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CBSE Class 12 English Value Based Questions – Poetry (Flamingo)
MY MOTHER AT SIXTY-SIX
Analyse the concept of losing our dear ones on account of old age in the context of the poem.
The poem ‘My Mother at Sixty-Six’ brings out the natural complexities of the human mind, the natural fear of losing our parents, which is common to the hearts of all humans. Ageing is an unshakeable part of human life which we have to accept irrespective of the pain it creates in our hearts. The poet speaks about her mother who is growing old and has a pale and weak face.
Her mother at the age of sixty-six is shown as an old woman who requires rest. The poet recalls of how even as a child she has experienced the fear of losing her mother. Now her fear has changed with the passing years into a fear of losing her mother to death. Her attention is arrested by her mother’s failing health and yet she smiles, expressing the hope of meeting her soon.
Read the following and answer the question that follows.
“but all I said was, see you soon, Amma,
all I did was smile and smile and smile…………….”
It is always painful to depart from our loved ones. Our heart bleeds but lips smile. Nothing is more difficult than to wear an artificial smile, notwithstanding the tragic fact thd*t there may not be another meeting with the loved person. Death is the ultimate goal of life.
After reading the above lines and the poem ‘My Mother at Sixty-Six’, do you feel that death should be accepted silently and there is no use of crying over something inevitable? Or do you feel that sentiments don’t understand the nature of death and sadness can’t cease? Justify your answer.
Death should be accepted silently, as it’is inevitable and our mind knows this fact. However, our heart is not aware of something inevitable. It understands the language of emotions. It knows to laugh and to cry. We all love our near and dear ones. Love is a beautiful sentiment and the basis of life. If we love someone, his or her death definitely makes us sad. Our mind knows that death is the ultimate destination of life, yet our sadness is natural.
Similarly, the author knows that it is probably her last meeting with her mother. She is sad and her smile is an artificial mask to hide her sadness. She can’t stop loving her mother, nor can her sadness cease over the departure from, and approaching death of, her mother.
AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CLASSROOM IN A SLUM
Bring out the irony in the system of education of the slum children with reference to the poem.
The poem ‘An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum’ deals with the theme of social injustice and class inequalities in our society and the irony is rooted in the marginalised existence of these slum children and their poor system of education.
The poet has reflected this irony in saying that these children, as they read run their tongues naked into the books because they do nqt understand the meaning to the words and blankly utter the letters. They fail to get the true message of education contained in the books. Their spectacles are like ‘bottle bits’ suggesting the poverty of their lives. It is a poetic appeal to the people in authority to rescue these oppressed children from their limited lives of ignorance and gloom. The poet wishes for the emancipation of these imprisoned minds into a new world of freedom and happiness.
Read the following and answer the question that follows.
“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. 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. 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.”
Poverty has gripped innocent children very tightly. Their faces are reduced to “rootless weeds”and much more. Their inheritance is nothing but the diseases of their parents. Such is the condition of an elementary school in a slum where the students and teachers both are unfortunate to a great extent, with a bleak future ahead.
After reading the above lines and the poem An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum’, write an article in about 120-150 words on the conditions of schools in slums for your school magazine.
Conditions of Schools in Slums
There is a school in the slum area near our residential colony. But the students there have a Bleak future. Their lives are miserable. Their parents are too poor to earn a livelihood for their family. They are clad in rags, having expressionless appearances and look like starved souls. Their teachers have no interest in teaching. The students sit under a tree on the ground. There is no timetable either for teachers or students. The school is nothing but just a pastime.
The students want to play, have merrymaking and enjoy their childhood, but circumstances have deprived them of their childhood. They appear mature at a tender age. They are born, ultimately to die. School is a hope for a bright future, but these poor, helpless kids have no past, present or future, only permanent darkness. Spring is lost forever for them and they are prepared to adopt rag-picking as their profession.
“… and we will all keep still.
For once on the face of the Earth
let’s not speak in any language,
jet’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much…”
Today we are suffering from many types of pollution, noise pollution being one of them. We meditate. We visit hill stations. We go to temples. And we do all this in the quest of peace which is nowhere but within us. The need is to remain silent and still for some time.
After reading the above lines and the poem, ‘Keeping Quiet’, write an article in about 120-150 words on ‘Keep Quiet and Be at Peace’ for your school newsletter.
