Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Wild Swans at Coole - Poem by William Butler Yeats

The Wild Swans at Coole - Poem by William Butler Yeats

Summary

With the trees “in their autumn beauty,” the speaker walks down the dry woodland paths to the water, which mirrors the still October twilight of the sky. Upon the water float “nine-and-fifty swans.” The speaker says that nineteen years have passed since he first came to the water and counted the swans; that first time, before he had “well finished,” he saw the swans mount up into the sky and scatter, “whelling in great broken rings / Upon their clamorous wings.” The speaker says that his heart is sore, for after nineteen autumns of watching and being cheered by the swans, he finds that everything in his life has changed. The swans, though, are still unwearied, and they paddle by in the water or fly by in the air in pairs, “lover by lover.” Their hearts, the speaker says, “have not grown cold,” and wherever they go they are attended by “passion or conquest.” But now, as they drift over the still water, they are “Mysterious, beautiful,” and the speaker wonders where they will build their nests, and by what lake’s edge or pool they will “delight men’s eyes,” when he awakes one morning to find that they have flown away.

EXPLANATION

One of the most unusual features of Yeats’s poetic career is the fact that the poet came into his greatest powers only as he neared old age; whereas many poets fade after the first burst of youth, Yeats continued to grow more confident and more innovative with his writing until almost the day he died. Though he was a famous and successful writer in his youth, his poetic reputation today is founded almost solely on poems written after he was fifty. He is thus the great poet of old age, writing honestly and with astonishing force about the pain of time’s passage and feeling that the ageless heart was “fastened to a dying animal,” as he wrote in “Sailing to Byzantium.” The great struggle that enlivens many of Yeats’s best poems is the struggle to uphold the integrity of the soul, and to preserve the mind’s connection to the “deep heart’s core,” despite physical decay and the pain of memory.

“The Wild Swans at Coole,” part of the 1919 collection of the same name, is one of Yeats’s earliest and most moving testaments to the heart-ache of living in a time when “all’s changed.” (And when Yeats says “All’s changed, changed utterly” in the fifteen years since he first saw the swans, he means it—the First World War and the Irish civil war both occurred during these years.) The simple narrative of the poem, recounting the poet’s trips to the lake at Augusta Gregory’s Coole Park residence to count the swans on the water, is given its solemn serenity by the beautiful nature imagery of the early stanzas, the plaintive tone of the poet, and the carefully constructed poetic stanza—the two trimeter lines, which give the poet an opportunity to utter short, heartfelt statements before a long silence ensured by the short line (“Their hearts have not grown old...”). The speaker, caught up in the gentle pain of personal memory, contrasts sharply with the swans, which are treated as symbols of the essential: their hearts have not grown old; they are still attended by passion and conquest.

CHANDALIKA - RABINDRANATH TAGORE

NOTES ON 'CHANDALIKA' - RABINDRANATH TAGORE

SUMMARY

Much has been written about Tagore’s play, Chandalika which is based on a Buddhist legend Tagore came across while studying Ranjendra Lal Mitra’s The Sanskrit Buddhist Literature. According to the story Ananda, the famous disciple of the Buddha, approaches towards a well to ask for water from a Chandalini, a young untouchable girl. Prakriti, the Chandalini, serves him water from her pitcher and falls in love with him at the first sight. Her passion to possess Ananda compels her mother to cast a magic spell on Ananda and to drag him to her house. The spell proves stronger and Ananda is dragged to the couch spread for him by the Chandalini. Ananda prays to the Buddha to save himself from this shame and remorse. Consequently, Buddha breaks the magic spell and frees Ananda, who walks away from the Chandalini, as pure as he came. The play, for many, has been either a play of spiritual conflict or a psychological drama. Such readings of us however obliterate the most social concerns of the play like casteism and sexuality which make the play more as a social document than a mere stage show of entertainment and aesthetics. Though Subaltern Studies as a critical theory was unheard of in Tagore’s time, it is interesting to revisit and reintrospect Tagore’s Chandalika from the Postcolonial perspective .My paper will try to look at Tagore from the Subaltern standpoint, especially with reference to Gramsci’s notion of the ‘subaltern’ and the postcolonial issues of subjectivity and identity-formation .

Tagore’s Chandalika is a powerful critique of Indian society that ignores and deprives a large community of its fundamental rights and dignity, labelling them as subhuman untouchables. The dominant social groups of the high caste Hindus are much to be blamed for the dastardly acts of inhumanity and cruelty. The narrative of Chandalika is an evidence of the subaltern protest against Brahmanical hegemony and it explores possible ways of redemption. The story parallels powerfully the anti-caste movements associated with Phule, Periyar and Ambedkar. But Tagore does not lose sight of the fact that the Subaltern is held in subjection through its internal weakness and through its acceptance, as evident in the slavish mentality of Prakiti’s mother, Maya, of the moral, social and political ideologies of the ruling class. Maya internalizes and consents to her subordination as ordained. This subjectivity is not just externally imposed but is ingrained in the subaltern culture and consciousness. The mother considers Prakiti’s new birth following the awakening of her consciousness as madness. She chastises Prakiti’s newly gained enthusiasm after her.

BROKEN IMAGES - GIRISH KARNAD

NOTES ON 'BROKEN IMAGES' - GIRISH KARNAD

EXPLANATION
BROKEN IMAGES has one set – a TV studio – but a multi-layered theme. It weaves in issues as far apart as the hegemony of English over Indian languages and the hollowness of a media which bestows greatness on a work that lay unnoticed in its original language but when translated into English becomes the toast of the global literary world.  It also deals with psychological repression of an inverted kind.  The central character Manjula, the now successful, Kannada-turned-English writer has a handicapped, wheelchair bound sister, Malini.  But it is the disabled Malini who turns out to be the really healthy and whole person.  It is Malini who not only wins the love of Manjula’s husband, Pramod, but is far more centered and happy than her caretaker sister, Manjula.Not just that.  After her death, it is Manjula whose loveless married life ends by Pramod walking out and moving to Los Angeles and the phenomenal success that she has wrested from Malini by stealing Malini’s unpublished MSS tasting like poison.  

The metaphor of Manjula aka Shabana talking about her heroic exploits with the book on a live television show ends with her finding that her image just does not leave the monitor. It is not her, of course.  It looks like her but it is Malini and the conflict between the self and the image,  between delusion and reality, between the outer mask and the inner truth that emerges in the tussle between the sisters and is the very stuff of the drama. 
Broken Images takes many a side swipe at all those writers in English who are constantly in the news, for fat advances from foreign publishers, for works that are many years away to seeing the light of day, for invitations to foreign colleges, lecture tours and autograph signing sprees. There are also the questions that stare in the face: are the Indian English  cut off from the "smell of the soil," have they sold out to a market-driven economy, have they struck a trade-off with their conscience by not writing in their native language, etc. etc. 
In appropriating the stolen novel, one in which her sister has caricatured her and made her out to be a pushy, conniving, duplicitous relative, a defiant Manjula shouts: "I wrote the novel in English because it burst out in English....What baffles me - actually, hurts me - is why our intellectuals can't grasp this simple fact." We see Manjula Nayak subjected to an interrogation that teases, taunts and finally strips the secrets from her soul.  The TV image reveals the sordid truth about Manjula's marriage, her far from easy relationship with her dead sister Malini and the mysterious circumstances in which the best-selling novel that was written by Malini (with the help of Pramod who, too, was always at home) and now published by Manjula, finds her conceits punctured and her deceptions gradually unravelled. 

