“A Far Cry from Africa” talks about the events of the Mau Uprising in Kenya in the early 1950s. In the mid-twentieth century, British colonialism was a blurring but at the same time, it was an intense power on the earth. In the African country of Kenya, British colonists had settled and acquainted European ideas with the local people: money, tax collection, and land ownership. At the point when the British asked, ”Who possesses this land?” tribal people reacted, ”We do,” and the British assumed that “we” alluded to the tribal government, despite the fact that the land was really owned by individual families. Since the British were supplanting the tribal government with their own, they then asserted all the land for the sake of the new British government. Naturally, the Kenyan individuals were outraged. Now, rather than owning and cultivating their own land, they were decreased to being workers for the British proprietors. As representatives, they were additionally offended by being paid just a small amount of the sum a British worker got for doing likewise work.
The Kikuyu tribe was the biggest in Kenya, and the most learned. In 1951, some Kikuyu upheavals of violence against the British happened, and in 1952 a mystery Kikuyu society known as the Mau Mau started a war of violence against the British and any Africans who were faithful to them. By October of 1952, the circumstance was so intense that the British got out troops to battle the agitators, and a three-year war followed, during which 11,000 rebel warriors were executed and 80,000 Kikuyu men, ladies, and youngsters were locked up in confinement camps. One hundred Europeans and 2,000 Africans faithful to them were murdered. Afterward, the leader of the rebellion, Jomo Kenyatta, was chosen prime minister of Kenya when Kenya became independent from Britain in 1963.
In the poem, Walcott presents some graphic images of the conflict and asks how he can be expected to choose one side over the other since he is of both African and European descent. He cannot condone the colonialism of the British, or the violence of the Mau Mau, because choosing either side would mean he is turning against that part of himself.
“A Far Cry from Africa” uses metaphors, such as “colonel of carrion, and ironic statements, such as “corpses are scattered through a paradise” to describe the death and destruction and inhumanity that has occurred in both Africa and Europe. Walcott was privileged to bear both horrible histories as a half-European and half-African. The desire of the full-blooded natives was to look and act like the colonizers. They didn’t have to bear the strain of being genetically comparable to the colonizers, however, and not only being torn between two societies but being “divided to the vein,” Derek Walcott utilizes his genetic hybridity and cultural hybridity to convey the extreme of his unholiness.
Violence and Cruelty:– The wind” ruffling Africa’s tawny pelt” relates to the Mau Mau Uprising that took place in what is now independent Kenya from about October 20, 1952, to January 1960. The White Government called an emergency conference during this period against a secret Kikuyu community that came to be known as Mau Mau and was devoted to overthrowing the White regime. The short-term cruelty of the Mau Mau insurrection erupted against the backdrop of a cruel, long-lasting British colonialism.
STYLE:” A Far Cry from Africa” has four mainly iambic tetrameter stanzas. The poem actually begins in iambic pentameter, the predominant form of poetry published in English, but it quickly veers off course metrically— a shift reflecting the evolving scene and viewpoint in the poem— with lines of differing length and amount of stresses. The use of masculine endings (lines ending with accented vowels) and masculine rhymes (one syllable rhymes) by Walcott is a point of consistency. Rhyme is just as uncommon as a meter. The first stanza’s rhyme scheme could be rendered as ababbcdecd.
When analyzing” A Far Cry from Africa,” most critics comment on the message of the poem and what it shows about the poet, rather than technical elements of its creation. In an essay titled” West Indies II: Walcott, Brathwaite, and Authenticity,” Bruce King comments,” The poem is noteworthy for its emotional complexity” and that it” treats the Mau Mau uprising in terms that mock the usual justifications and criticisms of colonialism.” King notes that the narrator is hit by” confused, irreconcilably opposed feelings:…
In his critical biography of 1993, Derek Walcott, Robert D. Hamner observes,” For Walcott, it is not a easy decision between cultures, but a matter of laying claim to his mixed heritage.” This” mixed heritage,” which the Swedish Academy took on a range of often-paradoxical forms when it awarded Walcott the 1992 Nobel Prize for Literature, known as” the complexity of its own position.” For instance, Walcott is genetic ancestry of both English and African. In his veins flows the blood of colonizers and colonizers, oppressors and oppressed. Derek Walcott often described himself as a “mongrel;” they were both African grandmothers and they were both European grandfathers. He disliked the English culture but loved the English language and empathized with the Irish because they were the colonization victims as well.
Walcott does not convey all elements of British and African culture in “A Far Cry from Africa,” but focuses solely on the violent history of both. He’s “poisoned with the blood of both,” and he’s torn between a bloodied Africa’s two terrible choices or the England murderer.
A Far Cry From Africa “is the story of a half-African and half-English man who witnesses the death and destruction of his homeland as a result of South Africa’s English colonization. However, in his description, he does not favor one side over the other, but rather focuses on the injustices of both cultures.The narrator shouts at the end of the poem, wondering how to choose between the two. Several elements of this poem demonstrate indications of transculturation. Perhaps the most evident sign to write this poem is the adoption by the narrator of the dominant English language. This element of English culture has, in reality, become such a component of the narrator that he refers to the language as “the English language[ he] loves.”
The narrator’s adoption of derisive European names for uncivilized people to describe the Kikuyu is another sign of transculturation. The narrator likes the Kikuyu “to savages” and a “gorilla,” for instance. The narrator also borrows the phrase, “a waste of our compassion,” from the phrase he characterizes as being British in line six. The narrator demonstrates another sign of transculturation in the last stanza by”[ cursing]/British rule’s drunken officers.” These subtle rejections and adaptations of British imperialism can be discovered throughout the poem, all signs of transculturation.
In the last stanza of Walcott’s poem arises the personal struggle characteristic of this transculturation:
Where shall I turn, divided to the vein?
I who have cursed
The drunken officer of British rule, how choose
Between this Africa and the English tongue I love?
From this, it is evident that in his personal fight with transculturation, the narrator finds it difficult to choose between the two cultures. In an article entitled “Conflicting Loyalties in’ A Far Cry from Africa,'” the writer, Heather Bradley claims, “this severely pessimistic image illustrates a consequence of displacement—isolation”. In fact, the final lines of the poem contain several pictures of isolation, and even the headline takes part in the withdrawn tone of the remainder of the poem.
However, isolation does not always have to be the resulting state of personal battle as long as one can determine the culture to which he or she is most loyal. But then Bradley goes one step further, claiming, “an individual’s sense of identity arises from cultural influences which define his or her character according to a particular society’s standards.” While one’s perceived identity can be defined by the norms of a specific society, real identity can only be acquired through self-analysis, such as transculturation’s private fight. The transculturation method describes one’s identity at the junction of two cultures.
Homi Bhabha’s concept of “colonial mimicry” will serve to explain exactly why personal struggle is characteristic of transculturation. According to Bhabha, “colonial mimicry is the desire for a reformed, recognizable Other, as a subject of a difference that is almost the same but not quite” (1). In essence, “colonial mimicry” is the process by which a subjugated people are driven to reproduce the characteristics and ideals of a dominant culture in a way that closely resembles the true dominant culture; hence, it is a form of transculturation. On a more personal level, this concept may translate to one individual’s mimicry of someone who wields power over him or her. The result of this mockery is ambivalence the subordinate feels towards his superiors: on one hand, he respects and envies the power of his superiors and on the other hand, he scorns their oppression of him. The subordinate’s search for balance between respect and scorn for his superiors is a form a personal struggle, and this ambivalence is reproduced almost exactly in Walcott’s “A Far Cry from Africa”: the narrator curses his tyrant English conquerors at the same he time worships the language they speak.
African mimicry of British themes, which Bhabha sees as indicative of ambivalence, and thus personal struggle, can be seen throughout Walcott’s poem. For example, the Kikuyu are characterized as flies that “batten upon the bloodstreams of the veldt” (3) just as the English are represented by a worm, the “colonel of carrion” (5). In addition, the murder of an innocent white child in bed mimics the holocaust-like genocide of the natives. The narrator also mocks the English by reproducing their language only to curse and criticize British imperialism. Even the title mocks British rule. By calling British colonization “a far cry from Africa,” the narrator is criticizing the attempt of the British to civilize Africa and make it a better place. All these images of mimicry are signs of the narrator’s personal transculturation of British paradigms.
Returning to Pratt with a better understanding of transculturation in its context as a personal struggle, the drawback of viewing transculturation as an emotionless transition becomes apparent. In her article, Pratt cites three examples of transculturation on an individual basis: an Incan under Spanish rule, a class taught by a teacher, and a child discovering the world of baseball. However, in each instance, Pratt fails to recognize the emotion characteristic of personal struggle involved in the transculturation process. When discussing her six-year-old son, Pratt casually mentions that baseball cards taught him “what it means to get cheated, taken advantage of, even robbed.” She doesn’t even spend one sentence analyzing what kind of effect these types of lessons would have on a six-year-old kid. Pratt then goes on to objectify the life’s work of the Incan under Spanish rule by treating his letter as a monumental example of “autoethnography” instead of what it simply is: a plea to King Phillip III of Spain to end the oppression of the Incas. In the classroom, Pratt is “struck” by the realization that “the lecturer’s traditional (imagined) task–unifying the world in the class’s eyes by means of a monologue that rings equally coherent, revealing, and true for all…[is] not only impossible but anomalous and unimaginable”. Whatever she teaches to a diverse group of students will be received and interpreted by each student differently. That which is surprising to Pratt is self-evident to those who understand transculturation in its context as a personal struggle. The student has the power to accept or reject all aspects of the instruction based on his own values and therefore must every day take part in his or her own intellectual development through personal transculturation. Hence, it is important to analyze cultural intersections on a small scale as well as a large one and to pay attention to how each individual is affected by cultural interaction.
After all, Walcott’s narrator isn’t just an individual assuming a dominant culture’s traits; he is one man torn between loyalties to two opposing countries. He is one man “divided to the vein” (Walcott 18), struggling with himself. In order to effectively colonize another’s land, the colonizer’s culture has to become so widely spread and deeply embedded in the colonized land’s culture so that the indigenous peoples will begin to accept that they are inferior to the colonizers.
The term mimicry is used to describe the imitation of the colonizing nation by the natives because of their desire to be “accepted by the colonizing society” and their sense of inferiority and shame for their own society (Tyson 221). The colonizer must use one of the most strong conveyances for the dispersion of ideologies to fully dominate a territory by promoting its culture as superior: English. They implemented English as the official language when the British colonized the West Indies, the primary means of causing the natives to embrace British culture as their own. However, in “A Far Cry from Africa,” Walcott ironically describes how he rejects the British culture – the colonialist ideology – but accepts the British language as superior.
Walcott would have been seen by the colonizers as another colonial subject, and as a half-European subject, Walcott would have been seen as different from the entire indigenous peoples. Although these full-blooded natives, along with the French Creole, would also have learned Standard English and emulated British culture, their hybridity would not be as extreme as the context of Walcott. Derek Walcott would have had a First World education in a Second World country as a person of mixed blood and family members who were European.
In this post, you are going to study the play ‘The Importance of Being Earnest written by Oscar Wilde. This unit will also make you familiar with the age of Oscar Wilde. The summary of the play will enable you to understand the story/plot of the play. The subtitle of the play is “A Trivial Comedy for serious people”.
Characters in the Play
There are eleven characters in this play: These are outlined as:
JACK WORTHING, J.P.
Jack Worthing is the play’s protagonist. As a baby, Jack was found by an old man, Thomas Cardew, in a handbag in a cloakroom at Victoria Station and adopted by him. After the death of Thomas Cardew Jack became the guardian of his granddaughter Cecily Cardew. In order to be an appropriate role model to Cecily, Jack has created a double life. In Hertfordshire, where Cecily lives on his country estate, he is responsible and respectable and goes by the name Jack, whereas in London where he indulges love of high society and the pleasures of the city, he goes by the name of Ernest. He has told Cecily that Ernest is his wayward brother. Jack is in love with Gwendolen Fairfax, the cousin of his friend Algernon. The initials JP after his name are to show that Jack is a Justice of the Peace.
Algernon is Jack Worthing’s best friend. He is charming, witty and satirical but also idle and self-absorbed. Algernon is the nephew of Lady Bracknell and the cousin of Gwendolen Fairfax. In order to avoid boring social obligations, Algernon has invented a friend ‘Bunbury’ whose tendency to fall ill offers him a convenient excuse to escape to the country for a while. He has always known Jack by the name of Ernest. To further complicate Jack’s situation he pretends to be Ernest in the second half of the play.
Gwendolen is the daughter of Lady Bracknell, cousin of Algernon and object of Jack’s affections. A member of high society she is self-confident,sophisticated and pretentious. Gwendolen is in love with Jack but knows him as Ernest and declares that she could not marry a man by any other name. She has a quick temper but is equally as quick to forgive.
Cecily is the granddaughter of Jack’s adopted father Thomas Cardew and Jack’s ward. Intrigued by the idea of Jack’s ‘brother’ Ernest, she has invented a courtship and engagement with him and desires to ‘cure’ him of his wickedness. She is regarded by some as one of the more realistic of the characters in the play but she could also be seen as another outrageous romantic.
Lady Bracknell is a mother to Gwendolyn and Aunt of Algernon. She represents the Victorian upper-classes and Wilde’s critique of their conservative values. Bracknell married into the upper-classes and wants her daughter to make a ‘suitable’ marriage as well. She is the antagonist of the play, blocking the marriages of the main characters. She also provides much of the humour of the play although unlike Algernon, she does not intend for her comments to be humorous.
Miss Prism is Cecily’s governess (governess is a lady who takes care of small children and teaches them. In upper-class private households, it was a common practice to employ governesses to teach children. Nineteenth-century upper-class Englishmen followed this practice.) She has romantic feelings towards D.r Chausable but his position as a priest prohibits her from telling him her feelings directly. She demonstrates puritanical values which are sometimes so over the top they invite laughter. Miss Prism also wrote a novel in her youth which has been since lost.
REV. CANON CHASUBLE, D.D.
The Reverend is the rector on Jack’s estate. If he was not a priest he would be a perfect match for Miss Prism. He is approached by both Jack and Algernon who request that he christen them ‘Ernest’. The initials after his name stand for “Doctor of Divinity.” (Reverend is a title for a member of the clergy.) (D.D. means a doctor of Divinity theology)
LANE AND MERRIMAN Lane is Algernon’s manservant. He demonstrates that he is more than a passive servant by his delivery of droll statements. At the beginning of the play, he is the sole character who is aware of Algernon’s practice of “Bunburying.”
Merriman is the butler (A male head-servant whose duties in club general supervision of the household, especially the serving of food and drinks) at the Manor House, Jack’s estate in the country. His presence, along with another servant, force the quarreling between Gwendolen and Cecily to maintain supposedly polite conversation.
Mr. Grimsby is a solicitor (Solicitor is a lawyer who does not actually appear in court, except in the lower court, but acts as an agent in legal matters and prepares a case for trial)
Moulton is a gardener
ABOUT THE AGE: Nineteenth century England was an age that saw a number of changes taking place in society. Agriculture was giving way to industry in many cities of England. Industries were set up in cities and these industries began employing men, women, and children. In order to improve the condition of the workers, a number of laws were passed.
Nineteenth century England also saw the rise of the Romantic poets. The first generation romantic poets were William Wordsworth, S.T. Coleridge and Robert Southey. The second generation poets were John Keats, P.B.Shelley and George Byron. These writers stressed on values like friendship and freedom. They also praised nature and the magical effect of nature on man.
In the first half of Nineteenth century, the influence of the Romantic poets was remarkable. This period also saw the arrival of humanist like Thomas Carlyle who felt that man should not worship the machine. Important thinkers like Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, and James Mill stressed on education of the masses. The utilitarian theory was formulated by Bentham and James Mill supported it. They praised the industrial policy of England.
In 1850, England held the Grand Exhibition. England displayed her wealth before the world. She was now a great and powerful country. Queen Victoria was ruling on the throne and except for the cringer war, no other war was fought during. He time. A number of soldiers died in the Crimean war (1856 – 58). The government decided to improve the medical and health services offered to the people, Florence Nightingale was a young nurse who went to Crimea to treat the patients. The nursing profession gained popularity after this war.
During the time of Queen Victoria, there were two other well-known people. These were Lord Alfred Tennyson and Robert Browning. Tennyson’s poems were full of energy and enthusiasm. Browning’s poems recalled past splendor and dealt with death.
The important novelist of this age were: Jane Austin, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Thomas Hardy, Mrs. Gasket and George Gissing. These writers, through their stories, wished to improve society. The common people or the working class was focussed upon in the works of these writers. Two other important writers were Harriet and Matthew Arnold and they also stressed on the importance of education. Arnold was an Inspector of schools and he was keen to promote the learning of the masses.