Keep Quiet and Be at Peace
The world we inhabit today is characterised by arguments, disputes and unnecessary debates that result in a lot of noise, which may often be unpleasant or irritating. The rat race for success, the non-stop activity and the incessant rush has made our lives full of anxiety and misery. All this leaves us so disturbed that we all want to escape it and search for ways and means to achieve peace of mind.
For this we often resort to meditation. We visit temples, go to hill stations, seeking mental relaxation. However, the peace that we so keenly search for outside us is to be actually found inside us. We can achieve peace within by stopping all activity and noise for a while. The consequent silence and inactivity will produce calmness. We do not need to go anywhere; we rather have to visit our own inner selves. Such introspection will certainly help us discover the peace within us.
The poet longs for a dream world. What kind of a world does he visualise?
The poet longs for a calm, quiet and peaceful world, devoid of all forms of violence, as he visualises ‘togetherness’ of the people in a captured moment of silence and tranquillity. According to the poet, this moment will give us time for self-introspection when we can spiritually gain our moral self through meditation. In this short moment of silence, we will be able to reflect on our actions and their possible consequences.
This moment will bring an end to all destructive activities in the world. The fishermen will not be killing whales and the men gathering salt will give rest to their injured hands. Environmental degradation will stop. The warmongers will be silenced in a moment of brotherhood to meditate and cleanse their souls with moral values. The poet hopes that it will be a dream world where man will be able to come out from his self-centred attitudes to gain moral peace in a state of silence.
A THING OF BEAUTY
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” This is what John Keats says in the poem. Do you think in the present times of acute stress and violence, proximity to beautiful things can lead man to everlasting happiness? Discuss.
A thing of beauty gives us permanent happiness. When we look at objects of beauty we feel happy, and the lasting impression that such objects leave on our mind continues giving pleasure, even after they are gone.
In the present times of acute stress and violence, the objects of beauty attain even greater significance. When our mind is anxious and troubled, the very sight of beautiful things often comes us a relief and provides us comfort and happiness.
Appreciating beautiful things is like appreciating God who has bestowed them upon mankind as a gift so that we can derive happiness and solace from them. Proximity to beautiful things brings us closer to the creator, in whom lies the ultimate power to grant us relief from all anxieties and troubles. Therefore, it is sure to bring everlasting happiness at all times.
Read the following and answer the question that follows.
A thing of beauty is always a source of joy. Flowers, mountains, birds, the moon, stars, trees, etc all are beautiful, providing a feast to the eyes and solace to a miserable soul. Keats was very much fond of nature. Do you agree with him that a thing of beauty is a joy forever? What do you feel? Support your answer with reasons.
Yes, I agree that a beautiful thing will give joy throughout one’s lifetime. One can return to the beautiful thing and never cease to find it a source of joy. Even after one dies, the thing of beauty will continue to exist and will give joy to people of the next generation. When they in turn die, it will give joy to the generation after theirs, and so on. Thus a beautiful thing may, in that sense, be a “joy forever.”
Even if the thing of beauty experienced in the past, can’t (for whatever reasons) be experienced at the present moment, our memory of the past experience can still give present pleasure. Even when we are depressed or despondent, our experience of a beautiful thing can help us shake off our gloom and it can bring us joy.
AUNT JENNIFER’S TIGERS
Aunt Jennifer is the representative of exploited women in her society. She succumbs to tortures and ordeals. In the wake of the twenty first century, we boast of development but exploit women. Write an article on woman empowerment.
Since time immemorial women have been regarded as the weaker sex and have been given secondary or subordinate positions. Even today, when women constitute almost half of the world population, and a considerable part of the workforce, cases of gender inequality and women exploitation are common.
It is the need of the hour to empower women to reduce gender inequality in our society and to stop this exploitation. The first step towards women empowerment is to educate women so that they can be made aware of their rights and privileges. Teaching job skills and providing employment opportunities also will serve to empower women as it gives them economic independence.
Women should be allowed to express their opinion in public and at home. This will help in building self-esteem and confidence. Gender sensitisation at home, educational institutions, workplace etc will bring about woman empowerment in the true sense.
Do you sympathise with Aunt Jennifer? Comment on the poet’s attitude towards Aunt Jennifer.