Finally she is forced into anger or emotional collapse. The 55-minute play progresses towards a tight and stirring finish as Manjula seems to morph into Malini as "differences of ink and blood and language" are obliterated in a Babel of voices and a jumble of television images.  

Talking about the technical facet of the play, director Alyque said, "There are two Shabanas in the play, it is Shabana speaking to Shabana. With the aid of technology, there are two Shabanas on the stage at the same time!" Meanwhile, the equally excited Shabana says, "The minute I finished reading the script, I said I was on! The play is so dramatic and challenging. It is a technical nightmare; I have to react to my own televised image on the screen. The image is shot as a single one hour shot, so the timing is crucial, there is no room for mistake." 

It is in these climactic moments that Shabana Azmi proves her dramatic worth and for just a few seconds, like the computer image breaking into a million shards, she captures the trauma of the two sisters’ existence.  As for Padamsee’s direction, it is nothing to write home about. 

The Argumentative Indian - Amartya Sen

Notes on 'The Argumentative Indian' - Amartya Sen

EXPLANATION

The Argumentative Indian is a book written by Nobel Prize winning Indian economist Amartya Sen. It is a collection of essays that discuss India's history and identity, focusing on the traditions of public debate and intellectual pluralism. Martha Nussbaum says the book "demonstrates the importance of public debate in Indian traditions generally."

The Argumentative Indian has brought together a selection of writings from Sen that outline the need to understand contemporary India in the light of its long argumentative tradition. The understanding and use of this argumentative tradition are critically important, Sen argues, for the success of India's democracy, the defence of its secular politics, the removal of inequalities related to class, caste, gender and community, and the pursuit of sub-continental peace.

The book takes the form of four sections containing linked essays: "Voice and Heterodoxy", "Culture and Communication", "Politics and Protest", "Reason and Identity". The first section looks at the general culture of pluralistic debate within India, dating back to Buddha and kings such as Ashoka. The second section seeks to restore the reputation of Rabindranath Tagore as an intellectual polymath, combining spiritual and political ideas, and explores India's relationship to other cultures, including the West and China, especially the peaceful and intellectually rewarding cross-fertilising relationship between the two great Asian cultures. The third section looks at conflicts of class and criticises inequalities in Indian society and arguments that have been used to justify them. Finally, the book explores modern cultures of secularism and liberalism in an Indian context.

Amartya Sen's own political agenda is clear for all to see and is wholly admirable. Given the virtue of Sen's position, to which nearly all of us would subscribe, it is hard to have to say that "The Argumentative Indian" proves on close reading to be a flawed book. This is because Sen does not go beyond stating self-evident truths. Although nicely written, and with many points of interest, there is a thinness and superficiality about the whole that displeases. [...] My greatest disappointment with this book is that its use of history is as unscrupulous and trivialising as that of those Sen wishes to bring down. "The Argumentative Indian" is not sufficiently thoughtful and serves as a forceful reminder that history is constantly being used in a dangerously naive way.

WHY THE NOVEL MATTERS – D.H. LAWRENCE

NOTES ON 'WHY THE NOVEL MATTERS' – D.H. LAWRENCE

EXPLANATION OF THE ESSAY:
D.H. Lawrence introduces his views of the novel to the readers by referring to the common thinking among people that they are a body with a spirit or a soul or a mind in it. A proverb to this effect, namely, “A sound body in a sound mind” has been framed. According to D.H. Lawrence, this idea of ourselves as a body with a spirit or a soul or a mind in it is a funny superstition.
D.H. Lawrence asks why we should make a difference between the hand that writes and the mind that directs the hand to write. He feels that the hand is as full of life, and that it learns and knows as many things as the mind is and does. Our hand is alive upto the finger tips but the pen with which we write is not alive.
D.H. Lawrence argues that every bit of our body, like the hand or the hair, or the skin is alive. As he says, ‘whatever is me alive is me’. We are completely wrong in comparing any part of our body with a bottle or a jug or a tin can, or a vessel of clay because while each tiny part of our body is full of life as the whole body, a bottle or a jug is inanimate.
That every bit of our body is alive is what we know when one is a novelist. This idea is liable to become unknown, to us if we are a philosopher, or a scientist, or a stupid person.
A person speaks about souls in heaven. But a novelist talks about paradise in the palm of our hand, or at the end of our nose because he feels the existence of life during his life time undisturbed by what happens to him after life.
According to Lawrence, life is the most important aspect of life. Anything that is living is certainly more amazing than a dead thing. A living dog is better than a dead lion though a living lion is better than a living dog.
D.H. Lawrence says that he is not simply a soul or a body or mind, or intelligence, or glands. He is the sum total of all these and greater than all these. Since, possesses them within himself. He as a man alive, is a novelist. So as a novelist he is greater than and superior to the scientist, the philosopher and the poet, since they deal with only a part of man’s body, whereas the novelist deals with the whole body.
Even the Bible is a great confused novel. It is not about one man alive but a long list of men alive. Even God is another man alive. Since, he throws the tablets of stone at Mose’s head.
D.H. Lawrence desires to stimulate people in all possible directions. All things change but even change is not absolute the whole or complete nature is a ‘strong assembly of apparently incongruous parts, slipping part one another.
Man constantly undergoes changes and a man today is not exactly what he was yesterday and he will also be entirely different tomorrow. Even the woman loved by a man constantly undergoes changes and he continues to love her because of the change.
In this novel, the characters do nothing but live. They have to live but not according to any pattern, good or bad or volatile, because once they shape themselves into a pattern, they cease to live and novel falls dead. Similarly, in life we have got to live or we are nothing.
The exact meaning of living is like the meaning of being. People go into the desert to seek God, or money, or wine, or woman, or song, or water or political reform or votes. One can never predict one’s choices in life. It is as sudden as rain in summer and none can say when it will come. In this great confusion, disorder and unpredictability we need a guide.
The novel tells us what a man alive does and when a man becomes a dead man in life. It tells us, for instance, how a man alive loves a woman, and how a dead man in life courts her; how a man alive eats his dinner and how a dead man in life munches it. It tells us how a man alive shoots his enemy and how dead man in life throws bombs mercilessly at men, who are neither his enemies nor friends, and therefore becomes a criminal.
The novel is the best guide which helps us to live, without getting ourselves unnecessarily disturbed by the theory of right and wrong, good or bad, which are always there. Right and wrong are not constant but relative. Since what is right in one case becomes wrong in another. In the novel, we see a man dying because of his goodness and another person dying because of his wickedness. The idea of right and wrong is an instinct generating from the consciousness of man affecting his body, mind and spirit.
The existence of anything, namely, body or mind, or spirit separately does not make life, but the wholeness of man alive and a woman alive constitutes life. Only the novel explains the dead man and dead woman in life, the novel is the one bright book of life and surpasses all other books, such as philosophy, science and poetry.

