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An Elementary School Classroom An industrialist in a certain poor part of a poor country

An Elementary School Classroom

An industrialist in a certain poor part of a poor country established a primary school for the poor children there. His only aim was to make money by attracting the visitors for their donations. The children inside the classroom were poor, malnourished and ill. They held their head down under the burden of life. Their dreams didn’t find their realization inside the class room. The interior of the school had nothing interesting for the children who were forced to attend the boring classes. The stories of Shakespeare taught in the class inspired the children to steal. They hated the map inside the classroom because it allotted rich land for the rich and the slums for them. They hated the pictures of the tall buildings in the classroom because their own huts were nowhere in front of them. They hated everything inside the class room and preferred the dusty, clouded, dark and polluted world outside the classroom.

Far far from gusty waves these children’s faces Like rootless weeds, the hair torn round their pallor, The tall girl with her weighed- down head.

1. Where does the slum exist? How do you know this? The slum exists far away from the seas and oceans and rivers where rich and prosperous people live. Prosperity is found in cities and cities generally stand on the coastal regions

of the world. As the slum is away from the gusty waves of the seas, they are far away

from seas too.

2. Why is the hair of the children here compared to rootless weeds? When weeds are rootless they are dead and decayed. Similarly the slum-children have their hair without being groomed or nourished properly. Their hair tangle on their faces without any order.

3. Why is the tall girl’s head weighed down? There is possibly more than one reason for the tall girl’s head being weighed down. In the first place she, being big and responsible, is burdened by her own terrible life. Secondly, the girl, being tall, is ashamed of studying with small kids.

The paper- seeming boy, with rat’s eyes. The stunted, unlucky heir of twisted bones, Reciting a father’s gnarled disease, his lesson, from his desk.

1. What does the expression, paper seeming boy, suggest the appearance of the boy? The boy is as thin as paper due to malnutrition and poor bringing up.

2. Why are the boy’s eyes compared to that of a rat’s?

A rat’s eyes are always restless. They are always in search of something and look for

dangers. The boy here is also searching for something other than the attractions inside the classroom.

3. How does the term, stunted, describe the unlucky boy’s appearance? The boy’s growth was slowed by his poor conditions. Poverty and malnutrition have tortured his body and spirit. He looks like a living skeleton.

disease. Poverty is his companion. A skeleton-like figure is what he is. Hunger gleams in his eyes and helplessness echoes in his heart.

5. What has the boy inherited from his father? The boy has inherited neither money nor great legacy nor property from his father. He inherited his father’s gnarled disease.

6. How does the unlucky boy ‘recite’ his father’s decease from his desk? The unlucky boy is suffering from the same gnarled disease that his father too was suffering from. When asked to recite his lessons in the class, the boy struggles to do so due to his ailment/disease.

7. What do you understand by ‘gnarled disease?’ The possible ‘gnarled disease’ of the unlucky boy is either polio or uneven growth of bones or even tuberculosis.

At back of the dim class one unnoted, sweet and young. His eyes live in a dream, of squirrel’s game, in tree room, other than this.

1. Why is the classroom dim? The classroom is left unlit by the owner of the school. The owner is not at all concerned about the lightning of the classroom. Moreover, sunlight is a far-fetched dream for the slum dwellers because most of the time the sky remains covered with smoke and dust.

2. What sort is the unnoted boy’s of dream? The unnoted boy represents both a glimmer of wary hope and a shiver of mental curse. The child’s desire is to be a squirrel, playing in a hollow tree hiding nuts, which ironically reflects his current life.

3. What is squirrel’s game? Who is playing the squirrel’s game in the classroom? Squirrel’s game refers to the game of hide and seeks of nuts in the hollows of the tree. The boy who is unnoticed, sweet & young and has a dreamy world plays squirrel’s game in the classroom.

4. Explain, ‘in tree room, other than this’? The unnoted boy desires to play in the hollows of the tree rather than attending to the lessons in the classroom. He likes the hollows inside the tree. For him, the classroom is very boring.

5. Why does the boy prefer the tree room other than the classroom? The boy finds the games played by the squirrel in nature more interesting than the classroom. The dull color of the classroom wall and the donations by the benevolent visitors make the classroom even more boring for these children.

On sour cream walls. Donations. Shakespeare’s head, Cloudless at dawn, civilized dome riding all cities. Belled, flowery, Tyrolese valley.

1. What are some of the donations that adorn the walls of the classroom? The picture of Shakespeare, the painting of a cloudless morning sky, the pictures of the tall buildings of the world in a canvas and the beautiful Austrian Tyrolese Valley rich with its belled- flowers adorn the walls of the classroom.

2. What is cloudless at dawn? Do you think the children love that? Why? There is a picture of the cloudless morning sky on the wall of the classroom. No, the children dislike that picture, because, it’s unlike their own slum’s sky, which is never cloudless.

3. What is civilized dome riding all cities? Why do the children hate that, as well as the others? The classroom is constructed with donations from the visitors. Among them, there lies a beautiful picture of the tall buildings of the developed cities of the world. The donations provide a glimpse of some world to the students, but not their world.

4. How does the poet describe the Austrian Tyrolese valley? Spender describes the Tyrolese Valley as beautiful. The valley is decorated with the bell flowers.

Open – handed map awarding the world its world. And yet, for these children, these windows, not this map, their world, Where all their future’s painted with a fog,

1. How does the map award the world its world?

The map is a symbol of discrimination. Its distribution of the world is uneven and partial.

It allots the rich and prosperous lands and cities to the rich while the poor are given the

wastelands and slums.

2. Why do the children prefer the windows to the map?

The world that is seen through the windows is bleak, dark and dusty. Yet the children prefer this dark world outside because the interior of the classroom is more hated by them than the world outside.

3. What does ‘future painted with fog’ mean?

It implies that the future holds little promise for them and fate has made out a bleak

future for them. These children do not hold any prospect of a bright future and are thus meant to live in such a condition forever.

4. How is the phrase, open handed map’ used ironically? Why do the children hate the map? Open handed means generous. The map inside the classroom generously allots rich world for the rich and slums for the poor. Even though the map is generous, it discriminates between the privileged and the unprivileged.

A narrow street sealed in with a lead sky Far far from rivers, capes and stars of words.

1. What closes in the narrow street of the slum?

A dark and polluted sky closes in the streets of the slum.

2. Why is the sky of lead’s color? The slum is an industrial area with many factories scattered together. The emission of dark smoke paints the sky lead.

3. What are stars of words? The stars of words are the constellations of stars that form words or symbols in the sky.

Surely, Shakespeare is wicked, the map bad example, With ships and sun and love tempting them to steal- For lives that slyly turn in their cramped holes from fog to endless night?

1. Why is Shakespeare wicked? Shakespearean stories are full of fortunate, beautiful, happy, romantic characters and magical places and palaces. When these stories are told in the classroom, the children are attracted to these stories and try to imitate these heroic characters. In this attempt they are forced to steal and then are consequently caught. For this they blame Shakespeare.

2. Why is map a bad example? The map inside the class contains colorful marking of the cities while dull and dark blots represent the slum of these children, and hence a bad example.

3. Why is ship a tempting reality in the lives of the slum children? What else do tempt the children? Far away from seas and oceans, the children have not seen a real ship or real sea. They are also tempted by the brightness of the sky and the love in the stories they have heard.

4. What makes the slum houses ‘cramped holes?’ The huts of the poor slum dwellers are very small with many members and no space to move around.

5. Why is life slyly turning in the huts? The life of the poor slum children remain uncertain with all their inherited diseases and malnourishment. With no hopes for the future they lead a miserable life inside their small huts.

6. What effect does ‘fog to endless nights’ add to the wretchedness of the slum dwellers? The slum children do not have any hope for their future. For them their future is like a fog-painting, transient and uncertain.

On their slag heap, these children Wear skins peeped through by bones and spectacles of steel With mended glass, like bottle bits on stones.

1. Why are the bodies of the children called slag heap? Poverty has made its toll on the slum children. Lack of proper food and polluted atmosphere have made them look like a heap of bones and flesh carelessly arranged like a heap of waste.

2. Explain, ‘skins peeped through by bones.’ The slum children have fragile built. They are so skinny that their bones are almost visible on the surface of their skin.

3. What does ‘spectacles of steel’ tell us about the lives inside the huts? It is to be supposed that the slum children, being part of an industrial slum, are engaged in some sort of manufacturing for which they have to wear protector glasses with steel rims.

4. Why is the glass of the spectacles ‘mended?’ The protector glasses have been overused and transferred from older generations and therefore they are scratched and mended.

All of their time and space are foggy slum. So blot their maps with slums as big as doom.

1. Explain, ‘All of their time and space are foggy slum.’ The atmosphere of the slum is always filled with industrial smoke and dust. The children do not have a world other than this.

2. What blots the map of the slum? How are the slums blots? The map inside the classroom is blotted with the dark marking of the slums. When marked with huge dark blots, the slums in the map appear odd and awkward among the colorful marks of cities and parks of the rich people.

Unless governor, inspector, visitor This map becomes their window and these windows That shut upon their lives like catacombs,

1. How does the school look different when there are visitors? When there are visitors, the doors and windows of the classroom will remain open. There will be light and better air passage in the classroom.

2. How is the map their window when there are no visitors? What do they see through this ‘window?’ When there are no visitors, the windows and doors will remain shut and the children will not be able to see the dark sky through the windows. At this time the children have nowhere else to look at than the map. They see their own slum marked in the map.

3. What are catacombs? Is the comparison of the classroom to catacombs apt? How? Catacombs are underground burial places. They are dark and confined with hundreds of dead bodies resting eternally. The classroom deserves to be called a catacomb because it is also dark with children of half dead bodies and half alive minds.

Break O break open till they break the town And show the children to green fields, and make their world run azure on gold sands,

1. What does the poet want his readers break? The poet wants his readers to break the windows of the classroom that shut out their freedom in the classroom. The windows remain always closed and restrict light from entering the classroom making it a catacomb for the children.

2. Who will break the town? How does the poet expect to stop that? The poet fears that the children will grow up to become anti-social elements and break the town. He expects to stop this unfortunate occurrence by breaking the classroom and its windows that create these anti-socials.

3. What is the irony in ‘run azure on gold sands?’ Gold sands refer to the sand of deserts while azure is the color of the nature in spring season. Nothing grows in the desert. The world of the poor children is also like the desert sand. The irony in the expression is the impossibility of spring in the desert land.

world that they have never seen in life. Here in the class room they learn what they do not love to read while in the world outside they learn without restrictions.

5. Who, according to the poet, create history? According to the poet history is made by those people who speak the language of the Sun.

6. What is the language of the sun? How can people speak this language? The language of the sun is its warmth and heat that make life possible. People can speak this unique language by being as warm, lively and life-giving as the sun.

My Mother at Sixty Six – Kamala Das

A Poem By Kamala Das about the pain of separation.

Way to the airport

The poet was going to the Cochin international Airport. She was probably in a taxi. It

is certain that she was going to a distant place for a long stay there. She was

accompanied by her aged mother. The mother was very old, older than her age. During the journey the mother slipped into a doze. Her mouth remained open like that of a dead body. Moreover her face had lost the color of life. Her face was colorless, ashen.

Pain of separation

While the poet was deeply thinking about this separation, the possibility of their meeting again, the possible demise of the aged mother, she happened to look at the mother. The poet was amazed to see that her mother had been watching her throughout! She knew that the mother had been reading her mind as thoughts were flashing through. An attempt to reassure the mother Now that the poet knew that her mother had been reading her troubled mind out and measured the sadness in her. But the poet wanted to convince the mother that she had not been thinking about her death. To have that expression on her face, the poet looked out and tried to brush away her sadness.

An attempt to forget pain

In an attempt to look cheerful, the poet now looked out of the car. But what she saw outside didn't cheer her up. On the contrary she grew sadder looking out. What she saw there sharply contrasted with what she had with her. The young trees were running cheerfully. Young children were in their jolly mood, playing fun and frolic. Everything looked cheerful and lively outside while the mother remained almost lifeless and the poet sad. The security check-in was completed. The daughter was left with a few seconds to see her aged mother. She turned back at the mother who stood a few feet away.

Late winter’s moon

The poet now looks at the mother's aged face. The two words, wan and pale, well describe the mother's appearance. The late winter's moon is dim. It is always under the threat of dark clouds of fog and mist. Any moment the moon in the late winter can be hidden by these clouds. Similarly the poet's mother is approached by death. Any time she could be swept away by death.

Childhood fears return

In the childhood, the poet had to separate from her mother innumerable times. It was quite painful for the poet to separate from her mother those days. She used to fear these occasions as she thought they would never meet again.

Smiles that mean pain

The poet was overcome by the intense pain of separation. She could not speak many words at this time. Controlling her overwhelming emotions she managed to bid her mother farewell. She had the least hope of meeting her mother again. Yet she struck a note of optimism by saying they both would meet again soon.

See you soon, mother…

The poet is attempting to ease the situation by a long smile that meant consolation to her mother. She smiled with the expectation that her mother would translate it that the daughter was not worried about anything and therefore there was no need to worry about their union. They will definitely meet.

Driving from my parent’s home to

Cochin, last Friday morning,

I saw my mother beside me

Doze, open mouthed, her face ashen like that of a corpse.

Where was the poet going? Who was with her?

The poet was going to Cochin Airport. With her was her aged mother.

How did the mother look like? Why did the poet feel sad seeing the mother’s appearance?

The mother was sleeping inside the car with her mouth open. Her face was colorless like that of a dead body.

Why does the poet relate the mother's appearance to that of a corpse?

The poet's mother was aged. At sixty six it was hard to tell how long she would live. Moreover, inside the car she was sleeping, her mouth held open and her skin so colorless like that of a dead body.

And realized with pain that she thought away

And looked but soon put that thought away

And looked at young trees sprinting,

The merry children spilling out of their homes.

What did the poet realize with pain?

The poet realized with pain that her mother had been reading her mind and was herself sad about their separation as the poet was.

Why was the realization painful?

The realization, that the mother was approaching death, was painful to the poet. The poet was supposed to stay away from her mother for a long duration, far away. They might not even meet again.

Why did the poet put that thought away?

The poet was thinking about a long separation from her aged mother. She even feared that the mother and daughter would not meet again. Suddenly she noticed that her mother had been reading her mind. In an attempt to disguise her line of thoughts, the poet looked out of the car and pretended to be cheerful.

What did the poet see outside of the car?

The poet saw cheerful life outside the car. There were young trees running back in a lively mood and children playing around their houses.

How does the poet strike a contrast between what traveled with her and what moved outside? The mother was sleeping inside the car with her mouth open. She was similar to a dead body. She was cheerless and approaching death. But outside the car was life in its freshness and vivacity. There were young trees running cheerfully. There were children playing and running merrily. This was a life-death contrast.

But after the airport’s security check,

Standing a few yards away

I looked again at her, wan, pale, as a late winter’s moon

How did the mother look like at the airport?

The mother stood a few yards away from the poet who was about to disappear beyond the check-in and then to a distant land for a long stay there. She appeared

to be lifeless and colorless, like a late winter's moon that was dim and supposed to be hidden by the fog.

How do 'wan' and 'pale' describe the mother?

The mother was aged weak beyond her age. She appeared wan and pale. Wan and pale suggest weakness and lifelessness.

What is a late winter's moon?

In the late winter the sky is filled with fog and mist. The moon at that season cannot shine brightly. It appears to be dim and most of the time rests behind these clouds. No one can predict how long the moon could stay and what time the clouds would hide it.

Why does the poet compare her mother to a late winter's moon?

The mother was quite aged. She was cheerless and gloomy. Like the late winter's moon that could any moment be overshadowed by the fog, the mother remained a victim to imminent death.

And felt that old familiar ache, my childhood’s fear,

But all I said was, “See you soon, Amma”

All I did was smile and smile and smile.

What is the poet's old, familiar ache? How did that ache return at the airport?

The poet used to separate from her mother in her childhood. Those separations were painful to her. After so many separations this pain and separations were familiar to the poet. At the airport she faced another separation from her mother and it reminded her of the number of separations in the past.

The poet had the fear of separation from her mother in her childhood. How was that fear different at the airport?

The poet was about to separate from her aged mother at the airport. The mother and daughter had many times stayed separated in the past but this was going to be different from all. The childhood separations were brief and less painful. But today, the poet was flying to a distant land for a long stay there. She could not say if the two would ever meet again.

Why did the poet promise her mother of a meeting in the near future?

The poet was doubtful of her seeing her mother again. She knew that the mother was also aware of the same as she was. Yet, to encourage her mother, to leave a hope in her mind, to make herself strengthened, the poet promised a futile reunion in the future.

The poet's repeated smile seems out of place in a way. In which way is that appropriate?

The poet had no reason to smile at the time of separation from her aged mother. She was deeply distressed and pained to separate her mother at such a very old age of the mother. Yet, to make the mother feel 'there is nothing to worry,' the poet attempted to be glad, cheerful and reassured by her extended smile.

Poets and Pancakes

Gemini Studios

Gemini Studios was one of India’s pioneer movie factories. Situated in the present day Chennai, owned by S.S Vaasan and worked by over 600 staff, the GS made movies for Tamilnadu and other southern Indian states.


Pancake was the makeup material used by the Gemini Studios.


Asokamitran was one of the staff whose job was to collect information such as news events from newspapers and magazines and to paste them in files. The other staff considered his job out of place and most of them thought so high of themselves. Here are some of the interesting staffs of GS.

Office Boy

Office Boy was a grown up man in the Makeup Department of the GS. He was in charge of the crowd makeup. He applied pancake on their faces with the help of a dipped paint brush. Though his job was quite an easy one, the office boy considered him to be a greatly skilled artist.

Kothamangalam Subbu

Subbu was another clerk. He was not as educated, as fortunate and as supported by as the Office Boy, yet he reached the top of the GS. He was a man of amazing genius. He was able to direct the directors. He suggested dozens of ways to shoot a certain scene when the director failed to find one. He acted better than the heroes. He wrote incredible poems. Though he was able to write more complicated ones that could raise him to the status of a great poet, Subbu preferred writing them in simple Tamil to enlighten the majority of Tamil people. Besides, he supported his far and near relatives. But he had only enemies everywhere because he was very much close to the boss, Vaasan.

Legal Advisor

The legal advisor worked in the Story Department. He was a lawyer and provided legal advices to the writers yet he was known as the illegal advisor. The following incident is one reason that gave him that name. Once a shooting was under progress. The heroine, a highly emotional girl, got angry with the director and producer. While the whole set stood stunned at this, the legal advisor recorded her voice without her permission and made her listen to the playback, thus resulting the end of a rising actress.

Poets and writers

Gemini Studios had some great poets like Harindranath Chatopadhyaya and a few others. Most of the insignificant poets considered so great of themselves. They had no great talent, no great creativity, no political views yet they assumed the airs of the greatest poets, wasting Vaasan’s money and time. They believed Gandhiji to be the last word of politics and had developed an aversion to Communism.

Communism and anti-communism

Communism was a new political order that was spreading throughout the world, especially in Asian countries. Communism preached equality of people and abolition of poverty and class divisions while it discouraged private ownership. But Communism won a negative impression due the Capitalist countries such as America.


MRA or Moral Rearmament Army was an international team of actors and actresses that spread anti communist feelings throughout the world. The MRA came to Chennai and saw how influential was Gemini Studios in the south of India. The team got permission from Vaasan to stage their plays. Vaasan was only happy to give them permission because he hoped that his staff would get inspiration from the international team. But little did Vaasan know of their intentions. MRA staged their plays with hidden anticommunist messages and went away and it was yet after some time that Vaasan realized that he had been fooled. Stephen Spender Why should Vaasan be fooled if an organization spread anti communist messages in Chennai? It appears that Vaasan himself was a Communist! Or, he too had an experience of a disillusioned abandoning of Communism. The author has not given us a hint about this and therefore we have to different opinions:


Vasan as a Communist: If so, Vasan felt terribly bad for being played into the hands of the MRA that left a deep anticommunist impression upon his staff. He therefore decided to bring back the Communist atmosphere in his studio and for this he invited a communist poet to deliver a speech on how great Communism was.

Vasan as an anticommunist: If SS Vasan was an anticommunist, he was the one who invited the MRA to the Gemini Studios. Later, when he saw that MRA had successfully spread anticommunism among his staff, he wanted to strengthen the new notions in them by inviting another anticommunist and therefore he invited Spender.