The influence of Kevel Mory and Frederik Engels was felt in this age. These two communist thinkers called for an overall unity on caught the working class. “The communist manifesto” was written by Karl Marx in 1848.
The best-known plays on two nineteenth century were all written towards the end of the century. Dramatic activities gained importance after years of neglect. The first half of the nineteenth century saw the rise of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction prose. The reason why there was a neglect of drama was that public taste seemed inclined towards weldors rather than various plays. Moreover, the great popularity of Shakespeare prevented many aspiring playwrights from experimenting with anything new. Even Eminent writers like Wordsworth, Shelley, Browning failed to write plays.
In mid-nineteenth century France “well-made” plays and “realistic” dramas were very popular. The influence of the Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen was evident in the French plays that were being written. The nineteenth century England drama was developed by T.W. Robertson who wrote the play “Caste” in 1867. Two other dramatists were Henry the play “The Silver Key”. Pinero wrote the play. “The Second Mrs. Tanqueray” in 1893. Both James and Pinero contributed to making use of well dramatic or sentimental effects but with an undercurrent of social significance.
Henrik Ibsen also influences nineteenth-century British drama. Ibsen’s plays dealt with
Social problems. He focussed on the moral role in society in the play Pillars of Society (1877) in Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House (1879). Ibsen created the “New Woman” who had a mind and intelligence of her own. In England, Ibsen’s most ardent admirer was George Bernard Shaw. Shaw added his own rich wit and humour to the ideas derived from Ibsen.
Oscar Wilde’s plays were extremely well constructed (well – made plays). The plots had elements of suspense and surprise. Wilde also focussed in his plays on the double standards of morality in society. The speech, manners, and attitudes of the upper class are all very well presented in Wilde’s plays. In Wilde’s plays, there are influences of the comedy of manners. The comedy of manners first become popular during the Restoration period in seventeenth-century England. King Charles II had enjoyed these types of plays during his years of exile in France. On his return to England, he wanted these types of plays to be written. As its name suggests, this form of comedy delights in holding up a mirror to society and laughing at the follies of humanity especially of the aristocracy. These plays revolve around certain basic themes like sex (friendship, marriage, divorce, jealousy), money and the conflict between generations. Wilde presented before the viewers a tiny cross-section of society and the viewers could recognize their manners and customs. There is satire in these plays. Values and social norms like propriety and respectability are upheld. Wilde’s plays are simple and easy to understand.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854. His father Sir William Wilde was a reputed eye and ear specialist. He was said to have invented the operation for Cataract. Dr. William Wilde was awarded the title of Knighthood for his services to medicine. (The King or Queen of England gives this honour of Knighthood. After receiving that honour “Sir” is added before the name of the person.)
Sir William Wilde’s wife Lady Jane Francisca Wilde was a very educated lady. She wrote articles and poems for the Irish nationalist newspaper The Nation.
Until the age of nine, Oscar Wilde studied at a go, me. Thereafter he went to school. Later he studied at Trinity College of Dublin where he won the Berkeley gold medal. He was awarded a scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford. He studied here from 1874 to 1878 and came under the influence of the Aesthetic movement. ( a movement that popularized the theory of art for art’s sake. The movement was a reaction to John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham’s policy of utilitarianism. Bentham and Mill attached importance to things that were useful and material.)
After graduating from Oxford. Here he falls in love with Florence Balicombe, but she did not marry him. She got engaged to another person. On hearing of her engage, Wilde decided to leave Ireland permanently. The next six years were spent in London, Paris and United States where he travelled to deliver lectures.
In between Wilde’s lecture tours, Wilde found time to meet poets like Henry Long fellow and Walt Whitman. In Wilde’s lectures, the influence of John Ruskin (The British writer) and Walter Pater (The British poet) was much noted. While lecturing at London, Wilde met constancy Llyed, daughter of Horace Llyed, Queen Victoria’s council. In 1884, constancy was visiting Dublin, when Oscar Wilde was in the city to give lectures, he proposed to her and they got married on May 29, 1884. Constancy was an educated person. She spoke several European languages and was outspoken in her views. The couple had two sons, Cyril (born in 1885) and Vyuyan (born in 1886).
Oscar Wilde’s reputation as a writer made him aware of the importance of the year. He used words with great care and his writings were full of wit. From 1887 to 1889 he served as editor of The Woman’s world and became interested in the concept of the ‘new woman’ popularized by Henrik Ibsen (Norwegian dramatist) and G.B. Shaw (British dramatist).
In 1894, Oscar Wilde brought out Lord Arthur Samile’s crime and other stories. A house of Pomeranians as well as a collection of short stories.
In 1892, Oscar Wilde made an importance entry into London’s theatrical world with the production of “Lady Windermere’s fan”, which he described as ‘one of those modern drawing room plays with pink lamp school.
Oscar Wilde’s next English play was titled A Woman of no importance. It was staged in London in 1893. In 1895 Oscar Wilde’s third major play. An Ideal Husband was produced. The Importance of Being Ernest, the most famous of Wilde’s plays, was stayed on 14 February 1895 in London.
At Oxford Wilde came into contact with Alfred Douglas. History records that Oscar Wilde and Alfred Douglas had a very close friendship and close physical relationship. Alfred’s fallow John Sholto Douglas, 9th morgues of Queensberry did not approve of this friendship. He tried to break up Wilde’s and Alfred’s friendship. History records that Wilde forced a trial for his relationship with Alfred. Wilde was sent to prison in 1895. He was sentenced to two years hard labour. The prison was unkind to Wilde’s health. He was released on May 19, 1897. He spent his last three years penniless, in self-imposed exile from society and artiste cereals. On his death bed in Paris, he was Baptised and made a member of the Roman Catholic Church. He died of cerebral meningitis on 30 November 1900.
Oscar Wilde was much influenced by John Ruskin and William Morris. The aesthetic movement represented by William Morris and the poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti was much popularised by Wilde.
Wilde was a supporter of socialism. He and George Bernard Shaw both advocated for socialism. Like Shaw, Wilde also was extremely witty. His quick repartees won him a lot of admirers. Oscar Wilde’s rich and dramatic Portrayal of human condition during the reckon with. Wilde wrote many short stories, plays, and poems that continue to inspire millions around the world.
Summary of the Play the Importance of Being Ernest
The Importance of being Ernest is a play by Oscar Wilde. It was staged on February 14, 1895, at the St. Jame’s Theatre in London. It was Wilde’s most popular play. The summary of the poem is given as follows:
ACT 1 • SCENE 1
The play opens in Algernon’s “luxuriously and artistically furnished” flat with a short conversation between Algernon and his manservant Lane.
Mr. Worthing arrives and Algernon explains that he is expecting his Aunt Lady Bracknell and his cousin Gwendolen soon and that Worthing should leave as his aunt doesn’t approve of his conduct towards Gwendolen.
However, Worthing explains that he has come to town with the intention of proposing to Gwendolen and the two men discuss marriage. Algernon has found Mr. Worthing’s cigarette case and has discovered a message in it for someone by the name of Jack from someone called Cecily. This forces Worthing to reveal that despite being known as Ernest in town he goes by the name Jack in the country and pretends to have a brother by the name of Ernest that he uses as an excuse to leave the country for town. Furthermore, Worthing reveals that he is the guardian of a girl called Cecily who lives with him in the country. Algernon then explains that he used a similar excuse to the leave town; he has invented a comparable lie about a fictitious friend called Bunbury who is regularly unwell.
ACT 1 • SCENE 2
Lady Bracknell and Gwendolen arrive and Algernon tells his aunt that he is unable to dine with her that night because his friend Bunbury is sick and needs his attention. Algernon and his aunt retire to another room to discuss music; leaving Worthing and Gwendolen alone. Worthing attempts to propose to Gwendolen but his stammering attempt means that she takes charge of the situation and declares her love for him also. To Worthing’s discomfort, Gwendolen reveals that she has always fantasised about being with a man named Ernest and could not love a man of any other name.
Lady Bracknell interrupts the couple and is unhappy to discover their engagement and questions Worthing about his suitability, finances, habits, and property. All is going well until Mr. Worthing reveals that he was found as a baby in a handbag at Victoria station and is unaware of his parentage. Lady Bracknell, therefore, denies his proposal and tells him to attempt to find a parent as soon as possible and exits.
Gwendolen re-enters to ask Worthing for his country address and Algernon secretly writes it down. The act ends with Algernon telling his manservant lane that he is about to spend the weekend Bunburying.
ACT 2 • SCENE 1
The second act is set in the garden of Worthing’s country house where Cecily is being taught by Miss Prism. The two women discuss Jack’s brother Ernest and how Cecily wishes to set him a good example. Canon Chasuble enters, he and Miss Prism are clearly attracted to each other and Cecily manages to convince them to take a walk together.
Algernon arrives pretending to be Jack’s brother Ernest and after flirting they enter the house. Miss Prism and Chasuble return from their walk and meet Worthing who informs them that his brother has died. Jack asks Chasuble to christen him later on that day so that he can change his name to Ernest. Cecily then re-enters and announces that Jack’s brother Ernest has arrived and is therefore not dead.
Worthing is furious that Algernon is there and impersonating his non-existent brother and he tells Algernon that he must leave.
ACT 2 • SCENE 2
Algernon disobeys Worthing and proposes to Cecily who reveals that she has always dreamed about being in love with a man by the name of Ernest and has in fact created a romance with Ernest over the last few months, including writing herself letters from him and creating an imaginary engagement between them. This incites Algernon to go in search of Chasuble to christen him Ernest.
Gwendolen arrives and meets Cecily and they argue because they both believe themselves to be engaged to Ernest Worthing. Their row is settled by the arrival of both Algernon and Worthing who reveal the truth. The two women are furious with the revelation and go inside the house to get away from the men. The men eat muffins whilst rowing about each other’s behaviour.
ACT 3 • SCENE 1
The final act of the play is set in the Manor House where Cecily and Gwendolen are watching the two men outside as they eat muffins. The men approach and explain that their behaviour was in the pursuit of gaining the girls love and the women are satisfied with their explanations. However, they feel that the men’s Christian names are “insuperable” barriers in their relationships but the men appeal by explaining that they plan to be christened that afternoon and all is well.
Lady Bracknell arrives abruptly and is deeply unhappy with Gwendolen’s behaviour. On enquiring, if this is the house where Bunbury lives, Algernon ‘kills off’ Bunbury. She is still not happy with Gwendolen’s intention to marry Worthing but is also distressed to discover Algernon is now engaged to Cecily. Lady Bracknell questions Worthing about Cecily much in the same way that she quizzed him earlier to ensure that she is worthy to be her nephew’s wife and is satisfied. However, Worthing will not give permission for Cecily to be married unless Lady Bracknell will give permission for him to marry Gwendolen and Lady Bracknell will not change her mind.
Chasuble enters and is ready for the baptism and is disappointed to find out the christening may not be going ahead.
He mentions that Miss Prism is waiting in the vestry and suddenly Lady Bracknell is struck by the name Prism and calls for her immediately.
ACT 3 • SCENE 2
Miss Prism enters and it emerges that she used to work for Bracknell and almost thirty years previously had mixed up her novel with a baby, placing the novel in the baby carriage and the baby in the handbag which she then lost. Worthing is struck by this news and runs off the stage. Jack returns with the handbag that he was found in and it is revealed that he was the child lost by Miss Prism. Therefore, Worthing is Algernon’s brother and his real name is in fact, Ernest. Which means he was actually telling the truth when he thought he was lying. This also means that the couples can all get married and the play ends.
The Gist of The Importance of Being Earnest
Algernon, an aristocratic young Londoner, pretends to have a friend named Bunbury. Bunbury loves in the country and is frequently in ill health: Whenever Algernon wants to avoid an unwelcome social obligation, he makes an ostensible visit to his “sick friend”. He calls this practice ‘Bunburying’.
Algernon’s best friend Ernest Worthing lives in the country but makes frequent visits to London. When his friend leaves his silver cigarette case in Algernon’s morning room, Algernon finds and inception on it: “From little Cecily, with her fondest love to her clear uncle Jack.”
Algernon’s friend goes by the name of Jack while he lives in the country. Jack pretends to have a brother by the name of Ernest. Ernest is supposed to reside in London. Jack gives the impression that Ernest requires frequent attention. When Jack is in London, he assumes the name of Ernest. Jack is also a ‘Bunburyist’.
Jack wants to marry Algernon’s cousin Gwendolen, but he cannot do so for two reasons. First, Gwendolen seems to love him merely for his name, Ernest, which she thinks to be the most beautiful name in the world. Second, Gwendolen’s mother, the terrifying Lady Bracknell, does not approve of Mr. Worthing. She is horrified to learn that Jack was adopted as a baby after being discovered in a handbag at a railway station.
Jack’s description of Cecily appeals to Algernon and Algernon is keen to meet her. Jack opposes this. One day Algernon comes to Jack’s house. Algernon pretends to be
Ernest because Cecily has imagined herself to be in love with Ernest. Cecily falls for Algernon who is disguised as Ernest.
Jack meanwhile, decides to do away with Bunburying and returns to his country estate with the news that his brother Ernest has reportedly died in Paris. He (Jack) is forced to abandon this claim by the presence of “Ernest”. Algernon who threatens to expose Jack’s double life if the latter does not play along.
Gwendolen runs away from London and her mother to be with her lower. When Gwendolen and Cecily meet for the first time each insists that she is the one engaged to Ernest. Lady Bracknell arrives in pursuit of her daughter Gwendolen. She refuses to allow Jack’s marriage with Gwendolen (remember Jack pretends that his name is Ernest): Jack does not agree to grant permission to Cecily to marry Algernon who also pretends that his name is Ernest.
The situation is saved by the appearance of Cecily’s governess, Miss Prism. As she and Lady Bracknell recognise each other with horror it is revealed that, when working many years previously as a nursemaid for Lady Bracknell’s sister, Prism had inadvertently lost a baby boy in a handbag. When Jack produces the identical handbag, it becomes clear that he is Lady Bracknell’s nephew and Algernon’s older brother.
With Jack’s identity proven, only one thing now stood in the way of the young couple’s happiness: Gwendolen insistence that she could only love a man named Ernest. The question is what is Jack’s real first name? Lady Bracknell informs him that he was named after his father, a general, but cannot remember the general’s name.
Jack looks eagerly in a military reference book and declares that the name is, in fact, Ernest after all. He has all along been telling the truth inadvertently.
“The happy couple namely Gwendolen and Jack, Cecily and Algernon, Miss Prism and the Reverend Canon Chasuble embrace one another. Lady Bracknell complains to Ernest,
“My nephew, you seem to be displaying signs of triviality,” Ernest replies to Aunt Augusta,
”I’ve now realized for the first time in my life the vital importance of being Ernest.”
Themes of The Importance of Being Earnest
Throughout the play, Wilde explores the idea of marriage, especially as a social tool. Lady Bracknell has married into high society and wishes for her daughter Gwendolen to have an equally ‘suitable’ marriage. The involvement of parental approval and the social standing and parentage of potential suitors is an obstacle in the marriages of the play as Lady Bracknell says:
“An engagement should come on a young girl as a surprise, pleasant or unpleasant, as the case may be.
It is hardly a matter that she could be allowed to arrange for herself…”
Wilde is showing the Victorian notion of marrying for political and social reasons rather than love and affection: “To speak frankly, I am not in favour of long engagements. They give people the opportunity of finding out each other’s character before marriage, which I think is never advisable.” (Lady Bracknell)
Algernon is very skeptical of marriage until he meets Cecily:
Jack: “I am in love with Gwendolen. I have come up to town expressly to propose to her.”
Algernon: “I thought you had come up for pleasure? …I call that business.”
Jack: “How utterly unromantic you are!”
Through Algernon Wilde explores the Victorian hypocrisy around marriages for social standing, where those within the marriage may seek genuine affection and entertainment elsewhere, whilst keeping up appearances:
Algernon: “Nothing will induce me to part with Bunbury, and if you ever get married, which seems to be extremely problematic, you will be very glad to know Bunbury. A man who marries without knowing Bunbury has a very tedious time of it.”
Jack: “That is nonsense. If I marry a charming girl like Gwendolen, and she is the only girl I ever saw in my life that I would marry, I certainly don’t want to know Bunbury.”
Algernon: “Then your wife will. You don’t seem to realise, that in married life three is company and two is none.”
Cecily and Gwendolen have highly romantic notions of marriage which are based on their ‘idea’ of what it should entail. However, both women go against the Victorian ideal of being a woman by taking charge in matters of their own engagements. Cecily has played the role of herself and ‘Ernest’ in their courtship and engagement:
Cecily: “It would hardly have been a really serious engagement if it hadn’t been broken off at least once. But I forgave you before the week was out.”
