Wednesday 28 February 2024

Summer of Beautiful White Horse


The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse

                                                          By William Saroyan

Analysis :


The story ‘The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse’ written by William Saroyan is a beautiful tale with the idea that a man could be the father of his son’s flesh but not of his soul.

It is an account of a family which is known for its honesty but their sons stole a horse just to fulfil their desire to ride a horse as they were poor and couldn’t buy one.

The story narrates small acts of smartness, courage, cleverness and innocence of Mourad in order to live his dream to ride a horse.

The story conveys the message that we can pass on our genes to the next generation but not the character which is to be built, developed and maintained.

 

Summary

The story is about two Armenian boys of the Garoghlanian family, a tribe whose hallmarks are trust and honesty. Mourad is the cousin of Aram, who is the narrator. Aram was very fond of horses and always longed to ride one. They were poor so it wasn't possible to possess or buy one. One morning Mourad managed to steal a horse from a farmer named John Byro. He invited Aram too, to ride with him. Aram first hesitated as no member of the Garoghlanian family could ever be a thief. He admired the horse so much that he leaped on its back and began riding. The experience was wonderful.

The narrator mentioned an incident of Mourad's uncle, Khosrove, who was very furious and short tempered and had a bad habit of saying, "It is no harm; pay no attention to it." Even when his own house was on fire, he said the same sentence. They enjoyed riding the horse. After that, Mourad asked the narrator to get down as he wanted to ride alone. Narrator’s cousin, Mourad had a way with horses due to which they followed Mourad's all commands. Moreover, when it was Aram's turn, the horse wasn't interested. When Aram started kicking into the horse, it started snorting, running and leaping over vines and thus Aram fell on the ground.

Both the cousins decided to bring the horse and hide it somewhere as everybody was up. Mourad did not tell Aram the truth about since when he was riding the horse as he did not want him to become a liar. Mourad hid the house in the barn of a deserted vineyard. The next day when Uncle Khosrove was at Aram's place, John Byro came over and expressed his grief of losing his beautiful horse. Soon, the farmer was very much annoyed by Khosrove's behaviour and left haughtily. Due to this the narrator discovered that Mourad was in possession of the horse for a month and pleaded to keep it until he learns to ride. The plea wasn't accepted by Mourad as he thought that it would take Aram a year to learn to ride and they couldn't keep it for such a long time.

For some weeks things went as usual, Mourad relished horse riding, on Aram's turn, horse threw him off and ran away. One morning when the cousins ran into John Byro, he inspected the house along with the cousins closely but turned down his thoughts according to which it was his horse as the members of Garoghlanian family were known for their honesty,

The next morning they returned the horse, and kept it back into John Byro's farm. Even the dogs didn't bark at Mourad as he had a way with them, too.

 

Important Question Answers

Q1. Did the boys return the horse because they were conscience-stricken or because they were afraid?

Ans. The boys returned the horse because they were afraid to be caught and defamed. Mourad was in possession of the horse for a pretty long time and if they did not return the horse, they might get defamed as thieves. The boys did not want any member of their family to be called as thieves and that too because of their innocent dream. Hence, their conscience also pricked them and they returned the horse.

Q2. A suspicious man would believe his eyes instead of his heart...". Justify this statement.

Ans. Over the course of the chapter, John Byro is seen as very much protective towards his horse. He is greatly affected, when he loses the horse. The farmer, when he encounters the cousins along with the house, becomes very suspicious. He closely inspects the features of the horse and finds them to be exactly same as his horse. Any man with that kind of suspicion would believe his eyes not what his heart says. It is only due to the reputation of the Gauoghlarian family that he believes that the horse is the twin of the one John Byro used to have.

Q3. William Saroyan brings out the truth of the contemporary world that a man could be the father of his son's flesh and not of his spirit. Discuss.