Spender’s Speech

Anyway, Stephen Spender, who was once a prominent communist editor and poet from England, came to the studio and gave his speech. His lecture was about Communism on one side and about his struggles to establish as a poet on the other. Whatever he spoke was great, hot, exciting and inspiring, but what use, his accent was such terrible one that none of the Gemini staff could clearly understand what Spender had spoken. They fell into shame for not being able to understand the poet and wished not to meet him again. Asokamitran’s meeting Spender The lesson ends with two incidents in which Asokamitran, our author, met Spender; not face to face, but in two different ways.

Questions and Answers

How was Gemini Studios connected to Robert Clive?

The connection the GS had with Robert Clive was that its Make-up Department was built on the upstairs of Clive's stables.

What was the fiery misery inside the make-up department of the Studios?

The makeup room had a lot of hot bulbs always burning inside and a number of mirrors to reflect the heat. Madras, being a hot city and no cooling at that time at the studio, it was a real misery inside the makeup room.

All this shows that there was a great deal of national integration long before A.I.R. and Doordarshan began broadcasting programs on national integration. Explain.

The heads and the subordinates of the make-up department were from various parts of India. There was no preference to any state or language or religion. Anyone could be the head. Once there was a Bengali as the head of this department. He was succeeded by a Maharashtrian who was assisted by a Dharwar Kannadiga, an Andhra, a Madras Indian Christian, an Anglo-Burmese and the local Tamils.

Who was the office boy? What was his duty in the make-up department? How did he appreciate himself and his profession?

The office boy was a forty year old man who worked at the lowest rank among the makeup artists at the Gemini Studios. His duty was to apply makeup for the crowd- players for shooting. As his work required no skill and that he was not satisfied with

his designation and the kind of work, the ‘Boy’ remained unsatisfied and criticized everyone he was jealous.

How was the author's job odd in the eyes of the other staff? How did they respond to this?

Asokamitran’s job at the Gemini Studios was to collect information from newspapers and magazines and to paste the cuttings in files for reference. This was probably the only work odd in the Gemini Studios while every other staff was some sort of an artist. They therefore advised the author to do some better jobs other than wasting his time cutting papers in a department similar to a barber shop.

Why did the author pray for crowd shooting?

Like many of the other staff who believed that Asokamitran was doing next to nothing in the Gemini Studios the Office Boy too used to advise him for hours. When the author was tired of his unending epics, he used to pray for a crowd shooting to which the Office Boy assigned.

Who was Kothamangalam Subbu? How did he make all the other staff hate him?

Kothamangalam Subbu joined the Gemini Studios as a clerk and remained the same in the records. But in practice he soon acquired the status of the No.2 at the studios thanks to his amazing genius and multifaceted skills. He did any work for his boss and ignored the rest above him. This made him envied and hated by the rest of the staff.

Discuss Subbu's identity as a poet. Why was he not known as a poet?

Apart from being an amazing director of movies, Subbu had the identity as a poet. The world of his time and later never recognized Subbu as a poet yet he was a great unknown poet. He wrote poem in the simplest Tamil language and was able to recreate the classical poems in his own style.

Subbu excelled as an actor too. Discuss.

Subbu was a good actor. He was able to act better than the lead actors yet never wished to take any lead roles in any movie.

In spite of all the good qualities and readiness to be a host any time, Subbu had only enemies. Why?

Subbu was good to everyone he came by, spoke in his niceness, fed his relatives, excelled everyone in the Gemini Studios but was hated by most of them just because he was so close to the boss of the studios. Being a clerk in the attendance register he was above all and above all the departments. Those who bore designations above Subbu felt it intolerable to obey him.

How did the legal advisor behave illegally in the instance of the actress?

The legal advisor was, of course, an advocate, yet was known as an illegal advisor. Once he recorded the voice of an actress who shouted at the producer and director while in the shooting sets. The legal advisor’s behavior turned out to be illegal because he did it without the actress’ permission.

In what context did Congress rule mean Prohibition and how was it for the staff of Gemini Studios meeting over a cup of coffee a rather satisfying entertainment?

Congress being the ruling party, made the public’s life horrible by imposing curfew and emergency in the initial years of Independent India. Citizens were not allowed to gather and hold meetings. While the whole of the nations struggled under emergencies, the six hundred Gemini staff enjoyed freedom inside the studios as their freedom was not restricted.

How did Subbu surpass the office boy despite his limitations?

The office boy in the makeup department was always ahead of Subbu in the beginning, especially in education, having influential people to support. But he ended up where he began while Subbu ascended the steps to the maximum height and surpassed the Boy.

The staff of the Gemini Studios attributed Subbu's success to his being a Brahmin. Why?

Most of the staff of the Gemini studios was unhappy with Subbu. His amazing influence on the Boss and the consequent privileges he enjoyed made them feel jealous of him. So, instead of accepting his talents, they consoled themselves by attributing his fortunes to be a Brahmin.

What is Communism? What ideas about the communism gathered popularity in India?

Communism is a political order that believes in the equality of citizens and abolition of private ownership. The state or nation is the owner and caretaker of each citizen. Citizen’s welfare is nation’s prime concern. It sometimes resorts to armed revolution to establish social and political equality.

What was MRA? Why did it tour the world?

MRA, short for Moral Rearmament Army was an anti-Communist organization that toured the world informing the world of the evil side of Communism that was spreading throughout Asia and some parts of Europe. Headed by Frank Buchman, the MRA believed that Communism was evil and it would wipe out democracy in the world.

How did the MRA spread its anti Communist ideas in South India?

Moral Rearmament Army believed that Communism was evil and therefore wanted to wipe it out of the world. This group of 200 men and women from twenty different nations spread anti communist messages with the help of their stage performances such as dramas.

SS Vasan was a communist but didn't want to be known as one because he was a prominent film maker and editor on one side and Communism was considered evil. There are hints that his magazine, Ananta Vikatan published communist articles as well in its early days.

SS Vasan was a disillusioned Communist as Stephen Spender was. In order to bring the Communism to decay in India, Vasan brought MRA first and the Stephen Spender to spread anti communist ideas.

SS Vasan had no connection with communism and it was his deliberate attempt to bring Communist Party down in South India.


Vasan purchased Ananta Vikatan


Vasan purchased Gemini Studios

1949, God that failed published which means he was not a communist by that time.

1952, MRA visited Gemini Studios.

1953, Spender's visit to Gemini Studios.


to 66, Spender was the Editor of Encounter.


Vasan died in Madras/Chennai

How was Vasan played into the hands of the MRA?

There is no clear indication that Vasan, the owner of the Gemini Studios, was a Communist or not yet there are very clear hints that he was a prominent Communist of Chennai. The MRA spread its anti-Communist messages through their stage programs and made the poets and writers of the South India hate Communism which was a great achievement. Vasan, who knew nothing of their intentions, was indeed fooled by MRA at his cost.

(The idiom, "to play into somebody's hands" means "to give someone an advantage, usually an advantage one person believes another should not have. If this information is made public, it will play into the hands of people who are demanding an investigation of the police.)

Why was Stephen Spender invited to the Gemini Studios? Who wanted him there?

Stephen Spender was a great poet with Communist inclinations. SS Vasan, the owner of the Gemini Studios, wanted Spender give a speech on the greatness of Communism to his staff.

Spender's Speech was a shock for him and a matter of utter shame for the literati of the Gemini Studios. Explain.

Stephen Spender was specially invited to the Gemini Studios to enlighten the staff there with communist ideas. When Spender began his speech he was amazed to see the way he was being listened to. But soon, when he realized that his audience didn't follow him the least due to his accent, Spender's amazement turned to utter shock and embarrassment and he stopped his speech in the middle.

How are poets and prose writers different according to Asokamitran? What personal experience makes him say that?

Asokamitran says poems can be written by any genius while prose writing is the true pursuit of a really determined person who has suffered a lot of rejections and is ready for any further disappointments with more perseverance to pursue his mission of writing a long prose.

Spender's Speech was a shock for him and a matter of utter shame for the literati of the Gemini Studios?

Stephen Spender was called to the Gemini Studios to talk to the staff there about Communism but what he spoke was of his struggles as a poet. Whatever he spoke, his talk was not followed by practically anyone. When Spender realized that his audience didn’t follow his talk, he stopped in utter shame to have made a talk to a deaf audience while the Gemini staff got dispersed in great humiliation because Spender’s accent failed them.

How are poets and prose writers different according to Asokamitran? What personal experience makes him say that?

Asokamitran believes in the qualitative difference between prose writers and poem writers. A poem can be written in no time if the poet is a genius while prose such as a novel can be written by a person who has a lot of patience and perseverance. The prose writer’s mind should be so shrunken that no rejection can disappoint him but he will be encouraged from failures and rejections.

How did the magazine 'The Encounter' become important in Asokamitran's life?

The Encounter was a British Communist magazine. When Stephen Spender was its editor, this magazine organized a short story competition for writers from all over the world.

How does the book, 'The God That Failed' deserve its title? OR Justify the title, 'The God That Failed.'

The ‘God That Failed’ was written by six eminent writers who were attracted to Communism and abandoned it because they hated it later on. Communism was in its beginning, a God because it stood for equality and removal of class systems and poverty. While the Gods or incarnations before it achieved their goals, Communism failed in attaining its goals as it was a failure in itself.

What made Asokamitran hope Stephen Spender too would be singing the same song at the same time when he sealed the envelop of his manuscript?

Asokamitran had been struggling to establish as a writer when he came across the magazine, The Encounter. When he saw that the editor of The Encounter was Stephen Spender, the same poet who came to Gemini Studios and talked about his struggles to become a poet, Asokamitran felt as if he had found a long lost brother.

'In a moment I felt a dark chamber of my mind lit up by a hazy illumination.' What was the dark chamber? What did light up the darkness?

Due to Spender’s British accent the normally educated staff could not understand his speech and therefore his speech remained an unsolved mystery for the staff including Asokamitran. This mystery was the dark chamber of his mind. When Asokamitran saw that Spender wrote the book the God that Failed and that Spender had once been a communist, he understood that Spender had been invited by SS Vasan to talk about communism but he had talked only about his thrills of being a writer and suddenly he related this to his speech he made years ago the Gemini Studios.

The Boss of the Gemini Studios may not have much to do with Spender’s poetry. But not with his god that failed.' Explain.

Stephen Spender was invited to the Gemini Studios to enlighten the staff with great ideals of Communism but what Spender spoke was about his thrills and struggles to establish himself as a poet. The bosses of the studio like S. S. Vasan were interested in Spender as a Communist, not as a poet.

Memories of Childhood

Two people recall their childhood when they were made victims of social inequalities. Zitkala Sa was a Red Indian. She was admitted in the Carlisle Indian School run by the British. The school authorities imposed a lot of rules on the students, some for the students' good and some to show the British superiority and some for fun. But Zitkala could not agree with all this; she could not think of allowing her long hair to be cut. She didn't like to wear the short skirts, stiff shoes, uniforms… But she had to. When the authorities attempted to cut her hair short, Zitkala ran away and hid under a bed. But she had to submit. They tied her to a

chair and cut her hair. Another custom that she didn’t agree to was the ceremonial eating which she calls ‘eating by formula.’ The basic human way of eating doesn’t involve any rules. Eat when you are hungry is the natural way. But the British superiority wanted the people here to dance to their senseless tunes. There were bells to take the chair out, sit on the chair, pray to God, take a spoon, take a fork… Zitkala did not know of these rules. When the first bell sounded she thought it was time to eat. She sat down and initiated eating for her great shame.

Similar was the case with Bama, an Indian writer from Tamilnadu. She too was a human being but the richer and privileged society didn't consider her so. She was a happy girl but once she witnessed a scene of discrimination. A much respected elder of her society was once made the victim of untouchable ity. This infuriated her. She wanted to react. She knew the only weapon to fight ostracism was acquiring equal status through education.

Short Questions and Answers

Zitkala Sa, the Red Indian

What do you know about Carlisle Indian School?

Carlisle Indian School was a school run by the British to educate the Red Indians and the British students. It had strict rules and regulations for all students. The students had to wear uniforms, girls had to wear short hair and skirts and tight shoes. The eating style also was different there. There were bells before eating. There was a prayer before eating.

How was Zitkala Sa different from the other native American students?

Zitkala Sa was a native American girl. She had great love for her tradition and culture. She was proud of her beliefs. She held closer to her heart these beliefs and felt hurt when the rest of the girls followed the foreign culture without any hesitation.

What does Zitkala Sa mean by, 'this eating by formula?

When Zitkala Sa was admitted in the Carlisle Indian School, she faced a number of rules the students had to follow. One of them was the manner of eating. There were three bells to be tapped before the students were allowed to start eating. Being a natural being, Zitkala Sa could not digest the meaning of these polished manners which were alien to her culture.

What was that the school authorities had failed to recognize in Zitkala Sa?

The British authorities of the Carlisle Indian School were colonists and therefore could not understand the feelings of the people they ruled over. They believed that

it was their duty to impart their civilization to the uncivilized native Americans but failed to understand their attachment to their own culture and traditions.

Why was Sa against the idea of cutting her long hair?

Zitkala Sa’s mother had taught her that shingled hair was worn by mourners, cowards, and unskilled warriors caught in war. She had a great deal of love for her traditions and her hair. For her the hair meant much closer to her culture. To save her identity, to uphold her civilization and pride Sa fought against the attempts of the authorities to cut her hair.

Bring out the extreme orthodox, blind racial beliefs that Zitkala Sa had held close to her heart.

In which way did Zitkala Sa deserve the shame of getting her hair shingled?

Bama, an Indian writer

How was Bama's innocent childhood ruffled up by the sight of an elderly man handing the parcel to the landlord at the threshing-field?

Bama was an innocent girl. She lived in a discriminated society with landlords above them and her community running errands for them. The first instance of class discrimination Bama experienced in her life was the incident of an elderly man of her caste carrying food for the landlord. The man had to carry the packet in the most shameful manner, holding the hand away from his body as a mark of untouchability.

What made Bama laugh at the sight of the elderly man handing the parcel to the landlord at the threshing-field?

Bama saw an elderly man of her society carrying a very small and light parcel to the landlord. The way the man held the parcel with its strings, the special respect the man showed towards the parcel and the way he offered it to the landlord without supporting it from the bottom made Bama laugh.

What did Bama feel when her annan explained to her why the village elder had to carry the parcel in a funny manner?

When Bama saw the elderly man from her society carrying a small parcel of eatable to the landlord, she laughed a lot but when her Annan told it was a scene of caste discrimination, she could not laugh any more. She grew angry with this social evil and wanted to touch the eatable herself and make it dirty. She felt helpless about her being untouchable and angry with the rich people who considered her so.

“Because they had scraped four coins together…” What did Bama mean?

According to Bama the cause of the rich people’s superior attitude and behavior is the possession of money. Money makes a man feel superior over the poor and it makes him blind. While the ordinary people have a little wealth in their hands, the rich ones have a lot.

What was the point of the question raised by the landlord’s man to Bama’s elder brother, “On which street do you live?”

The people of Bama’s time believed in untouchability and social discrimination. Some people were considered privileged while the majority of the others suffered from the shame of being backward class. People gave respect or disrespect to each other on the basis of caste, religion and being rich and poor. The landlord’s men wanted to know if Bama’s brother was touchable or untouchable and therefore he asked where he lived.

How did Bama fight against discrimination in her life?

Bama lived in a discriminated society with the evils of untouchability playing havoc. When she was aware of it Bama determined to fight it in her way. She was told by her Annan that education only could liberate her from being looked down by the society. Bama studied in a frenzy and stood top in the class and fought the class discrimination.

Long Questions and Answers

Power leads to dominance and reaches oppression and ends up in rebellion and failure. How is this statement true in the case of the rebellion raised by Zitkala Sa and Bama?

One of the most irrevocable human tendencies is domination. Everyone wants to impose some sort of dominance over the other and if one doesn’t do so it is because he is weaker than the others or that he is educated. Both Zitkala Sa and Bama lived on two opposite ends of the world yet they experienced this social evil in their early life.

The Red Indians were the true inhabitants of America. With the discovery of this new continent the European world converted it into their mines for resources. The European colonists considered educating the rest of the world to be the white man’s burden. They established schools for the backward and taught them their culture, their language, their whims, their fancies, their funs but failed to respect the values of the people they oppressed and ruled. The Red Indians too had their own sacred culture and practices. They considered cutting of one’s hair equal to death but all the students were forced to get their hair cut. The British cut short the decency of dressing and curbed personal freedom by imposing uniform system. They brought in rules for eating.

The same was the case with the privileged landlords of India. Because they were richer than the peasants, the landlords restricted their freedom. The poor peasants had to accept their state of being untouchables in the public. The mortification that this status brought to them was beyond sheer shame. The blindness that extreme possession of power brings makes anyone do the worst activities including suppressing the weak ones. But this power is always temporary. One day the weaker ones will gather power of resistance and fight back the oppressors

Evans Tries an O’level

If you are more serious than an average student, read the following extract about the real Oxford Prison where this story is based on: Oxford Prison was built in 1870. All the cells had windows, and its massive central gallery (A Wing) — three tiers of cells — was brightened by sunlight pouring through three-storey-tall, barred casement windows. In its day, Oxford Prison was considered airy, healthful, and light. But when the prison closed in 1996 it was so overcrowded that prisoners were apportioned three to a cell. Nevertheless, the once-revolutionary design qualified parts of the building for coveted protection status. Malmaison, which has earned a reputation for converting unusual city center locations into luxury hotels, was one of the few companies willing to take on a project that involved keeping A Wing virtually intact. The Oxford Prison site closed for redevelopment in 2004 before reopening as a Hotel, Malmaison Oxford.

Who was James Roderick Evans? Why was he put in the Oxford Prison? Evans was a smart young man who had a number of amazing skills to fool anyone and escape any prison. He had a gang of friends who used to make money by imitating other people. Because of his smartness in breaking prisons, Evans was sent to the Oxford prison that was thought to be the most secure prison in England.

How was Evan's presence in the prison felt by the authorities? Even though Evans was a prisoner, the whole of the prison seemed to have loved to have him there. He being a smart, tricky, intelligent and the most popular inmate of the prison, even the authorities admired his skills but were worried only about the possibility of his escape. He had many good friends among the prisoners and even the Governor himself was concerned for him and at times behaved to be Evans’ fan.

Why did the Governor apply for an examination for Evans? Evans was a prisoner in the Oxford Prison. He had convinced the authorities that he was genuinely interested in learning German and was tutored for a while. When the tutor announced that Evans was prepared for an O'Level exam, the Governor of the prison applied to the Examination Board for his exam.

Who was Mc Leery? What is his role in the story? Rev. Mc Leery was a parson at St. Mary Mags, a monastery. He was supposed to invigilate Evan's examination at the Oxford Prison. He was about to leave his residence for the prison when two of

Evans' friends entered his room and tied and gagged him until Evans had escaped from the prison.

Why was Evans particular about keeping his hat on his head during his exam? Evans wore a bobble hat at the time of his examination. When he was asked to remove that, Evans pleaded to let stay it because he believed it was his lucky charm. In fact he had hidden some of the makeup materials in his hat which was the reason he didn't want to remove it.

Why did the Governor think of frisking Mc Leery? Mc Leery was the invigilator of the examination and he was to sit inside Evan's cell while the latter wrote the exam. The Governor had made sure that Evans had been thoroughly frisked and there was nothing to fear about that. But when he thought about the possibility of Mc Leery carrying a paper-knife or that sort, he feared Evans would make use of that and escape by holding the parson his hostage.

Why did Mc Leery's expressions change when he was frisked? While frisking Mc Leery, the prison officers found out a semi-inflated rubber tube in his bag. When he was asked of this Mc Leery's amiable appearance suddenly changed and he turned shy and embarrassed for having made to admit that he was suffering from piles. In fact this was only an excuse to stop the authorities from asking further questions and to allow him to carry the rubber tube that had some blood inside for the escape drama.

What was the intention behind the call from the Examinations Board? It was one of Evans' friends who made the call from the Examination Board. This call was primarily meant for confirming the beginning time of the exam in order to calculate the end of the exam. The equally important reason behind this call was to misguide the Governor into Hotel Golden Lion to arrest Evans from there and thereby to make the escape altogether safer.