Gwendolen takes over from the stammering Jack to make sure the proposal goes smoothly:
Gwendolen: “And to spare you any possible disappointment, Mr. Worthing. I think it only fair to tell you quite frankly before-hand that I am fully determined to accept you.”
Note: Both women have fixated on the importance of marrying someone called Ernest. The fact that the name is more important than anything else demonstrates Wilde’s attitude to the superficiality of Victorian morals around marriage. This is enhanced by the use of the joke around the name Ernest when the two men pretending to be called Ernest are not being earnest.
Lady Bracknell epitomizes what Wilde sees as the hypocrisy and shallowness of Victorian upper-class society. She is concerned with the family background and wealth of any potential marriage partner for her daughter Gwendoline. It is significant that she is herself of ‘lower’ class background, having married ‘well’.
Algernon and his servant Lane show the class divides of the time with Algernon having no interests in Lane’s personal life and Lane covering for Algernon’s indiscretions. However, this relationship is also used for satire with Lane unashamedly stealing champagne from Algernon and Algernon stating:
“Really if the lower orders don’t set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them.”
The importance of class and social standing in the marriages of the main characters plays with and also adheres to the class conventions of the time.
The dual identities taken on by Jack and Algernon are linked to Wilde’s critique of Victorian morality and sincerity. Both men assume a different identity to get what they want and then continue the lie when in fear of being found out. Jack could be seen as less moral than Algernon as he lies to his ward and the woman he loves, whereas Algernon lies to a woman (Cecily) whom he has only just met. Jack’s deception also suggests he has a darker, side, and it demonstrates the separation between private and public life in upper-middle-class Victorian England.
It has also been interpreted that the use of dual identities ‘Jack in the Country, Ernest in the city’ is both linked to marital infidelity and homosexuality. Homosexuality was not approved of in Wilde’s time and was to be kept as a secret dual identity. Wilde even married a woman to maintain the illusion of heterosexuality himself.
Wilde critiques Victorian morality by exposing the hypocrisy that underpins it. For example, Lady Bracknell pertains to be morally upright whilst showing a harsh disregard for the life of ‘Bunbury’ and cruel indifference to the loss of Jack’s parents, other than that it is socially unacceptable.
Both Jack and Algernon demonstrate the hypocrisy of Victorian morality in that they are able to live the life that they wish to as long as appearances are preserved.
MANNERS AND SINCERITY
The play uses Victorian manners as a basis for humour. When Cecily and Gwendolen are forced to behave politely to one another because the servants are present they continue to serve tea and cake but their anger is only very thinly veiled and they show their displeasure by serving the ‘wrong’ items.
Lady Bracknell speaks in what would seem to be very highly mannered ways but her disregard for people’s feelings and her prioritising of the trivial over serious matters shows her true colours. The fact that she suddenly warms to Cecily on discovering her fortune shows Wilde’s cynicism at the sincerity of the manners in Victorian society.
The pivotal action of the play centres around the name Ernest and the pun that this has with the idea of someone being earnest. Both Gwendolen and Cecily are devoted to the idea of loving someone with this name. The irony being that both men have lied about their names, so are not in fact ‘earnest’ at all. Then it turns out that Jack has actually been telling the truth when he thought he was lying and is in fact called Ernest. This muddling of truth and lie serves to show how muddled Wilde considered Victorian morals around honesty and sincerity. Worthing’s apology to Gwendolen because is “a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth” is a characteristic inversion of conventional morality by Wilde and also a final dig at the hypocrisy of Victorian society.
IDLENESS OF THE LEISURE CLASS AND THE AESTHETE
Wilde himself indulged in the lifestyle of triviality which Algernon does and as such he mocks it in good spirit. Wilde was an Aesthete (a philosophy of Walter Pater) which calls for art to be about beauty and not reality. Algernon’s interest in trivial things such as cucumber sandwiches can thus be seen to show him as a character who successfully cultivates aesthetic uselessness.
FARCE AND EPIGRAMS
Wilde uses compact witty maxims known as Epigrams which use paradox to expose the absurdities of society. For example, he may take an established cliché and twist it about so that it could be seen to make more sense than the original, for example “in married life three is company and two is none” captures the monotony of monogamy by subverting the commonplace “two is company, three’s a crowd.”
In The Importance of Being Earnest Wilde also uses Farce, known as ‘low’ comedy by using comic reversals, repetitions of dialogue and actions and absurdity. These would have been familiar devices for his Victorian audience but what elevates the device is the combination of Wilde’s wit through Epigram and the ridiculousness of the fast-paced farce.
Q. 1. What does Algernon mean by the term “bunburing”?
Answer: Whenever Algernon wants to avoid an unwelcome social obligation, or whenever he wants to get away for the weak end, he says that he must visit his friend named ‘Bunbury’ who lives in the country and is frequently in ill health. He pretends he has a friend in the country (away from London). He calls this practice ‘Bunburying’.
Q. 2. When and where was the play the importance of Being Ernest stayed?
Answer: The play was stayed on February 14, 1895, at St, James theater in London.
Q. 3. Who is Algernon’s best friend?
Answer: Algernon’s best friend is Ernest Worthing who lives in the country. Ernest is also called Jack.
Q. 4. Who is Gwendolen? Whom does she love?
Answer: Gwendolen is Algernon’s cousin and Lady Bracknell’s daughter. She loves Ernest Worthing to Jack.
Q. 5. Who is Cecily? Whom does she love?
Answer: Cecily is Ernest Worthing or Jack’s niece. Cecily is in love with Algernon who pretends to be Ernest.
Q. 6. Where was Jack discovered (found)?
Answer: Ernest Worthing or Jack was discovered in a handbag at a railway station. Q. 7. Who is Miss Prism?
Answer: Miss Prism is Cecily’s governess. Q. 8. How is Jack related to Lady Bracknell?
Answer: Jack is actually Lady Bracknell’s nephew and Algernon’s older brother. Many years ago when Miss Prism had worked as a nurse maid for Lady Bracknell’s sister, Miss Prism had lost a baby boy is a handbag. That baby boy is Jack. Q. 9. What is Jack’s father’s name?
Answer: Jack’s father’s name is Ernest and Jack was named after his father. Q. 10. What does the word “earnest” mean?
Answer: In this play, Ernest is a fictitious character at first. Later on when the play ends the reader that Jack was named after his father Ernest. The word “earnest” means someone who is sincere and eager to learn something or know something.
Let us Sum up
In this unit you have learnt:
• About the age of Oscar Wilde. You have also become familiar with the main writers and poets of nineteenth-century England.
• You have learnt about the life of Oscar Wilde. Remember that “Wilde” is spelt with an ‘e’ at the end.
• You have been made familiar with the summary of the play. Extracts from the play will be given to you in the next unit.
1. ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ is truly a very humourist play. Explain with examples from the play.
2. Oscar’s play is an exquisite work of wit and comic revelry. Elucidate.
3. The Victorian mannerisms and pompous life has been remarkably presented by Oscar’s flamboyant witty style and aphorisms. Explain with example.
In this post, you will find a complete summary of Rabindranath Tagore’s famous poem ‘Where the Mind is Without Fear’. You can also read all the expected questions from the poem along with their probable answers. I hope you’ll find this useful.
About The Poet: Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941) was born in Calcutta (now Kolkata). He was not only a writer, but also a painter, a philosopher, and a composer. The poem ‘Where the Mind is Without Fear…’ has been taken from his Nobel-winning collection of poems ‘Gitanjali’, a profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse. It was originally written in Bengali and subsequently translated into English by Rabindranath Tagore himself. In this poem, the noble laureate beautifully pours out his overwhelmed heart in his much-praised literary work “Where The Mind Is Without Fear” in which he exhibits his vision of a hassle-free nation by bestowing his heartfelt reliance on the master of the Universe. From a feminist point of view, this poem is appreciated as an inspiration for the woman race to improve their social status and economic status. Women of India need to come out of their narrow domestic walls by increased means of education and social justice. This thought-provoking poem also conveys the idea of eliminating the dreary desert sand of dead habits like Sati System, Dowry, and Child Marriage, etc from our Indian Culture to uplift our Indian Women. Our Women shell actively support and participate in the nationalist movement and secure eminent positions and offices in administration and public life in free India. This research article aims at stimulating the country to raise the voice for the freedom of women. It channelizes the empowerment of women by directing their efforts towards perfection. About the poem: Where the Mind is Without Fear’ is one of his well-known poems of Rabindranath Tagore. It was initially written in Bengali, under the title ‘Prarthana’, which means supplication. This poem appeared in the volume called ‘Naibedya’ in 1901. Tagore composed this poem when India was under the grasp of British reign. He composed this poem to energize the countrymen, to ingrain heroic qualities and morale in their souls and brains.
The poet mourns the pitiful plight of Indians and in a manner reveals the people’s wretched state of being now downtrodden. They were in the clutches of cruel British rule. Tagore pours out his dream of the features of a splendid country That is his utopia in a manner. He dwells on the theme of spiritual liberty, freedom of mind, expression, beliefs, methods and thought, as well as political freedom. He wants to put forth uselessness of blind faith and superstition and heavily comment on the role of logical reasoning in our country’s prosperity.
In this poem published in days of pre-independence, the poet skillfully writes about happy heaven where all people of his country will be free from all sorts of bias and prejudice and not fragmented by narrow walls. He sketches a moving picture of the nation. He wants India to be a nation in the fold of brotherhood, a nation without fear of oppression and without apprehension. The poem reflects the utmost faith of the poet in God to whom he pleads to guide his countrymen.
Summary of Where the Mind is Without Fear
The poem, ‘Where the Mind is Without Fear…’, has been written by the poet in the form of a prayer to God for the true freedom of his country. The poet wishes for his country to be free from the oppressive rule of the colonizers. Once the country is free, everybody would live fearlessly and have confidence in themselves. The poet visualises a nation where knowledge is accessible to one and all since knowledge and education alone will lead the people from darkness to light. The poet wishes for a nation where people are not divided on the basis of caste, colour, creed, class, etc. The people of such a nation would be truthful and would speak from the depth of their hearts. In such a country, the people would give their best and work hard, which would ultimately make them achieve their goal of perfection. It is the dream of the poet that he wants his countrymen to have the power of reason and not to give in to age-old superstitious beliefs. He prays to God to help his countrymen progress so that they become individuals who are logical, progressive and have a broad-minded outlook. He requests God to guide his countrymen into the heaven of freedom, where all that he has prayed for comes true. Tagore thus sketches out the ideal form of freedom and not merely political freedom that he desires for his country. He aspires to bring about an awakening in a country that is enslaved both, politically and intellectually.
Lines 1-2: In these lines, the poet prays to God that the people of his country should not fall down in dread and fear. They should be free from persecution and compulsion. Their heads ought to be always held high. He desires his countrymen to be valiant and have a feeling of pride and self-poise. They ought not to be plagued by any sort of mistreatment and should be resolved in their quest for goal. In the second line, the artist longs for a country where knowledge is available to one and all. Just the light of knowledge has the ability to obliterate the haziness of darkness. Thus, he craves everybody to be taught independent of class barriers. Lesson instructed should have otherworldly significance and should go for all-round development of the student’s personality. Lines 3-4: Prejudice, discrimination separate people. They grow the seed of enmity. The poet wants that there should not exist any type of diﬀerence among people on the basis of caste, creed, language, sex, religion, and colour and gender. Biases and superstitions are the narrow dividers that partition us into groups and parties, thus, breaking our solidarity and making us frail and delicate. Lines 5-6: Tagore wants the people of his country to be frank and honest. Their words should surely come out of their hearts. Their words are supposed to be distinct and clear. The poet asks everyone to work hard to achieve their end objective without fatigue. His peasants should extend their arms tirelessly towards perfection. They should work hard until perfection is achieved. Personification has been used in the sixth line. ‘ Tireless striving’ has been personified as a human being, stretching his arms to achieve perfection.
Lines 7-8: The poet expects his countrymen to be reasonable and logical in their thinking. Blind superstitions and traditional conventions should not dictate them. He draws an analogy between “reason” and “clear stream,” comparing “dead habits” with a “dreary desert.” The reason in the sand of dead habits should not lose its way. Lines 9-11: The compatriots should have a dynamic approach and support new thoughts and ideas. Their brains ought to be driven forward by the contemporary new goals. In the last line, the writer calls to Almighty as ‘Father’ and prays him to let his nation wake up to such a heavenly homestead of liberty where there is brilliance, brightness, and conﬁdence all around.
The poem is a lovely lyric, a patriotic song, and a dream of nobility. The theme is suggested by the opening line. It rouses the reader’s curiosity to learn about the place like heaven on earth where mind is without fear. Is there any place on the earth where ideal civilization exists? That’s not the question, because the poet has his ideal dream for his nation. He prays for its fulfillment. He wants his countrymen to be free from outmoded customs and superstitious beliefs. According to the poet, true freedom lies in liberty from narrow considerations of caste, colour, and creed like factors. 3⁄4 cynics discover the poem unrealistic and unworkable.
We can not expect the world to be full of virtuous people who are always telling the truth and leading an honest life. But an ideal must always be high enough to exceed the grip of its pursuer. Herein lies the poem’s beauty that creates immediate appeal. Simile and metaphor poetic instruments have been used. Abstract thoughts have been clothed in pictorial imagery.
QUESTIONS AND THEIR ANSWERS
Q1. “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high Where knowledge is free” a. Name the poem and the poet.
Ans: Where The Mind is Without Fear is the name of the poem is and the name of the poet is Rabindranath Tagore. b. Name the form of the poem.
Ans: There is no rhyme scheme in the poem. It is written in free verse. The poem is written as a petition, a supplication to Almighty. c.What does the poet want our ‘mind’ and ‘head’ to be?
Ans: The poet wants our minds to be fear from fear and heads to be held high.
d. What is meant by ‘mind is without fear’?
Ans: The expression ‘Mind is without fear’ insinuates the fact that our minds should be courageous. We ought not to be overwhelmed by the shackles of tyranny and oppression. Dread should not be able to discourage us. Our heads should be held high, with no type of dread or confinement. e. Explain: ‘head held high’.
Ans: ‘Head held high’ signifies to have confidence. The heads of the countrymen are held down as a result of the horrifying mistreatment suﬀered by them in the hands of the British. The poet wants their heads to be held high with most extreme pride and poise and not bowed down. f. Whose mind is the poet talking about and why?
Ans: The poet is discussing the minds of the countrymen. He wants his comrades to be courageous and not remain grasped in dread. His comrades were under the grip of British when he composed this poem. So his vision is of a daring India. g. What is the vision of the poet?
Ans: The poet envisions a’ World of Freedom’ that can be acquired only if the people are fearless. Only a fearless mind can keep upright and straight his head. He wrote this poem when the British controlled the Indians. So, without any internal domination, he visualizes a mental image of free India without any external hegemony. h. Why does the poet feel that his countrymen should not feel any kind of fear?
Ans: The poet knows how magnificent India used to be in the past, how India soared high before its views were chained. With the advent of the British, the people had lost their pride, confidence, and self-esteem. So the poet dreams of a free nation where his countrymen would not feel any kind of fear or oppression. People would keep bravely their heads high and voice their opinions freely. i. How would the countrymen be able to hold their heads high?
Ans: The countrymen would be able to keep their heads high if they were free from any kind of oppression. They would derive power from their access to knowledge that could assist them to become confident. Their knowledge would not be confined to small thoughts and ideas. Narrow walls would bind them into chains, all of which would assist them to keep their heads high.
Q2. “Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls.”
a. Explain ‘Where knowledge is free’.
Ans: Knowledge enables us to comprehend different things, and everyone has the right to acquire knowledge regardless of caste, creed, and status. The sentence’ Where knowledge is free’ occurs in the poem Where the Mind is Without Fear by Rabindranath Tagore. The poet wanted an atmosphere in which knowledge would be freely available to everyone and not limited to a specific segment of society. Not only the wealthy and wealthy parts should be provided the chance to gain understanding. It should be accessible to everyone, whether the rich or the poor, without any social obstacles of any kind. It should not be limited by narrow ideas and social backwardness because it is only the light of knowledge that can obliterate the darkness of ignorance.
3. Explain the following phrases/lines from the poem.
i. ‘narrow domestic walls’
Ans: The phrase ‘narrow domestic walls’ means the conservative or narrow-minded divisions on the basis of caste, colour, class, and creed existent in society.
ii. ‘Where words come out from the depth of truth.’