Ans. William Saroyan, the author of the chapter, "The summer of the beautiful white house" beautifully justifies the fact that "A man could be the father of his son's flesh and not of his spirit". Even though Zorab was the biological father of Mourad, there weren't many things that were similar in their character. Mourad was a crazy fellow, he had ascended the crazy streak in their family from Uncle Khosrove. Mourad's real father, Zorab was a completely practical man but Uncle Khosrove was more like Mourad's character & behaviour.



We are not Afraid to Die


We're not Afraid to Die... If we can all be together

                                                          By Gordon Cook and Allen East

Analysis: 


The story ‘We aren’t Afraid to Die’ written by Gordon Cook and Allen East is a beautiful message of mental strength, courage and resilience.

It is an account of a family and sailors who experienced a storm in Southern Indian Ocean. The story narrates small acts of bravery, courage, support, compassion and sensitivity in order to keep the hope of life alive amid the storm.

The story is great lesson to all the people on how to fight the hurdles and emerge triumphantly in the time of crisis especially with the examples of the children who did their best to bring smiles on the grim faces.

Captain Gordon Cook stood out as a true example of strong leadership and perseverance. He displayed amazing sensibility, great awareness of the storm and directions, and selfless spirit of a captain.

 

Summary :

The narrator with his wife Mary and two children set sail from Plymouth, England, to make a voyage round the world in their boat ‘Wavewalker’ which was their dream. They also practised honing their seafaring skills and testing their boat in British waters.

Initially the journey passed pleasantly as they sailed down the west coast of Africa to Cape Town. They took on two crewmen, American Larry Vigil and Swiss Herb Seigler to tackle one of the world’s roughest seas, the southern Indian Ocean.

Second day out of Cape Town, they encountered strong gales which remained thus for few weeks. The size of the waves was alarming. On December 25 despite atrocious weather they had a wonderful holiday complete with a Christmas tree. New Year’s Day saw no improvement but they still hope for favourable change soon but it changed for the worse. At dawn on January 2, the waves were gigantic, and the wind were screaming. To slow the boat down, they dropped the storm jib and double lashed everything, put on the life jackets and waited.

Then, the wind dropped, the sky immediately grew dark and a disastrous wave came roaring. Then, a tremendous explosion shook the deck and a torrent of green and white water broke over the ship and they were sinking below the waves experiencing the approaching death. The narrator was losing consciousness. Then, unexpectedly, his head popped out of the water and a wave hurled the boat upright. He grabbed the guard rails and went into Wavewalker’s main boom. He held the wheel firmly and geared up sternly for the next wave. He experienced “Water, Water, Everywhere”.

Suddenly Mary came and screamed that the ship is full of water. The children were pumping madly to remove the water out of ship. After finding a hammer, screws and canvas, the narrator headed for repairs to stop the ship from sinking and he was successful in doing so. But, then the hand pumps started to block up due to the debris floating in and the electric pump short circuited. The water level again rose threateningly. Then, he connected to another electric pump to an out-pipe and it worked. All night they were pumping, steering and working the radio but no replies came to their Mayday calls. Sue was injured badly but didn’t bother her parents as all were busy in fighting the storm.

On January 3, the situation was under control and they could rest in rotation. But Wavewalker wouldn’t hold together up to reaching Australia. Their only hope was to reach one of the two small islands a few hundred kilometres to the east. One of them, Ile Amsterdam, was a French scientific base.

Mary found some corned beef and biscuits, and they ate their first meal in almost two days. The weather again deteriorated and by January 5, the situation was again desperate. Jon asked in fright, “Daddy, are we going to die?”, “we aren’t afraid of dying if we can all be together — you and Mummy, Sue and I.”

He left the children’s cabin and was determined to fight the sea with everything he had. He tried to do the mending but the water kept coming. Still, Wavewalker rode out the storm and by the morning of January 6 the wind eased. Sue had drawn caricatures of Mary and the narrator who looked funny. They laughed to see the caricatures. Sue made it to say ‘thank you’.