We sympathise with Aunt Jennifer because she makes us aware of the constraints of a married life for a woman. Aunt Jennifer expresses her feelings in her creations. She creates a woollen embroidery with images of tigers in bright topaz colour. These tigers are an expression of Aunt Jennifer’s suppressed fear for oppression as well as an expression of a long cherished freedom which she has lacked.
The poet creates Aunt Jennifer as a representative of every woman of her time. Ironically, she rebels against the established norms of her society in her tigers and feels a sense of triumph in her efforts. However, the poet perhaps wants women to voice their desires more openly, rather than being silent victims of oppression or dying without being able to create much difference, as Aunt Jennifer does.
Can you relate instances of game hunting among the rich and the powerful in the present times that illustrate the callousness of human beings towards wildlife?
In recent times wildlife laws have been strictly enforced. No leverage is being given even to people with influence. A few Bollywood stars were in the news for killing a black buck in Rajasthan during the shooting of a film there. The black buck is an endangered species under the wildlife act. Another , instance is of a former Indian cricket captain who killed an antelope.
Antelope is also a rare species protected under the wildlife act. Despite strict regulations put by the government to safeguard wildlife, such instances are common. It is also obvious that there are many more cases involving rich and powerful killing animals for sports than are brought to the notice.
These instances illustrate peoples’ insensitivity and their lack of concern and compassion towards wildlife and also bear testimony to their conceited and eccentric ways of deriving pleasure by killing and destruction.
We need a new system for the age of ecology-a system which is embedded in the care of
all people and also in the care of the Earth and all life upon it. Discuss.
Being the finest creation of God, man on the basis of his intelligence has dominated all other forms of life on Earth.
In a bid to satisfy his innumerable needs, man has altered the symbiotic relationship between him and nature. Man’s needs have changed into greed now. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not enough every man’s greed.” This has led to a dismal scenario where we have to face problems like global warming, melting of polar ice-caps, receding glaciers, soil erosion, pollution, depleting forest cover and extinction of several species of flora and fauna.
It is important that at this critical juncture, we need a revolution to save our planet and its ecological heritage. We need to put immediate checks on industrial activities, increase the forest cover and let our Earth remain green.
There are moments in life when we have to make hard choices between our roles as
private individuals and as citizens with a sense of national loyalty. Discuss with reference to the story you have just read.
There are times when we are faced with difficult choices in life. An individual is torn apart between his duty towards his motherland and the moral responsibility of helping a needy person. This is the same dilemma that Sadao and Hana are confronted with.
As patriotic citizens of Japan, they are expected to hand over an American prisoner of war to the police. But it is a doctor’s duty to save a human life. How could Sadao leave Tom bleeding to death?
Similarly, Hana is an epitome of kindness and cannot leave a wounded person to die. When Yumi, the governess does not wash the wounded man, Hana does so herself. Likewise Sadao goes through a torturous mental conflict. All these developments lead Sadao to let the prisoner of war escape safely.
Read the following and answer the question that follows.
Dr Sadao and his wife, despite every possibility of being caught, save the life of the American prisbner and finally let him escape. Nothing is bigger than patriotism, but there is one sentiment that is above all.
What is the value that was displayed by Dr Sadao and his wife? Write in about 120-150 words.
Patriotism is undoubtedly important but it is humanity that is above patriotism. Dr Sadao and his wife know that the Americans are their enemies and that if they let the American prisoner stay, they can land into trouble. Notwithstanding this possibility, they gave him shelter in their house and treat his wounds. Hana washes his wounds when her maid refuses. Dr Sadao operates upon him. However, he proves himself loyal to his country by informing the General’s about the enemy. When the General’s private assassins fail to turn up, Sadao arranges for the American’s escape. He handles the situation quite diplomatically.
He conveys a message through his noble gesture that nothing is greater than humanity.
SHOULD WIZARD HIT MOMMY
What is the moral issue that the story raises?
The moral issue that the story raises is whether parents are the best judge of what is good for their chi Id. A sharp contrast is displayed in the story between the child’s viewpoint and an adult’s perspective of life. In the story, the child Jo felt that the happiness of being able to make friends is more important than anything else and so she wanted the story to end with Roger Skunk smelling of roses. However, her father ended the story by saying that the mother was right in getting Roger’s smell back to its original state, implying to his daughter that parents know what is best for their children. He also advocates that children should respect their parents’ opinions and obey them unquestioningly. Jack also narrated that all the other animals finally accepted Roger, as he wanted to emphasise the importance of a person’s originality and individuality.