SUMMARY

In the essay "Why the Novel Matters , Lawrence explores in his own way the Romantic concept of the relativity of parts and wholes to construct a doctrinal statement celebrating the novel over other fields of thought. Unlike philosophy, science, and religion, which only address "part  of us, he says, the novel reaches us "whole hog . Incorporated into this argument is a diatribe against moral "absolutes . " Once and for all and for ever, let us have done with the ugly imperialism of any absolute. There is no absolute good, there is nothing absolutely right,  the writer asserts. Here Lawrence's hatred of absolutes is made supplemental to a larger theory on the relativity of parts and wholes. In the essay, he contends that "man alive  is as much or more the physical body than it is the mind or spirit, and he supports his thesis by disassembling the old cliche that the body is merely a vessel for the soul.
             Then he goes on saying that like "a bottle or a jug, or a tin can, or a vessel of clay  our body bleeds when it is cut. But the difference that sets it apart is the life in the skin, vein, bone or blood this is inside. But in case of other inanimate objects the entities inside are as dead as the outer. "And that's what you learn, when you're a novelist  quips Lawrence to define the people in this field. So the superficial "logic" of this passage is conspicuously off: to refute the notion that the body is merely a vessel for the soul, he "proves" that skin and bone are as important as anything else.

Monday, December 5, 2016

POEM - HAWK ROOSTING BY Ted Hughes - XI - ELECTIVE ENGLISH

HAWK ROOSTING

SUMMARY

This poem is written as a dramatic monologue and is told from the point of view of a hawk. The hawk details all in nature that is available to him. He perches in the tall trees, sleeping and looking for his prey. He believes all that is around him exists for him and only him. He revels in his predatory nature, fearing nothing and staking his claim on everything. He sees himself as almost god-like; all that is around him is the way it is because he deems it to be that way.

ANALYSIS OF HAWK ROOSTING

The hawk serves as the speaker of this poem; his tone is confident and almost haughty at times, although his belief in his superiority appears to be more steeped in honesty than it does in false bravado. The hawk continuously uses the pronoun “I” throughout the course of the work. Another interesting fact to note about the poem is that Hughes has written it entirely in the present tense, which adds to the sense that the hawk has always been, and will always be, at the top of the food chain.
The poem consists of six stanzas, each containing four lines. There is no set rhyme scheme to the poem, and Hughes relies on free verse in order to convey his themes to his readers.
The first stanza reads:

I sit in the top of the wood, my eyes closed,
Inaction, no falsifying dream
Between my hooked head and hooked feet:
Or in sleep rehearse perfect kills and eat.

Here, the hawk seems to be deep in meditation. He does not feel threatened by anything in the wild, and therefore, he can easily close his eyes and not worry about his surroundings. He is perched in a tree where he can easily look down on the forest he inhabits. Hughes uses interesting diction in this stanza in order to create imagery. He writes, “Between my hooked head and hooked feet…” which emphasizes the dangerous and sharp beak and claws of the bird. In line four, the hawk tells the reader that he is able to perform the perfect kill even in his sleep.
In the second stanza, the hawk conveys to his reader how easy and convenient his life is. Everything in nature, it seems, has been made for the sake of his pleasure and ease. Hughes writes:

The convenience of the high trees! 
The air’s buoyancy and the sun’s ray 
Are of advantage to me; 
And the earth’s face upward for my inspection.

In line five, the hawk seems to be marveling at how much nature has given him; he is so emphatic that he even uses an exclamation point to convey his feelings. The trees are high for him; the air is buoyant, making it easy for him to glide; the sun’s ray gives him warmth. He claims that all of these aspects of nature make his life more convenient. Hughes also creates a parallel between up and down. All is below the hawk; the earth sits below him so that he can inspect it from his perch. This dichotomy reflects the superiority of the hawk.
In the third stanza, Hughes writes, 

My feet are locked upon the rough bark. 
It took the whole of Creation 
To produce my foot, my each feather: 
Now I hold Creation in my foot

In this stanza, the hawk is announcing his perfection to his reader. Again, he draws attention to his sharp claws, stabbing into the tree limb as he perches. He explains that it took Creation—probably capitalized here in order to represent God—everything He possessed in order to produce just one of the hawk’s feet, and each and every feather on his body. This stanza gives an image of a higher power hard at work, slaving over how to create such a great and powerful being. Now, the hawk proclaims, he, himself, is God, more powerful than any being on both Earth and in Heaven.
The fourth stanza is a continuation of the third. It reads,

Or fly up, and revolve it all slowly –
I kill where I please because it is all mine.
There is no sophistry in my body:
My manners are tearing off heads –

The hawk is essentially saying that he can do whatever he pleases. He can fly slowly through the air, taking in all of the sights beneath him. He can kill wherever he pleases because all of the world belongs to him. There is no need to lie or pretend otherwise because the hawk can prove his power by tearing off the heads of his victims.
The fourth stanza does not end neatly; again, Hughes carries the thoughts of the hawk into the fifth stanza, which reads:

The allotment of death. 
For the one path of my flight is direct 
Through the bones of the living. 
No arguments assert my right:

The hawk is so god-like in this stanza that he says he chooses who lives and dies. The one flight he makes is the one he takes to kill his prey. There are no arguments necessary because he is all-powerful.
The sixth and final stanza closes the poem in an absolute way:

The sun is behind me. 
Nothing has changed since I began. 
My eye has permitted no change. 
I am going to keep things like this.

The hawk claims that the world has not changed since he was created. Since then, it has been perfect and permanent. He says it has not changed because he has not allowed it to do so.

POEM - THE WORLD IS TOO MUCH WITH US - WOVEN WORDS - CLASS XI - ELECTIVE ENGLISH

THE WORLD IS TOO MUCH WITH US
SUMMARY
Angrily, the speaker accuses the modern age of having lost its connection to nature and to everything meaningful: “Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers: / Little we see in Nature that is ours; / We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!” He says that even when the sea “bares her bosom to the moon” and the winds howl, humanity is still out of tune, and looks on uncaringly at the spectacle of the storm. The speaker wishes that he were a pagan raised according to a different vision of the world, so that, “standing on this pleasant lea,” he might see images of ancient gods rising from the waves, a sight that would cheer him greatly. He imagines “Proteus rising from the sea,” and Triton “blowing his wreathed horn.”
FORM
This poem is one of the many excellent sonnets Wordsworth wrote in the early 1800s. Sonnets are fourteen-line poetic inventions written in iambic pentameter. There are several varieties of sonnets; “The world is too much with us” takes the form of a Petrarchan sonnet, modeled after the work of Petrarch, an Italian poet of the early Renaissance. A Petrarchan sonnet is divided into two parts, an octave (the first eight lines of the poem) and a sestet (the final six lines). The rhyme scheme of a Petrarchan sonnet is somewhat variable; in this case, the octave follows a rhyme scheme of ABBAABBA, and the sestet follows a rhyme scheme of CDCDCD. In most Petrarchan sonnets, the octave proposes a question or an idea that the sestet answers, comments upon, or criticizes.
COMMENTARY
“The world is too much with us” falls in line with a number of sonnets written by Wordsworth in the early 1800s that criticize or admonish what Wordsworth saw as the decadent material cynicism of the time. This relatively simple poem angrily states that human beings are too preoccupied with the material (“The world...getting and spending”) and have lost touch with the spiritual and with nature. In the sestet, the speaker dramatically proposes an impossible personal solution to his problem—he wishes he could have been raised as a pagan, so he could still see ancient gods in the actions of nature and thereby gain spiritual solace. His thunderous “Great God!” indicates the extremity of his wish—in Christian England, one did not often wish to be a pagan.