The narrator checked and calculated to understand the way and where they were going. He had lost his main compass and was using a spare which had not been corrected for magnetic variation. Then, he went on deck and expected to see the island at about 5 p.m. When I woke up at 6 p.m., he felt they missed the island. Then, the children gave him a hug saying that he is the best dad and the best captain and informed that they found the land. He was amazed to actually have found Ile Amsterdam, the most beautiful island in the world for them. He felt grateful to Larry and Herbie, all his crewmen, his wife and especially his children who were exceedingly brave and ‘not afraid to die’.

Important Question Answers

Q1. What difference did you notice between the reaction of the adults and the children when faced with danger?

Ans. On being encountered by the lethal waves of the southern Indian ocean all the family members including the crewmen and wavewalker took immense damage. Everybody was significantly shaken. The adults were quite baffled by the increasing danger and continuously thought of approaching death. However, the children displayed some splendid sense of maturity and were not quite afraid of death. They were very helpful in their behaviour and did not choose to bother their tensed parents.

Q2. How does the story suggest that optimism helps to endure the direst stress?

Ans. The story suggests that optimism helps to endure "the direst stress" by referring to the two crew members i.e. Larry and Herbie who kept their calm and hopes alive even when they had slim chances of survival amidst the violent weather. It was because of this continued efforts and cheerful attitude that all of them maintained to reach the Ile Amsterdam

Q3. What lessons do we learn from such hazardous experiences when we are tar to face with death?

Ans. When such incidents happen and when we are battling between death and life, we learn that keeping our calm and optimism are the key to survival. Holding our nerves helps us make correct decisions and battle out our way to move away from the dangers.

Q4. Why do you think people undertake such adventurous expeditions in spite of the risks Involved?

Ans. Knowing the risks of any adventurous expeditions, people decide to undertake them, as a challenge. They usually do it to relish the thrilling experience of these risks. Some people also decide to take them to gain worldwide fame. The narrator undertook this voyage to take their family name and tradition farther.




Wednesday 14 February 2024

A Photograph


A Photograph

                                    By Shirley Toulson

 

Analysis of the poem : 

   The poem ‘A Photograph’ is composed by Shirley Toulson, a new age English poet, journalist and local politician.

§ The poem explores the passage of time, memory, and the enduring impact of loss through a memory captured in a photograph.

§  The poem discusses three different phases in poet’s life and only one of them shares active relation between the poet and her mother. This shift in time is one of the themes highlighting the transience of life and the inevitable changes that occur over the years.

§  The poem is subjective as it describes the emotions of the poet associated with her childhood and mother. It brings her childhood memories back and separation from her mother.

§  The poem is rich in language and profound in emotional content with the wonderful handling of words and expressions. It is free verse without any rhyming scheme.

§  The tone of the poem is melancholic as the poet feels sad recalling the day when her mother was there with her remembering her childhood.

§  One is clearly able to make out the theme of the poem that aging and death though are natural and unavoidable become scary and painful to accept.

§  The poem is a free verse without any rhyme scheme and meter.

§  This beautiful poem depicts a daughter-mother relation and fear of losing one’s relations.


Summary / Synopsis

§  "A Photograph" intricately weaves together themes of time, memory, nostalgia, and the complex emotions associated with the loss. The photograph serves as a poignant memory of the poet and her mother’s life.

§  The poem also describes deep impact of shared moments in their life through an image captured on a beach holiday.

§  Poet’s mother first laughs at funny dresses of the three girls on the holiday but later realises the loss of her childhood while the poet laments at the loss of her mother after death.

§  The poet feels that sea hasn’t changed while there has been profound change in both the poet’s life as well her mother’s.

§  The concluding lines contemplate the silence surrounding death. The speaker's mother has been dead for as many years as the girl in the photograph lived.

§  The poem suggests that there is a profound silence associated with death, a silence so powerful that it itself becomes an expression of the unutterable nature of loss.

 

Line by Line Explanation

The cardboard shows me how it was

When the two girl cousins went paddling,

Each one holding one of my mother’s hands,

And she the big girl — some twelve years or so.