ON THE FACE OF IT
The actual pain or inconvenience caused by a physical impairment is often much less
than the sense of alienation felt by the person with disabilities. What is the kind of behaviour that the person expects from others?
A person with any physical impairment can live life with respect and honour, if he is not ridiculed and punished with heartless pity. He expects empathy rather than sympathy. If everyone looks down or with a condescending approach, he may never be able to come out of his sorrow, and consequently, recede into his own secluded world. He is already undergoing tremendous mental and emoti pressure. So, he expects others to be understanding, rather than remind him of his disability.
In the play, both Derry and Mr Lamb are in a similar situation. Mr Lamb, as an adult, is able to cope with such problems, but Derry, being a child, is not able to untangle this web alone. He develops a strong liking for this old man because he spoke the words a person with such a problem would want to hear.
EVANS TRIES AN O-LEVEL
When Stephens comes back to the cell he jumps to a conclusion and the whole
machinery blindly goes by his assumption without even checking the identity of the injured ‘McLeery’. Does this show how hasty conjectures can prevent one from seeing the obvious? How is the criminal able to predict such negligence?
Evans had assessed the weaknesses of the jail officers successfully. Stephens was new recruit to the prison setup. When he saw the injured McLeery in the cell he was so overwhelmed that fie did not even check who he really was and neither did anyone else. It did not occur to anyone to question how there could be two parsons—one in the cell and the other who had been escorted out by Stephens.
It was for this very reason that friends of Evans, who posing as the Governor on the phone, had directed Stephens that he himself should escort the parson out when the exam finished. The Governor and his officers, in effect actually led Evans out of the prison. The question paper is left behind to further mislead the Governor. This shows that Evans planned his strategy after understanding the behaviour of the prison officers.
While we condemn the crime, we are sympathetic to the criminal. Is this the reason
why prison staff often develop a soft corner for those in custody?
‘Crime’ and ‘criminals’ are usually considered synonymous. However, our perception changes when we see a criminal suffering or serving his punishment. This happened with the prison staff also. Noticing a criminal suffering in the prison, they developed a soft corner for him. They looked at him as a human being and not as mere criminal. They started noticing and appreciating his mental capabilities rather than remembering his crime.
In the story, Jackson lets Evans keep his hat on after being informed about it being lucky for Evans. Evans knew of the emotional side of Jackson and so hit it directly through his talk about “lucky charm”, and managed to fool the stern and practical officer. Even the Governor could not help noticing his intelligence when caught him in the hotel. Thus, he was not cruel or stern with Evans, and regrettably, took him leniently.
MEMORIES OF CHILDHOOD
The two accounts that you read above are based in two distant cultures. What is the
commonality of theme found in both of them?
Oppression and exploitation,of the indigenous people, the women and the weak is the harsh reality of all countries and civilisations throughout the world. In a similar vein, the struggle of these marginalised people is something we all can identify with. This is the thread of commonality running between the accounts of both Zitkala-Sa and Bama.
The only difference between them is the time gap and their vastly different cultures. Zitkala-Sa is a native American who belongs to the late 19th century, whereas Bama is a prominent Dalit belonging to the contemporary era. Zitkala-Sa belonged to a marginalised community which was exploited to the hilt. Her identity was questioned throughout and finally taken away from her. Bama on the other hand, is a victim of untouchability, casteism and vehement discrimination.
It may take a long time for oppression to be resisted, but the seeds of rebellion are sowed very early in life. Do you agree that injustice in any form cannot escape being noticed even by children?
Zitkala-Sa and Bama, both were school-going children when they witnessed rough treatment being meted out to themselves or their community.
Both episodes prove that injustice in any form does not escape notice even by children. Zitkala-Sa revolts and resists against the school authorities with all her might because she does not want her hair to be cut like that of a mourner. Bama too realises the oppression that her community faces. She puts up a fight by bringing laurels to her community through her school achievements. Thus, she proves that she is superior to the so called upper caste. So, it is rightly proved that children know of injustice and react to them in their own unique ways.
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