Ans: The line ‘Where words come out from the depth of truth’ means that –
a. people must be honest in thought, word and deed.
b. they should stand by the truth even
when they face the most difficult of
iii. ‘tireless striving’
Ans: The phrase ‘tireless striving’ means making an effort to keep on trying without giving up, irrespective of the obstacles and difficulties.
iv. ‘dead habits’
Ans: The phrase ‘dead habits’ means the rituals and customs of the olden days which are followed without thought and logic.
4. State the context in which the poet uses the word ‘widening’. Suggest ways in which it can be made possible.
Ans: The poet uses the word ‘widening’ for the thoughts and actions of the citizens of the nation. He advocates that the Almighty can lead the people forward in life by broadening their outlook.
5. ‘Our nation should awaken from the darkness of the night’. Explain.
Ans: ‘Our nation should awaken from the darkness of the night’, means that the people of the nation should break free from the shackles of the oppressive colonial rule which was like a dark, long night and breathe in the fresh air of freedom.
6. The poem is not meant for India alone. Justify.
Ans: The poem is not meant for India alone because of the following reasons:
i. It concerns all the countries which are under an oppressive rule.
ii. It talks about freedom for all such countries.
7. The words we speak should reflect the truth. Justify.
Ans: The poet wants a world for his countrymen where they can speak the truth without any hesitation. He wants them to be free in every sense of the word so that their words reflect nothing but the truth.
8. Elaborate on the effect the word ‘where’ creates at the beginning of each line of this poem.
Ans: The use of the word ‘where’ at the beginning of each line creates emphasis on the fact that the poet is describing an ideal country. It creates a continuity of thought and links each of the factors that the poet describes into the whole idea of a heavenly country.
9. State the attributes of Rabindranath Tagore that the poem (prayer) reflects and give reasons for your answer.
Ans: The poem reflects the following attributes of Rabindranath Tagore:
i. Religious –
When he realises that his countrymen are in a deep slumber of ignorance, the poet composes a prayer to the Almighty in the hope that his intervention will awaken them.
ii. Hopeful and optimistic –
Rabindranath Tagore is aware that the situation in the nation is bleak today, but he is hopeful for a better future.
iii. Concerned –
The poet is concerned about the well-being of the people of his country. He wants them to gain knowledge and progress in life.
iv. Composes freely and from the heart –
Tagore uses free verse to write this poem, which indicates that he is an individual who loves freedom – be it for himself, his thought or his nation. The words flow from the depths of his heart and possess the ability to touch the heart of the reader and transform it.
10. Identify the Figures of Speech used in the present extract.
i. “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high”
Ans: a. Alliteration – The sound of the letters
‘w’ and ‘h’ are repeated for poetic effect.
b. Synecdoche – Here, ‘mind’ and ‘head’
(a part) stand for the ‘citizen’ (whole).
ii. “Where the world has not been broken up into fragments”
Ans: a. Alliteration – The sound of the letters ‘w’ and ‘b’ are repeated for poetic effect.
iii. “By narrow domestic walls”
Ans: a. Metaphor – An indirect comparison has been made between ‘narrow domestic walls’ and the ‘narrow-minded divisions in society’.
iv. “Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection”
Ans: a. Personification – An inanimate object ‘striving’ has been given the human qualities of being ‘tireless’ and ‘stretching its arms’
v. “Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way.”
Ans: a. Personification – An inanimate object like the ‘stream’ has been given the human quality of ‘losing its way’.
b. Metaphor – An indirect comparison has been made between the ‘clarity of a stream’ and ‘reason’.
vi. “Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit”
Ans: a. Alliteration – The sound of the letter ‘d’ is repeated for poetic effect.
b. Metaphor – An indirect comparison has been made between ‘habit’ and ‘desert sand’.
vii. “Where the mind is led forward by Thee”
Ans: a. Synecdoche – Here, ‘mind’ (a part) stands for the ‘citizen’ (whole).
viii. “Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”
Ans: a. Personification – An inanimate object ‘country’ has been given the human quality of ‘waking up’.
b. Apostrophe – A direct address has been made to ‘Father (God)’ who is not present there.
11. Write an appreciation of the poem in about 12 to 15 sentences with the help of the following points.
iii. Rhyme scheme
iv. Favorite line
v. Theme / Central idea
vi. Figures of Speech
vii. Special features – Type of the poem,
language, tone, implied meaning, etc.
viii. Why I like/dislike the poem
Ans: The title of the poem is ‘Where the Mind is Without Fear…’ It is created by the incredible poet and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore.
There is no fixed rhyme scheme in the poem as it is written in a free verse form.
My most loved line from the poem is, “Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake” since it isn’t just a petition to the Almighty yet, in addition, a message to the compatriots to stir from the servitudes of colonial rule. The focal thought of the poem is about the poet’s vision of freedom for his nation. He wants and appeals to God for an overall arousing of the countrymen of the country and not only for political opportunity.
The poetic devices utilized in the poem are alliteration, Metaphor, Apostrophe, personification, and Synecdoche.
The most uncommon features of the poem is the fact that it is a poem of expectation as the poet isn’t content with the current state of the nation, however, he is confident for a superior future.
The poet utilizes various metaphors to expand the shades of malice existent in the nation. Each idea has been associated with utilizing the word ‘where’. The poem is brimming with positive and negative symbolism as the poet imagines a superior future while confronting the bleak truth of today. I like the poem for its wonderful dream of a free and equivalent place, where the fellowmen live with one another in harmony and congruity. The poem has a widespread message and is pertinent even today.
12. State the poet’s wish that is expressed through the poem.
Ans: In the poem, the poet wants God to guide his compatriots for freedom from the oppressive colonial rule and lead his nation to an intellectual and moral awakening where its people are broad-minded, rational and proactive.
When the European settlers entered in New England in the 17th century, they pushed the Native Americans towards the west and ultimately started their destruction. Intensive logging affected their environment besides, epidemic disease from Europe claimed lives of thousands of Native Americans, and the Euro-American easily took over regions and the land of local community. The Native Americans were appalled by their inferiority and on the colonist’s treatment of the environment.
The Chief Seattle’s 1854 speach is a discourse in reaction to treaty wherein the Indians were induced to surrender a large number of sections of land to the US government for a total of 150,000 dollars. The Chief Seattle’s Oration is viewed as the most significant environmental explanations ever. The Chief Seattle was the pioneer of the Dkhw’Duw’Absh, and a noticeable figure in the Indian-American relationship of the time. Right now, various Native American’s were being dispersed out of their tribes by the American’s and it was believed that they would be wiped out.
In the oration, The Chief Seattle endeavors to persuade the American winners that they should treat them decently notwithstanding their inferiority to the American people. Through metaphorical language and his regard for nature, the Chief requests to the Governor of their choice to assume control over Washington making of their time. Before the colonization of North America by the Europeans, the Native Americans lived gently and they saw their environment as harmonious. Their low-impacted innovations saw them live in congruity and regarding the environment.
Their religion revolved around the belief that animals, plants, rocks, mountains, rivers, and stars had souls. Upon arrival, the European colonists immediately began take natural resources for European trading and usage. Large forests were cut down for firewood, trading, and agriculture; animals were killed for skin, the girdling of the trees prevented the leaves from growing and eventually killing it. For every person added to the population, one or two hectors of land was cultivated.
This trend continued on until the beginning of the 20th century, and to this day, 1/3 of America’s forests have been cut down causing devastating environmental disruptions. The land which was once peaceful and quiet, home to the Native Americans who respected and loved it had changed horribly. Throughout America’s history, the capitalist Americans viewed the natural resources as a possibility for economic growth. The formation of a free market meant that government legislation and fiscal policies were inadequate to prevent environmental demolitions.
From the Colonisation up to the 20th century, the United States government failed to apply sustainable growth. This reflects on how our world economy is working. Governments fail to advocate environmental issues in order to boost the economy.
The Chief Seattle underlines the importance and value of the environment. He treats nature as a living thing.
“Yonder sky that has wept tears of compassion upon my people for centuries untold, and which to us appears changeless and eternal, may change. Today is fair. Tomorrow it may be overcast with clouds”.
This utilization of personification in this line telks how the rain is originating from the sky, but with the attack of the Americans, nature’s normal course is twisted. In this manner a cloud will overcast the sympathetic tears of the sky. The Chief is thoughtful towards his people; he says that :
“my people are few. They resemble the scattering tress of a storm-swept plain.”
The Chief underlines the worth of the trees, and while a large portion of the mass logging happened during America’s colonization, the biodiversity was seriously influenced during this timeframe.
This relates to how the Native American race is slowly coming to an end and it resembles the logging of the trees cut down by the American’s. Hence, the Chief emphasises that his men are part of nature therefore they are dying with it. Furthermore, the chief argues that the Euro-Americans never appreciated nature.
“Our dead never forget this beautiful world that gave them being. They still love its verdant valley’s, its murmuring rivers, and its magnificent mountains. ”
The Chief highlights that his race valued nature, and the love of nature goes on after their deaths.
The tone of the speech suddenly becomes more aggressive in the 9th paragraph. He argues that :
“your time of decay may be distant, but it will surely come, for even the White Man whose God walked and talked with him as a friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. ”
The chief states that there will come a time, when their civilisation will come to an end and God will be unable to help them. This can be related to the damage we are doing now with climate change.
Global warming is now considered a threat to our world, with growing average temperatures; the climate is changing and can cause devastating natural disasters. Global Warming has been scientifically proven to be all caused by human’s destroying the world’s biodiversity and harming the earth’s atmosphere. Logging contributes to global warming, by deregulating the oxygen in the atmosphere. Therefore at this time, the logging of trees destroyed the biodiversity, and the Chief contended that whilst the Euro-Americans cut down trees, it will backfire on them and destroy their civilisation.
In the last paragraph, the Chief quotes that:
“these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe, and when your children’s children think themselves alone in the field, the store, the shop, the highway, or in the silence of the pathless woods, they will not be alone. In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude.”
The Chief describes that the legacy of his tribe will live on. This describes how the Natives have so much respect for their land, and they will value it forever, and live on with for eternity.
Moreover, The Euro-Americans and the Native American had contrasting views on the environments. The Natives had a belief that the environment is sacred and should be preserved, whereas the Euro-Americans preferred to economically benefit from nature. During this era, the industrialisation of America was booming, and the timber industry was at its peak. Nothing was known of the consequences for destroying the environment, however the Native Americans had their tradition to respect the environment and preserve it forever however this belief was uncommon to the European settlers.
CHIEF SEATTLE’S SPEECH QUESTIONS
My words are like the stars that never change. Whatever Seattle says, the Big Chief at Washington can rely upon with much certainty as he can upon the return of the sun or the seasons.
1. Who does ‘the Big Chief at Washington’ refer to?
Ans. The ‘Big Chief at Washington’ refers to Franklin Pierce, the 14th President of the United States of America.
2. Based on the given extract, what comparison does Chief Seattle make about his clan and white settlers?
Ans. Chief Seattle says that the white settlers are many. They are like the grass that covers the vast prairies. On the other hand, he says that his people are few. The Red Children resemble the scattering trees of a storm-swept plain.
3. What are Seattle’s thoughts when the White Chief says he wishes to buy their land?
Ans. Seattle says that the offer indeed appears just, even generous, for the Red Man no longer has rights, he needs respect, and the offer may be wise, also, as they are no longer in need of an extensive country.
4. Why does Seattle say ‘the greatness of tribes are now but a mournful memory?’
Ans. Seattle says that there was a time when the Red children covered the land as the waves of a wind-ruffled sea covered its shell-paved floor, but that time has passed away. He says that
they will not dwell on, nor mourn over their untimely decay, nor reproach his paleface brothers hastening it, as the Red Children too are somewhat to be blamed.
5. What do the young men do when they grow angry? What does it denote?
Ans. When the young men grew angry at some real or imaginary wrong, they disfigured their faces with black paint.
It denotes that their hearts are black and that they are often cruel and relentless.
6. Why does Chief Seattle say ‘the hostilities between us may never return?’
Ans. According to Seattle, in war, they would have everything to lose and nothing to gain.
Revenge by the young men was considered again, even at the cost of their own lives, but old men who stayed at home in times of war, and mothers who had sons to lose, knew
Our good father in Washington – for I presume he is now our father as well as yours, since King George has moved his boundaries further north- our great and good father, I say, sends us word that if we do as he desires he will protect us.
1. How will ‘our good father in Washington’ protect the native Americans if they fulfill his demand?
Ans. Their brave warriors will be to the Red children, a bristling wall of strength, and his wonderful ships of war will fill their harbours so that their ancient enemies far to the northward- the Haidas and Tsimshians- will cease to frighten their women, children and old men.
2. What makes Seattle say that God loves the white man and hates the Red children?
Ans. According to Seattle, the White man’s God folds his strong protecting arms lovinglynabout the paleface and leads them by the hand as a father leads an infant son. However, he has forsaken His Red children, if they really are His. He further says ‘Our God, (the God of the Red Man) the Great Spirit, seems also to have forsaken us.’ The White man’s god makes his people wax stronger every day. Soon they would fill all the land. The Red children are ebbing away like a rapidly increasing tide that will never return.
3. Why do the Red children regard themselves as orphans
Ans. The God of the Red children had given up on them. The White man’s God makes his people wax stronger every day. The White man’s God cannot love the Red children or He would protect them. They seem to be orphans who can look nowhere for help. If the Red children had a common Heavenly Father, He must be partial, for He came to His pale face children. They never saw him.
4. Why is there a little in common between the Red children and the white children?
Ans. There a little in common between the Red children and the White children because both of them belonged to two distinct races with separate origins and separate destinies.
5. How do both these distinct races feel about their dead ancestors?
Ans. The tribal people regard the ashes of their ancestors as sacred and their resting place as hallowed ground. The White man wandered far from the graves of his ancestors, seemingly without regret.
6. Where was the religion of the White man written?
Ans. The religion of the White man was written upon the tablets of stone by the iron finger of the White man’s God so that he would not forget.
7. Comment on the religion of the Red man.
Ans. The Red man’s religion is the tradition of their ancestors – the dreams of their old men, given them in solemn hours of the night by the Great Spirit; the visions of their schems, and is written in the hearts of the people.
Your dead ceases to love you and the land of their nativity as soon as they pass the portals of the tomb and wander away beyond the stars.
1. What makes the dead tribal people continue to love this beautiful world?
The dead tribal people never forget the beautiful world that gave them being. They still love its verdant valleys, its murmuring rivers, its magnificent mountains, sequestered vales, and verdant lined lakes and bays, and ever yearn in tender fond affection over the lonely hearted living, and often return from the happy hunting ground to visit, guide, console and comfort them.
2. What, according to Chief Seattle, would be the state of his tribe if they accept the proposition made by the Big White Chief?
Ans. Chief Seattle’s tribe would dwell apart in peace, for the words of the Great White Chief seem to be the words of nature speaking to his people out of dense darkness.
He then goes on to say that it would matter little where they would pass the remnant of their days as they will not be many. The Indian’s night promises to be dark. There would not be a single star of hope hovering above the horizon. Sad-voiced winds Sad-voiced distance.
Grim fate seems to be on the Red Man’s trail, and wherever he would hear the approaching footsteps of his fell destroyer and prepare stolidly to meet his doom, as does the wounded doe that hears the approaching footsteps of the hunter.
3. What is the condition that Seattle puts forward before making a decision on the white man’s proposition?
Ans. He says that they would not be denied the privilege without molestation of visiting at any time the tombs of their ancestors, friends, and children.
4. What aspects in nature are sacred to the tribal people?
Ans. Every part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of his people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove, has been hallowed by some sad and happy event in days long vanished. Even the rocks, which seem to be dumb and dead as theynswelter in the sun along the silent shore, thrill with memories of stirring events connected with the lives of many people.
5. Why does the dust upon which the white people stand now responds more lovingly to the footsteps of the tribal people than to those of the white people?
Ans. The dust responds more lovingly to the tribal people than to those of the white people because it is rich with the blood of their ancestors, and their bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch.
6. When will the shores swarm with the invisible dead of Seattle’s tribe?
Ans. According to Chief Seattle, when the last Red Man shall have perished, and the memory of his tribe shall have become a myth among the White Men, the shores will swarm with the invisible dead of his tribe.
7. Why does Seattle say ‘The White Man will never be alone?’
Ans. Chief Seattle says that when the White Man’s children’s children think themselves alone in the field, the store, the shop, upon the highway or in the silence of the pathless woods, they will not be alone. In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude. At night when the streets of their cities and villages are silent and they think them deserted, the Red Man will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land.
8. What does Chief Seattle say about death?
Ans. Chief Seattle says that the dead are not powerless. He says that there is no death, only a change of worlds.