All three stood still to smile through their hair

At the uncle with the camera. A sweet face,

My mother’s, that was before I was born.

And the sea, which appears to have changed less,

Washed their terribly transient feet.

 Explanation:

The poet is looking at a photograph framed in a cardboard, which serves as a memory of the past.

The photograph captures a moment when two female cousins of the poet’s mother were wading or playing in water with her. The cousins were holding hands with her mother, indicating a close and affectionate relationship.

The poet's mother is older or ‘big girl approximately twelve years old at the time of the photograph. The trio stopped moving and posed for the camera, smiling with their hair falling over their faces. They smiled at the uncle who was taking the photograph. The poet's mother had a sweet smiling face. The photograph captures a moment from a time before the poet was born.

The sea under their feet seems to have undergone almost no changes but the people in the photograph have changed drastically as they have grown old. The sea is described as washing the feet of the three girls, emphasising the transient and fleeting nature of life compared to ceaseless and perennial nature.

 

Some twenty — thirty — years later

She’d laugh at the snapshot. “See Betty

And Dolly,” she’d say, “and look how they

Dressed us for the beach.” The sea holiday

Was her past, mine is her laughter. Both wry

With the laboured ease of loss.

 Explanation :

Twenty or thirty years have passed since the photograph was taken. The  mother later used to laugh with the Poet as she found the clothing and the dressing style of her cousins and herself funny on the day when she went out for the beach holiday. The mother mentioned her cousins, Betty and Dolly and laughed at their dresses as she felt that they looked funny in the dresses. The laugh of the mother is now a history, her past for the poet.

The beach vacation depicted in the photograph was her mother's past, while the speaker's own past is her mother's laughter as she is dead and the speaker misses her mother and her laughter.

The laughter of both the mother and the speaker is described as "wry" or bittersweet. Mother is sad as her childhood has gone and her carefree days of childhood are over which is a huge loss for her. The poet is in grief at the loss of her mother to death. There is a painful smile at poet's lips as she remembers her mother's laugh. This acceptance of loss is not effortless as it is extremely painful and difficult.

 

"Now she’s been dead nearly as many years

As that girl lived. And of this circumstance

There is nothing to say at all.

Its silence silences"

 Explanation :

The speaker's mother has been deceased for a similar length of time as the girl in the photograph had lived. At the time of the photograph the mother was twelve years old and it’s been same time after her death now when the poet is looking at the photograph and missing her mother. The speaker acknowledges the reality of death and the inability to find words to express the circumstance and her emotions at this emotional loss. Now, the girl in the photograph is silent and this silence is hurting her, troubling her.

The poem concludes with the tragic and unavoidable fate of a living soul that is death. The poet feels unable and incapable to express herself but this silence is troublesome and painful.  

Theme

The poem highlights the theme of impermanence and transience. The sea, which "appears to have changed less," becomes a symbol of permanence of nature in contrast to the fleeting nature of human life. The image of the sea washing their "terribly transient feet" conveys the loss of life against perennial sea. The poet also reflects that aging and death though are natural and unavoidable become scary and painful to accept.


Poetic Devices

Each one holding one of my mother’s hands – Repetition, Alliteration

And she the big girl — some twelve years or so – Alliteration

All three stood still to smile through their hair – Alliteration, Consonance  

At the uncle with the camera. A sweet face – Repetition

My mother’s, that was before I was born – Alliteration, Repetition

And the sea, which appears to have changed less,

Washed their terribly transient feet – Alliteration, Paradox, symbolism

Some twenty — thirty — years later - Assonance

She’d laugh at the snapshot. “See Betty – Alliteration, Apostrophe 

And Dolly,” she’d say, “and look how they – Repetition

Dressed us for the beach.” The sea holiday – Repetition,  Enjambment, Imagery

Was her past, mine is her laughter. Both wry – Repetition, Consonance

With the laboured ease of loss – Alliteration, Oxymoron, Pathos  

Now she’s been dead nearly as many years – Alliteration

As that girl lived. And of this circumstance – Alliteration, Consonance

There is nothing to say at all – Assonance

Its silence silences – Alliteration, Assonance, Pathos  


Important Question Answers

Q1. What does the word cardboard denote in the poem?