The Governor's pride in his little knowledge in German was of great help for Evans to escape. Explain. The Governor had acquired a little bit of German earlier and was proud of that. On seeing the correction sheet and faintly recognizing the hidden message that would help him to trace the escaped Evans, he became over enthusiastic and decided to track the prisoner with the assistance of another officer. Later when he trapped Evans so ‘smartly,’ the Governor forgot all caution and went high in the sky of his pride and that gave Evans a great opportunity to escape.

What had 'Mc Leery' brought with him to the prison to help Evans' escape? Evans’ friend dressed up like Mc Leery had brought some very useful articles for Evans’ escape. He had worn an extra clerical collar and a clerical front. In his bag he had carried a semi inflated rubber tube filled with blood. He had also carried a paper scissors even though it was frisked by the prison authorities.

Why did Evans ask for a blanket while writing the exam? As part of his escape plan, Evans had to dress up him as Mc Leery, the invigilator. To cut his long hair and to dress up, Evans wanted a hiding. Moreover, he had hidden part of the invigilator’s costume under the blanket.

How did Stephens feel when he was asked to accompany Mc Leery out of the prison? Stephens was a new officer at the Oxford Prison and was naturally apprehensive about his duties. He was already glad that he was in charge of the invigilator and the examinee. When he was asked by the Governor to accompany the invigilator out of the prison, Stephens felt greatly flattered and proud of himself

When did the Governor realize that the invigilator was fake? The Governor had initially assumed that it was Evans who had run out of the prison after hitting the invigilator. But later, when he made call to the Radcliffe Hospital where detective Carter had admitted the invigilator, he was informed that the hospital had not admitted the invigilator. More confused, the Governor made another call to the invigilator’s residence and confirmed that the parson who had to come as the invigilator had been tied and gagged in his room and the one came as the invigilator was Evan’s accomplice.

Why did Evans want the Governor arrest him at Hotel Golden Lion? Evans’ plan had been one very intelligently crafted. He wanted to make sure that his plan had to amaze everyone and the very smart Governor also had to be overtaken. To do this he wanted the Governor arrest him with his ‘own smartness’ and feel ‘elated, proud and over confident and consequently less careful about keeping Evans under high security.

Evans was 'visibly shaken' when he saw the Governor in his room in the hotel. Why was he shaken? It was part of the escape plan that the Governor had to come to the Golden Lion Hotel to arrest Evans from there and take him to the prison. The purpose was to make the Governor believe that he was really intelligent and efficient and thereby let his confidence go loose. It was because of this that Evans pretended that he was really caught.

Why is the Governor called ‘good for a giggle Governor?’ The Governor was in a way intelligent and smart. Though a little late, he was successful in tracing Evans in the Hotel Golden Lion and in arresting him. But little did he know that it was Evans who wanted the Governor to arrest him. Evans raised the Governor’s confidence level sky high and let him fall from such a height of pride. When he caught Evans, the Governor thought that he was the most intelligent prison governor in the world and drove to the prison dreaming of the praises and ranks he would be given for his efficiency as a Governor. But in the prison he would know how he was made fool by Evans and the world would only giggle at him.

Do you think that the Governor was really intelligent? Support your answer with instances. The Governor was a very intelligent officer but his overconfidence was

his weak point. The instances of his intelligence can be seen at various places of the story. He didn’t believe that Evans was genuinely interested in learning German when he noticed that Evans didn’t understand the basic German expression, “Guten Gluck.” He was doubtful when the call came from the Examination Board and made a return call to confirm if the call really came from the Board. It was his intelligence that thought of frisking the invigilator and found the rubber tube. It was he who discovered the secret message regarding the assault on the invigilator superimposed at the back of the question paper. Soon he found out that the real McLeery had never come to the prison and that it was Evans who had escaped from the prison as the injured invigilator. The Governor deserves praises for tracing Evan to Hotel Golden Lion at Chipping Norton and arresting him.

How far was Stephens helpful for Evans' escape? Stephens was a newly recruited officer in the prison. He was very particular about showing his efficiency in front of the higher authorities and was especially glad that he was in charge of Evans’ examination which was a risky job indeed. Evans complained of Stephens’ breathing and got him naturally out of the cell. Once out of the cell, Stephens kept peeping into the cell but soon found it childish. To show that he was very confident and efficient, he left the cell door to come after short intervals. The short intervals soon became longer and very longer giving time for Evans to dress himself up inside the cell. Stephens was taken to the highest joy when he received the fake call from the Governor to take the invigilator out of the prison. He in his pride took the invigilator out of the prison and made way for Evans’ escape in a wonderful way.

How did Evans escape from Detective Carter? Disguised as the invigilator, hit by the escaped Evans, Evans misguided detective Carter in the pretext of helping the officer to find the escaped Evans. When they reached Radcliff Hospital, Evans pretended to be most critical and told the detective to admit him in the hospital. Carted wanted to drive the wounded invigilator into the hospital but Evans advised him to call the ambulance and drop him on the roadside to be picked by the ambulance so that the detective could continue his chase after Evans the escaped.

Can you imagine what had happened when the Governor reached the prison? While driving to the prison the Governor thought that he was the most efficient and intelligent prison governor in the world. He was very confident, overwhelmed with gratification and was therefore least cautious. But there was the worst news awaiting him in the prison that Evans and his friends had escaped by fooling and disgracing him. He would also realize that he too was one among the idiots like Stephens and Jackson.

How did the blood help Evans make his escape easier? Why did Stephens refuse to inform Jackson that Evans had put on the blanket? What was the initial apprehensions about Evans' escape? Why did the Governor call the Radcliffe Hospital? Why did the Governor call Mary Mags monastery? What did that call

reveal? Why did Evans pretend to have seen Gorgon when he saw the Governor in his hotel room?

On the Face of It


Derry was a teenager, highly pessimistic and withdrawn from the mainstream society. He developed this attitude after one side of his face was disfigured by acid. He avoided company of others and remained lonely lest he be noticed by other people. He believed that no one loved him and his mother loved him because she was supposed to. Derry cannot be completely blamed for his pessimistic and aggressive attitude towards the world around him. Once he heard two women commenting about his monstrous appearance. They said only a mother could love a face like his. On another day Derry heard his parents conversing that he would not survive after their death because he was deformed. The shock he received from these words was big. On another occasion Derry heard his relatives saying that his being put in the hospital where he had been treated after the accident was good for him. In their opinion a deformed boy like Derry could accommodate himself with other deformed boys and girls. Derry had his ears always open for such comments and used to respond to them in his silent way. He concluded that the world altogether didn’t need a boy like him.

One day Derry accidently met a man called Mr. Lamb. Mr. Lamb was an old man with a lame leg. After he became lame, Mr. Lamb began to develop a positive attitude with his deformity. He worked hard to defeat this impairment and learnt to walk and climb ladders. He was happy to be alive and ignored his lameness. He made everyone his friend and had a house with no curtains and open doors. He welcomed anyone who came to him.

While Mr. Lamb took his impairment as a challenge and tried to overcome it, Derry believed that he was unwanted and lost. His pain was physical and mental. Being a child he was not as strong as Mr. Lamb about suffering. He couldn’t take the sneering and sympathizing world as taken by Mr. Lamb. Mr. Lamb was able to sit smart and unaffected as long as he wore trousers and sat but Derry had no way to hide his face.

After meeting Mr. Lamb Derry realized how foolish he had been to believe his parents. For him Lamb was a man who opened the doors of his closed world in an hour’s time the same of which were shut on him by his parents and therefore believed that his company with Lamb would make him a perfect person.

What sort of a boy was Derry?

Derry was a teenager, a highly pessimistic and withdrawn from the mainstream society. He developed this attitude after one side of his face was disfigured by acid.

He avoided company of others and remained lonely so that he would not be noticed by other people. He believed that no one loved him and his mother loved him because she was supposed to.

Why did Derry go into Mr. Lamb’s garden?

Derry preferred a lonely life in order to hide his disfigured face from the world. Yet he had love for the world such as a garden and he wished to own one. He thought that Mr. Lamb’s garden and his house were empty and therefore went into it.

Why did Derry wish to get out of Mr. Lamb's garden immediately after getting into?

Derry went into Lamb’s garden because he thought it was empty. But when he saw Mr. Lamb there and that he had been being watched by Mr. Lamb, he felt ashamed and wished to get out of the garden.

What kind of a man was Mr. Lamb?

Mr. Lamb was an old man with a lame leg. Since he was lame, Mr. Lamb began to develop a positive attitude with his deformity. He worked hard to defeat this impairment and learnt to walk and climb ladders. He was happy to be alive and ignored his lameness. He made everyone his friend and had a house with no curtains and locked doors. He welcomed anyone who came to him.

Both Mr. Lamb and Derry had much to suffer yet Derry was the worst affected. Explain.

Mr. Lamb was an old man who had lost one of his legs in a blast while Derry was a teenager with a burnt face. While Mr. Lamb took his impairment as a challenge and tried to overcome it, Derry believed that he was unwanted and lost. His pain was physical and mental. Being a child he was not as strong as Mr. Lamb about suffering. He couldn’t take the sneering and sympathizing world as taken by Mr. Lamb. Mr. Lamb was able to sit smart and unaffected as long as he wore trousers and sat but Derry had no way to hide his face.

How does Mr. Lamb explain the dual faces of a weed garden?

Mr. Lamb believes in a positive attitude. He always found the better parts of reality. He says that it is people’s perception that goes wrong, not the realities. Some people consider some plants fit for a garden while some other people consider the same plants as weeds, to be removed from their gardens. Both have leaves and flowers and the beauty of these flowers vary from person to person.

What does Mr. Lamb teach Derry from his exploring the two types of sounds of the bees?

Mr. Lamb believes in a positive attitude. He always found the better sides of reality. He says that it is people’s perception that goes wrong, not the realities. Bees

produce the very same sound: music for some and irritation for others. If one is happy, the bees sound music and if one is sad, the bees buzz. He explored this dual perception to show Derry that it was important for him to change his attitude.

What makes Mr. Lamb say that Derry wasn't completely lost?

When Derry entered Mr. Lamb’s garden, the former appeared to be highly pessimistic and withdrawn. He sounded bitter because the world had been so cruel to him. But at one point Derry said that he loved a garden and a house like the one as Lamb’s, Mr. Lamb saw his love for the nature and beauty and this gave Mr. Lamb the hope that Derry was not completely lost in his gloomy world.

Why did Derry's mother warn him to keep away from Mr. Lamb?

Derry’s mother was very particular about not letting her son mix with other people. She was much stricter about not allowing the boy to go to Mr. Lamb as she had heard that the old man was not good.

Why does Derry say that he would never go out to the world if he didn't go to Mr. Lamb?

Derry’s parents were greatly responsible for making an introvert out of him. They believed that the world was not the place for their son due to his burnt face. They advised him to keep away from people. They convinced him that his life would be impossible after their death. Thus Derry’s parents shut him in a narrow world of his own, inspiring him to hate and avoid everyone. But after meeting Mr. Lamb Derry realized how foolish he had been to believe his parents. For him Lamb was a man who opened the doors of his closed world in an hour’s time the same of which were shut on him by his parents and therefore believed that his company with Lamb would make him a perfect person.

Do you think Mr. Lamb really had a lot of friends? Explain?

Mr. Lamb claimed to have a lot of friends but in fact he appears to have few. Mr. Lamb is a peculiar person with no complaints about his deformity but his heavy, philosophical talks may bore people who run into him. Even though Mr. Lamb had claimed he had hundreds of friends, he didn’t know of those names and no one showed up while Derry was with him for such a long time. Moreover, Mr. Lamb himself is found telling his bees that human beings do not keep their promise of returning to his garden. From all these one can conclude that Mr. Lamb had no friends but the bees and the nature around him.

Mr. Lamb says to Derry: ‘It’s all relative. Beauty and Beast’. What does he mean by that?

Mr. Lamb believes in the relativity theory of beauty. Quoting the fairy tale, ‘The Beauty and the Beast,’ he said that everyone has beauty inside but people hardly

recognize that. The beautiful ones are not always good at heart and the ugly ones can have a beautiful heart.

Who should be ‘friends’ according to both Derry and Mr. Lamb?

Both Mr. Lamb and Derry keep different views regarding friendship and company. Derry thinks that one should know all the particulars of a person before becoming friends. He also thinks that two people who met casually on the way cannot be friends because they are not going to meet again. In contrast, Mr. Lamb doesn’t agree with Derry. He doesn’t know the names of his friends yet he has a lot of friends. For him anyone is his friend, whether he met them just once or so many times.

“That would do you more harm than any bottle of acids.”

Mr. Lamb was a man who tried to look at problems with reduced importance while Derry thought his deformity was the last word of his life and existence. He said that he hated some people for their hatred and sympathy for him. Seeing the burning hatred in Derry, Mr. Lamb warned him that hatred can burn in and out of a person while acid can burn part of the body alone.

How was the society and family responsible for forming Derry an introvert?

Derry cannot be solely blamed for his pessimistic and aggressive attitude towards the world around him. Once he heard two women commenting about his ugliness. They said only a mother could love a face like his. On another day Derry heard his parents conversing that he would not survive after their death because he was deformed. The shock he received from these words was big. On another occasion Derry heard his relatives talking about his being put in the hospital where he had been treated after the accident. In their opinion a deformed boy like Derry could accommodate himself with other deformed boys and girls. Derry had his ears always open for such comments and used to respond to them in his silent way. He concluded that the world altogether didn’t need a boy like him.

“And the world is there to look at.”

In Mr. Lamb’s opinion the world is a perfect example for people with deformity. The earth is full of good and bad things, beautiful and ugly places, inhabitable and uninhabitable places yet we love the earth as a whole, not as a part. Mr. Lamb wants to make Derry think of himself as a whole person with good and bad in him.

Why does Derry go back to Mr. Lamb in the end?

Mr. Lamb was a wizard who could transform Derry into a positive character. Derry realized the importance of a man like Lamb and hoped that he would change completely in his company. Moreover, he knew, he could revert to his old attitude if he lived with his pessimistic mother and father.

How does Derry claim that his deformity is graver than Mr. Lamb’s lameness?

Derry had a burnt face and Mr. Lamb had lost one of his legs. In Derry’s opinion he bore more damage and pain than Mr. Lamb because his burnt face cannot be hidden from others while Mr. lamb could sit somewhere as a normal man. For Derry, the deformed face was his identity. People got away from him because of the face and he believed that no one runs away from a lame man.

Should Wizard Hit Mommy?


What is the clash in the story?

Jack ended his story with Roger skunk’s mother hitting the wizard for giving a new smell to her son. In fact Joe had loved the previous ending of the story where Roger became a happy creature with the smell of roses that the wizard gave him. She was displeased by this new ending and wanted her father to make the wizard hit Roger’s mommy. But Jack was not ready to make any change as he thought Joe should accept him without questioning. As Jack had created Roger after himself and Roger’s mother after his own mother, he wanted the story remain a reminder to his daughter to understand the importance of yielding to her parents.

Why did Jack bring in an addition to the story that had in fact ended?

Jack was a very peculiar father and man. He wanted women clinging to him rather than he yielding to them. When his story really ended as usual, Joe, his daughter began to show signs of it and looked distracted. He didn’t like this behavior of his daughter. According to him it was he who had to declare that the story was over. To establish his authority over the story, over his daughter and over all women, Jack took the story to a much unexpected twist and declared that the story was over.

How does Jack justify Roger’s mother? Why does he do so?

Interestingly, in all stories of Roger, Jack had infused his own childhood and placed himself as Roger and his mother as Roger’s mother. Jack did it because he was very much attached to his mother and had idealized the mother above all. He had certain limitations in his childhood but his mother didn’t blame him for his good or bad. She didn’t want her son change like the other boys of his age. What she wanted was a son who always remained her pet, obedient, unquestioning his parents. Jack wanted his children to be like he was to his mother.

Jack appears to be an immature father. Discuss.

Jack is the father of two children yet he exhibits traits of an immature man and father. His mind is not as grown up as it is expected from a man of his age. He clung to rigid opinions like a small child. He felt angry with Joe when she took liberty to

feel that the story had ended. In order to establish his authority over the story and the child, Jack added an unwanted tail to the story. When the daughter commented that the story ended badly, he fights with her over such a trifle, still behaving like a child.

How did Roger’s mother react to his son’s change of smell?

Roger had a very bad smell. He was very sad and disappointed about it. But his life changed after getting the smell of roses from a wizard. Though his friends loved Roger with the new smell, his mother expressed her vehement protest to it. She didn’t like the change. She loved her son with the hereditary smell, however bad it was.

Why was Roger’s mother unhappy about the end of the story?

Roger and his friends were greatly happy with the smell of roses Roger got from the wizard, but his mother wasn’t. The mother loved her son with the bad smell because the bad smell was her son’s identity. She wanted him to be an obedient child, loving his tradition, proud of the family smell, however stinking it was.

Why does Joe consider Roger’s mother stupid?

Joe considered Roger’s mother stupid because she was so senseless that she could not appreciate her son’s acquiring a new smell replacing a very unpleasant smell. She was moreover ignorant about what was good and what was bad. For her, traditions are more important than a pleasing appearance and therefore she was ever willing to carry her ugly smell as a mark of her identity.

Why was Joe against the end of the story?

Joe was a little girl of four years. She had a good appreciation to her father’s stories, however monotonous they were. She used to fall asleep at the end of each story her father told her. But the unusual ending of Roger skunk’s story didn’t please her. She disliked the idea of the good wizard hit for helping Roger. She saw no reason why goodness be punished. She was angry with Roger’s mother who didn’t accept a change that happened for good.

What was the ugly middle position that Jack found himself in?

Jack was a husband and father. He had considered himself to be very obedient to his mother and was proud of that submission. He wanted his children follow his example and therefore hated being contradicted or questioned by his children. It was with this in mind that he chose to tell bedtime stories to his children rather than leaving it to Clare, his wife. But Jack was a failure as a story teller, a husband and a father and this placed him in a middle position, somewhere nowhere.

What hadn’t Joe foreseen in the story of Roger Skunk?

Joe was glad with the usual ending of the story of Roger skunk, however repeated the story was. She had heard this same line of story a hundred times before and was satisfied with each ending. But Joe was not happy with the additional ending of Roger’s story. She had never foreseen that there was something wrong with getting pleasant smell and that the wizard would be punished for helping Roger to possess the smell of roses.

Was Jack a success as a story teller? Explain.

Answer 1: No, Jack was very poor at telling bedtime stories. First of all, he never told stories out of his head as was demanded by Joe. He modified a base story everyday and therefore his stories lacked curiosity. He doesn’t quite know the psychology of a child and hence his stories couldn’t bring the child to sleep. Instead of ending the story as loved and expected by the child, he ended his story in a highly complicated manner. If he had ended the story where Roger Skunk got the smell of roses or with the wizard hitting the skunk’s mother, Joe would have been satisfied and slept peacefully.

Answer 2: Jack was not a good story teller. The purpose of his telling Joe a story was to put her to rest. He was a lazy story teller as he used to tell the same story with slight variations. Even though Jack applied expressions, sound effects and curious details such as the finding of pennies, he could not make the story a great success because he had forgotten the basic purpose of telling the story. For him his stories were meant to teach his children morality that he inherited from his mother. Jack had to remember that children want curiosity, not philosophy; a peaceful mind, not a turbulent one.

Answer 3: Yes, Jack was a good story teller. Even though he failed to put Joe to sleep with the story of Roger skunk, he was always successful with his stories. He had good imagination, a very effective way of narration with sound effects and expressions. Besides, he was able to measure the depth of Joe’s concentration and involvement in the story.

Why do you think Roger’s decision to get the smell of roses was right? Or, Should wizard hit mommy?

There is no good reason why Roger’s mommy hit the good wizard. What the wizard did was an act of goodness. Even though he charged Roger a few pennies for the magic, he gave him a lovely identity that followed friendship and happiness. The mommy was a bad one because she could not appreciate her son’s good choice. She was more concerned about traditions, identity and her son’s safety with the help of the bad smell. She overlooked the happiness that her son got and friendship he gained. After all, Roger chose good for good while the mother chose the bad for good. She should have appreciated Roger for this change and thanked the wizard for this great transformation.

Why was Jack enthusiastic about telling the stories of Roger? OR Why did Jack consider that his stories were what his children should listen to?

Jack had held certain values close to his heart. First of all, he believed that he was a well formed man and father. He had suffered certain humiliations in his childhood and therefore he had sympathy for the weak and the deserted. He never liked women being superior. This male chauvinist, Jack, considered his four year old daughter Joe as a woman and taught her that children should not question their parents even if they are wrong.