9. State the theme of the lesson.
Ans. Themes of the lesson are:
• Attachment to land
Introduction: This story describes traveling experience in life in a light-hearted and simple style. The blind narrator is not self-pitying. He is very matter-of-fact about his disability. This is what makes them so touching. The reader is struck by the pathos of the incident. The narrative ends with an unexpected and startling revelation.
The story gives us a glimpse of the world as experienced by a visually challenged person. We are reminded of Helen Keller and her story about how she overcame her handicap through will and courage.
About the Author
Ruskin Bond (1934 – ) is a noted Indian wither of fiction in English. He spent most of his Childhood in Shimla and Dehradun. These places provide the background for many of his short stories. He was awarded the ‘Sahitya Academy award in 1992 and the Padmashri in 1999.
Meanings and Explanations
I had the compartment ……. October is the best time.
compartment: section of a railway carriage. Rohana: name of a place anxious: worried; concerned pulled out: left sensitive : (here) reacting to slapped: beat noisily startled: surprised exclamation: a sound that expresses surprise or any other sudden feeling. take in: to observe; to notice. essentials: necessary things
registers; make an impression most tellingly: most powerfully remaining senses: human beings have five senses-sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Here since sight is lacking, the other four senses are referred to. formidable: frightening. calling’ on my memories: recalling; remembering dahlia: beautiful ﬂower seen in many bright colours delicious: here, beautiful daring: courageous remark: comment log—fire: ﬁre from burning logs of wood. deserted: empty
The narrator who is blind encounters a girl while traveling on a train. He tries to know more about the girl without revealing his disability to her.
She was silent …… two or three hours.
touched her: moved her; affected her.
romantic fool: someone whose Views on life are idealistic, not practical.
making a pretence: pretending; appearing to do something without really doing it.
panting: breathing in a short quick manner; here, the noise hisof the engine
tumble: the sound of heavy machinery
mind’s eye: inside the mind imagining
few girls can resist ﬂattery: many girls are taken in by praise
ringing laugh: resounding laugh
gallant: very polite and courteous to ladies.
The two converse about the beauty of the landscape and other ordinary matters. The narrator is careful not to reveal that he is blind. He learns that the girl is pretty. When the girl asks him why he is so serious, he decides to try to laugh for her but is overcome by loneliness.
Yet I was prepared ….. notice?
sparkle: here, merry and bubbling sound.
encounter: an unexpected meeting
the carriage wheels changed sound and rhythm: slowed because the train was reaching the next station.
plaited: braided, woven into a thick braid
vendors: people selling goods
tantalizing: tempting but disappointingly out of reach
lingered: remained even after the girl had gone.
stammered: spoke nervously
apology: say one is sorry
fascinating: irresistibly charming
The blind narrator collects small details about the girl from hints dropped by the girl herself. The girl gets off at her station. Another stranger enters the compartment and makes the shocking revelation that the girl is also blind.
Short Answer Questions 1. Why did the narrator think that the couple who saw the girl off were her parents?
A: The couple seemed to be very anxious about the girl’s comfort. They fussed over her and gave her detailed instructions about how to take care of herself and her belongings.
2. Why was the narrator unable to tell what the girl looked like?
Ans. The narrator was totally blind. His eyes were sensitive only to light and darkness. 3 How did he know that the girl wore slippers?
Ans. The slippers made a slapping noise as they hit her heels. 4. What did the narrator like about the girl?
Ans. He liked the sound of her voice and even the sound of her slippers 5. Why, according to the narrator, was the girl startled when he spoke to her?
Ans. The girl may not have seen the narrator sitting in the dark corner. 6. What was the real reason for the girl not seeing the narrator?
Ans. She was blind. 7. Why do people with good eyesight fail to see what is right in front of them?
Ans. They have too much to observe through their five senses. 8. How are blind people different in the way they observe things?
Ans. Blind people observe only the essential things right in front of them. Having only four ., senses, they take in the powerful impressions created by them. 9. How did the blind narrator plan to keep his blindness from the girl?
Ans. The blind narrator decided not to get up from his seat. 10. Who would be meeting the girl at her destination?
Ans. She would be met by her aunt. 11. Why did the narrator say that he would not talk to the girl too much?
Ans. The girl said that she would be met by her aunt at her destination. At this, the narrator humorously remarked that he would not be too friendly with her as aunts are frighteningly protective people. 12. What was the narrator’s destination?
Ans. The narrator was going to Dehra Dun and from there to Mussoorie. 13. Why did the girl remark that the narrator was lucky?
Ans. The narrator was lucky to go to a beautiful place like Mussoorie. 14. What did the girl like about Mussoorie?
Ans. The girl liked its beautiful hills, especially in October. 15. Why is October the best time to be in Mussoorie?
And. In October the hills are covered with wild dahlias and delightful sunlight. It is peaceful. 16. Why did the narrator feel that the girl would consider him to be a romantic foal?
Ans. The narrator described Mussoorie as if he enjoyed the peaceful beauty of nature. His preference for solitude and the lovely sights of nature might make him look like a romantic fool. 17. What was the mistake the narrator made?
A: The narrator forgot his decision not to reveal to the girl that he was blind. He asked her how the landscape looked. 18. Why did the narrator feel that the girl might have noticed that he was blind?
Ans. The girl did not seem to think it strange when he asked her how the scenery outside looked. 19. What made him sure that she did not know about his blindness?
Ans. When the narrator asked the girl about the scenery outside, she responded by telling him to look for himself. 20. How did the narrator keep his blindness from the girl when she asked him to view the landscape?
Ans. The narrator moved easily along the berth, felt for the window and pretended to study the landscape. 21. What did the narrator see in his mind’s eye?
Ans. The narrator imagined the telegraph-posts flashing by. 22. Why did the narrator think that it was safe to make a personal remark about her face?
Ans. The narrator was of the opinion that girls like to be ﬂattered. 23. What was the girl’s reaction to the narrator’s comment about her face?
Ans. She laughed and said that it was a pleasant change to be told that her face was interesting. She was tired of being told that she had a pretty face 24. How did the narrator find out that his companion was pretty?
Ans. When the narrator remarked that she had an interesting face, the girl laughingly told him that it was nice to be described as interesting.
She was tired of people telling her she was pretty. 25. Why did the girl say that the narrator was a gallant young man?
Ans. The narrator ﬂattered her by saying that she had an interesting and pretty face.
26. What did the thought of laughter evoke in him?
Ans. The thought of laughter made him feel troubled and lonely. 27. How does the narrator describe the girl’s voice?
Ans. The girl’s voice had the sparkle of a mountain stream. 28. What impact did meeting the girl have on the narrator?
Ans. The narrator wanted to continue listening to her voice. He felt that he would not forget the girl for a long time. Her memory would linger around him like a perfume. 29. Why was the girl glad that it was a short journey?
Ans. The girl hated long train journeys. She could not bear to sit for more than two or three hours. 30. Who got into the compartment when the girl got off?
Ans. A man got in. 31. How did the narrator occupy himself on such journeys?
Ans. The narrator played a guessing game using hints dropped by fellow travelers to form an idea about them and the surroundings. 32. Why did the fellow travelers that the narrator must be disappointed?
Ans. The man said this because he had replaced the attractive girl as the narrator’s traveling companion. 33. What was the shocking revelation of the new traveling companion?
Ans. The man told him that the girl’s beautiful eyes were sightless. 34. What evidence have we to believe that the narrator was not blind all his life?
Ans. The narrator says that he was “totally blind at the time”. This means that earlier he could see and that he had lost his vision gradually.
Paragraph Questions and Answers
1. Describe the narrator’s meeting with the girl?
Answer: The narrator met the girl on a train journey. Her parents who came to see her off fussed over her. She told him that she would be received by her aunt at the end of her journey. When he told her that he was going to Mussoorie, they exchanged their views about that place. The narrator took care not to reveal his disability to the girl. He did this by making only general remarks which were safe. When the girl got off at her station, another man got into his compartment. It was then that the narrator came to know that she was blind like him
2. What were the narrator’s thoughts and impressions about the girl who was his traveling companion?
Answer: The narrator liked the sound of her voice which he felt had the sparkle of a mountain stream. She was a friendly and pleasant girl. She had a clear ringing laugh. When she responded with silence to his emotional description of Mussoorie, he Was afraid that she would think of him as a romantic fool. He learned from her that she was considered to be pretty. When she left the compartment her perfume lingered on. He would have liked to go on talking to her. He found her very interesting.
3. What hints can we pick up from the narrative about the girl’s blindness?
Answer: The girl’s parents gave her detailed instructions as to where to keep her things. They seemed to be very anxious about her traveling alone. She had not seen the narrator in the compartment and was started to hear his voice. She became silent when he gave a vivid description of Mussoorie probably because she was deprived of such visual pleasure. She did not find it strange when the narrator asked her what the view outside the window was like.
She asked him if he saw any animals outside. When she was stepping out of the window, there was some confusion in the doorway and the man who was entering stammered an apology. These hints point to the girl’s disability but the blind narrator did not notice anything. 4. What do you understand about the character of the narrator?
Answer: Blindness made the narrator sensitive to minute things in his surroundings. As he said, lack of sight makes the other four senses more acute. He liked to play guessing games about the people and places around him. Though he seemed to take his disability philosophically, the presence of the girl made the youth in him want to keep it a secret. His description of Mussoorie shows him as a nature-lover. He made sense of things by giving an imaginative colour to the hints dropped by people and knowledge gained through the other four senses. He was serious and never laughed much. The thought of laughter made him feel troubled and lonely.
Indians take pride in the fact that India is a land of rich cultural traditions. We are also proud of our technological advancement. These two Indians, traditional and modern, exist side by side. In matters of religion, marriage practices, and family matters we are very traditional. Many of us still follow old rituals and customs blindly. Education has not changed our anti-human practices like dowry and child marriage, especially in remote villages in India. The author takes a satirical look at some of our traditional practices and humourously opens the way for critical rethinking. This story has a South Indian background and-so should be very familiar to you.
About the Author
R.K. Narayan (1907—2001) is one of India’s foremost writers of ﬁction. Many of his stories are based on his close observation of life in South India. He writes in a very simple style about the life of common man. Some of his best-known novels and short stories are Friends, Bachelor of arts, The Guide, The English Teacher, and The Dark Room.
How did you like the story? Did it set you thinking? There are many customs and practices in our own lines which we need to rethink. Now go through the meanings of difﬁcult expression to have a better understanding of the short story.
Meanings and Explanations
Krishna ﬁrst saw… Faith in horoscopes
The ﬁrst meeting between Krishna and the girl he decides to marry take place at the street tap. A common friend informs both families and the girl’s father approaches Krishna’s family. Both sides are happy to pursue the alliance and agree to exchange horoscopes though Krishna’s father did not believe in horoscopes. Courting: wooing; attempt to win the love of a girl. Eloquent glances: meaningful looks that expressed their interest in each other. Initiative: the ﬁrst step.
Could be had for picking: readily available. Put the wheels in motion: get something started. Credentials: personal qualiﬁcations and achievements that can be quoted as evidence of one’s trustworthiness, competence, etc. Critically: more analytically; to ‘assess clearly. Optical communion: contact make through eyes alone. Split second: a moment. Hazy: vague; unclear. Complexion: colour or appearance of the skin or the face. Lay like a orrfume: Stayed or lingered like a sweet or pleasant smell (simile). Auspicious day: favorable; promising future success. Fussed over him: gave great importance and respect to him. Excited: emotionally aroused; thrilled;
Blushed: turned red with shyness and embarrassment Awkward: clumsy; not at ease. Embarrassing: confusing; causing difﬁculty. Dying to marry: wishing eagerly to marry. Cordially: warmly; affectionately.
The Wardha Scheme: this was a scheme of educationally inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. According to this a student would attend classes in the morning and work in the ﬁelds or industries in the afternoon. Wardha is a district in Madhya Pradesh. Tipped with saffron: coloured at the tips with saffron. Saffron: a ﬂower whose dried stigmas’ are used to dye and ﬂavor and colour food. It has a bright orange-yellow colour. Horoscope: a statement of a person’s fortunes and future.
The girl’s father. . . ….gratefully
The girl’s father believed that matrimonial alliances have to be carefully decided to make sure that the future turns out to be happy for the young couple. When he matches the two horoscopes he ﬁnds that the alliance would pose a risk to his daughter’s life. Krishna’s father consults a greater astrologer who counters the opinion of the girl’s father.
Finally, they decide to leave things to God.
Honoured: a pleasure or privilege.
matrimonial alliance: to be connected through marriage.
leap in the dark: a step taken blindly. estimate: calculate, assess. longevity: long life span; live to a great age. serious flaw: major defect.
Mars in the seventh house: a position of the planet Mars, that according to Hindu astrology, is a great defect as it shows misfortunes like death. overlooked: ignored.
propose plan. risk his daughter’s life: put his daughter’s life in danger. superstition: blind belief.
to ﬂoor him: to defeat him. astrologer: one who studies the stars to see how they inﬂuenve people. counter: to oppose. wife-killing planet: here, it refers to Mars in Krishna’ s horoscope Which foretells the premature death of his wife (a humorous usage). a spent force: something which does not have power anymore. spent: finished. impotent: powerless.
cowardice: the state of being easily frightened. torn between: in a state of great uncertainty. resort to: to use as a means to solve a problem dilemma: a state of being in a confusion; problem. clutched at: caught hold of (accepted) eagerly. gratefully: thankfully.
On Friday ….. flowers in the world.
The two families assemble at the temple of Hanuman with a common friend. After certain rituals and prayers, the priest picks two ﬂowers, a red and a white one, from a garland on the deity and places them on the doorstep of the met sanctuary A girl of five was asked to pick one of the flowers. Amidst fervent prayers on the part of the two parties, the girl chooses the red ﬂower. The red ﬂower was for “no” and the white ﬂower for “yes”.
assemble: to group together.
giggling thing: here, the cheerful little girl. curiosity: the desire to know.
inner sanctuary: the place where the deity (god) is situated. camphor: white crystalline tablets which have a strong aromatic smell and which are burnt as part of the ritual of god worship. image: the deity. ﬂickered: the movement of the ﬂames.
ﬂower—decked image: the garlanded deity. fervently: with great intensity and hope; earnestly. in his favour: as he wanted. impotent: powerless. wick: twisted string running through a lamp which is lighted. nudged: pushed gently with elbow. splendid omen: good sign. contemplating: looking at thoughtfully. little realizing: not understanding. immensity— play: the importance of the part she was to play. a medium: here, a messenger between god and man. mouthpiece: someone who speaks for another. strain: anxiety and worry. idol: deity. stunned: shocked. bleach: to turn into white colour.
Aren’t such situations familiar to you? Many of us seek godly intervention in a difficult situation, don’t we? Let’s now try to answer the comprehension questions.
Comprehension — Short Answer Questions of The White Flower
1. Where did Krishna meet the girl?
Ans. Krishna met the girl at the street tap 2. Why was direct courting not possible?
Ans. Traditional culture does not allow a boy and a girl to spend time together before marriage. So direct courting was not possible 3. How did Krishna and the girl communicate?
Ans. Krishna and the girl communicated through meaningful glances. The author calls it “optical communion”. 4. Why couldn’t Krishna and the girl progress beyond eloquent glances?
Ans. Custom does not allow the boy’s parents to take the initiative in proposing marriage. Moreover, the girl’s father did not know about Krishna and the girl’s interest in each other. 5. Who took the initiative for the alliance?
Ans. A common friend of both families initiated the process. 6. Why was the girl’s father ready to marry her off?
Ans. The girl’s father was ready to marry her off because she would be fourteen the coming month which was marriageable age for a girl. 7. What were Krishna’s credentials?
Ans. Krishna came from a good family, was rich and was studying in the B.A. Class. 8. What were the girl’s credentials?
The girl was from a good family, was good-looking, sang well and was educated up to the fourth form. 9. Why couldn’t Krishna have a clear idea about the girl’s complexion and nose?
Ans. Their optimal communion was a matter of a split second. So it was not possible for Krishna to know more about the girl’s looks. 10. What effect did the girl have on Krishna?
Ans. The thought of the girl lay like a perfume about Krishna. 11. How did Krishna behave when the girl’s father came to his house?
Ans. Krishna was very excited and fussed over the girl’s father. He was awkward and blushed in embarrassment. 12. What did the girl’s father give Krishna’s father?
Ans. The girl’s father gave Krishna’s father his daughter’s horoscope. 13. What was Krishna’s father’s attitude to horoscopes?
Ans. He had no faith in horoscopes. 14. What reason did the girl’s father give for insisting on matching horoscopes?
Ans. According to the girl’s father, marriage was a step taken blindly. So, it was necessary to estimate the happiness, longevity, and health of the couple through horoscopes. 15. What was the result of matching the horoscopes?