Ans. In the poem the cardboard is referred to as the photograph of the poet and her cousins in which they are spending good time together on their beach holiday. This word has been used because carboard is impermanent and symbolised the temporary state of human life.

Q2. What has not changed over the years? Does this suggest something to you?

Ans. The sea, which the poet refers in the poem has not changed much over the years. This suggests that the sea is an example of eternal nature which goes on flowing ceaselessly despite the fact that the poet's mother grew up, became old and died. It is presented as something perennial in contrast to the transitory nature of human life.

Q3. The three stanzas depict three phases, what are they?

Ans. In the first phase the poet depicts the scene of the beach where the poet's mother and siblings are enjoying beach holiday and posing while the photograph is being clicked by their uncle. In this phase mother's childhood is described.

During the second phase the poet's mother recalls her childhood and joyfully laughs while looking at the photograph. Now the poet's mother has grown up and is happy to live her past while sharing her memories with her daughter.

In the third phase poet laments the death of her mother. She tells that the beach holiday was her mother's past and her mother's laughter is her own past after her death.


RTC

The cardboard shows me how it was

When the two girl cousins went paddling,

Each one holding one of my mother’s hands,

And she the big girl

Q1. What does the card board refer to?

Q2. Where have the girls gone?

Q3. What does the card board show?

Q4. Which poetic device is predominantly used in these lines?

Q5. Who is 'the big girl'? How?


Answers : 

A1. The word 'card board' refers to the photograph of poet's mother and her two cousins. 

A2. The girls have gone to enjoy their beach holiday by the sea. 

A3. The card board holds a photograph which shows poet's mother enjoying a beach holiday with her two female cousins and the sea is also visible in the backdrop. The photograph was clicked by their uncle. 

A4. Imagery is predominantly used in these lines. 

A5. 'The big girl' is poet's mother as she is older than her cousins. She was around twelve years old, then.




Thursday 1 February 2024

The Last Lesson


The Last Lesson

                                   By Alphonse Daudet

Analysis: 


·       The chapter ‘The Last Lesson’ is written by Alphonse Daudet, a French novelist and short story writer.

·      'The Last Lesson' is set in the days of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) in which France was defeated by Prussia led by Bismarck. French districts of Alsace and Lorraine have passed into Prussian hands.

·       The chapter shares Franz’s nostalgic moments at the last lesson of French language offering his tribute to his teacher, M Hamel and his language.

·       It also highlights the significance of a language for the integrity and solidarity of a nation. In order to keep our nation united we must love and learn our national / official language. We must feel connected to and proud of our nation and our language. 

The writer highlights the issue of linguistic chauvinism as he criticises German people for imposing their language on the people of Alsace and Lorraine. Love for one's language is appreciated but asking other people to their language is unethical and domination.

Summary /  Synopsis

§  This chapter begins with the narrator starting for school. He was very late and so, was scared of his French teacher, Mr. Hamel’s scolding.  At the town hall there was a crowd in front of the bulletin board which had been giving all the bad news related to war for the last two years.

§  He reached the school and it was a strange quietness all around though usually in the beginning of school, there was a great hustle bustle due to the opening and closing of desks, lessons repeated in unison, teacher’s great ruler rapping on the table. That day it was stillness all around.

§  Franz was scared as well as ashamed to enter class but M. Hamel asked him to go to his place and sit. The teacher wore his beautiful green coat, his frilled shirt, and the little black silk cap which he wore on inspection and special days. The village people were sitting on the back benches that were always empty. Old Hauser, the former mayor, the former postmaster and many others were sitting to thank the master for his forty years of faithful service and show their respect for the country that was not theirs now.