How should Jack have ended the story in order to make Joe sleep?

If Jack was primarily interested in making Joe sleep, he should have ended the story hitting the mommy. He had to admit the unusual ending of the story a fault. If he didn’t want to do so, Jack should have promised his daughter that he would tell her the story as loved by her.

The Enemy

Sadao was a Japanese surgeon. He studied in America and returned with Hana, a Japanese girl whom he met there, and married her in Japan and settled down comfortably. While most of the doctors were sent to serve the Japanese army in the World War II, Sadao was allowed to stay home because he was wanted by the old General who was dying. But one night into his uneventful life came an American Navy-man, shot, wounded and dying. Though unwilling to help his enemy, Sadao took the young soldier into his house and provided him with medical aid. He was in danger from that moment. Soon his servants left him. Yet the doctor in Sadao saw that the soldier was getting well and absolutely alright.

Once his patient was no more in need of him, the doctor turned out to be his assassin, conspiring to kill him in his sleep. He informed the General of the American and the General promised he would send his private men to kill the American. Sadao awaited the American’s death every morning but to his gloom the man was still alive, healthier and posing danger to him.

At this point Sadao becomes the real man in him: a true human being who realizes the essential worth of human life and universal brotherhood. He thinks beyond countries and continents and races and wars. He finds no reason to believe that the American is his enemy. Sadao rescues the American.


Why did Sadao wait to fall in love with Hana?

Both Sadao and his wife Hana were Japanese. Sadao met Hana in America where both were students. Though he was impressed by her, Sadao hesitated to propose

to her until he was sure that Hana was pure in her race because he knew that his father wouldn’t love to have her as his son’s wife if she were not pure Japanese.

Why was Sadao not sent with Japanese troupes that were in war with America?

Sadao was not sent with the Japanese troupes even when the country was in war. Being a renowned surgeon, he was highly required by the old general who was under treatment. Also, Sadao was inventing a new medicine that was supposed to clean wounds entirely.

How patriotic was Sadao’s father?

Sadao’s father lived a perfect Japanese life. He was blind about his country and loved it throughout his life. He never used anything made in a foreign country. He could not think of a foreign daughter in law. He wanted his son study abroad so that he could serve Japan for its growth.

What were the servants’ superstitions against keeping the American soldier at Sadao’s home?

The servants didn’t like the American soldier being helped by Sadao and Hana because they were superstitious. According to them, first the bullet, then the sea and finally the sharp rocks in the sea tried to kill the soldier but he escaped from all of them. Now, if Sadao helped the man then the bullet, the sea and the rocks would turn against him and ruin him and his family.

What was Yumi’s excuse for not washing the young American?

Yumi was Sadao’s maid servant, especially in charge of the children. She, like the other servants, had greatly disliked Sadao’s decision to take care of the American soldier. She equally disliked washing the man because he was her enemy and she didn’t want to take risk by helping Sadao and Hana, who she believed, would be arrested by the police.

What were Sadao’s strange habits while performing surgery?

Sadao used to talk to the patients while operating them. When the patient cried or groaned during the operation, he used talk to him, calling him his friend.

What was the most remarkable instruction of his American professor Sadao had taken into his heart?

Sadao’s anatomy professor used to remind his students that the biggest crime of a surgeon is his poor knowledge in human anatomy. If a surgeon operates a patient without perfect knowledge of the human body, he would be killing the patient.

How did the servants react to Sadao’s act of taking the American soldier into the house?

The servants were from the beginning against Sadao’s idea of taking the American soldier in for whatever reason, to kill or to treat. They openly expressed their dissatisfaction and made clear that Sadao should not treat the American because Americans are Japan’s enemies. When they found that Sadao was not yielding to their wishes, the servants quitted their service at Sadao’s house amidst great pain of separation.

Why did Sadao plot plans to kill the American?

Sadao was a kind-hearted doctor who valued life and considered saving any life to be his prime concern. Though for this reason he admitted the American in his home and provided him with all medical support, Sadao turned out to be plotting plans to kill him because the American was perfectly cured and therefore the doctor-patient relation was snapped and he was the American’s enemy.

Sadao was a perfect doctor, a pure patriot and clearheaded human being. Explain.

Sadao’s life was a happy one. He was one of the happiest men in Japan during the war. While most of the doctors were on board with the troupes, Sadao was allowed to remain home with his family. He was rich and enjoyed more liberty and privilege because he was the old General’s personal surgeon. But the entry of the American soldier was going to strip all this happiness off him. Sadao could easily have ignored the American or handed him over to the police or thrown him back to the sea. The dedicated doctor in him behaved like a savior for the dying man. In spite of the servants’ protest, he took the man in his house and gave him all the medical aid. He continuously attended to the man and made sure he was getting better. Once the American was perfectly out of danger, the doctor in Sadao died and a perfect, patriotic Japanese took birth. Suddenly he became the enemy and began to plot plans to kill American enemy. He awaited the private killers of the General every night and grew disappointed in the morning to see that the American was still alive. His nights became sleepless. Having passed through this disappointing time, Sadao finally shifted to the next and last of his person; he once again wanted to rescue the American. This time it was not for the fun of exhibiting his surgical skills, nor to get rid of his enemy. This time he did so because he realized that the concept of ENEMY was abstract. He broke the barriers of narrow mindedness and became a universal brother. Thus, Sadao was a perfect doctor, a perfect enemy and a perfect human being.

Did Sadao show the equal degree of honesty in rescuing the American at the end of the story as in operating him? Give instances.

Sadao was very honest towards rescuing the American soldier. It was not for the sheer pleasure of showing his surgical skills to a small audience of his wife and servants that Sadao did it. Keeping all his fears and anxieties, he cured the American for humanitarian reasons. The same degree of honesty was shown when he rescued him, too. Sadao was not getting rid of a menace. He made sure that the

man really escaped. By providing him with a boat, clothes and food, his favorite torch light and further instructions in case the food was over, Sadao sent the man into the sea. He was restless for days concerning the safety of the man wandering in the dark sea and got his peace of mind only after getting an assurance that the man was really safe.

What does the old general mean by the American sentimentality and the German brutality? What did he expect from combining both?

The General believed that the Americans were highly emotional and the Germans very brutal. According to him, a perfect doctor should have both these qualities. The doctor should love the patient on one side and be brutal towards his physical pains. By combining both these qualities, the General expected to make a perfect doctor out of a man.

Journey to the End of the Earth


What is going to happen to our planet? What will happen to this earth after another million years? No one can say but Antarctica can give us some hints. The coldest place of the earth, Antarctica warns us to take care of the earth so that it will take care of us!

Yes, we the human beings have indeed caused a lot of harm to this earth. We multiplied in the last 12000 years of our existence and brought every species under our control and destroyed many of them for our water, for our food, for our shelter, for our fun. Now stop and listen to the warnings from Antarctica. It was once a dry and hot landmass. Forget how it became cold. Now the big thing is that it is going to become that same dry, hot landmass again! If so, what will happen to the dry regions of the earth? Will they turn up to cold continents again? If you don’t believe these facts, come to Antarctica and start digging the miles-deep ice-sheets. You will discover layers after layers rich with the well preserved fossils of a lot of unknown animals and birds and trees. Join us, to the Journey to the End of the Earth to see if the world is really journeying to its end.

What is ‘Students on Ice?’

‘Students on Ice’ is an educational journey to Antarctica. It takes high school students to show them the horrifying impacts of human activities in Antarctica so that the youngsters, the future policy makers of the earth, will realize that the end of the earth is quite near and therefore something is to be done to save the planet.

Why did Geoff Green decide to take high school students to Antarctica?

Geoff Green didn’t find any good in taking curious celebrities to Antarctica until he thought of taking high school students. He believed the young vibrancy in them

would easily understand the seriousness of the threat that poses the earth by visiting Antarctica and would act their bit to save the planet from further deterioration.

Why is Students on Ice a success?

When one stands in the midst of the calving ice-sheets and retreating glaciers and melting ice-bergs, he realizes that the threats to the earth are real. It is different from talking about Antarctica from the comfort zones of our warm countries and therefore being in Antarctica is a shocking realization.

What does the parable of phytoplankton teach us?

Phytoplankton is a single-celled grass that feed the entire southern ocean’s marine life. These micro organisms require a low degree of temperature for their survival. But due to the overheating and the depletion of ozone layers, their existence is threatened. The message for the humans is to take care of the small things so that the bigger things will also fall in place.

What beauty of balance does the author see in Antarctica and in the warm countries?

While in Antarctica the author saw crab-eater seals having sun-bath on the ice-floes much like the stray dogs sleep under the shade of trees in the warmer countries. While the polar animals prefer a bit of warmth, the tropical ones desire a bit cool. The author believes that the earth has a balancing of climatic variations and after millions of years the Polar Regions will once again become warmer and the warmer will turn cooler.

‘In that short amount of time we have managed to create quite a ruckus…’ Explain. OR, What is the human impact on Antarctica?

Humans came to the earth’s scene just twelve thousand years ago which is comparatively a second in the geological clock. Yet the destruction we have created on the planet is countless. We have made this planet almost a scorching desert by way of deforestation for our developmental works. All these consequences are affecting the Antarctic regions even though we have not started any destructive works there.

How is Antarctica significant in climatic debates?

Antarctica is a continent that has a landmass with miles deep ice, layers over layers. In each of those layers lie millions of years old carbon records of the organisms that existed since the beginning of the earth. While pondering over the issue of the future of the earth, these carbon records will shed light on the past and enable the scientist to co-relate the past, present and future.

What is the significance of the title, ‘Journey to the End of the Earth?

The title, ‘Journey to the End of the Earth,’ has more than one meaning. It describes an educational journey to Antarctica undertaken by groups of high school students to learn more about the real impact of Global Warming and the future of the earth. The journey, being to the extreme south of the earth, is really towards the end of it. Another meaning of this title is more significant as the warnings that Antarctica gives are shocking and much concerning the humanity and the millions of other species on the earth. The changes taking place in Antarctica are pointing a warning finger at the existence of the earth; the earth is journeying to its end!

Why does the author consider his walking on the Antarctic ocean to be one of his epiphanies?


Share cropping system in Champaran

Champaran is part of the state of Bihar. It was famous for its indigo plantations owned by the British landlords and worked by the Indian peasants. The British forced the peasants to cultivate indigo in the 15% of their land and submit the entire harvest to the landlords as their rent. Good idea, was it not? Poor Indians, they had to obey the British because they were afraid of the British. They hated this agreement and wanted to be free.

Synthetic indigo

It was during this time that Germany developed synthetic indigo and the British

knew that the peasants would be free from the agreement and that they would get

no more income from them.

Landlords’ trickery

So the smart landlords freed them from the agreement by making them pay heavy amount for that. Most of the peasants were happy and paid and got their freedom from the landlords. But soon the news of the German indigo reached them and they realized that they were cheated.

Indian lawyers fool the peasants

The peasants went to the Indian lawyers and paid them heavily to get back their money. The lawyers knew that the peasants would never get their money back from

a court controlled by the British, yet they pretended to be helping them. Soon the

peasants realized that they needed a stronger and reliable help and they turned to Indian National Congress. Accordingly, a peasant, Raj Kumar Shukla reached Lucknow where the Congress Committee was being held and happened to meet a young Congress member called Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Mr. Gandhiji heard

Shukla’s story was impressed but regretted his inability to help the peasants of Champaran. He tried to escape Shukla but Shukla was not ready to abandon his pursuit. Finally Gandhiji had to comply. He reached Champaran and learned the situation. He was moved by the way the poor Indian peasants had been exploited and fooled by the British landlords and the Indian lawyers.

Who was Raj Kumar Shukla? Why did he want Gandhiji in Champaran?

Raj Kumar Shukla was a peasant from Champaran. He was a sharecropper under the British landlords there. The sharecropping system had become a big trouble for all the peasants in Champaran and there was no one to help them. Shukla heard from someone that Gandhiji could solve their problems and therefore wanted Gandhiji in Champaran.

What made Gandhiji accompany Raj Kumar Shukla to Champaran?

Gandhiji had no plan to involve himself in any mass movements. But when he heard about the miseries of the Champaran peasants under the British landlords and that the Indian lawyers there didn’t do anything honestly for the peasants and having seen the determination and tenacity of Shukla, Gandhiji decided to accompany him to Champaran.

How were Gandhiji and Raj Kumar Shukla treated by Rajendra Prasad’s servants? Why?

Rajendra Prasad was an influential lawyer in Patna. Gandhiji had acquaintances with him too. But when he reached his home with Raj Kumar Shukla, he was not at home. His servants thought that Gandhiji was also an ‘untouchable’ as the peasants were generally considered and asked them to stay on the ground and refused to drink water from the well.

Why did Gandhiji want to make a fresh enquiry into the sharecroppers' problem?

Raj Kumar Shukla had given Gandhiji an exact account of the nature of problems in Champaran. But Gandhiji, being a seeker of truth, wanted to gather all the facts regarding the sharecroppers’ problems beyond what Shukla had imparted to him.

What was extraordinary about Professor Malkani's accommodating Gandhiji in his home?

Professor Malkani was a British Government professor at Muzzafarpur and Gandhiji fighting against the same government for freedom and home-rule. Generally no one harbored the advocates of home-rule for fear of the British and therefore Professor Malkani’s act was extraordinary.

How did the Muzzafarpur lawyers look at Gandhiji's presence in Champaran? What did Gandhiji blame them for?

The Muzzafarpur lawyers were of the opinion that the sharecropping issue would never be solved. The thought that this issue would be a long-term source of their income. So they convinced the poor, illiterate peasants that there would be justice for them. Therefore these lawyers were unhappy with Gandhiji’s arrival there to solve the sharecroppers’ issue.

What was the cause of the Champaran sharecroppers' resentment?

The sharecropping system began a long time before Gandhiji was called to involve. The peasants were already struggling under this. What aggravated the resentment was a new agreement the British landlords had made the peasants to sign to pay a big amount to get free from the old agreement. The landlords did this not to alleviate the peasant's struggles but because they learnt that Germany had developed synthetic indigo due to which the demand for natural indigo would decline.

Why did Gandhiji discourage the peasants and the lawyers from going to the court of law?

When Gandhiji saw that the illiterate peasants still relied on the Indian lawyers who promised justice for them, he knew how foolish that was. Being himself a lawyer, Gandhiji saw that the poor Indians would not get justice as long as the law, prosecutors, courts, judge and the accused being British.

Why were the sharecroppers ready to sign the agreement to pay the money to get released from the previous agreement to plant indigo?

The peasants had already been suffering due to the age old agreement made by their forefathers. They could not do any other work than the cultivation of indigo and therefore remained poor. When they were told of the new agreement to pay a compensation to be released from the previous agreement, the peasants found it better.

Why did the sharecroppers demand their money back?

The British landlords were very shrewd and knew how to exploit the poor, unlettered Indian peasants. When they heard that the demand for natural indigo would soon fall and that the Champaran peasants would be free from the agreement, they exhorted/took money from them before the peasants knew the true story. But when the peasants knew the truth they realized that they were cheated and therefore wanted their money back.

On what grounds was Gandhiji called an outsider? How did he react to that?

India was not a federal nation at the time when Gandhiji reached Champaran. The country was scattered into kingly and princely states. Gandhiji belonged to the West of India while Champaran lay on the extreme East. Though Gandhiji considered

India as a whole, the British ruled it divided and therefore Gandhiji came from outside Champaran, hence an outsider. Gandhiji felt angry to be considered an outsider and he wanted to show the British who was outsider and who was insider.

Why was Gandhiji stopped on his way to the village where a peasant was maltreated?

While in Champaran, Gandhiji heard that a poor peasant of another village had been beaten by the landlords’ men. Gandhiji and many of his followers went to see the situation. But Gandhiji was stopped by the police fearing that his presence along with many furious people and the sight of the maltreated peasant would cause a mutiny in Champaran.

What did Gandhiji learn from the voluntary support of the villagers in Champaran?

Gandhiji had never foreseen the support he would have got from the peasants of Champaran. He was not sure of the unity among this people but when he saw the voluntary support the uneducated peasants gave him Gandhiji learned that what India wanted was a strong leader and that he could certainly win the battle of Champaran.

How were the British authorities held helpless during Gandhiji's trial?

The day when Gandhiji was tried in the Tirhut court, thousands of villagers surrounded the courthouse announcing support for their leader. With their limited police force, the British authorities were helpless in front of the mob fury. They were forced to seek Gandhiji’s help to save their face.

Both Gandhiji and the British authorities learnt lessons during his trial. What were the lessons?

Both Gandhiji and the British authorities were not aware of the unity and strength of the Indian peasantry till they witnessed it at the time of Gandhiji’s trial. Gandhiji learned from this that a leader was what India needed while the British became aware of the real threats to their existence in India.

What were the two types of duties Gandhiji brought to a conflict?

Being a lawyer himself Gandhiji amazed the lawyers and judge of the Tirhut Court with the accurate use of eloquence and law points. He said that he was involved in a conflict of duties: one with the law of the court and the other with his own conscience. He said he had to stand with his conscience because he believed that serving people was more important than serving the law.

How did Gandhiji make the judge grant/allow him bail?

The crafty British judge wanted to postpone the trial so as to get Gandhiji without the cover and support of the peasants to put him behind the bars. Sensing this,

Gandhiji declared that he was guilty and requested the court to grand him his punishment. at this point, the judge was forced to announce the verdict and released Gandhiji on bail.

What was the immediate reaction of the Indian lawyers when Gandhiji sought their advice?

Gandhiji was released on bail but was still in danger of being caught and tried in secret. Knowing this Gandhiji sought the advice of the Indian lawyers. The lawyers were already discontent with him and therefore said they would not mind if he went to prison.

When did Gandhiji announce that 'the battle of Champaran was won?' What made him say so?

The Indian lawyers behaved indifferently with Gandhiji when he was released on bail. But Gandhiji reminded them that they would lose support and trust of the peasants if they didn’t help him. He further explained that he was an outsider yet was going to jail for the peasants. At this crucial point the lawyers discussed among themselves and announced their support for Gandhiji. Having secured the support of the rich and poor, the educated and the uneducated, Gandhiji announced that the battle of Champaran was won.

'Civil disobedience had triumphed, the first time in modern India.' Comment.

Gandhiji began his Civil Disobedient Movement in Champaran by refusing to leave the place as ordered by the police authorities. His arrest and trial followed. But finally the judiciary had to release Gandhiji and drop his case due to pressure from the peasants and thus his Civil Disobedient Movement became successful in Champaran.

Why was Gandhiji ready to accept a meager compensation of only 25% of the money from the landlords?

The Commission that was set up for solving the Champaran issue finally agreed to pay 25% of the money as compensation to the peasants who had been fooled by the British landlords. Gandhiji, being the only representative of the peasants, agreed to this suggestion of the Commission. Even though the amount was very less for the peasants, Gandhiji considered the agreement to be a mile stone as it was the first instance in the history of Indian freedom struggle when the British were forced to obey the Indians.

Gandhiji foiled the Commission's hidden plans to help the British landlords by his tactful reply. Explain what were the Commission’s hidden plans.

Even though the Commission seemed to be ready to solve the Champaran peasants, the British members of the commission had some hidden intention in

mind. They were prepared either to foil the Commission or to save their money and prestige. It was for this that they disagreed to pay the 50% of the peasants’ money even though Gandhiji’s demand was more than just. Gandhiji outwitted their hidden plans by unexpectedly accepting their meager compensation amount.

How was the Champaran episode a turning point in Gandhiji's life?

When Gandhiji undertook his mission in Champaran he was least certain about the cooperation and unity of the people that would have turned out to be support for him. But the voluntary support they gave him at his trial opened his eyes and Gandhiji placed himself the leader that the whole of India needed and began his Freedom Struggle since then.

Who was Charles Freer Andrews? Why did Gandhiji's friends want him in Champaran? Why was Gandhiji against this?

Charles Freer Andrews was an English man, a close follower of Gandhiji with similar ideas of a pacifist. He was a social worker in Champaran. When Gandhiji came to Champaran, Andrews was getting ready to go to his new destination. Gandhiji’s friends thought of stopping Andrews in Champaran for Gandhiji’s help. But Gandhiji read their minds and saw that they were depending on a foreigner for India’s freedom. To show them the meaning of self reliance, Gandhiji refused to ask Andrews to stay with him.

Who was Charles Freer Andrews? Why did Gandhiji's friends want him in Champaran? Why was Gandhiji against this?