Ans. It was found that there was a serious ﬂaw in Krishna’s horoscope. It indicated a short life for the wife due to the influence of Mars. 16. What did Krishna’s father do to counter the problem of the ﬂawed horoscope?
Ans. Krishna’s father consulted a greater astrologer and came out with a counter-attack. The wife-killing planet did not have the power to inﬂuence Krishna’s life anymore. 17. What was the conﬂict in the mind of the girl’s father?
Ans. The girl’s father has pulled apart between the desire for the alliance and superstitious fear of the power of Mars. 18. What was the solution agreed upon by the to fathers?
Ans. They decided to let the matter be settled through Godly intervention. 19. Which deity was chosen to settle the issue of the horoscope?
Ans. Hanuman, the God of power. 20. Why was the little girl brought to the temple?
Ans. The little girl was brought to the temple to act as the mouthpiece of God to decide whether Krishna could marry the girl or not. 21. What did Krishna pray for at the temple?
Ans. Krishna prayed for a decision in his favour from God. 22. What was considered as a splendid omen at the temple?
Ans. The sparks that ﬂew from the wick of the lamp, the good omen. 23. How would God express His decision?
Ans. A red ﬂower and a white ﬂower picked from the deity’s garland were kept on the doorstep of the inner sanctuary. A little girl of ﬁve was selected as the messenger of God and she would select one ﬂower and settle the problem. 24. What did the white ﬂower and red ﬂower stand for?
Ans. The white ﬂower meant that it was God’s will that the marriage should take place. Red ﬂower meant that it was God’s will that Krishna and the girl should not marry. 25. What ﬂower did the little girl pick up?
Ans. The red ﬂower. 26. Why did Krishna close his eyes just before the little girl made her choice?
Ans. Krishna was unable to bear the strain of the moments before the choice of the ﬂower that would decide his future. 27. Why did Krishna wish for the power to bleach all the ﬂowers in the world?
Ans. The little girl, by choosing the red ﬂower, expressed God’s decision that Krishna was not to marry the girl. Stunned by this tragedy, Krishna wished that he had the power to bleach all ﬂowers so that there would not be a red ﬂower to prevent his marriage. 28. What does the author try to communicate to us?
Ans. The author shows how man-made customs and practices enslave man so blindly that it makes life miserable and tragic for him. 29. What was the usual method of dealing with dilemmas?
Ans. The usual method was to leave the decision to God. 30. Who is the author of The White Flower?
Ans. R. K. Narayan.
Paragraph Questions and Answers
1. Describe the events that led to the two families matching horoscopes?
Krishna and the girl met at the street tap. They could not progress beyond eloquent glances as direct courting was not possible. Luckily a common friend stepped in to take the initiative and inform the families about the matter. Both Krishna’s and the girl’s credentials satisfied the two families. Krishna was from a good family, was good-looking, rich and studying for BA. The girl was of marriageable age, from a good family, good-looking, sang well and was educated up to the fourth form. On an auspicious day, the girl’s father came to Krishna’s house to pursue the matrimonial alliance.
2. What do you understand about the practice of marriage in the story?
Answer: The initiative for marriage could not be taken by the boy and the girl. It was not possible for them to go beyond exchanging meaningful glances. Once the families got to know about the possibility of an alliance, the girl’s father had to take the first step and approach the boy’s family. It was not the custom for the boy’s family to propose marriage. The horoscopes had to match before the marriage was fixed.
3 Contrast the attitudes of the two fathers.
Answer: Krishna’s father was more modern and progressive-minded than the girl’s father. He did not have faith in horoscopes He wanted to fix the marriage without matching horoscopes. When the girl’s father informed him that his astrologer had said that the two horoscopes could not be matched, he consulted a greater astrologer and came out with a counter-attack The girl’s father, on the other hand, believed in traditional customs and was superstitious. He refused to go ahead with the marriage as there was a defect in Krishna’s horoscope. He was of the opinion that horoscopes were important documents with which one could estimate the happiness, longevity, and health of the couple. Hence it was important to match them.
4. How was the problem of the mismatched horoscopes settled?
Answer: The problem was settled by leaving the decision to God. On an auspicious day, the two families assembled at the temple of Hanuman, God of Power. A little girl of five was brought. After the ritual of worshiping God, two ﬂowers were picked from the garland on the deity. One was white and the other was red. God would speak through the ﬂowers. The choice of‘ the red ﬂower would mean that the marriage could not take place. The white flower would mean that the marriage could take place. The girl, as the mouth-piece of God, was asked to choose one ﬂower. The innocent girl chose the red ﬂower. God’s decision was clear. The marriage could not take place.
DEFORESTATION: CAUSES, EFFECTS, CONSEQUENCES, AND SOLUTIONS
Afforestation means growing more and more trees. Trees are very important. They give us many amenities. If we to live happily, we have to preserve our forests. Who does not desire a lot of greenery around him or her? Isn’t it very nice to sit under a shady tree on a very hot day? Sometimes you may have seen huge trees lined on each side of the road. It is very cool to travel on such a road. Unfortunately, we often see people cutting down trees. What happens when trees are cut down? That is what this chapter tells you. Let us read the text to find out.
Forests are an important part of our life. It provides invaluable products such as industrial wood and fuelwood. Forests also provide a range of services like soil generation, soil and water conservation, purification of air and water, nutrient recycling, maintenance of biodiversity, providing a habitat for animals, mitigation of climate change and absorption of carbon. But forests are being destroyed due to several factors. The destruction of forests is usually in response to the need for more land for growing crops and rearing livestock and results in the creation of completely new ecosystems. Deforestation involves the cutting down, burning and damaging of forests. It is the permanent destruction of indigenous forests and woodland.
Causes of Deforestation
A variety of causes lead to deforestation. The world is becoming so densely populated in some places that forests are having to be cleared to make room for more recreational and living space. As human population size increases, larger areas of land have to be cultivated to supply food. In addition, cutting trees for fuel will lead to further deforestation.
The development of cash crops and cattle ranching is another reason for deforestation. In some forests, commercial logging for tropical hardwood such as teak and mahogany also leads to deforestation.
Impact of Deforestation
Clearing of forests affects local communities, who lose their source of food, fuel, construction materials, medicines and areas of livestock grazing. Forests act as watersheds. Here they catch large amounts of rain. An intact forest canopy softens the impact of intense rainfall in many ways. It releases large amounts of water back to the atmosphere by evaporation and transpiration and Channels water gently through the vegetation to the soil. Infiltration into the soil is high and there is a long delay before water ﬂows into the streams and rivers. If the forest canopy is removed, the soil surface bakes hard in the intense heat. Rainfall cannot easily penetrate the surface and is rapidly lost from the area in the surface run-off. Thus when the forest disappears, there is no regulation of the flow, into rivers. As a result, ﬂoods and droughts alternate in the affected areas.
Deforestation exposes soil to wind, evaporation, and erosion. Soil fertility goes down due to the rapid leaching of essential mineral nutrients. The topsoil is eroded and this accelerates siltation in dams, rivers, and the coastal zone. The increased sedimentation harms downstream ﬁsheries. Tree removal on steep slopes with shallow soil increases the risk of landslides.
When forests are cleared and the trees are either burnt or they rot, carbon is released as carbon dioxide. This leads to an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. Since carbon dioxide is a major contributor to the greenhouse effect, the earth becomes hotter.
Deforestation affects the local climate of an area by reducing the evaporative cooling that takes place from both soil and plant life. When a large forest is cut down, the regional rainfall pattern may be affected.
Forests have species-rich and diverse wildlife communities. Deforestation, degradation, and fragmentation of forests affect many species and lead to the extinction of some with the consequent loss of genetic variation and potential resources.
Removal of forests also leads to desertification. This is a general term for the degradation into dry land areas so that formerly productive land becomes useless.
Alternatives / Solutions
An important alternative to deforestation is afforestation. It involves the planting of more trees The Union and State governments have launched several afforestation programs The Social Forestry Programme sees the use of public and common land to produce ﬁrewood, fodder, and timber for the use of rural community. Urban foresty Programme consisting of planting trees in urban areas has also helped in building forests. People’s movements like the Chipko Movement has done much to prevent deforestation. Another proposed solution for deforestation is to reduce the consumption of forest-based products. Alternatives are introduced which includes the use of the world’s forests in such a way that they continue to provide resources in the present, without depriving future generations of their use.
Future of World’s Forests
Forests are being destroyed due to a variety of factors and it is going to be very difﬁcult to save them. None of the remaining forests of the world are free from intervention. The loss of forests is, however, only a symptom of deeper and possible unstoppable degradation of the Earth’s environment.
When the essay opens you are introduced to the topic. You are told about the importance of forests and about deforestation in general:
invaluable: for which value cannot be fixed; priceless
soil generation: synthesis of soil or production of soil conservation: preservation or protection of soil and water biodiversity: different forms of plants and animals habitat: living place mitigation: make milder factors: reasons livestock: farm animals (the cattle) indigenous: belonging naturally to a place (native to region)
The causes of deforestation and enlisted here.
densely populated: thickly populated
cattle ranching: cattle breeding logging: cutting and preparing timber
teak and mahogany; names of trees
We have just gone through the causes of deforestation. Now we shall see what happens due to deforestation. Forests act as water reservoirs: They collect and conserve a large amount of rainwater. Forests act as watersheds.
intact, forest canopy: entire forest cover formed of the uppermost layer of leaves of trees. evaporation: loss of water as vapour into the atmosphere transpiration: loss of water as vapour from the surface of the leaves infiltration: penetrate into or enter intense: severe surface runoff: flow away or ﬂow off along the surface leaching: removal siltation: formation of silt or sediments (broken down fragments of rocks or any matter that accumulates in the bottom of a liquid) sedimentation: formation and accumulation of sediments landslide: sliding down of a mass of land from a mountain Greenhouse effect: The earth’s atmosphere contains 0.03% Carbon Dioxide. Due to several reasons like pollution, deforestation, etc. the amount of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere increases. This results in the trapping of heat near the earth’s surface, This trapping of sun’s heat in the lower atmosphere due to high levels of Carbon Dioxide is called the greenhouse effect. regional: of a particular region Degradation: lower in grade; reduction in level or quality fragmentation: the process of breaking into pieces or fragments desertification: formation of deserts
Are there alternatives to deforestation? The paragraph you are going to read tells you about the alternatives to deforestation.
solution: answer resource: stock or supply that can be drawn on depriving: dispossessing fodder: dried hay or straw for cattle
We have come to the end of the essay If we are not careful about our forests we are going to be in deep trouble. intervention: Comprehension of the act of interfering in other’s state of affairs.
Short Answer Questions
1. Why are forests called an important part of our life?
A: Forests provide invaluable products such as industrial wood and firewood. Forests also provide a range of services like soil generation, soil and water conservation, purification of air and water, etc.
2. What is meant by deforestation?
Ans. Deforestation is the cutting down, burning or the permanent damaging of forests.
3. Why are forests being destroyed?
Ans. Forests are being destroyed to get more land for recreational and living space. It is also destroyed to grow crops and rear livestock and to gather fuel. Development of cash crops, cattle ranching and cutting trees for hardwood also causes deforestation.
4. What does destruction of forests lead to?
Ans. Destruction of forests leads to the creation of completely new ecosystems.
5. What are the causes of deforestation?
Ans. Forests are cleared to get more land for recreational and living space to grow crops, rear livestock and to gather fuel. Development of cash crops, cattle ranching and cutting trees for hardwood. also causes deforestation. 6. How does clearing of forests affect local Communities?
Ans. Local communities lose their source of food, fuel, construction materials, medicines and areas of livestock grazing. 7. How do forests act as watershed?
Ans. Forests act as a watershed by catching large amounts of rain. 8. What does an intact forest canopy do?
Ans. An intact forest canopy softens the impact of intense rainfall. It channels water gently through the vegetation to the soil and therefore infiltration to the soil is high.
9. What happens when the forest canopy is removed?
Ans. When the forest canopy is removed the soil surface becomes hard in the heat. Thus rainwater cannot get into the surface and is lost in surface runoff. Water ﬂow into the river is also not regulated resulting in ﬂood or drought. 10. What happens When the soil is exposed?
Ans. Evaporation of moisture and soil erosion leads to the loss of soil fertility due to leaching of essential mineral nutrients. 11. What happens When the top soil is eroded?
Ans. It accelerates siltation in dams, rivers, and coastal zones. This harms downstream fisheries and increases the risk of landslides.
12. How is increase in carbon dioxide harmful?
Ans. It is a major contributor to the green house effect. Through the green house effect, the earth becomes more and hotter.
13. How does deforestation affect the climate?
Ans. It reduces the evaporated cooling that takes place from both soil and plant life. The rainfall pattern may also be affected.
14. What happens to wild life due to deforestation?
Ans. Many species of plants and animals become extinct. Many genetic varieties are lost.
15. How are deserts formed?
Ans. Removal of forests leads to the formation of deserts. The dry land area becomes degraded so that productive land becomes useless.
16. What is afforestation?
Ans. The process of planting trees is called afforestation.
17. What is Social Forestry Programme?
Ans. It is a programme where the public and common land is used to produce firewood, food, and timber for the use of local community.
18. How has Urban Forestry programme helped in building forests?
Ans. Urban Forestry Programme has helped in building forests by planting trees in urban areas. 19. What are the alternatives to deforestation?
Ans. The reduction of the consumption of forest-based products and planting of more trees is a way of reducing deforestation.
20. What is the loss of forests a symptom of?
Ans. The loss of the forest is a symptom of deeper and possibly unstoppable degradation of the Earth’s environment.
Paragraph Questions and Answers
1. What is the importance of forests?
Answer: The forests are an important part of our life. We get different products like industrial wood and firewood from the forests. The forests help in producing the soil and conserving soil and water. It also supports the purification of air and water. Different varieties of plants and animals find shelter in the forests. The forests also help in the mitigation of climate change and the absorption of carbon.
2. Why are forests being destroyed? OR 3. What are the causes of deforestation?
Answer: As the population increases, more space is needed to live and for recreation. Food production should also increase. People use the forests to gather firewood. Development of cash crops and cattle ranching is another reason for deforestation. Sometimes trees are cut in large numbers for timber. This also contributes to deforestation.
4. What is the impact of deforestation?
Answer: When forests are cleared the local communities lose their source of food, fuel, construction materials, medicines, and livestock grazing. When there are no forests, there is no regulation of the flow of water into rivers. Also, rainfall does not penetrate into the soil. All this causes flood and drought. Soil is exposed to evaporation and erosion. Essential materials are lost and landslides occur. The burning of trees increases the carbon dioxide level which will lead to green house effect. The climate is affected. Many species of animals and plants become extinct. This will also lead to the formation of deserts.
5. What are the alternatives to deforestation?
Answer: One alternative to deforestation is to plant more trees. This is called afforestation. The union and state governments have launched several afforestation programmes. Another alternative is to reduce the consumption of forest-based products. The world’s forests should be used economically such that the forests will continue to provide resources in the present and for the future. Peoples movements like the Chipko Movement has done much to prevent deforestation.
Introduction: The British Empire is evidently the dominant historical setting for “Shooting an Elephant.” During the nineteenth century, the empire expanded quickly, spreading its territories to far off places like New Zealand and India. Burma (now Myanmar ) was the place where Orwell was located and the place was gained by the British in 1886. Burma obtained its freedom from Britain in 1948, a moderately short time after “Shooting an Elephant,” an affirmation of Orwell’s observation in the story that “the British Empire is dying.” Here George Orwell narrates an incident he had with an elephant when he was serving as a young police officer in Burma. The elephant had gone mad and killed an Indian coolie.
Orwell’s task was to shoot the elephant and thus prevent more damage. This story gives us the point of View of a white man, a colonial. It sensitively probes the subtle relationship between the colonizer (whites) and the colonized (natives).
About the Author: George Orwell (1903 – 1950) whose real name was Eric Arthur Blair was a noted British author, Journalist, novelist, a cultural commentator, and a noted essayist. His short life did not prevent him from producing many works Which are now considered masterpieces. His works Animal Farm and 1984 further glorified his fame.
I had halted …………. home
In this paragraph ‘we see Orwell coming face to face with the elephant, whom he will have to shoot, for the first time. Here he describes the thoughts that came into his mind as he watched the elephant. He says that he had ﬁrst decided to watch the elephant for a little while and not shoot him if he did not turn savage.