On the whole, this sonnet offers an angry summation of the familiar Wordsworthian theme of communion with nature, and states precisely how far the early nineteenth century was from living out the Wordsworthian ideal. The sonnet is important for its rhetorical force (it shows Wordsworth’s increasing confidence with language as an implement of dramatic power, sweeping the wind and the sea up like flowers in a bouquet), and for being representative of other poems in the Wordsworth canon—notably “London, 1802,” in which the speaker dreams of bringing back the dead poet John Milton to save his decadent era.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Short Story - I Sell My Dreams - Gabriel Garcia Marquez


Summary - I SELL MY DREAMS
                   –Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The giant wave of destruction
The story opens with the author having breakfast one sunny morning on the terrace of the Havana Riviera Hotel. Suddenly, a huge wave rises up over the sea wall, leaps over the wide, two-way street and hits the twenty-storey building of the hotel. The wave is so strong, it throws up into the air the cars on the avenue, the tourists in the lobby and the furniture of the hotel and even shatters the window panes.

A dead woman with a serpent ring
In the chaos that follows, a car is found to be embedded in the hotel wall with a dead woman at the wheel. She is soon identified as the Portuguese ambassador's housekeeper. The only thing that could be recovered from the woman was her gold serpent shaped ring with emerald eyes.
The author is intrigued by this information as he is reminded of another woman he had met many years back who had worn a similar ring on her right forefinger. The author is unable to find out which finger the dead woman’s ring was on.

The woman who dreams
The story goes back to the author’s first meeting with this woman in Vienna at a tavern thirty-four years before. The woman had been born in Columbia and had come to Austria as a child to learn music. As she never disclosed her real name, everybody referred to her as Frau Frieda. The author wanted to know what she did for a living, to which she replied that she sold her dreams. The third among seven children, at a very young age she had convinced her family that her dreams and her interpretation of them were as potent as oracles. A dream that she had about her brother and which she interpreted established the young girl’s power to foretell events through her dreams.

Her dreams make her rich
During the intense Viennese winters, the girl secures a job at the house of a very religious family, getting a room, three meals a day and wages just enough to cover her minor expenses. Her only job is to interpret her dreams and predict the family’s daily fate based on which the family members, including children, planned their activities. The master of the house bequeaths part of his estate to her on the condition that she continue to interpret her dreams for the family.  
One evening she whispers to the author to leave Vienna right away and not come back for five years. Her conviction is so strong that the author leaves for Rome that very night and never returns.

Frau Frieda comes to Spain
Thirteen years later, the author is in Barcelona with his poet friend Pablo Neruda. This was Neruda’s first day on Spanish soil after the Civil war, a stopover en route to Valpaiso by sea. During lunch, Neruda whispers to the author that he feels somebody is continually watching him from behind. The author turns back and is pleasantly surprised to recognise the woman watching Neruda to be Frau Frieda. She had been Neruda’s co-passenger on the ship but they had not seen each other. The author introduces her to all at the table and encourages her to talk about her dreams hoping to astound the disbelieving poet.

Pablo Neruda has a dream
After lunch, the author takes a stroll with Frau Frieda and finds out that she had managed to inherit the full estate from the Viennese family. She tells him that he can go back to Vienna now. He laughingly replies that even if her dreams were false he would never go back.
The author then leaves her to accompany Neruda back to his house for his siesta. Neruda fusses over the temperature and light in his room and once satisfied with the changes, falls asleep right away. Ten minutes later he walks into the living room refreshed. He announces that he dreamt that the woman who dreams was dreaming about him. There is some light hearted banter on this and the matter soon forgotten.

Some dreams slip in
Later that evening Neruda boards his ship and the author takes his leave of him and goes in search of Frau Frieda. He finds her on the tourist deck. She too had taken a siesta. She tells him that she had dreamt that the poet was dreaming about her. Noticing the amazement on the author’s face she quickly justifies herself saying that some dreams do slip in that have nothing to do with real life. The author never thought about her after that till the Havana tragedy.

The dead woman is identified
A few months after the incident, the author finds himself at a banquet with the Portuguese ambassador and asks him about his dead housekeeper. The ambassador speaks of her with great admiration and enthusiasm without actually explaining her work. To the author’s direct question on this the ambassador replies, she dreamed.


Q1. Did the author believe in the prophetic ability of Frau Frieda?

ANSWER: The author apperently believed in her dreams. We know this by his response of Frau Frieda's request when she said that she had dreamt of him and that he should leave Vienna for five years. The author leaves Vienna the very next day and never goes back. But later in the story he reveals, "I had always thought her dreams were no more than a stratagem for surviving. And I told her so."This hints that may be he left Vienna for some other reasons and not due to the prophetic ability of Frau Frieda.

Q2. Why did he think that Frau Frieda’s dreams were a stratagem for surviving?

ANSWER:  

Thursday, March 17, 2016

SA 2 EXAMINATION PAPER XI ENGLISH CORE AMU BOARD



XI English Core Novel - Up From Slavery

Up From Slavery - Summary
Up from Slavery tells the life story of Booker T. Washington, from childhood through the height of his career. It is written in the first person, supplemented with excerpts from letters and newspaper editorials about his work.
Washington was born as a slave on a plantation in Virginia. He had a burning desire for education and, once freedom came, he taught himself to read. He spent much of his boyhood working in a salt furnace and a coal mine, attending school whenever he could. When he heard of the Hampton Institute - a school open to people of all races where students could work in exchange for board - he became determined to attend. After working for some time in the home of Mrs. Viola Ruffner, he set off for Hampton. His excellent training and work habits paid off, as he was hired as a janitor and allowed to enrol.
At Hampton, Washington became acquainted with his lifelong mentor and friend, General Armstrong, to whom he credits the idea of industrial education. He also learned to eat with a tablecloth and a napkin, bathe regularly, brush his teeth, and use sheets. Donors paid his tuition, but he worked hard both during the year and in the summers to pay for his board and necessities such as clothing and books. He learned that the happiest people were those who did the most for others, and also that one of the best things education could do is to teach a man to love labour.
After graduation, Washington returned to his hometown of Malden, VA and began teaching in the community. He taught both during the day and at night, and prepared several students (including his brothers) to attend Hampton. He also studied for eight months in Washington, D.C., where he found that students were less self-reliant as they had not learned to help themselves through industrial work. He found that many blacks in the city had become lazy, hoping for an easy life.
At the close of his studies, Washington was invited to teach at Hampton. He lived with a group of American Indian men as a "house father," and also took charge of the newly opened night school. When two men wrote to General Armstrong looking for someone to take charge of a new school for coloured people in Tuskegee, Alabama, Washington was recommended and accepted the job. He spent some time traveling around the region to get a sense of people's needs, and found they were extremely great.
When the Tuskegee Institute opened, there were just 30 students and one teacher, and the only structures were an old shanty and an abandoned church. Washington, along with Olivia Davidson, a teacher who later became his wife, worked hard to raise funds to purchase an abandoned plantation close to town. They shared a vision to teach far more than books, including proper hygiene, diet, table manners, and the practical knowledge of an industry that would allow students to make a living. With a loan from General Marshall, Treasurer of the Hampton Institute, they purchased the land and had students repair the dilapidated buildings. Students also cleared the land and planted crops, under the leadership of Washington himself.
Soon Washington and Davidson began traveling north to fundraise for new buildings. Students dug the foundations and did most of the labour themselves. They also learned to make bricks and furniture, and Washington saw that providing a needed service for the community did a lot to improve race relations. Despite objections from students and their parents, Washington insisted that all students learn an industry and spend sufficient time working at their trade. Enrolment increased, and the school soon opened a boarding department. With more students came the need for more buildings and funds, and Washington increased his fundraising efforts.
When traveling north to raise money, Washington also began receiving invitations to give lectures. After speaking at the National Educational Association in Madison, WI, he received an invitation to speak in Atlanta, which opened the door to giving an address at the opening of the Atlanta Cotton states and International Exposition in September 1895. This address was the high point of his career. Speaking in front of an audience of mixed race and origin (north and south), he shared his ideas that southern blacks should remain in the south and primarily work with their hands, and that southern whites should turn to their black neighbours rather than to foreign immigrants to meet their needs. Blacks should not agitate for social equality, but rather earn privileges through hard work and struggle. The speech was extremely well received by the white community, and Washington was soon in high demand as a speaker. Some of his own race were less positive, however, as they felt he had not spoken out strongly enough for black "rights."
Washington spoke at a number of other notable events, including the dedication of the Robert Gould Shaw monument in Boston and a peace celebration in Chicago following the close of the Spanish-American war. Tuskegee by that time was able to run itself in his absence, although he was kept informed of its proceedings through daily reports. He was also honoured in a number of public receptions and received an honorary degree from Harvard University.
In the spring of 1899, some of Washington's friends in Boston arranged for him and his wife to take a tour of Europe for a few months. It was his first vacation in 19 years. The couple visited Holland, Belgium, France, and England and met a number of important individuals, including the queen of England.
Tuskegee grew enormously in the twenty years since its inception. From its start in a broken-down shanty and a hen-house, it had grown to 2300 acres of land, 66 buildings, thirty industrial departments, 1400 students, and 110 officers and instructors, and it was well-respected enough to earn a visit from President McKinley.
Characters
Washington's mother
Washington's mother was the plantation cook. She had three children: Washington, his older brother John, and his younger sister Amanda. Despite the family's poverty, she also adopted an orphan boy, James. Washington comments about how much his mother supported his education. She somehow procured a Webster spelling book for him to learn his alphabet, and she sewed a cap for him in order to fit in with the children at school. Washington greatly respected her for refusing to go into debt to purchase a store-bought cap, instead solving the problem by making one herself. She passed away during one of his summer breaks while he was studying at the Hampton Institute.