Charles Freer Andrews was an English man, a close follower of Gandhiji with similar ideas of a pacifist. He was a social worker in Champaran. When Gandhiji came to Champaran, Andrews was getting ready to go to his new destination. Gandhiji’s friends thought of stopping Andrews in Champaran for Gandhiji’s help. But Gandhiji read their minds and saw that they were depending on a foreigner for India’s freedom. To show them the meaning of self reliance, Gandhiji refused to ask Andrews to stay with him.




There was a poor man who went selling rattraps that he made himself. He had no family. He was not educated. He led an indecent life. He even stole to survive.

A new idea!

Thinking about the rattraps once he caught glimpse of a new philosophy: The whole world is a rattrap and all the riches are the baits that attract the human rats into it. He loved this idea and watched the rich people getting into this rattrap of the world.

First trap

This was what had happened with him: One evening he knocked at the door of a house and the owner, an old man, welcomed him happily. The old man was once a crofter and had no family. He earned his living by selling his cow’s milk. The peddler and the crofter spent that night like friends.

Second trap

On the way he decided to take the road through the forest to avoid police and lost his way in the confusing forest. He fell down and thought his end had come. He realized he too was in a rattrap. While lying down, the peddler heard the sounds from an iron mill. He got up with all his strength and walked to that direction. He reached an iron mill and took shelter near the fire inside the mill and soon fell asleep.

Again Traps

While the peddler was sleeping the owner of the mill happened to reach there. The Ironmaster came close to him and noticed his face and suddenly misunderstood him to be his lost regimental friend Nils Olof, a captain in the army. The Ironmaster woke him up and asked him to come home with him. Though this misunderstanding would have helped the peddler to get some money, he refused to go with the Ironmaster out of fear and suspicion. The Ironmaster gave up and went home and sent his daughter to persuade the peddler. The daughter, Edla Willmansson, came to the mill and with her innocent, loving words and manner, took the peddler home.

False Identity

Next morning the peddler was washed, shaved and dressed and brought to the presence of the Ironmaster. To the Ironmaster’s horror, he noticed that the peddler was not his friend and he realized his mistake. He asked the peddler to get out of his home. But the Ironmaster’s daughter was a good person. She felt sympathy for the peddler and requested her father to allow him stay for Christmas that day. The Ironmaster unwillingly complied to his daughter and the peddler was allowed to stay for Christmas. The whole day and night he ate and slept. He was never before so much happy, so much at peace, so much fed. He felt important. He distinguished between the dirty life of a peddler and the decent life of a respected captain. He wished to be a decent, respected man.

Thief in the village!

Next morning the Ironmaster and his daughter went to the church, leaving the peddler at home with the servants. In the church they heard a bad news from the crofter that a peddler selling rattraps stole his hard earned 30 Cronors. Father and daughter immediately returned from the church and reached home fearing that the peddler would have robbed their house.

Peddler becomes captain

They reached home and saw that the peddler had gone. They were given no shock. They were greatly surprised to see that the peddler had not taken anything from their home and that he had left a rattrap as a gift for Edla and the money he had stolen from the crofter and a letter revealing his change.


Why had the peddler to resort to petty thievery?

The rattrap seller lived mostly by selling rattraps that he himself made. At times, when his business did not go well, he had to resort to petty thievery for survival.

What was the new line of thought the peddler once came across?

The peddler was once thinking about the rattraps. Suddenly he realized that the whole world is a rattrap. The riches and luxuries and comforts are the baits. Like rats people allow themselves to be tempted by these baits and get caught and end up life struggling to get out.

How is the peddler's philosophy practical and true in the modern world?

The peddler found that the whole world with its riches and comforts alluring people is a rattrap. This is even today a practical philosophy. The modern world is full of alluring things, people, places and opportunities everywhere. Humans have an unquenched thirst for all these. Instinctively they desire to achieve them but turn out to be trapped at the end. Addictions are the best examples.

Why was the peddler happy to think of the world as a rattrap?

The peddler was a struggling man and was therefore glad to see others getting into troubles. Moreover most people he met were heartless and showed him no generosity. He wanted them to get into troubles in life so that they could understand the sufferings of the poor and he could be happy to see them in troubles.

Why was the peddler welcomed by the crofter? How did this amaze the peddler?

The Crofter was old, lonely and was in need of someone to talk to. This amazed the peddler because it was not quite usual that anyone welcomed him so warmly and fed him so lovingly and behaved with him so friendly.

'The old man was just as generous with his confidences as with his porridge and tobacco.' Explain.

The way the peddler was welcomed by the crofter was unusual. The crofter generously served him food and let him stay with him. Besides he went to the extent of sharing his secrets with the peddler and showed him his great treasure of an amount of thirty cronors.

What was the extraordinary 'bossy' of the Crofter?

The crofter was once able to support himself. But now he has become old and could not do labor as before. He is now supported and taken care of by his cow whom he considers as his boss.

What made the Crofter show the peddler his money pouch?

When the crofter told the peddler that he had thirty cronors in possession, the latter seemed to have disbelieved this. To prove himself true the crofter showed him the entire amount of thirty cronors.

Why did the peddler return to the Crofter's house after half an hour?

Even though the peddler had been generously treated by the crofter, the former was tempted to steal his thirty cronors and therefore he returned to the Crofter's house when he was away.

What made the peddler take the woodland road to his destination?

After stealing the crofter's money, the peddler began to feel insecure going the main road where he could be easily arrested by the police. To avoid any risk he took the woodland road.

Having taken the Crofter's money as bait, the peddler got trapped into a rattrap. What is the irony in this?

The peddler believed his own philosophy that the whole world is a rattrap and the attractions here are baits attracting people into its deadly doors. But by taking the crofter's money, the peddler had forgotten his philosophy and took the bait and allowed himself to be caught.

How did the hammer strokes rekindle the lost spirit in the peddler? Or How did the sounds from the iron mill encourage the peddler?

Having wandered through the confusing forest and fallen down on the earth, the peddler thought that his end had approached. But as his ears lay close to the earth, the peddler heard the regular thumping of hammer strokes and guessed that was from an iron mill. He dragged himself to the direction of the sounds hoping to get

himself warmed from the chilling cold and dripping water and find a way out of the forest.

Why did the Ironmaster invite the peddler his home?

The Ironmaster, the owner of the iron mill, was once in the army. He had a close regimental friend there. His name was Nils Olof Von Stahle. After his retirement what the Ironmaster last heard of Von Stahle was that he too had retired from the force. The peddler had the similar looks of Von Stahle and the Ironmaster took him for his lost friend therefore wanted him to come to him home.

Why did the peddler refuse to go with the Ironmaster?

Initially the peddler was glad to be acknowledged as the Ironmaster’s friend, the captain, with a hope that he could get some money from this confused gentleman. But when the Ironmaster asked him to come home to his manor house, the peddler refused, suspecting some crazy intentions behind the Ironmaster’s invitation.

Why did the peddler agree to go with Edla?

Edla Willmansson was the Ironmaster’s daughter. She was not pretty or attractive yet was compassionate. When she came and asked the peddler to come home, he agreed and went with her because she seemed friendly and that boosted up the peddler’s confidence. Besides, probably he didn’t want to be disturbed again.

How were the Ironmaster and his daughter different in their outlook?

The Ironmaster invited the peddler home for celebrating Christmas with his daughter and him because he thought the peddler was his old friend and that they had none to celebrate Christmas with. The Ironmaster was business minded and it was not the genuine compassion that made him treat the peddler. But Edla was just the opposite. She was a fountain of true love for others. She had the same compassion and love for the peddler even after knowing that the man was not her father’s regimental friend.

Why did Edla intercede/request for the peddler?

Edla Willmansson, the Ironmaster’s daughter, had a soft corner for the peddler. She was sympathetic to him because she was so to all the poor and suffering people. She had understood the essential value of human beings, too. She interceded for the peddler because she had wished his presence with her family as a Christmas friend, not as his father’s old regimental friend. She had believed in the true Christian values such as charity and benevolence, which are in fact the spirit of Christmas.

How did the peddler celebrate his Christmas at the manor house?

It was the first Christmas the peddler ever celebrated in his whole life so peacefully.

The whole day and throughout the Christmas night he was sleeping that was interrupted only by the calls to eat at intervals.

What was Edla's Christmas gift for the peddler?

Edla Wilmansson didn't give anything apparently to the peddler. She informed him that her father's fur coat that had been given to him was not to be returned. She told him that he would be welcome to the manor house on every Christmas to spend a peaceful Christmas. But the real Christmas gift that Edla gave the peddler was the great transformation that made him a new man.

Why did Edla sit dejected when she returned from the church?

Edla and her father had left the peddler home while they went to church for Christmas celebrations. But in the church the crofter whose money the peddler had stolen earlier told everyone how and by whom he had been robbed by a man who sold rattraps. Realizing that the same man was at her home and that it was she who wanted him home and that he would have stolen everything, Edla felt dejected.

How did the peddler dare to consider himself as a captain? How far is that apt?

A captain is far refined than a peddler. When the peddler began to think and behave

different from his usual tramp way, he felt a need for change in his life. Moreover, the newly awakened man in the peddler could command the old man in him to change, as a captain commands.

Do you think that the peddler had really changed?

Yes, the peddler changed his old way of life after staying with Edla and her father on

a Christmas. He did not take anything from Edla’s house even though he was able

to. Besides, he returned the 30 cronors that he had stolen from the old crofter. Moreover, he calls himself ‘captain’ in the letter for Edla. From all these, we can conclude that the peddler had changed.

Deep Water

Why was Douglas' mother particular that he should not go to the Yakima river? How did she manage to keep the son away?

The Yakima River was treacherous. Drowning was common in it. By reminding him of each drowning incident, Douglas' mother kept him away from the Yakima River.

What made the YMCA pool a safe place to learn swimming?

The YMCA pool at Yakima was not so deep. At the shallow area it was only three feet deep and at the deepest end it was nine. Moreover, the bottom of the pool was tiled the pool was tiled and the water clear.

What was the author's early childhood fear of the water? How did it affect him in the rest of his life?

The author and his father once went the beach of California when the former was three or four. While playing in the surf of the sea, the author was knocked down by the water and was buried under it. His breath was gone and a deep fear developed in his mind.

What was the misadventure that happened while William Douglas was making his attempt to learn swimming in the YMCA pool?

Douglas was attempting to learn swimming in the YMCA pool. He was sitting on the side of the pool waiting for other boys to come. Unexpectedly a fat boy arrived there, and, seeing Douglas sitting timidly, grabbed him and threw him onto the deepest part of the pool and left him to drown.


was frightened, but not yet frightened out of my wits.' What does this mean?


was quite unexpected that Douglas was thrown into the deepest part of the YMCA

Pool. The fact that he didn’t know swimming increased the risk and danger. But Douglas was not ready to overtaken by the sheer fear of sinking. On the contrary he strengthened his mind and got ready to apply his wit to overcome the situation.

What were Douglas' plans when he went down the water the first time?

Douglas was frightened at being hauled into the deep water but was strategic even at such a crucial stage. While sinking, he planned to make a leap once his feet touched the tiled bottom of the water and consequently reach the surface and swim to the side and escape.

Douglas presents before us the true experience of dying which is not frightening but peaceful. Explain.

Douglas' experience of dying in the YMCA pool taught him an untold mystery about

death. He says it is a peaceful experience to die. People generally think of death as

a frightening experience. When all efforts to escape from death, one is left with no

other choice than dying, a sort of peace wraps him. It wipes out fear, it wipes out terror. There was no more panic. I t is quiet and peaceful. Nothing to be afraid of. One feels it nice, to be drowsy, to go to sleep, no need to jump, too tired to jump. it is a feeling of being carried gently, to float along in space, tender arms around us, tender arms like Mother’s.

Love for water could never die in Douglas. How did this statement come true to Douglas in the years that followed?

Water was very cruel with Douglas since his childhood. Even though he had been frightened twice, Douglas' love for water was everlasting. After having undergone a

fatal experience at the YMCA pool Douglas didn't give up his desire to learn swimming. He waited for his time and overcame the fear of water and made himself a good swimmer.

This handicap stayed with me as the years rolled by. Which handicap does the author refer to?

The fear of water that possessed him first on the California Beach and later at the YMCA Pool crippled Douglas. This was an additional handicap for him other than his polio.

How did Douglas decide to overcome his fear of water?

After the misadventure at the YMCA Pool, Douglas found his fears for water assuming an alarming height. He decided to overcome this fear by getting effective training from a professional trainer.

But I was not finished. What was unfinished for Douglas?

At the end of his rigorous training to swim, Douglas' trainer informed him that his job was completed. Yet Douglas was not entirely satisfied. He had his own fears and anxieties regarding his swimming skills. He wanted to overcome the last bit of fear from his mind.

What did Roosevelt mean when he said, 'All we have to fear is fear itself?' How did Douglas realize this in his own life?

President Roosevelt believed that it is fear all we have to fear. People are afraid of fear. Even when the mind wills to do certain acts, fear stops us from doing that. In the case of Douglas, too, he never feared water. On the contrary he had great attachment to water. What he feared was the fear for water.

Lost Spring

Stolen Childhood

Rag pickers and child-workers are common in Indian cities. Even though Lost Spring portrays the sad picture of the plight of the poor children of India, Anees Jung is revealing another face of the Indian society through Saheb and Mukesh.


Saheb was a rag picker from Seemapuri. He is a rag picker because his family and society believe that they are the privileged ones chosen to pick the waste. Saheb has simple dreams. He is curious about learning. He believes the promises of the BIG people. One day suddenly Saheb was found doing another job that was out of his tradition. Having abandoned the rag picking he adopted to carrying milk to a shop that paid him decently. Changes!


Mukesh is a bangle maker because his family, caste and society strongly believe that they are the fortune makers of the country. Mukesh is determined. He has a clear dream. Just one dream. But he finds it hard to achieve that. His society believes that they are the chosen ones of God to make bangles: make the fortune of the country. Yet they are not fortunate. Fortunately Mukesh realises this and is ready to look for a change that would change the course of history. He is dreaming of becoming a motor mechanic.

Neither is Saheb privileged nor is Mukesh fortunate. They will be, only when they break away from the stigma of religion and caste and many others. A change in the attitude of the poor people towards their work and the choice they are supposed to make.

Where is Saheb coming from? Why did he have to leave his country?

Saheb is a rag picker who lives in Seemapuri on the Delhi-UP boarder. He came to Seemapuri from Bangladesh with thousands of others forced by natural calamities there.

Why did the author realize that her advice was 'hollow?'

On meeting Saheb the author advised him to go to school. But when she gave an afterthought the author realized that the thought of going to school had never occurred to children like Saheb. For them rag picking is more meaningful than schooling and learning.

Why was the author embarrassed when Saheb asked her if her school was ready?

Seeing Saheb ruining his childhood picking waste, the author once asked him if he would join her school if she started one. Saheb gave her a positive answer. Another day when the two met, Saheb asked her if her school was ready. The author suddenly felt speechless as she had not meant to start a school as Saheb had expected.

How does Anees Jung explain the over sensitivity of the poor rag pickers to the rich men's promises?

Anees Jung strongly believes that the poor people are over sensitive to the promises of the rich. She had experienced this in the case of Saheb who believed the fake promise of starting a school given by her.

Why should there be a hard time for Saheb to believe the meaning of his name?

Saheb's full name is Saheb-E-Alam which means the Lord of the Universe. Being a poor rag picker, Saheb cannot believe that the Lord of the Universe is supposed to be like him and therefore he will struggle to believe the meaning of his name.

How does the author reason the barefoot tradition of the rag pickers?

The rag pickers of Seemapuri are traditionally barefooted. The author is doubtful about the origin and reasons behind this tradition of the rag pickers. She believes that it is an excuse to explain their poverty. But on the other side she sees the possibilities of the traces of an ancient tradition preserved by the poor rag pickers.

What does the story the man from Udipi told the author tell about the blindness to traditions and religious stigma?

A man from Udipi once told the author his own story when he was a boy and his father a priest in the temple. As a young boy he would go to school past this old temple and stop briefly to pray for a pair of shoes. Thirty years later when the author visited his town and the temple, she saw a lot of modern instances in the town and lifestyle of the people. The author means to indicate the timely changes education brings to people and how the illiterate rag pickers remain unchanged, carrying the rotten traditions.

How is Seemapuri both near and far away from Delhi?

Seemapuri is a backward area on the periphery of Delhi. Geographically it is very close to Delhi whereas its traditions, standard of life and people are far behind the time.

Food is more important for survival than an identity. How is this statement true in the lives of the Seemapurian rag pickers?

Thousands of rag pickers live in Seemapuri. They do not have any identity in their society or in the country. Yet they are happy for the fact that here thsey don't need to starve as it used to be in Bangladesh where they had come from.

How did Seemapuri turn out to be a better place for the Bangladeshis?

Seemapuri was a deserted area when the Bangladeshis arrived here three decades ago. They were forced to come here due to the natural disasters in Bangladesh. They loved Seemapuri because they could survive here. They had food and shelter here.

How do you understand rag picking having the proportions of a fine art in Seemapuri?

Like any other art form, rag picking possesses certain talents and rules. One needs guidance and inborn talents to be a successful rag picker. He should know where to find garbage, what to take, what to ignore, what time is best for it and so on. In Seemapuri every child is taught the essential art of rag picking.

'It seems that for children, garbage has a meaning different from what it means to their parents.' Explain.

In Seemapuri survival means rag picking. The elders have made it their profession for a fixed wages whereas for the children rag picking is a game of treasure- hunting. They work through the garbage with a hope that one day they would get a gold coin or a rupee note from the garbage heap.

Why is Saheb keenly watching the neighborhood tennis players?

Sometime Saheb can be found outside the club watching people play tennis. He is not interested in playing tennis. He was content to watch the game from outside. He is more interested in using the swing.

Whether Saheb likes or not, he is altogether changed for all his prosperity. What is the change? What does this change suggest?

Saheb was once a rag picker and now works in a tea-shop, carrying milk for a better, fixed wages. Unlike the others in his family and caste, Saheb's willingness to opt another line of work other than the traditional way of following his lineage is a mark of change in his life.

How is Mukesh's attitude different from that of Saheb, both two sides of the same coin?

Mukesh and Saheb belong to slums and are forced to work as children. Saheb is cool and lack much determination in life. He is less expressive. Changes happened to him unexpectedly. Mukesh is determined and well planned. He is practical too. Unlike the rest of his people, Mukesh is ready to rebel with the social set up and is optimistic about his bright future.

What is the incongruity of Mukesh's dreaming to be a motor mechanic?

Mukesh belongs to a bangle-making family in Firozabad. His people believe that they have to keep up with the traditions and that they have to do no other work other than bangle-making for the auspiciousness of marriage in the country. But Mukesh wishes to be a motor mechanic which is out of question in his tradition.

How does the author narrate the child labor prevailing in Firozabad?

Around 20,000 children are working in glass furnaces with high temperatures, in dingy cells without air and light. Here they slog their daylight hours, often losing the brightness of their eyes. Their eyes are more adjusted to the dark than to the light outside. Due to this they often end up losing their eyesight before they become adults.

Karam and God-given lineage amply tell the sad picture of the stigma of religion that rules the poor people of India? Explain.

India is still primitive in many spheres of life even in our time. A big majority of Indians in the villages still believe the division of labor system that began centuries

ago. When one is not doing any better in life due to the unwillingness to adopt another profession, they accept it as God's plan and do the same work as if it is a God given lineage.

Which are the two hurdles that Mukesh has to break away for a better existence?

Mukesh has realized that being a bangle maker will not alleviate his poverty and therefore he wishes to become a motor mechanic to be successful in his life. But doing any job other than bangle making is out of question in his society. He has to first convince his family and society of the need of undertaking another profession. If the society lets him choose his way, Mukesh has to face an inconvincible group of middlemen, politicians and their watchdogs, the police of Firozabad, who are altogether the sole beneficiaries.

Why is Saheb not his own master?

Saheb was his own master when he was a rag picker. He was not accountable to anyone nor was he to work for someone. But now Saheb is working for a tea shop, having to carry milk from a milk booth. Even though he is paid Rs.800 and all his meals, Saheb has lost his freedom to roam with his friends and to be his own master.

How far is the change good for Saheb?