“must”: an attack of frenzy mahout: the man who looks after elephant savage: wild
But ………. laughed at
In this paragraph, Orwell describes his feelings as he sees the Burmans watching him. He was the only white man in the whole crowd. These were the days when the British used to rule to rule over many parts of the world; Orwell expresses his view that the Westerner who ruled over the East Was actually controlled by those whom he ruled over. He had to act in order to save his Sahib image or the impression the natives had about him as a sahib would be lost. He was thus a mere dummy playing his role. glanced: looked immense: huge garnish: showy conjurer: magician riﬂe: gun momentarily. : for a moment irresistibly: without any resistance futility: uselessness dominion: here, power unarmed: Without weapons native: people originally belonging to the place absurd: not reasonable puppet: a doll, (here) one who acts according to another’s instructions perceived: saw tyrant: an oppressor conventionalised: traditional sahib: master trail feebly: follow behind slowly
But ……….. better aim
Here we understand that Orwell was against shooting the elephant. But in his mind, he knew that he had to shoot the elephant. Otherwise, the Burmans would attack him or laugh at him. He gives many reasons why he had to kill an elephant. He makes plans on how to shoot the elephant. preoccupied: lost in thought squeamish: ” easily made nauseous”. (nausea => vomiting sensation) beast: animal charged: attacked poor shot: not able to shoot properly toad: big frog. pursued: to go after; followed trampled: to be smashed underfoot alternative: option, choice cartridges: Charges for gun magazine: gun from which shots can be fired without reloading
The crowd ……………… I lay
Orwell does not have much experience in shooting elephants. Therefore he aims incorrectly. The reaction of the crowd is also explained here. In these two paragraphs, Orwell also tells us what happens to the elephant when it is hit. still: silent, without moving innumerable: countless
glee: great joy mysterious: not very clear, secret stirred: moved altered: Changed stricken: wounded shrunken: to reduce in size immensely: greatly paralyzed: unable to move knocking: striking, making him fall sagged: to sink, to lose strength senility: the weaknesses of old age collapse: fall desperate: hopeless upright: straight agony: great pain jolt: strike remnant: remains, what is left behind tower: to rise in air toppling: falling Skyward: towards the sky trumpeted: the cry of the elephant
I got up …………. afternoon
Here Orwell gives you a vivid description of the last few moments of the elephant’s life. He also tells you about what the Burmans did to the elephant. obvious: very clear rattling: short, hard sounds jerk: shake torture: extreme pain remote: far away dreadful: very painful stripped: to remove covering; here remove flash and skin
Afterward ………….. fool
These were many opinions among the people about the shooting of the elephant. Orwell ends his essay by telling you the truth as to why he shot the elephant. furious. very angry legally: according to law pretext: reason grasped: understood solely: only
Comprehension Short Answer Questions
1 What was the author’s first thought as he looked at the elephant?
Ans: As soon as the author saw the elephant he thought that he should not shoot it. 2. Why did Orwell think that he ought not to shoot the elephant?
Ans: Orwell thought that he should not shoot the elephant because it was a working elephant and therefore very precious. Also, the elephant looked very peaceful as he stood eating. 3. Why is it a serious matter to shoot a working elephant?
Ans: A working elephant is equal to a huge and costly piece of machinery. Hence it is a serious matter to shoot a working elephant. 4. How did the elephant look from a distance?
Ans: The elephant looked no more dangerous than a cow from a distance. 5. What did Orwell think about the ”must” of the elephant?
Ans: He thought that the “must” was already passing off. If that was the case then he would merely wander harmlessly until the mahout came back and caught him. 6. What did Orwell plan at first?
Ans: Orwell decided that he would watch the elephant for a little while to make sure that he did not turn savage and then go home. 7. Describe the crowd that gathered around Orwell?
Ans: It was a huge crowd of at least two thousand people. It looked like a sea of yellow faces above colourful clothes. They were happy and excited about shooting the elephant. 8. What did the natives think of Orwell?
Ans: The natives did not like Orwell but with the rifle in his hand he was worth watching. 9. How did Orwell realize that he would have to shoot the elephant after all?
Ans. The people around him expected him to shoot the elephant. In order to fulfill their expectation, he realised that he would have to shoot the elephant after all. 10. Why does Orwell call the White man’s dominion over the East, futile?
Ans. The White man thinks that he is the real master over the natives. But according to Orwell, he is only a puppet who has to work according to the will of the native. 11. What is the actual condition of the White man?
Ans. The White man has to spend his life in trying to impress the natives. Therefore he has to do everything as the native expects him to do. 12. How does Orwell describe every White man’s life in the East?
Ans. According to Orwell, every White man’s life in the East was one long struggle not to be laughed at. 13. State two reasons why Orwell did not want to shoot the elephant?
Ans. Orwell had never wanted to shoot a large animal like an elephant. Besides he had to consider the owner also. 14. What did the Burmans say about the elephant?
Ans. The Burmans said that the elephant took no notice of anyone if he was left alone. But he might attack if anyone went close to him. 15. What were Orwell’s plans about shooting the elephant?
Ans. Orwell planned to walk up to twenty-five yards of the elephant and test his behavior. If he attacked, Orwell would shoot. If he did not then he would, leave him alone till his mahout came back to take him. 16. Why does Orwell dismiss the idea of walking up to twenty-five yards of the elephant?
Ans. The mud was soft and Orwell was a poor shot with the riﬂe. If the elephant charged then Orwell would find it difficult to escape. 17. What was the sole thought in Orwell’s mind as he watched the natives?
Ans. The sole thought in Orwell’s mind was that if anything went wrong the two thousand Burmans watching him would pursue him and kill him. 18. What was the only alternative according to Orwell?
Ans. The only other alternative was to shoot the elephant. 19. What did the crowd do when Orwell loaded his rifle?
Ans. The crowd grew very still and let out a deep, low and happy sigh. They were like people in the theatre watching the curtain go up after a long wait. 20. What was the right way of shooting an elephant?
Ans. In shooting an elephant one should shoot to cut an imaginary bar running from ear hole to ear hole. Orwell aimed several inches in front of the elephants ear-hole thinking that the brain was in front. He Was actually Wrong.
21. What did the crowd do when Orwell shot the elephant?
Ans. The crowd let out a devilish roar of glee.
22. What happened to the elephant at the first shot?
Ans. A terrible change came over the elephant. He became stricken and looked very old. He fell to his knees and his mouth slobbered. 23. What happened to the elephant at the second shot?
Ans. At the second shot he did not collapse but stood up slowly with his legs sagging and his head drooping. 24. What happened to the elephant at the third shot?
Ans. At the third shot, the last drop of strength went away from his body. He trumpeted for the first and only time. Then he fell down with a crash 25. What was the condition of the elephant after the three shots?
Ans. The elephant did not die. He was breathing heavily and painfully with his mouth open. 26. Why did the author send for his small riﬂe?
Ans. The author wanted to put an end to the agony of the elephant. 27. What did the Burmans do to the elephant?
Ans. The Burmans brought dahs and baskets and stripped the elephant’s body almost to the bones by the afternoon.
28. What was the owner’s reaction to the incident?
Ans. The owner was furious but as he was only an Indian, he could do nothing. 29. What does Orwell say about the legal aspect of the shooting?
Ans. Legally Orwell had done the right thing as he had killed a mad elephant whose owner had failed to control it. 30. What did the Europeans say about the shooting?
Ans. Among the Europeans, opinion was divided. The older men said that Orwell was right and the younger men said that it was a shame to kill a working elephant which was more valuable than the coolie it had killed. 31. Why does Orwell Say that he was glad that the coolie had been killed?
Ans. Orwell was glad that the coolie had been killed because it put him legally in the right and gave him a reason for shooting the elephant.
32. What does Orwell say about the killing in the end?
Ans. He wonders if others knew that he had done it to avoid looking like a fool.
Paragraph Questions & Answers
1. What were Orwell’s first thoughts as he saw the elephant?
Ans. As soon as Orwell saw the elephant, he knew that he ought not to shoot the elephant. He knew that it was a serious matter to shoot a working elephant. A working elephant was as valuable as a costly piece of machinery. Moreover, at a distance, the elephant looked very peaceful. Orwell thought that the ”must” was already passing off and therefore he would watch the elephant for a while to see if it turned savage and then go home.
2. What does Orwell say of the crowd that had gathered around him?
Ans. The crowd was immense. At least two thousand people were there and the number was growing. Orwell describes it as ”a sea of yellow faces above the garish clothes.” They were happy that the elephant was going to be shot. Though they did not like Orwell, they watched him as he had a riﬂe in his hands. Orwell knew that he would have to shoot the elephant because these people expected him to shoot it.
3. Why does Orwell say that the White man’s dominion in the East is futile?
Ans. As Orwell stood in front of the people with the riﬂe in his hands, he understood the hollowness and futility of the White man’s power in the East. The White man was like a puppet in the hands of these people. To appear to be powerful and to maintain the sahib image, he has to do what the natives expected him to do It was like wearing a mask.
4. Why does Orwell say he does not want to shoot the elephant?
Ans. As Orwell watched the elephant he knew that he did not want to shoot the elephant To kill the elephant would be like murdering it. He was against the killing of large animals. Besides, the elephant’ s owner had to be considered If the elephant was alive it was worth a hundred pounds If it was dead, then the owner would only get five pounds for its tusks. 5. What were the steps Orwell considered before shooting the elephant?
Ans. Orwell knew perfectly well what he ought to do. He decided to walk up to twenty-five yards of the elephant and test his behaviour If the elephant attacked, he would shoot. If not, then Orwell would just Watch him till the mahout Came back. But he soon gave up the idea because the mud was very soft. If the elephant attacked he would not be able to run fast in the mud and he was surer to be killed.
6. Describe the first three shots of Orwell and its impact on the Elephant.
Ans. At the first shot, a terrible change came over the elephant. It did not stir or fall, but every line of its body changed. It looked shrunken and very old as if the bullet had paralysed it. It sagged to its knees and its mouth slobbered At the second shot, it did not fall but stood very slowly to its feet, legs sagging and head drooping. The third shot took away all strength from its body. Its hind legs collapsed and it seemed like a huge rock that was falling. It fell down with a crash It trumpeted for the first and only time.
7. Describe the last minutes of the elephant’s life.
Ans. The elephant was not dead even after the three shots He was breathing loudly with a rattling noise. His mouth was wide open. Orwell continued to shoot him but he did not die. He did not even jerk. Blood poured out from him body Orwell took his small rifle and shot him in the heart and throat. But the elephant looked like he was in a world where no other pain could reach him. It took the elephant half an hour to die. 8. What are the varied opinions regarding the shooting of the elephant?
Ans. There were endless discussions regarding the shooting of the elephant. The owner was very angry. But he was only an Indian and could do nothing. Besides, Orwell had done the light thing legally by shooting the mad elephant that had killed a coolie. The European opinion was divided. The older men said that Orwell was right. But the younger men said that Orwell should not have killed the elephant for killing a coolie because the elephant was more precious than the coolie.
Vocabulary and Usage
(i) Pick out words from the text relating to (a) elephants (b) guns
Answer elephants – trunk, tusk, trumpet, mahout, ”must”, savage. guns – riﬂe, cartridge, magazine aim, trigger, bullet
(ii) Make a list of the similes used in the text
a) as much chance as a toad under a steam roller (meaning no chance at all).
b) to tower like a huge rock toppling (to describe the enormous elephant swaying with pain)
c) a happy sigh as of people who see the theatre curtain go up at last. (to describe the feeling at the commencement of a long-awaited event).
(iii) replace the italicised phase with one word.
a) According to law, she is my wife.
A: Legally, she is my wife.
b) He looked towards the sky to see if it would rain.
A: He looked skywards to see if it would rain.
c) When she saw the snake, she was unable to move.
A: When she saw the snake, she was paralyzed
d) They stood without moving until the bear had gone.
A. They stood still until the bear had gone.
The markhor is one of the largest and most distinctive members of the goat family or Caprinae. A normal markhor has a head and body length of 55 to 70 inches (140 to 195 centimeters) and a shoulder stature of 26 to 40 inches (66 to 102 centimeters). Its tail estimates 3 to 5.5 inches (8 to 14 centimeters). The creature may weigh somewhere in the range of 70 and 240 pounds (30 and 110 kilograms). Males are considerably bigger than females.
Male markhors have one of a kind corkscrew-formed horns that are thick and substantial. They additionally have extensive whiskers and a long, shaggy mane at the base of their neck. If a female has a whisker, which is uncommon, it is usually short. The layer of both genders changes length and shading with the seasons. In summer, a markhor’s coat is short and reddish darker. In winter, it is long, thick, and grey.
Markhors are giant goats that live on mountains at the height of 600 to 3500 m, that is, 1900 to 1100 ft.
These are found in wooded mountains in Northern Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and in the Pir Panjal Range in India.
The Pir Panjal Range is the name of mountains stretching between Himachal Pradesh, Kashmir, and Pakistan.
The name of markhor is actually a combination of two Persian words mar meaning snake and Khor meaning eating. This is a peculiar name in the sense that these goats are vegetarians. Their corkscrew horns are like the snake’s winding body. Hence the name markhor, that is, snake killer.
Markhors have light brown to the black coat which is smooth and short in summer and in winter it grows longer and thicker.
Markhors live in flocks, usually in a group of nine animals comprised of adult females, and their young ones. Adult males usually prefer isolation.
The food of markhors changes seasonally. They graze, that is, eat grass in spring and summer but turn to browsing in winter, that is, they feed on leaves. They are omnivorous animals and snake eater is a misnomer with their name. However, these serve as prey for wolves, leopards, and humans.
International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources has categorized markhor an endangered species. It means it is in the danger of extinction in the near future if conservation efforts are not maintained properly. Today the number is between 2000 to 4000 in the forest.
Questions and Answers of The Markhor
Question 1. Where is the Markhor found?
Answer. Markhor which is an endangered animal is found in high wooded mountains of Northern Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. In India, it is found in the Pir Panjal range of India.
Question 2. What does ‘Markhor’ mean?
Answer. The name ‘Markhor’ is derived from a Persian word; ‘mar’ which means a snake and ‘Khor’ which means either ng. Hence, the name Markhor means ‘snake-eater’.
Question 3. What are the dangers that the Markhor faces?
Answer. The dangers Markhor faces are human warfare, hunting pressure, and increasing disturbance and competition from domestic goats and sheep. Markhor faces the risk of extinction. For wolves, leopards, and humans, these animals serve as prey. If the conservation efforts are not maintained, they will disappear from this living world.
Question 4. Why does the Markhor climb cliffs?
Answer. Markhor finds itself safe at high slopes. To protect itself from human hunting and to find out its out it climbs steep cliffs. Moreover, it also enjoys the morning sun and freely grazing there.
Question 5. What is the status of Markhor?
Answer. Markhor is an endangered species. Although, there are about 2000 to 4000 Markhors existing in the wild forests it has been classified as an endangered species. It means it is in danger of facing extinction in the near future if conservation efforts are not maintained.
Question 6. Give a physical description of the Markhor? Answer. Physical Description of Markhor: Length: 132 – 186cm / 4.4 – 6.2ft Height: 65 – 115 cm / 2.1 – 3.8ft Tail Length: 8 –20 cm / 3.2 – 8inch Weight: 32 – 110kg / 70 – 242lb.
Short Answer Type Questions
Q. What are markhors?
A. Markhors are giant goats Q. Where do markhors live?
A. They live in the mountains. Q. Name the countries where markhors are found?
A. Markhors are found in India, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan. Q. Where is the Pir Panjal Range?
A. It is in India. Q. What is the Pir Panjal Range?
A. It is the name of mountains stretching between Himachal Pradesh, Kashmir, and Pakistan. Q. What types of horns do markhors have?
A. They have corkscrew horns. Q. What do their horns look like?
A. They look like the winding body of a snake. Q. What is the sad fact about markhors?
A. It is an endangered species.
Make sentences from the given jumbled words:
1. Railway / we / at / meet / will / station / the
Ans. We will meet at the railway station.
2. Cot / the / is / the / baby / sleeping / on
Ans. The baby is sleeping on the cot.
3. People / slowly / very / walk / old
Ans. Old people walk very slowly.
4. Team / goals/ our / five / easily / by / won
Ans. Our team easily won by five goals.
5. Students / punctual / be / must
Ans. Students must be punctual.
6. Problems / taking / long / are / you / how / solve / to / the / in
Ans. How long you are taking to solve the problems.
7. Garden / flowers / not / do / from / pluck / these
Ans. Do not pluck these flowers from garden.
8. Animals / many / strange / are / there / zoo / the / in
Ans. There are many strange animals in the zoo.
9. Chocolates / child / fond / very / off / my / is
Ans. My child is very fond of chocolates.
10. Boy / has / kidnaped / the / somebody
Ans. somebody has kidnaped the boy.
Grammar Work You have read in the previous classes about the tenses. Recapitulate the same and fill in the blanks with appropriate tense forms of the verbs and models wherever necessary.