Washington's stepfather
Washington's stepfather brought the family to West Virginia after Emancipation, where he had procured a cabin and a job in a salt mine. He made Washington and his brother John work in the salt mine as well, even though they were still children. He was far less supportive of his stepson's desire to go to school than Washington's mother, allowing the boy to attend only with the condition that he work many hours before and after classes. Ironically, Washington took his last name from his stepfather's first name (Washington), giving himself this surname when he realized he was supposed to possess two names at school.


Washington's brother, John
John was very supportive of his younger brother. As a child, he wore Washington's new, uncomfortable flax shirt for a few days to break it in. When Washington wanted to go to the Hampton Institute to further his education, John helped him as much as he could with whatever money he could spare. He worked in the coalmines to support the family while Washington was studying. After graduating, Washington repaid the favour by preparing John to enter Hampton himself, and by saving money to help pay his expenses. John later became Superintendent of Industries at Tuskegee. Both brothers also helped send their adopted brother James to Hampton, which prepared him to become Tuskegee's postmaster.
Mrs. Viola Ruffner
Viola Ruffner was the wife of General Lewis Ruffner, owner of the salt-furnace and the coalmine where Washington and his brother John worked. Although she had a reputation for being unusually strict with her servants, Washington preferred to enter her service than to continue working at the coalmine. He worked for her at a salary of $5 per month and soon learned how to keep her satisfied. He credits her with teaching him valuable lessons about how to take care of a house. Ruffner was supportive of Washington's education and allowed him to go to school for an hour a day during some of the winter months. It was while living with her that he began to compile his first "library."
Miss Mary F. Mackie
Mary F. Mackie was the head teacher at Hampton and controlled who would be admitted. Washington impressed her with his diligence while cleaning the recitation room, and she hired him as a janitor along with allowing him to enter the institution. The position was instrumental in allowing Washington to study, as it paid for nearly all of his board. Mackie became a good friend and worked alongside Washington to prepare the school for students' entrance. He respected the way she cleaned windows, dusted rooms, put beds in order, and so on, despite being a member of one of the oldest and most cultured northern families.
General Samuel C. Armstrong
General Armstrong was the leader of the Hampton Institute and one of Washington's most important mentors. He was a northern white man, but he dedicated his life to helping students of both races in the south. Armstrong was well loved and respected by his students, who, for instance, gladly honoured his request to live in tents during the cold winter in order to make room for more students. He was instrumental in advancing Washington's career: he found a donor to defray the cost of his tuition at Hampton, invited him to return to the school to teach and start a night-school, and recommended him to the founders of the Tuskegee Institute. He helped Washington raise funds as well, donating some of his own money and introducing his former student to potential donors in the North. The two were so close that Armstrong spent several months at the end of his life with Washington at Tuskegee.



Miss Fannie N. Smith
Smith was Washington's first wife. She came from West Virginia and was a graduate of the Hampton Institute. The two married in 1882 and had one daughter, Portia Washington, who became an accomplished dressmaker, musician, and teacher. Smith passed away in 1884, just two years after marrying Washington.

Olivia A. Davidson
Davidson was Washington's second wife. She was born in Ohio, but moved to the South when she heard of the need for teachers there. Based on Washington's account, she was an extraordinarily generous and selfless woman. While working in Mississippi, for instance, one of her pupils became sick with smallpox. When nobody would nurse him for fear of catching the disease, she closed her school and nursed him herself. Similarly, she offered her services as a yellow-fever nurse in Memphis, despite having no immunity.
Davidson was educated at the Hampton Institute and the Massachusetts State Normal School. She came to Tuskegee soon afterwards, bringing many fresh ideas. Along with Washington, she helped to raise funds and to plan the future of the institution.
Washington and Davidson married in 1885. They had two children together: Baker Talia Ferro, who later mastered the brick mason’s trade at Tuskegee; and Ernest Davidson Washington, who at the time of the book's publication was studying to be a physician. Davidson passed away in 1889, after four years of marriage and eight years of work for the school.



Friday, March 11, 2016

The Portait of a Lady by Khushwant Singh - Hornbill - Prose - Class XI- English Core Summary and Answers


Class XI- English Core

Chapter 1 - The Portrait of a Lady

by Khushwant Singh

Hornbill - Prose -  Summary and Answers

Question:
Mention the three phases of the author’s relationship with his grandmother before he left the country to study abroad.

ANSWER
The author mentions three phases in his relationship with his grandmother before he went abroad for studies.
The Early Childhood: During this phase, he lived with his grandmother in the village and was very intimate with her. The grandmother looked after him and took care of him like parents do. She woke him up, bathed and prepared him for school. Moreover, she used to accompany her to school as it was attached to the temple and she prayed there. The write is very close to her in this phase.
In the City: This is the second phase when they both shift to the city as the author's parents get settled there. The author shares a room with his grandmother, but she does not accompany him to school anymore and can't help him in his studies. They saw less of each other in this phase and this proved a turning point in their relationship.
The author gets a separate room: In this phase, the author gets a separate room as he joins university and the only common link of their friendship: room, is also broken. The grandmother takes up the wheel spinning, bird feeding, and prayers. She accepts her aloofness with resignation.

Question:
Mention three reasons why the author’s grandmother was disturbed when he started going to the city school.

ANSWER
The three reasons that the author's grandmother was disturbed when he started going to the city school are:
Firstly she could not help the author with his lessons.
Secondly, she did not believe in the things they taught at the English school and was distressed that there was no teaching about God and the scriptures.
And finally, she was very disturbed when she heard that her grandson was receiving music lessons. She believed that music had lewd associations and it belonged to harlots and beggars.