Saheb was once a carefree boy, with no responsibilities and tensions, and of course, no achievements in life. But now he is a responsible boy, earning more than anyone in his society does. While the others go on a lazy life, Saheb-e-Alam is rising to a prosperous life. Soon he will be rich and leading a different life and a model for the rest of him.

In what sense is Mukesh’s father a failure?

Mukesh’s father was once a tailor before he became a bangle maker in Firozabad. He was a failure in his life as he could not teach his two sons nothing other than the art of bangle making.

Explain: Daring is not part of his growing up.

Mukesh’s society does not dare to question the social evils that they suffer under the middlemen and politicians and policemen. Most people here believe that they are asked by god to carry on this unprofitable profession of bangle making while some people blame their destiny for their wretchedness. So no one is allowed to think differently and the question of how to overcome the curse of the middlemen usually doesn’t arise among them because if any one dared to rise against them, they are suppressed.

What do you mean by 'stigma of caste?'

Religion has the power to make anyone anything. Once one got trapped by any religion, he is no more ruled by reason; superstitions start ruling them. He finds reason for any senseless act of him in the mirage created by the religion. This illusion is called stigma of religion.

What is the vicious circle for the people of Firozabad? Why is it called so?

People of Firozabad live in an illusionary world. Bangle makers over generations, they believe that it is a god-given work that they are doing and feel proud of being bangle makers. In fact this superstition is a trap for them. They are in an inescapable whirlpool, surrounded by beliefs and traditions. They do not understand that the rich people and the politicians want them believe such beliefs.

Do you think Mukesh will reach his goal of becoming a motor mechanic? Give reasons.

Yes, there are all the possibilities that Mukesh will one day become a motor mechanic. First of all it is his unique ambition in life that he shares with none else in his society. He is aware of the hurdles he has to face. His dream is a very reasonable and not far from his reach if he could overthrow the middlemen or run away from them.

If you have another question or another answer, kindly ask us or answer us down there in the box.

Questions you can answer:

How are politicians, agents, middlemen and policemen responsible for the misfortunes of the people of Firozabad? (2 marks)

Before he is aware, he accepts its as naturally as his father had accepted. Explain. (2 marks)

In his small murmur there is an embarrassment that has not yet turned into regret. What embarrassment is the author talking about? Why should Mukesh regret it? (2 marks)

Why don't the bangle makers of Firozabad organise worker's unions and cooperatives? (2 marks)

How does illiteracy and ignorance play a cruel game in the lives of the bangle makers? (2 marks)

The Last Lesson


Two states of France, Alsace and Lorraine, were conquered by the Prussian troops in the beginning of the 1890 Franco-Prussian war. (The war lasted for only one year) The new government imposed rules and bans on the French people. The last of the bans was the ban on the learning and teaching of French.

Ban and its impact

The news of the ban was displayed on the bulletin board in front of the town hall. People crowded there to read the bulletin. They were very much shocked and sad. They had to accept the ban under great resentment. They saw how much they had loved their mother tongue. They saw how important their language was. They didn’t want to lose their language. They discussed their fate, shared their bitterness and felt helpless.

Franz, the lead character

It was at this time Franz was rushing to his school. He was a student of the elementary school in Alsace run by Mister Hamel, the teacher who taught them French. He was, as usual, late. A blacksmith, Mr. Watcher, saw him dashing by. Watcher expressed his anger and helplessness at the ban on French by asking Franz not to go in such a hurry as there was no more French to be learnt. But Franz hurried on, because he didn’t understand what Mr. Watcher mean.

Franz reaching school

Once outside the school, Franz wondered at the silence around the school. It was never silent like this! Was it Sunday? He wondered. He waited for the noises from the school to get in without being noticed but there was not a sound. Finally he had to go in in front of all. To his amazement he was not punished for his late coming. M. Hamel, the cranky teacher, asked him to get in and regretted having begun the class without Franz. Franz took his seat.

The unusual classroom

Among others Franz noticed that the classroom was full and there were some old villagers sitting in the back benches. M. Hamel announced that it was their last French class as the Prussians had banned French in schools and introduced German instead. It was shocking news for Franz. Only then he understood why the people had been staring at the bulletin board. He too felt his love for French returning. He hated the Prussians for every reason. He began to love his teacher, classroom, books and lessons. He felt sorry for not learning his lessons, for postponing his study and for not realizing the greatness of his language.

M. Hamel’s speech

Franz heard his teacher praising French, blaming French parents for not sending their children to school and children for not attending school. He also blamed

himself for not being a committed teacher. M. Hamel said that language is very important for a nation because the unity of a nation mostly depended on its language and no aggression can make such a united nation its slave. There was complete silence in the class. Even the children made a sound. They were all sad. Franz heard pigeons cooing on the roof of the classroom and wondered if the Prussians wound impose a ban on their cooing-language the next day. He heard an old man, Hauser, reading lessons with the children. He too was crying.

The class is dismissed!

It was noon. The Prussian soldiers went marching by the school. Their sounds frightened everyone. If they noticed that a class was still progressing, they could have arrested M. Hamel. But M. Hamel showed amazing patriotism. He wanted to say, “Long live France” but he could not. Either he was overwhelmed by emotions or he was scared of the Prussians. He went to the black board and wrote as big as he could: viva la France! Long live, France!

In short

The people of Alsace and Lorraine had true love for their nation and their mother tongue, French, but they were not keen enough to learn it. They always put off learning for another day. Parents used to send their children to mills and fields to make more earning rather than ending them to learn.

M. Hamel's school was rather a mess. The children used to howl. The teacher was very cranky yet there was no peace inside the classrooms. Due to the scarcity of teachers, all the students sat in a hall. The back benches were always empty.

One day Alsace was conquered by the Prussians. They imposed a ban on teaching French in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine besides introducing their language German as the official language. As per the ban all the French teachers were to quit the territory in no time. The ban gave a heavy impact on the people. The ban was a blot from the sky. The people of Alsace for the first time realized how much they had loved their mother tongue.

The last lesson turned out to be a new lesson for young and old. They learnt the importance, greatness and sweetness of French language. They wished if they could learn it in an hour. They realized that the cause of their defeat was their illiteracy.

Why was Franz late for school that day?

Franz was instinctively not interested in learning French language. That day he had to learn the rules of Participles and he was least prepared for that and was therefore afraid of his teacher, M. Hamel. Moreover, he was allured by the attractions on the way to school.

What attracted Franz on his way to school?

Franz was attracted by the warm weather outside. The birds that chirped at the edge of the forest and the Prussian soldiers who were drilling also slowed down his interest to go to school.

What did Watcher mean by saying Franz would get to his school in plenty of time?

Answer-1: Watcher, the blacksmith, meant it ironically. He meant there was no more French taught in the school as per the ban imposed by the Prussians and it would take a long time to get it back and therefore there was no need to hurry to his school.

Describe the atmosphere of the school on usual days.

On usual days the school no longer looked like a school. The noises inside the school could be heard out in the street. Children were in a playful mood, opening and closing their desks and shouting their lessons in chorus. The teacher had to use his ruler to silence the class.

How did the classroom look different that last day? Whose presence was extraordinary?

For the first time in its existence, M. Hamel's classroom looked like a classroom. There was a deep silence in the class. No one spoke a word. All were sad. Besides, the presence of the villagers there was extraordinary.

Why was that class to be the Last Class?

Alsace was conquered by the Prussians and as a result a new order came from Berlin to ban teaching of French in the schools of Alsace. The order further said that all the French teachers like M. Hamel had to leave the territory within a day and therefore that class was to be the last class.

How had Franz' books become 'old friends for him?

Friends become sweeter when they depart from us. With the ban on French, his books were also going to separate from Franz and therefore they seemed to be old friends for him.

Franz related the extraordinary changes in the classroom to the ban on French that had been published on the bulletin board. How?

When Franz passed the bulletin board at the Town Hall, he didn't know what was so curious about it. Later, when he reached his school there were changes and curiosity there too. Finally when he was told of the ban on French and of M. Hamel's transfer, he connected the order on the bulletin board and the extraordinary changes in the classroom.

What did M. Hamel mean by, 'And now you see where we’ve come out!'

The people of Alsace were generally unwilling to learn their language. They left learning to another day and did all except that. Suddenly the ban on French was imposed by the Prussians and the people had no time left to learn their mother tongue.

How does M. Hamel blame the parents of his students?

The parents of his students were, in M. Hamel's opinion, greedy for money. They considered learning less important than making a living. They used to send their children to work in the farms and mills to earn an extra amount of money.

How is a nation's language important for its citizens beyond the mere use for communication?

Language is primarily important for communication. Besides, it has the amazing power to bind a nation together. Once a nation is thus united it can stand against all foreign aggressions and safeguard its freedom.

The dead reaction to the beetles that flew into the classroom clearly said the children's resentment to the ban on French. Explain.

In M. Hamel's school beetles used to swarm in and children used to take that for fun, too. But that day there was an amazing change in the usual reactions to the beetles. Due to the shock and sadness caused by the ban on French even the little children took no notice of the beetles.

What changes had happened in and outside the classroom during the forty years of M. Hamel's service? How do they speak of his incompetence?

M Hamel was sent to teach the Alsace population. Forty years passed yet Alsace remained illiterate. Only the desks and benches had been worn smooth; the walnut- trees in the garden were taller, and the hopvine that he had planted himself twined about the windows to the roof. Yet there was no change or growth in the literacy and education levels of the people.

How does the author present a nation's love for its lost freedom?

For the people of Alsace being conquered by another country wasn’t a new experience. But they had never foreseen that their freedom to learn their own language would be taken away from them one day. They had a teacher to teach them French but they never took him seriously. They used to put off learning for another day but one day came without another day to follow. Their freedom to learn their own language taken away from them, the people of Alsace realized its importance. Everyone, young and old, reflected the loss of something whose importance they realized only when it was taken away from them. They wanted their freedom back. They wished to learn their language as intensely as their teacher wished to teach them in an hour’s time. The usually boisterous classroom

became a peaceful place of learning. Some felt a sudden love for their books that were once burden for them while others wept with their books in hand. The teacher became emotional and accepted his failure in teaching the people and his students strove to learn French in an hour. They hated the Prussians and themselves for their lost freedom.

How far is a language important for a nation's freedom?

A nation that stands separated cannot stand against its enemy. Language is one of the most powerful elements that boosts the unity of a nation. If a nation has a single language it is said to be united and no aggression can conquer it.

How was the last class a new lesson for Franz?

Franz was a typical child of Alsace. He too, like the others, had put off learning for another day. To Franz learning French was very difficult. He loved anything except his own language. But when he was told that there was no more chance to learn of his language, Franz felt guilty of not having taken keen interest to learn it. It is obvious that Franz knew no French, if at all to read and write. All of a sudden his love for learning his language grew strong in him. He paid his full attention to his master Hamel. He understood every rule of the grammar, every sentence, very easy. The teacher no longer appeared to him cranky nor his terrible ruler any more terrorizing. He loved to learn French in an hour. He felt very sorry for not learning. The last class was unforgettable for Franz.


How did M. Hamel behave in the last class? (2 marks)

What hidden message did Watcher's advice to Franz contain?

"What would I not have given to be able to say that dreadful rule for participle all through, very loud and clear, and without one mistake?" What did Franz mean by this? (1 mark)

What is the great trouble of Alsace, in M Hamel's opinion? (1 mark)

"Now those fellows out there will have the right to say to you…" What will the fellows rightly say to the French men? OR What was the justification of the Prussians for imposing German on the Alsace population? (2 marks)

Was M Hamel an efficient and successful teacher in your opinion? Support your answer. (10 marks)

The Tiger King


When the prince of Pratibandhapuram was just ten days old the astrologers predicted that the prince would be killed by a tiger because he was born at the hour of the bull star. When the prince grew up and became the new king he went on hunting tigers to kill the hundredth tiger that was believed to be the king’s killer. Overcoming all the hurdles that came in the king’s hunting mission, ninety nine tigers were killed. The hundredth tiger was not found anywhere. The king became furious and mad. He dismissed many of his ministers and his people began to hate him. To put an end to all this, the Devan, the prime minister of the king, brought a very old tiger to the forest where the king was hunting and placed the tiger in front of the tiger. The king shot the tiger and went to the palace believing that he had killed the hundredth tiger, his enemy (But the tiger was not in fact killed; it had fainted at the sound of the firing; the bullet missed the target). Next day the king and his son were playing with a wooden tiger when a sliver pierced his finger. Though the king ignored the wound, soon it became critical and some very famous surgeons were called to the palace. The surgeons operated the king and declared that the operation was successful but the king had died.


What extraordinary event happened when the Tiger King was merely ten days old?

When the tiger king was only ten day old the astrologers made an incoherent prediction that the child would grow up and one day meet his death. While others heard them sadly, the baby prince asked a very wise question as to what was new in such a prediction as it is a universal truth that everyone should die.

What were the two hurdles that the maharaja had to face during his tiger hunt?

The two hurdles that the maharaja faced during his tiger hunt for ten years were the extinction of tiger population in his own country and the arrival of the British officer who wished to kill tigers.

What was the rationale behind the astrologer’s prediction that the tiger king would be killed by a tiger?

According to the astrologers, the Tiger King was born at the hour of the bull-star. Anyone who is born at the time of the bull is killed by tiger because tiger and bull are enemies.

Why did the Tiger King decide to marry?

The Tiger King went on a tiger hunt to kill the hundredth tiger to remove his fear of death but the tiger population in his country went dry. To hunt further tigers he married a princess whose father’s forest had tigers in it.

Why did the Tiger King exempt the hillside villagers from their taxes for three years?

During his tiger hunt, the Tiger King was left with just one tiger to be killed. After his desperate search for a single tiger there came news that there was a tiger in a village in his country. Pleased to hear that, the king announced exemption of tax for that villagers.

Why did the Devan decide to bring a tiger from the People’s Park?

The hundredth tiger was not very easy to hunt down. The king became furious and mad and dismissed many of the officers. Being a wise man, the devan knew the country would pass into the hands of Indian National Congress and that he too would lose his position, he decided to bring an old tiger from the People’s Park in Madras.

“At another time he was in danger of losing his throne”. How?

While the maharaja went on killing tigers one after another and thus reaching his tally of the hundredth tiger, an English officer landed Pratibandapuram with an intention to hunt tiger. But the maharaja was not happy with this and denied permission for the officer which roused the latter’s ill will. The maharaja was firm to his decision and stood at risk of losing his crown by not yielding to an English officer.

What was the compromise the British officer was ready to make with the king? Why did the king refuse this?

The British officer was ready for a compromise when he heard that the maharaja was unwilling to let him hunt in his forest. The officer sent his messenger to the king and informed him that he could take the photograph after the tiger was killed by the king. Even though this appeared to be the best solution, the king refused the suggestion fearing that soon other officers also would come to his forest with similar requests.

How did the maharaja get out of the clash with the British officer?

By denying permission to the British officer to hunt tigers or at least to get photographed with the carcass of the tiger killed by the maharaja, the king aggravated the fury of the officer. In order to pacify the officer and thereby retain his throne, the maharaja sent a gift of fifty diamond rings to the officer’s wife and pleased her and got out of the spat.

How does the maharaja appear to be a satirical character?

The maharaja of Pratibandapuram deserves to be called a maharaja in every case. He was strong enough to kill the wild tigers with his bare hands. He was brave enough to think about killing not one, but hundred tigers. He was bold enough to stand against a British officer by refusing him permission to hunt in his forest. He was wise enough to please the officer by pleasing his wife and was rich enough to

send fifty diamond rings to the good lady of the officer. He was even cunning enough to arrange his marriage with a princess whose father’s forest had the maximum number of tigers. Yet he appears to be the opposite of what he had done and what he was because this powerful king was finally killed by the sliver of a worthless wooden tiger! His death brought him great shame. His boldness, cunningness, strength and bravery failed miserably at the hands of an insignificant wooden tiger. He can also be laughed at for his blindly believing the astrologers, for the dereliction of duty as a king, for imposing tax on the villagers out of rage, for forgetting the sanctity and meaning of marriage and for dismissing his officers for no official reason.

Going Places


Sophie belonged to a poor family. She had a lot of unfulfilled dreams. She wanted to own a beautique, she wanted to be an actress, she wanted to be a fashion designer and much more. She longed to be anything that was beyond her reach. When she could not achieve them she satisfied herself by telling lies and enjoying when people believed her.

Sophie tells a lie

After an interval Sophie came with another sophisticated lie: She met Danny Casey, a popular football player from Ireland now a distraction for the English youth. As usual she made her brother Geoff believe this story by reminding him he was always the first one she told her secrets.

The lie spreads

Geoff took the story to their father and then proudly to his friends. The story reached many and people started asking Sophie about her relations with their great hero, Casey. They were also told that Sophie was to meet Danny in a park on a certain day.

Lie hardens to truth

Days passed and everyone forgot Sophie and her Casey. By this time the effect of telling the lie continuously made Sophie believe her own lie. She could not think of it in clear lights. In a way Sophie became the victim of her own repeated lies.

Victim of a lie

The day on which Sophie was to meet Casey arrived. Sophie found her walking to the park to meet Danny Casey. She sat there and began waiting for Casey’s coming. Minutes ticked away and Danny delayed his coming. Sophie’s excitement gave way to doubts. She began to doubt if he would really come or not. She grew sad for his

not coming. And then, when she thought the other way, she realized that it was all a lie. Realization came to her. She saw how big a burden it was for her to put herself in such a situation. She rose and walked back.

Do you think Sophie appears to be impractical? Explain with an example.

Sophie was a dreamer at its chronic stage and was therefore impractical in her behavior. She used to jump from one to another plan, all beyond her reach. Once she told her friend Jansie that she would start a boutique. When Jansie commented that it would not be possible for her, Sophie changed her plan and quickly went on planning to be an actress, a manager or a fashion designer, all beyond her reach.

Why did Sophie, then, make such big plans?

Sophie was poor and was aware of that yet she was not able to accept the fact. Between facts and desires, she struggled to build a dreamy world of hers where she had expensive friends and sought-after boutique. In this world she was a manager, an actress and the centre of attraction. Thus, by creating this fairy world, Sophie made her dreams take wings and fly.

Geoff was an entirely different character from Sophie. Explain.

Geoff was Sophie’s elder brother. He was a very practical young man. He dreamed to become a motor mechanic and worked hard for it and became one. He took life with all its struggles and conquered it as much as he could. But Sophie lived in her dreams and found enjoyment and realization in dreams. She was never ready to struggle.

Why was Sophie jealous of Geoff?

Sophie was a nonstop speaker. Whatever she talked was impracticality and lie. But on the other side Geoff was a silent young man. His silence gave him a lustrous personality. Sophie always wanted to be able to hold her tongue but was never able to do so and this made her jealous of Geoff’s silence.

What was Geoff’s unknown world that Sophie believed to have existed? Did this world really exist?

Sophie believed that Geoff had a world unknown to her, that existed in the city. In that world there were exotic and interesting people. No, this world did not really exist.

'Sophie wished she could be admitted more deeply into her brother’s affections.' What does she mean by her brother’s affections?

Sophie’s world was one of fantasy. Her brother Geoff was a very practical young man with an urge to work hard. Unlike Sophie, he was very silent. Sophie believed that Geoff had a world of great friends and lovers, unknown to her. After thinking so

over and over, Sophie began to believe that Geoff’s world was real and wanted to be considered very important among Geoff’s friends.

Evaluate Sophie from her feeling that the city expectantly awaited her arrival?

Even though Sophie was a poor teenager, she had expensive dreams. She could not accept the fact that she was poor. She considered her to be a rich city girl. She considered herself to be very important for the city. She placed herself to be the centre of the city life. From all this Sophie appears to be an impractical girl who lived in a world of dreams.

What was Sophie's latest lie?

Sophie was a habitual liar and an endless dreamer. She told lies in the best convincing way. The latest of her lies was that she had an unexpected meeting with Danny Casey, the Irish football player. She further told that the great hero was in love with her and that he had promised an evening with her in a park.

Why did Sophie give an extra importance to Geoff by showing that she was 'chastened by his unawareness?'

One of Sophie’s tricks while telling lies was to pass the lie first to Geoff, her brother. Geoff was a simpleton and easily believed her stories. When Geoff asked her whether she had told their father about her meeting Danny Casey, Sophie expressed her pain and agitation at his forgetting that he was always the first one to whom she disclosed her top secrets. In fact the purpose of making Geoff feel that he was very important to Sophie was to make him believe her by pleasing him.

How was Danny Casey going to be a lot of distractions for youngsters?

