended himself for diving and going up and down, screaming shrilly. Now he was next to the water, heading right over it, facing directly over the shore. He saw a broad green sea below him, with little ridges moving across it, and he twisted his beak sideways and made fun of it. His parents and his brothers and sister had landed in front of him on this green floor. They were beckoning him, calling shrilly.

He lowered his legs in order to balance on the green sea. His legs had sunk into it. He cried in terror and tried to get up again, flapping his wings. But he was weary and weak with hunger, and could not stand, drained by a strange workout. His legs sunk into the green water, and his belly met it, and he sank no more. He was floating on it, and around him his family was crying, thanking him, and their beaks were giving him scraps of dogfish. He had already taken his first flight.


Passages for comprehension


Passage 1

The young seagull was alone on his ledge. His two brothers and his sister had already flown away the day before. He had been afraid to fly with them. Somehow when he had taken a little run forward to the brink of the ledge and attempted to flap his wings he became afraid. The great expanse of the sea stretched down beneath, and it was such a long way down – miles down. He felt certain that his wings would never support him; so he bent his head and ran away back to the little hole under the ledge where he slept at night.

Questions:

1- Why was the young seagull alone on his ledge?

Answer – The young seagull was alone on his ledge because his two brothers and his sister had already flown away the day before.

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2- How many brothers and sisters did he have?

Answer – He had two brothers and a sister.

3- Why did the seagull not go with them?

Answer – seagull did not go with them because he was afraid to fly.

4- What happed when he ran to the brink of the ledge?

Answer – He saw the great expanse of sea.

5- What was he certain about?

Answer- He was certain that his wings would never support him.

6- Find a word in the passage that means edge‘.

Answer – brink.

Passage 2

His parents and his brothers and sister had landed on this green flooring ahead of him. They were beckoning to him, calling shrilly. He dropped his legs to stand on the green sea. His legs sank into it. He screamed with fright and attempted to rise again flapping his wings. But he was tired and weak with hunger and he could not rise, exhausted by the strange exercise. His feet sank into the green sea, and then his belly touched it and he sank no farther. He was floating on it, and around him, his family was screaming, praising him and their beaks were offering him scraps of dog-fish.

Q.1 Where did the young seagull land.

Ans The young seagull landed on the green sea.

Q.2 What happened when he tried to stand on the green sea?

Ans When he tried to stand on the green sea, he could not rise.

Q.3 What did his family to when he was floating on the sea?

Ans When he was floating on the sea, his family was creaming around him and praising him.

Q.4 What made him tired?

Ans His first flight which was a strange exercise made him tired.

Q.5 What did his family offer him and why?

Ans His family was offering him scraps of dogfish because he was hungry.

Q.6 Find out the words from the passage containing the opposite meaning of the following:

(i) Zigzag (ii) never

Ans. Zigzag– Straight

Never – ever

Important Questions-

Q.1 Why was the seagull afraid to fly? How did he conquer his fear?

Ans- The young seagull was afraid to fly because he felt certain that his wings would never support him to fly. He was frightened to see the sea around him. He was afraid that he would fall down into the sea. He had not eaten anything since the previous night.

His family had moved the ledge to the plateau. They wanted him to come there but he did not dare to fly. His mother thought of a way to get him to fly. She caught fish and started to eat it in full view of the young seagull. On seeing her eat, the young seagull became terribly restless. He dived to get food from his mother and flew outward and downward into space. Then he completely forgot that he had not always been able to fly. Then he conquered his fear.

Q.2 Why was the young seagull afraid to fly? Do you think a human baby also finds it a challenge to take its first steps?

Ans The young seagull was certain that his wings would not open and support him when he would try to fly. He feared that he would fall down into the sea. It is the case with all young birds. They are afraid to make their first flight. Some birds can be more timid than others. It is the mother who helps the young ones to overcome this fear.

The human baby too finds it a challenge to take its first steps. It has to be supported and encouraged by the elders. It falls down many a time while taking the first steps. But ultimately through constant efforts and encouragement, it overcomes its fears and moves on.

Q.3 How did he seagull family help the young seagull overcome his fear and fly?

Ans The seagull family used different methods to help him to overcome his fear and fly. First of all, the parents, brother and sister left him all alone for twenty-four hours. Then his parents come around calling him shrilly to fly. They even rebuked him that if he could not fly, he would starve to death.

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Maddened by hunger, he dived at the fish his mother baited at him and flew outward and downward into space. His brother and sister were flying before him so that he might gather the courage to fly.

The mother seagull motivates the young one enough to get him to learn flying. The baby seagull realises the importance of belief and faith.

Thus his family helped the young seagull to overcome his fear and fly.

Text Book Questions and Answers

Q. Why was the young seagull afraid to fly? Do you think all young birds are afraid to make their first flight or are some birds more timid than others? Do you think a human baby also finds it a challenge to take its first steps?
Answer: The young seagull felt that his wings would not support him. I feel some birds are afraid but some are more timid than others. Yes, it is true with a human baby also.

Q. “The sight of the food maddened him.” What does this suggest? What compelled the young seagull to finally fly?
Answer: He was hungry for twenty-four hours. He was impatient and desperate. He dived at the fish in his mother’s beak. She flew upwards. His wings spread outwards cutting through the air. Thus began his flight.

Q. “They were beckoning to him, calling shrilly. “Why did the seagull’s father and mother threaten him and cajole him to fly?
Answer: They threatened him to starve on his ledge unless he flew away. They wanted him to take his first flight.

Q. What is the message of the story his first flight?

Answer: His First Flight’ is a parable. The seagulls convey the message of self-confidence, motivation and self-reliance. The mother seagull motivates the young one enough to get him to learn flying. The baby seagull realises the importance of belief and faith.

Q.How did Seagull make his first flight?
Answer. Excessive hunger and the view of food from the distinct place made the young seagull attempt to fly. He moved outwards and fell downwards into space. He got frightened that he will fell into the sea but was saved by his wings as they spread out automatically.

Q. How did his family react to his first flight?
Answer: In the story His first flight, the young seagull is afraid of flying, and he is later able to conquer his fear to the joy of his family. Explanation: The members of his family cheered him on, and they and screamed in joy. The young seagull was afraid of flying, and he finally overcame his fear.

Q. Why was the young seagull afraid to fly? Do you think all young birds are afraid to make their first flight or are some birds more timid than others? Do you think a human baby also finds it a challenge to take its first steps?
Answer: The young seagull was afraid to fly because it was his first flight. He doubted that his wings would not be able to support him. We are well aware that “Journey to a thousand miles begins with a single step” and it is very difficult to take that first step. Thus, I think all birds must be hesitating before taking their first flight, some more than others. Yes, just like young birds, human babies also hesitate while taking their first step.

Q. “They were beckoning to him, calling shrilly.” Why did the seagull’s father and mother threaten him and cajole him to fly?

Answer: Unlike his younger siblings, the poor seagull could not gather enough courage to take his first flight. Thus, his parents taunted him for being a coward. They even threatened it to let it starve if he did not try. They thought hunger would make him fly looking for his food. They did all of this because they wanted him to fly.

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