Question:
Mention three ways in which the author’s grandmother spent her days after he grew up.

ANSWER
The three ways in which the author's grandmother spent her days after he grew up are:
a)Most of the time she remained by the side of spinning wheel.
b)She talked less and her lips always moved in reciting prayers and fingers busy telling the beads of the rosary.
c)She also loved to spend her time with sparrows, feeding them.

Question:
The odd way in which the author’s grandmother behaved just before she died.

ANSWER
The author’s grandmother behaved in a very odd way just before she died. She did not pray. Instead, she collected the women of the neighbourhood, got an old drum and started to sing. This was very unusual for her and the family had to persuade her to stop.

Question: Mention the way in which the sparrows expressed their sorrow when the author’s grandmother died.

Answer:
Thousands of sparrows sat around the grandmother's dead body without any chirruping. All flew away silently when the body was taken away for cremation without eating any of the breadcrumbs offered to them by author's mother.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Class XII - English Core - Flamingo - POEM 4 - A Thing of Beauty

English Notes for Class XII - English Core - Flamingo - POEM 4 - A Thing of Beauty

Poem Text
A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and 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 o'er-darkened ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits. Such 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 clear rills
That for themselves a cooling covert make
'Gainst the hot season; the mid-forest brake,
Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:
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.

Summary

This poem is an excerpt from a longer poem titled as Endymion written by famous English poet John Keats. In the poem Keats talks about the concept of beauty, its immortality and how it is embedded in nature. The opening lines set the mood of the poem by firmly stating that "A thing of beauty is joy forever." He rightly states that the objects of beauty are lying all around us- the sun, the moon, trees, musk rose and daffodils.
In his definition of beauty he includes things that are produced by human beings like art, poetry and mythological stories.
He opines that the world is suffering because it has gone away from Nature. If we return to nature and appreciate the beauty around us, may be there is less violence and the world is a better place to live in.

COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS 


  1. How is a thing of beauty a joy for ever?
    ANSWER
    A thing of beauty is a source of constant joy. Its beauty goes on increasing and it will never pass into nothingness.
  2. What kind of sleep does it provide ?
    ANSWER
    It provides a sound sleep, full of sweet dreams, health and peaceful breathing.
  3. What are we doing every day ?
    ANSWER
    We are weaving a flowery wreath to bind us to the beauties of this earth.
  4. Describe bad and evil things that we possess in us.
    ANSWER
    We suffer from disappointment, lack of noble qualities and unhealthy and evil ways.
  5. What removes the pall from our dark spirits and how ?
    ANSWER
    Some beautiful shape or a thing of beauty removes the pall of sadness from our " hearts or spirits.
  6. What sprouts a shady boon for sheep and how ?
    ANSWER
    Trees old and young sprout to make a green covering. It becomes a shelter for simple sheep and proves a blessing for them.
  7. Describe the role of daffodils and clear rills in enriching the environment.
    ANSWER

    Daffodils bloom among the green surroundings. The small streams (rills) with clear water make a cooling shelter for themselves against the hot season.
  8. What is lovelier than all lovely tales we have heard or read ?
    ANSWER
    The beauty of daffodils, rills and musk-roses is more enchanting than all lovely sto­ries that we have heard or read.
  9. What is the source of 'the endless fountain of immortal drink' ?
    ANSWER
    An endless fountain of nectar that makes us immortal pours into us the heavenly bliss of nature.
  10. What is the effect of that 'immortal drink' on us ?
    ANSWER
    That immortal drink that nature's endless fountain pours into our hearts is a source of immense joy for us.
THINK IT OUT

  1. List the things of beauty mentioned in the poem.
    ANSWER
    Every little or big thing of nature is a thing of beauty and a source of pleasure. The sun, the moon, trees old and young and daffodil flowers are all things of beauty. So are small streams with clear water, mass of ferns and the blooming musk-roses. They are constant sources of joy and pleasure.
  2. List the things that cause suffering and pain.
    ANSWER
    There are many things that cause human suffering and pain. The biggest source of suffering is our malice and disappointment. The lack of noble qualities is another. Our unhealthy and evil ways also give birth to so many troubles and sufferings. They depress our spirits. They are like a pall of sadness over our lives.
  3. What does the line, 'Therefore are we wreathing a flowery band to bind us to earth', suggest to you ?(Imp.)
    ANSWER
    John Keats is a sensuous poet. He is firmly attached to the endless beauty of the earth. The link of man with nature is constant and unbroken. The things of beauty are like wreaths of beautiful flowers. We seem to wreathe a flowery band that keeps us attached to the beauties of this earth.
  4. What makes human beings love life in spite of troubles and sufferings ? (Imp.)
    ANSWER
    So many things bring troubles and sufferings. They depress our spirits. But 'some shape of beauty' brings love and happiness in spite of such unpleasant things. A thing of beauty removes away the pall of sadness and sufferings from our lives. It makes human beings love.
  5. Why is 'grandeur' associated with the 'mighty dead' ? (Imp.)
    ANSWER
    The mighty dead were the people who were powerful and dominating in their own times. Their achievements made them 'mighty' and great. Their works dazzle our eyes. We imagine that such mighty dead forefathers will attain more grandeur at the doomsday. They will be rewarded. Hence grandeur is associated with the 'mighty dead'.
  6. Do we experience things of beauty only for short moments or do they make a lasting impression on us ? (Imp.).
    ANSWER
    John Keats makes it clear in the very first line of this excerpt that 'a thing of beauty is a joy forever'. It is a constant source of joy. Nor does its beauty decrease. Its loveliness goes on increasing every moment. Its value remains undiminished. It never passes into nothingness. It always removes the pall of sadness that covers our dark spirits.
  7. What image does the poet use to describe the beautiful bounty of the earth ?
    ANSWER
    John Keats uses various images to describe the beautiful bounty of the earth. The bounty of the earth is like an endless fountain. This endless fountain of immortal drink constantly pours from the heaven into our hearts.

SHORT ANSWER TYPE QUESTIONS


  1. How is a thing of beauty a joy forever ? (Imp.)
    ANSWER
    John Keats, a great Romantic poet, considers that a thing of beauty is a joy forever. It is a constant source of happiness and pleasure. Its loveliness increases every moment. A thing of beauty is never devalued. It never passes into nothingness.
  2. How does a thing of beauty keep a bower quiet for us?
    ANSWER
    Keats is rich in sensuous imagery. Nature provides us with things of rare beauty. A pleasant place in the shade under a tree provides us a quiet bower. Similarly, a thing of beauty transports us to peace and security. We enjoy a sleep full of dreams, health and peace.
  3. How do we bind us to the earth every morning? (Imp.)
    ANSWER
    Like all Romantic poets, Keats stresses the unbreakable bond of man with nature and the earth. The beauties of the earth fascinate man. Every object of nature is a source of beauty and happiness. Every day we are weaving a wreath through these beautiful things. This flowery band binds us with the earth.
  4. What are the things that give sufferings and sadness to man?
    ANSWER
    Man, himself, is the root cause of his woes. We suffer from malice and distress. Unfortunately, we lack human qualities and it makes us inhuman. Our life becomes gloomy. We cultivate unhealthy and evil ways. All such things bring misery and sufferings to men.
  5. What makes human beings love life in spite of troubles and sufferings ?(CBSE2008)
    ANSWER
    In spite of all troubles and sufferings human beings love life. The beauties and blessings of nature move away the 'pall' from our 'dark spirits'. Such things of beauty are joys forever.
  6. How is the pall of despondence moved away from our dark spirits ? (Imp.)
    ANSWER
    Man makes his life miserable by his own nature and actions. He faces miseries and pains. Amid these miseries and sufferings, a thing of beauty provides a hope to man. Some shape of beauty works wonders. It removes the pall of despondence and sadness from our 'dark spirits'.
  7. Name the things of nature that are constant sources of beauty.
    ANSWER
    The beauties of nature are endless. The sun, the moon, trees old and young, beautiful daffodil flowers, green surroundings are some of such beautiful things. Similarly, small streams of clear water, green ferns and thickets of the forest and musk-roses are some other things of beauty. All such things of beauty are a constant source of joy for us.
  8. Why does Keats associate 'grandeur' with 'the mighty dead'? (A.I. CBSE 2008)
    ANSWER
    The 'mighty dead' were people of great power, authority and grandeur. They were wealthy, brave and awesome people. They are dead in their grave but still reflect that gran­deur and glory.