Danny Casey was a rising football prodigy from Ireland. He had already become a sensation in England where he played for the United Manchester. People believed that Danny would become a distraction for the youngsters of the time if his popularity went on rising.

What were Sophie's expectation when she walked to the park?

Sophie expected that she would meet Danny Casey in the park. She wondered about the thrill the moment she saw the great hero walking to her. She was happy that she would get an autograph from Danny Casey and that she would be able to convince everyone that she had not been a liar.

Why did Sophie go to the park to meet Danny Casey even though it was a lie?

A repeated lie sometimes appears to be a truth, especially to the one who told it. After telling everyone about her meeting Danny Casey, Sophie too had a faint feeling that she had really met him. When that feeling grew up to a concrete belief,

Sophie forgot that it was a lie and therefore she went to the park to meet Danny Casey.

In the second stage of Sophie's mental transformation she starts doubting Danny Casey. What makes her suspect him?

In the final stage of Sophie's mental transformation we see a Sophie suspecting herself and realizing the truth. Explain.

'I can see the future and how I will have to live with this burden.' What burden is Sophie talking about?

Sophie is talking about her habit of telling lies and her helplessness in keeping this burden down for ever.


Do you like to be interviewd?

You cannot love interviews when you are a celebrity, all the time surrounded by the interviewers and camera flash, by unnecessary questions and seeing your answers twisted, misinterpreted and gossiped in the media…

Do celebrities like to be interviewed?

Some celebrities have expressed their views about interviews. Most of them condemn being interviewed. VS Naipaul condemns interviews because interviews are unnecessary intrusions into our personal life and they hurt people. Lewis Carroll had great fear for the interviewers. He loved to have normal life and therefore hated being interviewed because he believed interviews give a person too much importance in the society. Rudyard Kippling had an even more condemnatory attitude towards interviews. He considered it to be a crime, an immoral activity and wanted the interviewer punished for stealing, assaulting and attacking. H.G. Wells was a celebrity who considered interview to be an ordeal while Soul Bellow felt he had been forced to speak during the interview. He felt his windpipe being thumbed to speak.

Why do ordinary people like to read interviews?

Yet we cannot forget the benefits of an interview. It is a medium that brings down the great thoughts of the great people to the ordinary people and make them great!

An Interview with Umberto Eco

Here is a sample interview. Umberto Eco is the celebrity being interviewed by Mukund from the Hindu newspaper. Umberto Eco is a professor at Bologna

University, Italy and an expert in Semiotics, the study of signs. Eco’s books on any academic subject have some narrative/story style and therefore they are not boring to the student. After writing so many books on Semiotics, Eco turned to writing novels. His Name of the Rose became an international bestseller. He explains his writing style, his secret of finding time to write, the secret of the success of his novels, his love for Semiotics, etc.

How do you find time to write a number of books on various topics?

I believe in the theory of Interstices, that is, there is a lot of empty spaces in every

atom and if we can remove those empty spaces, the universe will be as small as a fist of the hand. Similarly, a lot of wasted time is there in our routine. I make use of the empty spaces in my life.

How do you make your academic books extraordinarily interesting?

My narrative style. I write my academic books/educative books like stories full of characters and incidents rather than theories.

You dedicated your life for academics, teaching and Semiotics but you became

popular as a novelist with the publication of the Name of the Rose. Does it bother


I am disappointed on one side because Semiotics could not become a popular

branch of study. On the other side I am happy that I could be popular and, to some

extent, Semiotics as well because the content of my novel is also semiotics.

‘The Name of the Rose,’ deals with the academic stuff. How did you make it a


I mixed a detective yarn in the storyline.

‘The Name of the Rose’ was a success even in America where the theme was new. How was it possible?

A mystery. The fate of the novel would have been different if it were published

some years before or after.

Questions & Answers

Why do celebrities despise interviews?

While common people are eager to read the interviews of the celebrities, the very celebrities have an aversion to being interviewed. Most of them find interviews

intruding into their personal lives while some fear it, some loathe it, some consider

it immoral and assaulting.

What is V.S. Naipaul’s attitude towards interview?

VS Naipaul feels that some people are wounded by interviews and lose a part of themselves.

What were Lewis Carroll’s fears regarding interviews?

Lewis Carroll says interviews bring unparallel heights to the person in the society and that they will be regarded more than what they are and consequently they will lose their friends and dear ones.

What make Rudyard Kipling condemn being interviewed?

Rudyard Kipling considered interviews to be immoral. He said it is a crime, just as much of a crime as an offence against the person interviewed, as an assault, and just as much merits punishment. He adds that it is cowardly and vile and therefore no respectable man would ask it, much less give it.

What does Saul Bellow mean by saying that ‘interviews were thumbprints on his windpipe?’

Saul Bellow used to allow to be interviewed yet he used to comment that he used to have great trouble to be interviewed because it was an experience of his throat being thumbed by his interviewers.

How does interview serve a noble purpose in the modern world?

Even though most celebrities condemn interviews, it serves a noble purpose to the rest of the world. The great thoughts and attitudes of the celebrities reach the common people through the medium of interview and make people’s life more meaningful and enlightened.

What is the irony in Eco’s statement, ‘I am a professor who writes novels on Sundays?’

A novelist can never say that he keeps a day for writing novels. Writers are always writers. Yet Umberto Eco is an exception. Though he is a world famous novelist, he primarily considers himself as a professor and an academic writer and hardly get time for writing novels except on Sundays.

What is Semiotics? How is Eco known in connection with Semiotics?

Semiotics is the study of signs. Eco is a professor of semiotics at the Bologna University, Italy, and writes academic books on this subject.

What enabled Eco to acquire the equivalent of intellectual superstardom?

Umberto Eco is famous for his books on semiotics and popular for his novel. Besides, he deals with literary interpretation, medieval aesthetics, literary fiction, academic texts, essays, children’s books, newspaper articles, etc. This quality of

being at the same time able to handle such a wide range of subjects as a writer enabled him to acquire the equivalent of intellectual superstardom.

Explain Eco’s theory of interstices.

There is a lot of empty space between the nucleus and electrons in each atom and if that empty space is removed, the universe will be as small as a human fist. Even though this is a bit of exaggeration, Eco wants to say that similar empty spaces are in our lives too and if we remove them we can find out a lot of time to do more.

How does Umberto Eco manage time to write a wide range of books in his limited time?

Umberto Eco believes that there is a lot of empty space in everyone’s life. If we efficiently make use of this wasted time, however short they are, we can find a lot of time in our lives. Eco finds his time to write during such times.

What is the marked departure from a regular academic style that is found in Eco’s academic books?

Most of the academic books are uninteresting and dry. But Eco’s books on any serious academic subject is different because his books have a story style where the student can find characters, incidents and stories that teach the subject of study.

What important lesson did Eco learn while writing his doctoral dissertation? How did it influence him in his writing academic books and later becoming a novelist?

What makes Eco identify himself with the academic community even though he is better known as a novelist?

How does Eco balance his botheration of being overshadowed by the fame of a novelist?

What do you understand about the Name of the Rose?

Why were journalists and publishers puzzled about the success of the Name of the Rose before it really became success

What personal theory made Eco to pen down his successful novel, The Name of the Rose?

What was extraordinary about the success of the Name of the Rose in America?

Why does Eco admit that the reason behind the success of the Name of the Rose was a ‘mystery?’

Why are interviews loved by a great many common people?

Interviews are loved by the common people. They love Interviews because it is a medium of communication between the great people and ordinary people. Some people have great ideas and great lives while the rest think ordinarily and live an ordinary life. By reading the interviews of the great people, the ordinary people are enlightened and inspired. They too can live a great life.

Keeping Quiet

The poet, Pablo Neruda, advises us to be silent for some time during our busy, frustrated, insecure and selfish life. He promises us lasting peace of mind and endless happiness that we have never experienced in our lives. Shut up! This is what he asks us to do. Count as long as twelve, stop talking to others by words or by signals of hands, start talking to one's mind, search in the depth of the mind the causes of sadness, realize that the solution for your sadness is not committing suicide, there is a better way: accept that your ego is the cause of your sadness. Kill the ego, die with your ego and wait for a new birth. Definitely you will live a new life without ego. Come back fresh to a world devoid of wars of any kind, selfishness of any sort and sadness of any depth…

Now we will count to twelve and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the Earth let’s not speak in any language,

Let’s stop for one second, and not move our arms so much.

What is the significance of 'counting to twelve?'

Twelve is an extended counting. While counting for a longer time one feels more relaxed than counting for a short time such as one or three. As the counting is followed by a relaxed time of silent meditation, one needs to keep his mind at ease by counting steadily for a longer time.

Why does the poet ask his hearers to stop using any language?

Languages help us to communicate with other people. As the poet wants this time of silence for talking to oneself, not for talking to other people, he doesn't want us to use any language.

Why does the poet ask his hearers to make no movements of the arms?

Like any language, movements of arms can also communicate with other people.

The poet wants his hearers to stop all sorts of communication with others to achieve

a silent meditation and therefore he asks his hearers to stop any movements of the arms.

It would be an exotic moment without rush, without engines,

We would all be together in a sudden strangeness.

How does the time of silent introspection become an exotic moment for us?

The result of a silent introspection of this kind guarantees a perfect peace of mind. When this peace is achieved through silence, the happiness it it provides is equal to no other happiness. It is exotic. Tail: This self-imposed silence will turn out to be unexplainably pleasant. You will experience the happiness you have been after all these years.

What does the poet mean by 'rush?'

Rush means the rush that people make to defeat the others, to reach before the others reach and the rush for achievements.

What sort of 'togetherness' can we experience while keeping quiet?

By keeping quiet we are able to understand our true self and its limitations. We realize how selfish we are and wipe out our ego through meditation. By eliminating a vast world of ego we give room for our brothers and feel a new togetherness.

What does the poet mean by the sudden strangeness?

By eliminating one's ego he finds room for all the rest of the people in the world. When one starts feeling this togetherness, this new relaion will be a new 'strange' experience.

Fisherman in the cold sea would not harm whales

And the man gathering salt would look at his hurt hands

What does 'fisherman' symbolize?

Fisherman is a symbol to represent the mighty/rich/influencial people of the world. There are many in every society who can rule the people and ruin anything. But the poet requests them to stop their atrocities for a while and think about themselves.

Who are represented by the salt gatherers?

Salt-gatherer is another symbol, representing all the poor/crushed people of the society. His hands are hurt and wounded while collecting salt for making a living.

What should the salt-gatherer do at the time of silence?

The salt-gatherer has to look at his miseries and accept his state of being. A life that doesn't accept itself is always sad.

Those who prepare green wars, wars with gas, wars with fire,

Victory with no survivors, would put on clean clothes

And walk about with their brothers in the shade, doing nothing.

What are green wars?

We use our deadly weapons to kill the mother earth. We have poisonous gases and explosives to kill the earth.

Why is victory without survivors?

Anyone can fight, kill and destroy. Anyone can defeat and be victorious. But no one can enjoy the victory of his wars.

What does the poet want in the place of wars?

It is not war we want. We want peace. It is time to hate wars and destruction. It is

time to walk peacefully with everyone whom we call enemies.

What I want should not be confused with total inactivity.

Life is what it is about;

What confusion, does the poet fear, has been created by him in his readers' mind? Or, What misunderstanding does the poet want to clear?

The poet at this point fears that his readers might take him wrongly. He makes it very clear that he is not talking about inactivity but activity. He wants his listeners to keep silent and inactive only for some time.

Explain, 'life is what it is about.'

The poet reminds us that life is meaningful only in activity. Life is an ongoing process and everything and everyone should be moving at all time.

I want no truck with death.

If we were not single-minded about keeping our lives moving

And for once could do nothing perhaps a huge silence might interrupt this sadness

Of never understanding ourselves and of threatening ourselves with death…

What does "truck with death" mean? Why does the poet not want a truck with death?

Truck with death means an agreement with death. The poet believes that man has

a tendency to get the help of death when he is surrounded by sadness and dullness.

Poet doesn't want any agreement with death because he believes that introspection is the right way to get rid of our sadness, not death.

What happens when one is interrupted by silence?

When one is interrupted by silence, one gets time to introspect and thus get time to kill his ego and all the internal struggles caused by selfishness.

Which are the two prerequisites for achieving the interruption of silence?

The first prerequisite for achieving the interruption of silence is to keep our single- mindedness away while the other is to do nothing for a while.

When do people threaten themselves with death?

People tend to threaten themselves with the idea of committing suicide when they find themselves surrounded with sadness and inescapable dullness of mind.

Perhaps the earth can teach us

As when everything seems dead and later proves to be alive.

What does the earth teach us about the significance of keeping silence?

The earth is full of examples that approve of the necessity to be silent. Everything keeps silent for sometime in order to rejuvenate. Autumn dying in order to come fresh in the Spring season and seeds decaying to give live to a new plant, are examples for this.

Now I will count up to twelve

And you keep quiet and I will go.

The poet concludes here. His instructions are completed. Now it is the time to put them in practice. He is going to start counting for his listeners at the end of what they are going to go silent and still.

And you keep quiet and I will go. The process will begin soon. We will all keep silent as the poet has asked us to. We will introspect by diving deep into the abyss of our dark minds and find out great happiness that we have never experienced in our lives. We will then accept our limitations like the salt-gatherer, we will then stop harming others, we will finally cease to be selfish. Thus we will start shedding our ego which is in other words, our feeling of 'I.' Shedding of one's EGO or 'I'ness' is what the poet means by, 'I will Go!'

A Thing of Beauty


A beautiful thing is happiness forever. Whatever happens, we cannot hate a really

beautiful thing. Even when it fades, decays or dies, we love such things without any conditions. It will never be forgotten even after its death, a thousand or two

thousands later. When we live surrounded by beautiful people, places and things, our minds will be refreshed and will have sweet dreams while sleeping. As a further result we will have good health and quiet breathing.

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever

Its loveliness increases, it will never pass into nothingness;

But will keep a bower quiet for us, and a sleep full of sweet dreams,

And health, and quiet breathing.

How is a thing of beauty a joy forever?

A thing is said to be a 'thing of beauty,' because it is a source of joy for ever. When

we think of it we should be happy and in its absence too, it should fill our minds with divine memories of it.

How does the loveliness of the beautiful thing increase?

A really beautiful thing gives us such a happiness that will keep on increasing every

day and will continue to be doing so for ever contrary to the ordinary things that

give us happiness for some time and then disappears.

How does a thing pass into 'nothingness?'

A thing passes into nothingness when it dies and disappears from our memories.

Such a thing is not a thing of beauty.

What is a bower? How does the beautiful thing keep a bower quiet for us?

A bower is a shady place under the huge branches of trees. A bower is always

restless and noisy due to the wind that makes leaves rustle and birds to chirp. But there will be a sudden silence and stillness in a bower at the presence of a beautiful thing like a flower.

How is the beautiful thing able to provide us with sweet dreams? What else does the beautiful thing provide us with?

If we have the sweet memories of a beautiful thing, it will provide us with sweet

dreams in sleep. It also gives us health and quiet breathing.

Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing a flowery band to bind us to the earth.

Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth of noble natures, of the gloomy days,

Of all the unhealthy and over darkened ways made for our searching:

Yes, in spite of all, some shape of beauty moves away the pall from our dark spirits.

Explanation: Imagine that someone took to the habit of taking drugs. It is said that one gets a pleasure by taking drugs. But soon he becomes an addict to it and won't be able to pass a day without drugs. The comfortable blanket that he was covered with the first time turns out to be a burden! He wants to stop taking drugs but cannot. The comfort has now become a misery for his dear ones and for him. The 'blanket' cannot be lifted from him by any power. It is at this time a beautiful thing, such as a loving smile, a loving touch, a loving care, etc., comes for his help.

What does the poet mean by 'wreathing a flowery band?'

Wreathing a flowery band refers to arranging flowers in a beautiful order. Here the poet refers to our habit of gathering all good hopes, dreams and aspirations for beginning a more successful life each day.

Why do we need to 'wreathe a flowery band every morning?

Wreathing flowery band is symbolic of gathering all good hopes every morning to begin a happy day. It is very necessary for all human beings to wreathe a flowery band every morning to love life in spite of all the sufferings and pains of life around.

What is the 'spite of despondence?'

Spite of despondence is a state of our minds filled with ill-will and hatred for others due to profound hopeless and gloom.

How does the 'dearth of noble natures' occur in our lives?

With the passage of time we generally ignore the great values and moralities taught by our ancestors. It happens due to our tendency to embark the lighter ways and easier rules in the society.

How do days become 'gloomy?'

Days become gloomy when hopelessness fills our lives.

Why do people take the 'unhealthy and over darkened ways for happiness? Do they find happiness there? Explain.

The pleasure that one gets from bad means appears to be sweeter than those that come from good means. Even though they find happiness there, such happiness will not last. After providing a time of excitement and pleasure, this sort of happiness turns sour and misery.

What is the 'pall' that covers our spirits? How does it fall on our spirits?

The pall that covers our spirit is a blanket of comfort that we get from wrong means. It falls on us when we allow ourselves to enjoy evil pleasures.

What can remove the 'pall' from our dark spirits?' How?

Only beautiful things can remove the pall from our dark spirits.

What makes human beings love life in spite of troubles and ordeals?

The presence of beautiful things in the world gives human beings an urge to live longer.

Such (as) the sun, the moon, trees old and young,

Sprouting a shady boon for simple sheep;

And such are daffodils with the green world they live in; and the clear rills

That for themselves a cooling covert make against the hot season;

The mid forest brake, rich with a sprinkling of musk rose blooms;

How are the sun and moon beautiful things?

The sun and moon are beautiful because they are source of life and endless joy for everyone.

How is 'tree' a perfect example for a beautiful thing in its greatness by providing shade to the simple sheep?

The tree bears the heat of the sun to give shade and cool for anyone who seeks shade and rest under its branches. Its greatness is a degree greater because it gives shade not only for the mighty ones, but also for the simplest of the animals such as sheep.

How are the daffodils beautiful things?

Daffodils are beautiful for the charm and fragrance that they spread in the garden where they live.

What are clear rills? What act of the rill makes it a beautiful thing?

Clear rills are beautiful, clean rivers. They flow through all kinds of lands, selflessly sharing their water with all the trees and animals on their way, making them rich and grow.

How is the 'mid forest brake' made rich?

The mid forest is made rich with the fragrance of the musk rose.

What act of the 'musk rose' makes it beautiful?

The musk rose grows and blooms along with ferns. The humility of the great musk rose to grow with the dull fern makes it beautiful. Moreover, it spreads its fragrance far away and makes the nature more beautiful and sweet. The musk rose' readiness to share its goodness with the rest of the world makes it rich.

And such too is the grandeur of the dooms

We have imagined for the mighty dead;

All lovely tales that we have heard or read;

An endless fountain of immortal drink,

Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink.

What is the 'grandeur of the dooms of the great people?' How does the poet compare this 'grandeur' with that of the beautiful things?

The greatness with which the great people die is the 'grandeur of the dooms of the mighty dead.' The poet compares this greatness with that of the beautiful things on account of the fact that the great people die for giving happiness to the rest of the world.

Who are the mighty dead? Why are they called so? How are they beautiful?

The mighty dead are the great people who have sacrificed their lives for the humanity by struggling and dying for others. They are called so because they were selfless and provided happiness for the others. They were mighty because it is more difficult to die for others than living for oneself. They are equally beautiful as they suffered for other people like the daffodils and trees, they provided happiness to others like the clear rills and they burnt for others like the sun.

Which 'tales' does the poet here refer to? Why are they lovely?

The poet refers to the really beautiful stories that we have either heard or read. These tales beautiful because they can leave an indelible happiness in us and each time we recall these stories, we feel burdens lifted, mind refreshed and life moving happily in spite of all disturbances.

How are the 'lovely tales' 'fountain of immortal drink?’

A fountain of immortal drink gives us immortality. Similarly, reading and listening to

really beautiful tales fill our minds with joy beyond description.

A Roadside Stand By Robert Frost

The little old house was out with a little new shed

In front at the edge of the road where the traffic sped,

A roadside stand that too pathetically pled…

Why was the 'little old house' extended towards the road?

The little old house, the roadside stand, existed on the roadside to make a living out of the city money. The owners of the roadside stand expected to attract the rich city men by extending the stand closer to the road.

Which traffic is referred to here? Why are they 'speeding?'