§  Everybody looked sad and had brought something to Mr. Hamel as it was the last lesson of French language as it was announced by the teacher. He told that the order had come from Berlin to teach only German in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine and a new teacher would be coming thereafter.

§  Franz grew sad thinking that he would not be able to learn French any more by M. Hamel. Suddenly, he felt attached to his books, class and curriculum which was not so earlier. His name was called to recite. He hadn’t learnt the lesson of participle so he messed with his answers.  M. Hamel told Franz that he had always put his learning off thinking that he had plenty of time but now learning had been put off for uncertain time in Alsace.

Video on The Last Lesson

§  He said that not only Franz but all the people in Alsace haven’t paid good attention and due respect to their language and they should be ashamed of this. He reminded Franz how his parents were not willing to send him for learning so that he could work and earn money. He recounted how he himself put off his learning for some or the other work or purpose. Mr. Hamel told that the French is the most beautiful, clearest and most logical language in the world and that they must guard it and never forget it as the language is the key to free an enslaved nation if people love their language and respect it.

§  Then, he started teaching a grammar lesson and Franz understood it very well and easily. Actually he had never listened so carefully and probably he had never explained so patiently. Perhaps Mr. Hamel wanted to give all he knew before going away. They also did writing task for which Mr. Hamel brought new copies with the words — France and Alsace written on them. All were engrossed and writing quietly.

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§  Beatles flew in the room and Franz felt that they also wanted to attend the class and write French. On the roof the pigeons were cooing very low, and narrator wondered if the new authorities would make the pigeons also sing in German as they were asking the people to learn German.

§  He was sad for the teacher who had been there for forty years and was leaving the country next day with his family.

§  Later, they had a lesson in history, others chanted the letters to practise pronunciation, phonetics and spelling. He was surprised to think how well he remembered that last lesson! As the Church clock struck twelve, they heard the trumpets of the Prussians, returning from drill. Mr. Hamel stood up and he appeared to be tall probably due to honour and love for his country. He wrote with chalk on the black board “Vive La France!” but could not speak as he choked with emotions. Then, without speaking a word, he made a gesture with his hand that the School is dismissed and they could go. He was so much overwhelmed with the love for his country and the people that he won’t be able to continue teaching French.

Video on Aunt Jennifer's Tigers 

Difficult words/expressions

Dread – fear

Participles – non finite verbs working as adjectives

chirping – sound of birds

Resist – control, overcome

apprentice – trainee

Commotion – confusion / noise

solemn – serious / grave

Primer – book for beginners

wretches – miserable persons

cranky – strange / whimsy

Reproach – cold / blame

Cooed – sound of pigeons

Angelus – bell for prayers

Trumpets – musical instruments

Vive La France – long live France


Back ground

'The Last Lesson' is set in the days of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) in which France was defeated by Prussia led by Bismarck. Prussia then consisted of what now are the nations of Germany, Poland and parts of Austria. In this story the French districts of Alsace and Lorraine have passed into Prussian hands. In Alsace a new political system was established under which the people there were ordered to learn German.


Message

This lesson gives us an insight about how much significant a language is for the integrity and solidarity of a nation. In order to keep our nation united we must love and learn our national / official language. We must feel connected to, and proud of our language. 

The author exhorts us to be connected to our nation, our roots and our culture. We should be proud of our language and must not get carried away by foreign influences, language and culture as our language binds us together. 


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Character Sketch of M. Hamel

The chapter characterises Mr. Hamel as a passionate, dedicated and committed teacher who spent 40 years of his life teaching French. He is portrayed as a patriotic and nationalistic person whose love for his nation is unfathomable. He got emotional when he saw Prussian soldiers coming back after drill thinking that his nation is enslaved by the Prussians. 

His love for French language is commendable as in his last lesson of French language he was pouring out himself to teach in the best possible manner and as much as he could. Writing “Vive la France” he was overwhelmed with emotions and choked with sentiments to say any words. As a teacher Mr. Hamel is admirable and as a patriot he deserves a salute.

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