  9. What is the source of the 'endless fountain' and what is its effect ?
    ANSWER
    The beauties of nature know no limits. Nature is an eternal source of joy to mankind. A fountain of eternal joy and immortality pours into the heart and soul of man. It flows and pours right from the heaven's brink.
  10. What is the message that John Keats wants to give through 'A thing of Beauty' ?
    ANSWER
    The very first line of the poem conveys the message of the poet. John Keats was a worshipper of beauty. A thing of beauty is a joy forever. Beauty never fades. Nor is it devalued. It never passes into nothingness. A thing of beauty removes away the pall of sadness and sorrows and gives us joy and pleasure.

Class XII - English Core - Flamingo - Chapter 6 - Poets and Pancakes

English Notes for Class XII - English Core - Flamingo - Chapter 6 - Poets and Pancakes

Summary of the Chapter

This chapter has been taken from "My Years with Boss" written by Asokamitran. Asokamitran worked in Gemini Studios, a very famous film studio of its time. His job in the studio was to cut newspaper clippings on various topics and maintain a file of the same.
Through this write up Asokamitran brings up a lot of topics pertaining to film industry in particular and India in general, and provides the reader a glimpse of Independent India in its infancy.
He first takes up the make up department, and makes fun of the trouble that the artists took to look "ugly" and the pain they underwent under the glare of the big light bulbs. In fact the term 'pancakes' refers to the brandname of make-up material which was excessively by the aartists of the Gemini Studio. 
He talks of the office boy who is actually a grown up man of forty years who once aspired to be a director but blames Subbu(the number 2 in the studio) for his current state of affairs. Thus Asokamitran highlights the plight of thousands of aspring actors, directors and producers who end in umpteen number oblivious jobs in any such studio.
Kothamangelam Subbu, the number two in Gemini studio is  a story in himself. He is very talented, a poet, novelist, actor and film maker. He is an all rounder and very loyal to boss.
Another character that comes into focus at Gemini studios is the legal advisor, who wears western clothes among the rest of the Khadi clad gentry.
Asokamitran also tell about the manner in which the legal advisor ruins the career of a talented actress unwittingly.
Communism also finds a place in the musings of Asokamitran. At that time of India the educated folk took pride in showing their support for Communism and Gemini Studios was no exception. In the same stride he also mentions the anti-communism movement run by the West. In this context he mentions the play troupe of the poet/editor who visited the studio. Later on he discovers that the poet was in fact the editor of the then famous magazine 'The Encounter'

Pancake
· Pancake was the brand name of a make-up material. The Gemini studios bought a lot of it.
· Make-up men used it to turn decent looking players into hideous looking monsters.
· Infact, it was because most of the shooting of a film was done on the sets.
· The set and studio lights required that every pore of the players’ faces was closed.
· A strict hierarchy was maintained in the make-up department to make the players look ugly.
Ø The chief make-up man made the hero and heroine ugly
Ø His senior assistant made the ‘second’ hero and heroine ugly
Ø It went on-in like manner
Ø It was the office boy’s job to make the crowd players ugly.
The Office Boy
· The make-up department had an office boy. He was not a boy but a 40 year old man
· He had joined the studios years ago
· He believed that he had a great talent and hoped to become a star actor, director, screen writer or lyric writer.
· But he was frustrated à He blamed his disgrace on Kothaman.
· Galam Subbu àwho was considered No. 2 at the Gemini Studios.
The Make-up room
· The make-up department was in the upstairs of a building that was said to have been Robert Clive’s stables.
· The make-up room looked like a hair-cutting salon because it had large mirrors and lights.
· The lights gave out intense heat àThe person who underwent make-up had a miserable experience of being scorched as if in hell.
Author appears to be idle:
· The nature of the author’s job appeared to be insignificant.
· He was usually seen tearing newspapers
· Everybody would walk into his cubicle and want to give him some work to do.
· The office boy would come in to recite his poems. He wished to impress the author by his talent and how it was going to waste on account of Subbu.
Kothamangalam Subbu”
· The office boy was frustrated . Probably he was jealous of Subbu’s nature.
· Subbu was very close to the boss. He had no better qualification than the boy.
· But he had worked hard to reach this position.
· Subbu had a more affluent exposure because he eas a Brahmin. He would remain cheerful in spite of failures.
· He had talents which he used for the advantage of his Boss.
· Whenever the Boss had any difficulty in presenting a scene in a film, Subbu would suggest a number of practical ideas.
· Subbu was a good poet too. He could write poems of a high order.
· But he deliberately suppressed his talent to write for the masses.
· He was a novelist too. He had written a novel in which he recreated the moods and manner of the Devdas’s of early 20 century
· He had created life-like characters too.
· Subbu was an excellent actor. But he never aspired for lead roles.
· But whatever minor roles he played, he acted better than the main players.
· Subbu loved all. Several friends and relatives stayed with him for long periods.
Ø He never gave a thought to the money he spent to support
· But the office boy hated him à Perphaps Subbu appeared to be a sycophant.
Story Department:
· Though Subbu was always seen with the Boss, he was a member of the story department.
· Besides writers and poets in the story department there was a lawyer too.
Ø Officially he was known as a legal advisor, but people called him by an opposite name.
· Once the legal advisor unwittingly ruined the career of a  of a talented actress.
Incident relating to an actress:
· An actress, who was not seasoned in worldly wisdom, lost her temper on the sets. She spoke angrily against the producer.
· The legal advisor switched on the recording equipment, when she paused, he played back the record.
· The action was dumbfounded to hear her own voice. Though she had not said anything offensive, she never appeared on the stage again.
Anti-communism perception:
· The legal advisor wore trousers, shirt and tie. Sometimes he wore a coat too.
· He appeared odd among the khadi clad poets and writers.
· The poets and worshipped Gandhiji though they had no affiliation to his ideas.
· But they were averse to communism.
· They had a notion that communist loved nobody. He was an anarchic.
Arrival of MRA
· The feelings against communism were widespread in South India
· The Moral Re-Armament Army was a sort of anti-communism movement. It visited Gemini Studios in 1952.
· They were about 200 people belonging to atleast 20 nationalities.
· They presented two plays ‘Jotham Valley’ and the ‘Forgotten Factor’ in a most professional manner.
· The Gemini family of six hundred and the citizens of Madras were greatly impressed by their plays.
· Their message was simple but the sets and costumes were excellent.
· For many years the Tamil drama imitated àThe sunrise and sunset scenes presented by the MRA.
· The scenes were presented on a base stage with white background and a tune played on the flute.
· But the MRA did not influence the outlook of the Gemini Bosses.
· The staff had enjoyed hosing the MRA
Visit to an Englishman:
· A few months later Gemini Studios received another guest.
· It was an Englishman. Nobody knew who he was.
· Some said he was a poet. Some believed he was an editor because the topmen of The Hindi were taking the initiative.
· But he was not the editor of any of the newspaper the staff of Gemini Studios had heard of .
· The Englishman was welcomed by the Boss, Mr. Vason.
· He read out a long speech talking of freedom and democracy.
· Then the Englishman spoke àwho could not be expected to have any interest in English poetry.
· The visit of the Englishman remained a mystery.
Mystery solved
· The author saw a noticed in the Hindu.
· The Encounter, a British periodical, was organizing a short story contest. The author had never heard the name of the periodical.
· He wanted to send on entry à but wanted to have information before.
· He visited the British Council library. These he found copies of the Encounter.
· He leaned that its editor was Stephen Spender àwho visited the Gemini Studios.
· After a few years – The author retired
· One day he saw a pile of low priced paperback editions of ‘The God that Failed’, He bought a copy.
· It contained six different essays by six different writers.
· They described the writers ‘Journeys into communism and the disillusioned return.
· One of the writers was Stephen Spender
· The whole mystery of Spender’s visit was cleared.
· Mr. Vasex was not interested in his poetry but in his views on Communism.