The traffic referred to here is the cars and other vehicles of the rich people from and to various cities. These rich city men are in great hurry to make money by doing business in the city.

Why is the Stand's existence said to be 'pathetic?'

The roadside stand's sole expectation is the flow of city-money into their hands. But their expectations are never fulfilled as the rich men are not considerate about them and hence a pathetic existence for the roadside stand.

It would not be fair to say for a dole of bread

But for some of the city money, the cash, whose flow supports

The flower of cities from sinking and withering faint…

Dole: Piece

City money: Big amount of money

Why is it unfair to say that these people are begging for a 'dole of bread?'

One may think that the poor people at the roadside stand are beggars. But they are not. Unlike the beggars, who beg unconditionally, shamelessly and sometimes unreasonably, the people of the roadside stand have something to sell, some information to share and a noble reason behind their begging.

What do the poor people really expect from the rich?

The poor people expect a small share of the money from the rich people.

How do the poor people look at the city money?

For the poor people at the roadside stand money is very essential for growth and survival. It boosts the growth of the city and the city people.

What is the flower of the cities? How?

Prosperity/growth is the flower of the cities. As the flower is the crowning glory of a plant, growth becomes the flower of a city.

The polished traffic passed with a mind ahead

Or, if ever aside a moment, then out of sorts

At having the landscape marred with the artless paint

Of signs with S turned wrong and N turned wrong…

What do you mean by 'polished traffic?

Polished traffic portrays the insensitive attitude and gentlemanly appearances of the city-men. They appear to be 'polished' outside but their minds do not understand the sufferings of the poor people.

Explain, 'passed with a mind ahead.'

The city people who passed by the roadside stand were self centered and their minds were restless with greed for money and ambitions for great profits in their business.

What are the usual complaints made by the city men when they stop at the roadside stand?

The rich people to and from the cities usually have the same sets of complaints. Having failed to see the wretchedness of the poor, they complain that the roadside stand, with its artless paint, ruined the beauty of the nature. Another complaint is that the letters are wrongly written.

How senseless do the rich men's complaints sound to the poor people?

For the poor people of the roadside stand, the rich men's complaints, that the landscape is destorted with their poor sense of color, that they sell poor quality fruits and that they have a low literacy level, sound to be childish and infuriating and senseless.

How did the poor people "mar" the landscape?

What does 'of signs with S turned wrong and N turned wrong' convey?

Offered for sale are wild berries in wooden quarts

Or crook necked golden squash with silver warts,

Or beauty rest in a mountain scene…

What articles are 'offered for sale' at the stand?

Wild berries in wooden containers, croock-necked golden squash with silver warts and paintings of mountain scenery are for sale at the roadside stand.

What qualities of the 'offered articles' make them unfit for sale?

The articles for sale at the roadside stand are wild and therefore lack the polished look of the similar articles available in the cities. Moreover these articles are not packaged properly and they are far expensive than those in the cities.

What does, 'beauty rest in a mountain scene' mean?

Beauty resting in a mountain scene is probably a scenic painting made by the inhabitants of the roadside stand meant for selling to the rich people.

You have the money, but if you want to be mean

Why, keep your money (this angrily) and go along.

What do the poor people of the roadside stand feel when the citymen decline from buying anything?

When the rich city men decline to buy articles from the roadside stand, the poor runners of the stand feel dejected and angry. They ask the city men to keep their money with them and leave the roadside stand without further bargain or comments.

How do the rich people behave meanly in front of the roadside stand?

Do you justify the poor people's growing angry with the rich people's attitude? Explain your stand.

The hurt to the scenery wouldn’t be my complaint

So much as the trusting sorrow of what is unsaid:

Why is the poet's complaint different from that of the rich city men?

The rich city men have their hollow complaints that come out of their failure to understand the core level struggles of the poor. But the poet is concerned for the poor and therefore his complaints are relevant.

What do you mean by the trusting sorrow of the poor people?

The poor people are instinctively sensitive and expectant to the promises of the rich and the mighty. They believe their hollow promises and wait for their realization. But finally their hopes give way to the miserable realization that the promises made by the rich are not meant to be fulfilled.

What do you understand when the poet says that the trusting sorrow of the poor people is 'unsaid?'

The poor people place their trust in the fake promises of the rich people and the ruling parties and consequently become sorrowful. The poet complains that this sorrow of the poor people has not been brought to the serious concern of the concerned authorities, media and the public.

Here, far from the city we make our roadside stand

And ask for some city money to feel in hand

To try it will (not) make our being expand…

Feel in hand: Material possession of money in all sense

Being: Life

Expand: Improve

What do the people at the roadside stand expect from the rich? What for?

The poor people at the roadside stand expect the generosity of the rich city people. They hope to alleviate their poverty by getting money from the city people.

How is feeling in hand different from the false promises of the parties?

What is city money? How is city money expected to help the poor people?

And give us the life of the moving pictures’ promise

That the party in power is said to be keeping from us.

What are moving pictures? What kind of life is promised by the 'moving pictures?

The movies the poor people have watched are full of promises for them. In those movies they saw people who journeyed from poverty to prosperity.

What do 'the parties in power' 'keep from the poor people?

The governments and the corrupted politicians keep the share and the allotted rights of the poor people away from them and use that for their selfish motives.

How are the rich politicians responsible for the misery of the poor people?

The rich and corrupted politicians keep the money assigned by the government for the poor people in their own malicious hands and make selfish use of them, thus depriving the poor people of their rights, happiness and all that they deserve.

It is in the news that all these pitiful kin

Are to be bought out and mercifully gathered in

To live in villages, next to the theater and the store,

Where they won’t have to think for themselves anymore…

What is the good news for the poor people?

The media keep on advertising that the governments are planning schemes for the welfare of the poor people.

Do you think the 'good news' for the poor people' ever come true? Why?

No, the promises of the governments for the poor people are not seriously meant and therefore most of them remain just promises and are forgotten. This happens because these promises are the election baits and the bureaucratic trick to exhort money in the name of the poor people.

Who are the pitiful kin? Why are they called so?

What are the promises made by the politicians?

While greedy good doers, beneficent beasts of prey,

Swarm over their lives, enforcing benefits

That are calculated to soothe them out of their wits…

Who are the greedy good doers? What is the irony in the 'greedy good-doers?'

The business class and the political parties and leaders are the greedy good-doers mentioned here. A greedy person cannot be a good doer. These good doers intend to make money out of the poor people by appearing beneficent to them.

What does 'beneficent beast of prey' imply?

Similar to 'greedy good-doers,' 'the beneficent beasts of prey' is also an indication to the greedy people who make money in the name of social and political and charitable works.

How do the rich 'enforce benefits' on the poor?

In business promises wrapped up in glossy appearances have great value. The rich business people convince the poor of the advantages of their new schemes and promotions and make them buy their products and be their customers.

What sort of calculation is made to 'soothe the wits of the poor?' Does this calculation work? How?

The business minded city people attract the poor people with their well-planned promotional offers and promises. These promises and offers are such a way

calculated that the poor people cannot escape the traps of the rich. The business man's calculations work well as there is a more efficient brain behind all these promises.

And (by) teaching them how to sleep, they sleep all day,

Destroy their sleeping at night the ancient way…

Who teach the poor people to sleep? How?

The rich people through their alluring promises of peace of mind and prosperity in life teach the poor people sleep.

Are the poor able to sleep? Why? Who are really able to sleep?

The poor people are unable to sleep as promised by the rich as the promises were not meant to be. On the contrary the rich people are able to sleep peacefully with the satisfaction of making themselves richer by exploiting the poor.

How do the influential rich destroy the sleep of the poor? How is this done in the ancient times?

The influential rich people give the poor great promises and exploit them to make profit out of them. This destroys the sleep of the poor people. This method of the rich and mighty is as old as the human civilizations.

Sometimes I feel myself I can hardly bear

The thought of so much childish longing in vain,

The sadness that lurks near the open window there,

That waits all day in almost open prayer…

What is the childish longing? Why is it in vain?

The poor people's uncertain and futile expectation for the city money is the childish longing. It is in vain as the rich city people do not have the generosity to help them.

OR: Children long to achieve things beyond their reach; but never get them. The poor people’s expectation that the rich people would give them money is their childish longing. it is in vain because the hard-hearted rich people never give them a penny.

Why can't the poet bear the childish longing of the poor people?

The poet is a true humanitarian who is genuinely concerned for the poor people's misfortunes. He wants a solution for their poverty. But seeing how childish their longings are, the poet feels it unbearable.

What sadness remains at the window of the roadside stand?

There is a sadness of helplessness, of unfulfilled promises and of being fooled by the parties in power remaining near the roadside stand.

What is the prayer of the open window?

The open window is praying for a generous traveler stopping at the stand to buy something and paying a generous amount to alleviate the distress of the poor people.

Why is the ‘open window’ said to be in ‘open prayer’ for the city people’s generosity?

The open window of the roadside stand has acquired the attitude of poor people of the roadside stand. Just like the people, the window also expects the city-men to stop their cars to help the poor people.

For the squeal of brakes, the sound of a stopping car

Of all the thousand selfish cars that pass

Just one to inquire what a farmer’s prices are…

How do the poor people react to the squeal of brake in front of the roadside stand?

At the sound of the squeal of brakes, the sound of a stopping car, the poor people at the stand feel their spirits cheered at the possible arrival of a customer to buy their things.

Why are the cars called 'selfish cars?

The cars are selfish because the people who travel in them are self centered.

What do you understand by 'farmer's prices?' Who want to know that? Possibly why?

Farmer's prices refer to the wages for which the farmer could be hired to work in the city. Farmer's prices can also refer to the prices of the berries, squash and paintings displayed at the roadside stand for sale.

What make you think that the city men stopped at the roadside stand to hire farmers to work in the city and that farmer's price refers to the per head wages to be paid to a farmer for working in the city?

And one did stop, but only to plow up grass

In using the yard to back and turn around;

And another to ask the way to where it was bound;

And another to ask, “could you sell a gallon of gas?”

How do the city men plow up grass in the yard of the roadside stand?

The insensitive and selfish city men drive their cars into the yard of the roadside stand to back and turn it around, leaving a huge cloud of grass plowed up.

What is the most queer demand of the rich man at the roadside stand? How is it queer?

The insensitive city man demands a gallon of gas at the roadside stand. This is queer because the city man is not aware of the fact that the poor man cannot provide him with expensive items such as gas.

Why are the poor people angry with the city men when they ask for gas?

The roadside stand has the store of wild berries, squash and paintings which are never bought buy the city men. On the contrary the city men require a gallon of gas and the roadside stand does not have it for sale. This helplessness make the poor people angry.

They couldn’t (this crossly), they had none, didn’t it see?

No in country, money, the country scale of gain,

The requisite lift of sprint, has never been found…

Why do the people at the roadside stand talk ‘crossly’ with the rich people?

The poor people sometimes become angry with the rich people. The latter refuse to buy the wild berries at the stand at a price demanded by the owners of the stand. They indulge in bargain and blame the berries and squash. But the poor, who know the rich people are so mean, grow angry at their unwillingness to help them by parting with a little amount of their money.

How is money important for the village people?

The village people think that money is important for growth in the village. They hope to make improvements in their wretched state of life.

What are the two significant roles of money in the lives of the poor people?

Money is the measuring rode of growth for the village people. They estimate their economic growth by means of the small amount of money at hand. Similarly, money is necessary for a villager to feel confident. He feels a ‘lift of spirit’ with money in reach.

How does money become the 'requisite lift of spirit for the country men?

Money is the most important requirement for man in the modern world. If one has money at hand then he feels confident and a feeling of his spirit being lifted.

Why is money never found in the villages?

It is a common truth that countryside is backward and therefore it remains poor and penniless. Moreover the country folks are easy targets of the politicians and business-men and therefore they are easily cheated and looted. Besides, if these poor people are given money then they will migrate to prosperous cities or make a city in the place of their village.

Or, so, the voice of the country seems to complain.

I can’t help owning the great relief it would be

To put these people at one stroke out of their pain…

What is the voice of the country?

The voice of the country is that the rich people have no concern for them, and that they are being exploited, cheated and given false promises by the parties in power, and that there is no end for their miseries.

Why can't the poet help 'own' the relief of helping the poor out of their poverty at one stroke?

The poet wants to see that the poor people are given some kind of help and support by the rich people but he knows that this would not happen. When he fails to see this, he allows himself to dream that these poor people have been helped by some supernatural powers to alleviate their miseries.

What kind of a relief does the poet dream for the poor people?

The poet dreams of a supernatural help for the poor people, a touch of magic or the like, so that the poor people will be redeemed from their state of poverty and misery.

Why does the poet seek an unrealistic solution for the poor people’s distress even though he himself blamed them earlier for their 'childish longing in vain?'

The poet, unlike the greedy good-doers, genuinely wishes to get the poor people out of their pain, poverty and endless miseries but he is sad and helpless to see that there is no one to help them come out of their poverty. This helplessness drives the poet to seek an unrealistic solution for the poor people’s misery.

And then next day as I come back into the sane,

I wonder how I should like you to come to me

And offer to put me out of my pain.

What does the poet see when he comes back into his senses?

The poet sees the city cars still passing without feelings, the helplessness of the poor people and the endless misery of the people at the roadside stand.

What does the poet want his readers do for him?

The poet is greatly distressed that the poor people are not helped by the government and rich people. He finally resorts to some heavenly help for the poor by which their poverty would be removed. But soon he realizes how childish his dreams are seeing that the poor haven’t improved. At this point the poet wants his readers to promise him to help the poor.

What is the poet's pain?

The poet’s pain is that the poor people are still waiting for the rich people’s generosity and that the rich people never help the poor people. He is also sad that his insane dreams of the poor people helped by a stroke were only dreams.

How can his readers remove the poet's pain?

The readers can get the poet out of his pain by offering to help the poor people.

Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers

Summary and Theme

Adrienne Rich wrote poem to liberate American women from male domination. Aunt Jennifer knitted tigers on her canvas. Rich faced difficulties, criticisms, rebukes and pain for writing poems meant to liberate women while Aunt had to struggle a lot to knit her tigers. Rich's struggles were due to the fact that she was a woman, wife and therefore meant to be slaves while Aunt's

Questions and Answers

Aunt Jennifer’s tigers prance across a screen,

bright topaz denizens of a world of green,

They do not fear the men beneath the tree;

they pace in sleek chivalric certainty

Why are the tigers called 'Aunt Jennifer's tigers?'

The tigers are knitted by Aunt Jennifer. She knits them for the realization of her dreams.

Where do the tigers prance?

The tigers prance in a wild green forest that is drawn on a panel or canvas.

What is topaz? How is it descriptive to the tiger?

Topaz is a kind of yellow stone. The yellow color signifies the bright yellow fur of the tiger. The feminine beauty of the tiger is well represented by the ornate topaz color and the black stripes running through it.

How are Aunt Jennifer and her tigers the indicators of the poet's own life?

Adrienne Rich's life and poems were dedicated to the freedom of the suppressed American women. Aunt Jennifer is no one else than Adrienne Rich while her tigers are the new generation of American women.

Who are they in these lines?

They are the tigers of Aunt Jennifer on the panels.

Why don't they fear men beneath the tree?

Aunt Jennifer's tigers are fearless and confident. They have chivalrous qualities and therefore they do not fear men.

Explain, ‘sleek chivalric certainty.’ What makes the tigers pace in sleek chivalric certainty?

Sleek, chivalric and certainty are the three qualities of the tigers knitted by Aunt Jennifer. Sleek indicates the smoothness of their fur while chivalric and certainty are fearlessness and confidence respectively. As the tigers have overcome the fear of men beneath the tree, they pace in sleek chivalric certainty.

What do you mean by the certainty that the tigers possess?

The tigers used to fear the men. But once they were made by Aunt Jennifer, they learnt courage. In their new birth these tigers feel at ease and confident. Now they do not have to run away from anyone. They move slowly. They run ferociously.

Aunt Jennifer’s fingers fluttering through her wool

Find even the ivory needle hard to pull.

The massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band

Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer’s hand.

Why do Aunt's fingers flutter?

Aunt Jennifer is the victim of male domination. She loves to knit tigers for the realization of her dreams. While she does so she finds it difficult to pull her light ivory needle due to the weight of the marriage ring that her husband put in her finger years ago.

How does the poet use 'wool' and 'ivory needle' to reveal the weightlessness/ease of Aunt's knitting work?

Wool and ivory needle are very light to carry. They are so light that one doesn't notice their weight. The poet intends to create an atmosphere of complete weightlessness and ease through these objects used for knitting.

Why is the Uncle's wedding band massively heavy to Aunt Jennifer?

In fact a wedding band is very light, but for Aunt Jennifer it a sign of her husband's dominance over her. It has become a burden for her that limits her freedom as a social being.

Why is the term 'sits' used instead of 'remains?'

Sits here refers to domination over someone's freedom. For Aunt Jennifer her husband's wedding ring was no sign of love or care. For her it was a sign of suppression and burden.

How does the poet draw the picture of male domination through 'Uncle's wedding band?'

Uncle's wedding band for Aunt Jennifer was never a representation of love or matrimony. The band symbolized bondage for her. Like a rope binds one, the wedding band bound her.

When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie

Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by.

The tigers in the panel that she made will go on

Prancing, proud and unafraid.

What will happen to Aunt Jennifer when she is dead?

When she dies she will herself have no freedom even in her grave.

Why are Aunt's hands terrified?

Aunt Jennifer's dream-work was to knit tigers in her panels. While she did this she was stopped, threatened and burdened by her husband. This fear of her husband later left her hand terrified.

Which were the ordeals Aunt was a master of?

Aunt Jennifer's life was a life of submission, slavery and sufferings in a male dominated society. She wanted to knit tigers for herself but the wedding band that her husband had put in her finger stood a stumbling block in her life. By sitting on her finger, the wedding band made her suffer a lot of pain while knitting tigers. By bearing these sufferings she became a master of sufferings.

Will Aunt have freedom after her death? Why?

No, Aunt Jennifer will have no freedom even after her death. As a tradition she will have to wear her matrimonial ring even in her grave. This ring bore the mark of her slavery under man, her husband.

How will male domination follow Aunt beyond her life?

Male domination used to haunt Aunt Jennifer throughout her life. When she wore her husband's wedding band on the day of marriage she became a slave of the male's power. Later on, even after her death, Aunt’s name will be engraved on her tombstone under her husband’s name, but she will not have an identity of her own.

What will happen to Aunt Jennifer's tigers after her death?

Aunt Jennifer’s tigers will survive proudly and bravely even after their creator's death.

How can the tigers remain proud and unafraid even after the death of their creator?

Aunt Jennifer was the creator of the tigers in the panel. Even after her death these tigers will live proud and unafraid with the cherished feelings that they are no more the slaves of men. They feel proud of their newly achieved free status in the society and of their great liberator, Aunt Jennifer.

How do these lines shed light on the success of Adrienne Rich in her attempts to liberate the female species of America?

Aunt Jennifer is the poetic representation of Adrienne Rich. Aunt left a flock of tigers on her panel to prance unafraid. Similarly did the poet do by strengthening, empowering and awakening a new generation of American women to stand confident on their feet. Aunt’s tigers and the new American women are the same.

Bring out the symbolic representation of the poet Adrienne Rich, her works, struggles, her success in freeing women through the image of Aunt Jennifer.

Aunt Jennifer is a parallel character who represents the poet Adrienne Rich, her attempts to liberate the women folk from male domination, her struggles and ordeals, and finally, her victory. Like Aunt Jennifer who knitted tigers with wool and needle, Adrienne Rich knitted a new America inhabited by brave women. However, while knitting her tigers, Aunt Jennifer had to face difficulties because she wore a heavy wedding band imposed upon her by her husband. Similar was Rich's experience. She too had to face harsh attacks from her society for writing poems against the existing male domination. Aunt Jennifer never had a time free from ordeals. She was constantly haunted by her fear of the wedding band. Similarly did Rich have to live till her death. Unfortunately the male ruled her even after her death as she still had to bear her hushand's name even in her grave. The two women had similar life and death and pains and failure at death but what they left behind them was a brave generation. Aunt Jennifer left behind her a number of fearless tigers while Rich had new generation of brave women to succeed her.

How are tigers symbolic of women?

Tiger is a feminine symbol. The bright yellow color of topaz and the dark lines that adorn their sleek fur give tigers beauty rather than grandeur or might. Moreover, their submissive yet fearless attitude, even in front of their enemy, gives them the female maturity.