1. The sun rises (rise) in the east.
2. I will take (take) milk every morning. Or I am taking (take) milk every morning.
3. Raja is playing (play) the piano.
4. Simran is going (go) to join college next week.
5. Rohit is swimming (swim) in the pool.
6. It is raining (rain) today.
7. Seneen is going (go) home tomorrow.
8. I will do (do) your work on Monday. Or I am doing your work on Monday.
9. Rafi promises that he is coming (come) the next day.
10. I saw (see) a movie yesterday.
11. He never worked (work) hard and, therefore, failed.
12. The teacher is coming (come) to the class at 10 a.m. sharp. Or – The teacher came to the class at 10 a.m. sharp.
13. Suhail is looking (look) at the flowers in the garden.
14. He is going (go) to creche every day.
15. She is eating (eat) bread and butter in the morning.
16. He never trusts(trust) me. Or – He never trusted me.
17. He came (come) with me to my aunt’s place yesterday.
18 He is coming (come) with me at my uncle’s house tomorrow.
19. She wears (wear) a beautiful dress.
20. She has worn (wear) out of fashion dresses.
The writer had heard a great deal about Miss Beam’s school for sympathy. One day he got a chance to visit the school. There he saw a twelve-year-old girl. Her eyes were covered with a bandage. An eight-year-old boy was leading her carefully between the flower beds.
After that, the author met Miss Beam. She was middle-aged, kindly and understanding lady. He asked her about the ways of her teaching. She told him that the teaching methods in her school were very simple. The students were taught spelling, arithmetic, and writing. The author told Miss Beam that he had heard a lot about the originality of her teaching method. Miss Beam told him that the real aim of her school was to make the students thoughtful.
She wanted to make them helpful and sympathetic citizens. She added that parents sent their children to her school gladly. She then asked the writer to look out of the window.
The author looked out of the window. He saw a large garden and a playground. Many children were playing there. He told Miss Beam that he felt sorry for the physically handicapped. Miss Beam laughed at it. She explained to him that they were not really handicapped. It was the blind day for a few whiles for some it was the deaf day. There were still others for whom it was the same day. Then she explained the system. To make the students understand misfortune. The young were made to have experience of misfortune.
In the course of the term, every child had one blind day, one lame day, one deaf day, one maimed day and one dumb day. On a blind day, their eyes were bandaged. They did everything with the help of other children. It was educative to both the blind and the helper.
Miss Beam told the author that blind day was very difficult for the children. However, some of the children feared more to dumb day. On a dumb day, the children had to exercise will power because the mouth was not bandaged.
Miss Beam introduced the author to a girl whose eyes were bandaged. The author asked her if she ever peeped. She girl told the author that she had no idea of the difficulties of the blind. All the time she feared that she was going to hit by something. The author asked her if her guides were good to her. She replied that they were very good. She also informed the author that those who had been blind already were the best guides.
The author walked with the girl leading her to the playground. She told him that the blind day was the worst day. She did not feel so bad on the maimed day, lame day, and deaf day. The girl asked the author where they were at the moment. He told her that they were going towards the house. He also told her that Miss Beam was walking up and down the terrace with a tall girl. The blind girl asked what the tall girl was wearing. When the author told her about the tall girl’s dress. She at once made out that she was Millie. The author described the surroundings of her. He felt that as a guide to the blind, one had to be thoughtful. He was full of praise for Miss Beam’s system of education which made the students sympathetic and kind. The writer himself had become ten times more thoughtful.
Questions and Answers
Q. 1 Miss Beam’s School was an unusual school. Why?
Ans. Miss Beams school was an unusual school because unlike other schools it taught the children to be sympathetic and thoughtful human beings. In the school, every child had one blind day, one lame day, one deaf day, one maimed day and one dumb day. On a blind day, their eyes were bandaged. They did everything with the help of other children. It was educative to both the blind and the helper.
Q. 2 Why was the little boy helping the girl? How older was the girl than the boy?
Ans. He was helping the girl because her eyes were covered with a bandage. She was four years older than the boy.
Q.3 What does Miss Beam tell the visitor about the purpose of keeping a blind day and a lame day etc?
Ans. About the purpose of keeping a blind day and a lame day, Miss Beam told the visitor that the purpose is to enable the children to get a real appreciation and understanding of misfortune by participating in the blind day and lame day, etc.
Q. 4 She seems to be a hopeless cripple. Who says, about whom and where?
Ans. Miss Beam says this about a 12 twelve-year-old girl who goes about with her eyes bandaged.
Q. 5 How did the little girl feel playing the role of a blind? What does she find easier?
Ans. She felt that it was awful to be blind. One could not see anything. One felt that one is going to be hit by something every time. The other days could not be half as bad as the blind day.
Q. 6 Which of the games needed will power and why?
Ans. The dumb day needed will power because the mouths of the children could be bandaged. They had to exercise will power.
Q. 7 What lesson does text teach us?
Ans. The lesson teaches us that we should be kind, sympathetic and helpful to our suffering brothers and sisters.
Q.8 How did the visitor feel after his to the school?
Ans. The writer had become ten times more thoughtful. He could sympathize with others’ woe.
Q.11 Write ‘yes’ or ‘no’ against each statement below.
1. The visitor had no knowledge of the school until he visited it…….
2. Miss Beam taught children to be kind to the needy……….
3. The little boy who was helping the girl walk was eighty years old……….
4. The children felt angry and cheated on playing different roles……..
5. The girl considered the blind day the most difficult……..
6. Millie and Beryl were two teachers to the little girl……
7. The visitor himself felt changed after visiting the school……
1. Yes, 2. Yes, 3. Yes, 4. No, 5. Yes, 6. No 7. Yes
A.G. Gardiner’s famous and amusing essay ‘ On the Rule of the Road ‘ strikes the bull’s eye when he declares that everyone’s liberty must be curtailed in order to preserve the liberties of all. He points out what constitutes true freedom in this essay “The Rule Of The Road.” Liberty and freedom have become watchwords of today’s world, and every action taken is for the sake of personal liberty. Liberty, both individual and political, has gained tremendous importance in the contemporary world of constructed social and political anarchy.
SUMMARY of The Rule of The Road
The essay starts with an amusing anecdote of a fat old lady walking down a busy street in Petrograd in the middle of the road. The traffic was, of course, confused and there followed a traffic block. When someone pointed out to her that pedestrians had to walk on footpaths, her answer was intriguing. She answered that she has the freedom to walk wherever she likes. Nothing can be said against this because it is a public road.
The author, busy the next paragraph, goes on to clarify the boundaries of personal liberty. He says these days people are liberty – drunk. On this point, the reader can not but agree with the author as we see today that everyone wants individual freedom. Over the course of time, the problem has become more acute and fighting for freedom begins early when children are very young. Independence and dependence took on many colours and shades.
According to Gardiner, sacrifice seems to be the foundation of liberty because “in order that the liberties of all may be preserved, the liberties of everybody must be curtailed.” He gives the example of traffic police at a busy junction. The policeman may seem like a nuisance at first, but later we realize he’s actually a blessing. If everyone were driving wherever and whenever they wanted there would be utter chaos and no one could reach anywhere. So in a sense, in order to make the neighbours, a reality neighbours liberty is restricted. The author introduces freedom as a social contract not a personal. He says it’s an adaptation. If our freedom does not interfere with others, we can do as we please. He gives many instances where we do what we like to wear, what to eat, which religion to follow, which author to prefer, and many others. We rule over a kingdom where we have all the freedom, but when we come into contact with the freedom of other people, both parties will have to restrict their own free lives. For this again he gives the instance of playing the Trombone. If he wishes to play it at midnight he will have to leave to the Everest or else his family and neighbours will object.
The author tells the reader that there are a lot of people in this world and adjustment is the key to liberty.
Gardiner points out that unfortunately, we are quicker to see the faults of others than our own. He says that consideration for the rights or feelings of others is the foundation of social behaviour.
He concludes saying that it is these small matters that decide whether we are civilized or uncivilised. Great moments of heroism and sacrifice are rare but our life is made up of these small adjustments which make it sweet.
ANALYSIS OF THE RULE OF THE ROAD
Alfred George Gardiner is one of the most charming contemporary essayists. His selection of subjects as well as his treatment of subjects can explain the reason for his popularity. The style and language of Gardiner’s writing is beautiful. Its keynote is its simplicity. His economy of words and ideas make his essays a pleasure to read. His use of anecdotes and illustrations make the essay crystal clear and its elucidation simple.
Gardiner in this bewitching essay “The Road Rule” points out what constitutes true liberty. These days, even among small children, personal freedom or individual liberty is a very familiar concept. Gardiner has dealt with this subject almost prophetically in a diplomatic and mature way by offering a solution to today’s ‘ liberty – drunk ‘ mentality. Gardiner tells us that there will often be times when we must “submit to a curtailment of private liberty” if we want to live in a social order in which we really have liberty. So what he says may seem somewhat paradoxical. He says that in order to make our liberty a reality, we must give up some of our freedom.
The idea of personal liberty as a social contract by Gardiner reflects the idea of ‘ social contract ‘ by the philosopher John Locke. Locke is one of the thinkers closest to the ‘ social contract ‘ idea. This idea says we are giving up some of our smaller freedoms so we can live in a society together. In return for doing so, our truly important rights are protected by society. Gardiner is trying to make this one major point in this essay.
Literally, when Gardiner refers to the “road rule,” he’s talking about the rules that tell you what you can do on the road. He refers to the anecdote of the Russian woman walking down the middle of the road and causing problems with traffic. That woman did not follow the rules telling us what we could do on the roads. But here too, there is a figurative meaning. Gardiner uses traffic laws as a metaphor for the rules that make society work (often unwritten and informal) and create community and solidarity in society.
The main point of this essay is that people need to consider how their actions affect others, not just what they want to do themselves, and how they affect society. The rules of the road in this sense are rules of politeness and altruism. They are rules like “do not play your trombone too loudly or at the wrong time” or “do not have loud public places conversations.”
The author concludes the essay by saying that both anarchist and socialist must be a judicious mix. We need to preserve individual liberty as well as social freedom. It is in the small matter of behaviour in observing the rule of the road, we pass judgment on ourselves and declare that we are civilized or uncivilised.
Rule of the Road Summary
“Rule of the Road” is an essay by one of the greatest International essayist A.G. Gardiner who wrote mostly under a pseudonym “Alpha of the Plough”. The essay is preceded by “ All About A Dog” as the two together convey the great message that laws are and should always be constituted for the welfare, wellbeing, and convenience of the general public. Laws need to be observed and followed in spirit rather than letter. However, some laws should be and can be winked at when the need arises.
Laws are categorized as ones to be observed and followed at all costs. Rule of the road needs to be and should at all costs be followed strictly to ensure every body’s safety; to avoid chaos and confusion.
Breach of this rule is sure to result in loss of life, terrific inconvenience to all and all resulting derailing entire Social fabric. There are other laws like one’s choice of dressing at home, one’s hobbies and the like, one can and does enjoy a lot of freedom in this regard.
The essay bears upon its reader that he/she should consider others convenience superior to his/her own. Everybody has the right to live according to his/her will and one is free in most of the matters of life but everyone should remember that his/her freedom ends where another person’s freedom starts that
is why it is said that “you are free to walk down a street revolving your stick but your freedom ends where another person’s nose begins”. In short, it lays base, the fact that there is nothing like “absolute freedom” and that everyone should be contented with the curtailment of liberty in order to enjoy a happy, safe, fear-free social life which ushers in greater liberty though indirectly.
In Albert Como’s words “ you cannot be happy when all around you are sad”, you cannot even smile when you are surrounded by gloomy and sullen faces. Our joys and sorrows are determined not only by our personal conditions but mostly by the content of joy and sorrow experienced by people around us.
Thus when people around us are free in their private affairs, we also can have a similar amount of freedom and that is possible only when we follow laws of the society in every walk of life; when we conduct ourselves according to the norms set by our societies.
This Chinese story tells us how the rainbow was formed. Many years ago a very beautiful girl lived in a mountain village. She was very clever at making lace. She made plants, birds and animals which looked very real. People called her sister lace. They loved her and spoke to everyone about her. She became very famous. The emperor heard about her. He told his courtiers to bring her to his palace. Sister lace did not want to go. She wanted to stay in the village with her friends and teach them to make lace. But the courtiers carried her to the emperor. She was very unhappy. The emperor told her not to be sad. He told her that he would marry her. Then she would not have to work. Sister Lace told the emperor that he would let her go back to her village. The emperor was very angry. He told Sister Lace that he would let her go back to her village if she made a live rooster ( cock) with her lace. If not she would have to live with him. Then he threw her into prison.
Sister Lace set to work. The Lace rooster was ready on the seventh day. She bit her finger. She let the blood drop onto its comb. Then she blinked her eyes. A tear rolled into the rooster’s mouth. With a flap of wings, the rooster stood up. The Emperor came to see the rooster. He was shocked to see the rooster. He told Sister Lace that it was one of the birds in his palace though he knew it was not. Then he had another idea. He told her that she should make a wild partridge. She could go home after doing that.
Suddenly, the rooster jumped up and sat on the Emperor’s head. He told Sister Lace that he was sorry for her and he hated the Emperor. The courtiers tried to drive it away. It scratched the Emperor’s head. The blood began to pour down. Then it flew into the garden and disappeared. The Emperor walked away angrily.
After seven days, the Lace partridge was ready. Sister Lace bit her finger. She smeared the blood on the feathers of the partridge. She blinked her eyes. A teardrop fell into the partridge’s mouth like a pearl. The partridge flapped its wings and stood up.
The Emperor came to see Sister Lace. He was shocked to see Sister Lace had made the partridge. The Emperor told Sister Lace that he had asked her to make a heavenly dragon and not a partridge. If she failed to make a dragon in seven days, she could not go back home.
When the partridge heard these words, it flew at the Emperor’s and scratched his neck. While flying away, it said that it hated the Emperor. Once again the Emperor walked away in anger and shame.
After seven days the heavenly dragon was ready. Sister Lace bit her finger and dyed the dragon red. Then she blinked her eyes and tear rolled into the mouth of the dragon like a pearl. Sister Lace feared that the Emperor would not let her go back to her village.
When the Emperor saw the dragon, he shouted that it was a snake. He wanted to be helped. The dragon was very angry. It sent out a ball of flaming fire which burned the Emperor and all his courtiers to death. Then the fireball rolled out of the prison and burned the whole palace to the ground.
Sister Lace looked sadly around her. She had been very happy in her village. She climbed on the dragon’s back and flew into the sky. She still lives there. Whenever you see a many-coloured rainbow in the sky. You know it is the bright and beautiful lace she is making.
THE STORY OF RAINBOW QUESTIONS
Q.1. How did Sister Lace come to be known by this name?
Ans. Sister Lace was very clever at making lace. She made plants, birds and animals which looked very real. In this way, Sister Lace came to be known by this name.
Q. 2. How did Lace come to the palace?
Ans. When the Emperor heard about the fame and beauty of Sister Lace, he ordered his courtiers to bring her to his palace. The courtiers brought her to the palace in a sedan against her will.
Q. 3 Why did Lace reject the Emperor’s offer? What was its result?
And. Lace rejected the Emperor’s offer because she wanted to go back to her village. She would rather die than stay with the Emperor. The Emperor felt very angry. He told her to make him a live rooster with
her lace. Then she could return home. If she failed to do that, she would have to live with him forever. Then he threw her into prison.
Q.4. What conditions did the Emperor put for Lace to go to her home? Did she fulfil those conditions?
Ans. The Emperor asked Lace to make a living rooster in seven days to be able to go back to her village. Subsequently, she was asked to make a living wild partridge and later a heavenly dragon. She fulfilled these conditions.
Q.5. ” It’s one of the birds in my palace.” What does it refer to here? Why does the speaker say this?.
Ans. It refers to the live rooster made by Sister Lace. The speaker said this because he did not want Sister Lace to leave his palace. He wanted her to live with him as his queen.
Q.6. Why did the dragon feel angry? What did he do?
Ans. When the Emperor saw the dragon, he shouted out for help by saying that it was a snake. The dragon felt very angry. It raised its head, opened its mouth and sent out a burning ball of fire which burned the Emperor and his courtiers.
Q.7. Where did Sister Lace go? How do you know?
Ans. Sister Lace climbed on to the dragon’s back flew into the sky. She still lives there. When we see the rainbow, it is the bright and beautiful lace she is making.
Q.8. Do you think Sister Lace should have rejected the Emperor’s offer? Why?
Ans. By not rejecting the Emperor’s offer, she could have lived as his queen. She could have continued teaching lace-making to the people from her village.