Questions & Answers: 

1. What does the writer mean by ‘the fiery misery’ of those subjected to make-up’?
The incandescent bulbs used in the make-up room produced lot of heat, and caused a lot of discomfort to the artists while in the make-up room. Every actor has to undergo some sort of make-up before shooting and had to suffer the heat of the bulbs in the room. This misery has been referred to as fiery in the lesson.

2. What is the example of national integration that the author refers to?
The make-up division of the Gemini Studios was an example of national integration. According to the author, this is so because people from different regions and religious groups worked together in the same department. The department was headed by a Bengali who was succeeded by a Maharashtrian. The other helpers included a Dharwar Kannadiga, an Andhra, a Madras Indian Christian, an Anglo-Burmese and the local Tamils.

3. What work did the 'office boy' do in the Gemini Studios? Why did he join the studios? Why was he disappointed?
The office boy applies makeup on the lesser know actors who usually played the role crowd. He would mix various potions and would apply it to the crowd playing actors in the most unprofessional way. He had joined the studios hoping that he would become a star actor someday or hold a prominent position in the film industry. But he failed and remained a mere 'office boy' and this left him perpetually disappointed.

4. Why was the office boy frustrated? Who did he show his anger on?
The office boy was frustrated because despite getting a good opening, he remained only an office boy. He had had a good formal education and would write poetry also. But his great literary talent was being allowed to go waste. He showed his anger on Kothamangalam Subbu, the No. 2 at Gemini Studios.

5. Who was the Boss of Gemini Studios?
    Mr. S.S Vasan was the Boss of Gemini Studios.

6. What caused the lack of communication between the Englishman and the people at Gemini Studios?
Most of the 600 odd people at Gemini Studios were Tamil speakers. The Englishman was addressing them in his own language-English. He had a peculiar accent. Hence, there was a lack of communication between the Englishman and the people at who could not follow what he was saying.

6. Why is the Englishman’s visit referred to as unexplained mystery?
The Englishman’s visit to the Gemini Studios is referred to as an unexplained mystery because no one could decipher his identity, whether he was a poet or an editor. Besides, when he spoke no one at the studio understood what he intended to say as his accent was beyond their comprehension.

7. Who was the English visitor to the studios?
The English visitor to the Gemini Studios was Stephen Spender. He was the editor of The Encounter, a British Periodical, and a famous English poet, essayist and novelist of the twentieth century.

8. How did the author discover who the English visitor to the studios was?
Before investing money in participating in a short story contest organised by an English periodical The Encounter, the author did a research on the magazine. He went to the British Council Library where, while going through an issue of that periodical, he discovered that its editor was Stephen Spender, the poet that had once visited the studio.

9. What does ‘The God that Failed’ refer to? 
'The God That Failed' was a compilation of six essays written by six eminent writers, namely, Andre Gide, Richard Wright, Ignazio Silone, Arthur Koestler, Louis Fischer and Stephen Spender. In each of the essays, the respective writers described “their journeys into Communism and their disillusioned return”.

Understanding the Text

  1. The author has used gentle humour to point out human foibles. Pick out instances of this to show how this serves to make the piece interesting.
    ANSWER
    The instances of humour, used by the author, mark the eccentricities and idiosyncrasies without making any direct and rude comment on anybody. For instance, the author portrays the make-up artists and the usage of the pancakes in an interesting way. Even the caricature of Subbu is hilarious. The way he tries to help his principal by offering quick solutions to his problems is quite amusing. The episode of the legal adviser that inadvertently causes the end of an actress’s career is yet another example. The frustration of the office boy, the superficial praising of Gandhi, hatred of Communism and the ‘mystery’ surrounding Stephen Spender are some of the instances where the author has incorporated gentle humour.
  2. Why was Kothamangalam Subbu considered No. 2 in Gemini Studios?
    ANSWER
    Kothamangalam Subbu succeeded in securing the place closest to The Boss by means of flattery. He was not brilliant but a rather cheerful person and exceedingly loyal to The Boss. He offered solutions whenever The Boss was in a fix. Thus, the other employees considered him No.2 in Gemini Studios.
  3. How does the author describe the incongruity of an English poet addressing the audience at Gemini Studios?
    ANSWER
    The English poet was addressing the Tamil audience at Gemini Studios in English with a typical provincial accent. He was talking about the thrills and travails of an English poet to a dazed and silent audience. This was the incongruity because his audience could not understand him at all.
  4. What do you understand about the author’s literary inclinations from the account?
    ANSWER

    The writer was a prose-writer. He wanted to send a short story for the short story contest organised by a British periodical by the name 'The Encounter'.

Talking about the Text


  • Discuss in small groups taking off from points in the text.

    1.Film-production today has come a long way from the early days of the Gemini Studios.
    2. Poetry and films.
    3. Humour and criticism.

ANSWER


  1. Film production is more technical nowadays. While earlier only five per cent of the shooting was done outdoors, nowadays outdoor shooting is no more limited to such a negligible percentage. The cameras and other equipments are more advanced allowing for more varied and accurate presentation.

    The quality of make-up has improved many folds from the days of the Gemini Studios where only pancake was used. The people involved in various departments are experts in their specialised work, be it the director, producer, scriptwriter, lyricist or the actors. The overall quality of the films is more striking and lively.
  2. In India poetry and films are intricately linked. The people at Gemini Studios, all claimed to have the talents of a poet. The main reason behind it was their monotonous and leisurely life at the studios. However, these people were not knowledgeable or educated enough to be poets. Unlike poetry, films can be enjoyed by people with little resources who cannot afford to cultivate taste for poetry and literature.
  3. The story is interspersed with instances dipped in subtle humour. The humorous instances, however, make interesting and relevant comments on the behaviour of general people. A humorous story has more readers, a humorous film more viewers. This is because they provide entertainment and a respite from the tedious existence. Criticism by means of humour is more effective, hence writers and film-makers often use humorous elements in their works and make sarcastic comments and criticism.