Tuesday, February 28, 2023

CBSE - Class XII - English - Flamingo - Poem - AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CLASSROOM IN A SLUM by Stephen Spender Summary, theme and Q&A Solution

Detailed Summary

The poet, Stephen Spender, wrote the poem 'An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum' in 1964, which sheds light on the communal disharmony and inequalities prevalent in society at that time. Through the poem, the poet aims to draw attention to the plight of poor students studying in a slum area who lack basic facilities and amenities such as food, education, and a cheerful environment to study.

The poet believes that these children deserve a fair chance in life and highlights the faulty education and social system that perpetuates their cycle of poverty. The poet desires to bring a positive change in the lives of these students so that they do not resort to a life of crime.

The physical appearance of the students is shabby, and they exhibit unhappy and depressed expressions due to the sadness of poverty. The poet saw dreams and sparks in their eyes, but they were covered with despair, which indicates a bleak future for these children.

The classroom was dirty and in poor condition, with charts and posters donated for studying. The poet uses the pictures on the wall to draw a comparison between the rich, beautiful, and prosperous world outside and the poverty-stricken world of slums in which the children live.

The poet expresses his pain and disappointment with the social system, which does not provide these children with a chance to improve their lives. The government's construction of larger shanty settlements has only increased the number of slums instead of improving the lives of those living in them. Society's lack of love, warmth, and acceptance has led these children towards negativity, despair, and utter hopelessness.

The poet desires that these children should experience the beauty outside, feel nature, and play in the fields. They have a right to feel and learn, but unfortunately, the societal norms and government policies restrict their innocent lives within the boundaries of these dark alleys. The poet wishes to bring a positive change in the lives of these children and improve their future prospects.


  1. Tick the item which best answers the following.

    1. The tall girl with her head weighed down means
      The girl

      1. is ill and exhausted (✔)

      2. has her head bent with shame

      3. has untidy hair

    2. The paper-seeming boy with rat’s eyes means

The boy is

  1. sly and secretive

  2. thin, hungry and weak (✔)

  3. unpleasant looking

  1. The stunted, unlucky heir of twisted bones means

The boy

  1. has an inherited disability (✔)

  2. was short and bony

  1. His eyes live in a dream, A squirrel’s game, in the tree room other than this means

The boy is

  1. full of hope in the future

  2. mentally ill

  3. distracted from the lesson (✔)

  1. The children’s faces are compared to ‘rootless weeds’ This means they

    1. are insecure

    2. are ill-fed (✔)

    3. are wasters

  1. What do you think is the colour of ‘sour cream’? Why do you think the poet has used this expression to describe the classroom walls?

    The expression "sour cream" is used by the poet to describe the color of the classroom walls. The color white is often associated with purity, innocence, and cleanliness. However, in the context of the poem, the white color of the classroom walls is described as sour cream. This suggests that the white color has lost its brightness and purity and has become dull and unappealing.

    The use of the expression "sour cream" to describe the color of the walls can be seen as a metaphor for the decaying state of the slums and the education system in the poem. The walls are supposed to be white, clean, and inviting, but they are dull and unappealing. This suggests that the educational environment in the slums is not conducive to learning and growth.

    Overall, the use of the expression "sour cream" can be seen as a device to create a contrast between the ideal environment for learning and the reality of the slum classroom.

  2. The walls of the classroom are decorated with the pictures of ‘Shakespeare’, ‘buildings with domes’, ‘world maps’ and beautiful valleys. How do these contrast with the world of these children?

    The pictures of Shakespeare, buildings with domes, world maps, and beautiful valleys on the walls of the classroom present an idealized world that is far removed from the reality of the children who inhabit the slums. The children are living in poverty and squalor, with little access to education or resources. They are surrounded by the harshness of their environment, which is a stark contrast to the beauty and luxury depicted in the pictures on the walls. These images serve to highlight the vast disparities between the world of the children and the world that is being presented to them in the classroom. The children are not only excluded from the opportunities that the world beyond the slums have to offer, but they are also denied the chance to fully engage with their own realities and experiences.

  1. What does the poet want for the children of the slums? How can their lives be made to change ?

    The poet wants the children of the slums to have a better life with equal opportunities and access to education. He wants them to be free from the cycle of poverty and social injustice. He envisions a world where these children are not confined to the narrow limits of their social and economic backgrounds, but have the freedom to dream, explore and achieve their full potential.

    To bring about this change, the poet emphasizes the need for a compassionate and caring education system that is sensitive to the needs and aspirations of these children. He stresses on the importance of providing them with a nurturing environment, quality education, and access to resources and opportunities that can help them break free from the shackles of poverty.

Frequently Asked Questions 

  1. Why was the poet disappointed?

    The poet was disappointed with the social system that failed to provide basic facilities and amenities such as food, education, and cheerful surroundings to poor students studying in slum areas. He also saw the faulty education and social system that forced these kids to follow in their parents' footsteps and saw the bleak future of these children, especially with the lack of opportunities and support from society. Additionally, he felt that the government was not doing enough to remove slums and improve the lives of the people living there. The poet's disappointment stemmed from the inequalities and communal disharmony he observed in society.

  2. What did he Want for the Slum Kids?

    The poet wanted a fair chance for the slum kids in life, with access to basic facilities and amenities such as food, education, and cheerful surroundings to study just like other children. He desired to bring a positive change in their lives so that they do not become criminals. He also wanted the children to witness the beauty of the outside world, experience the warm sand of the beach, the green nature, and play in the fields. He believed that they have the right to feel and learn.

  3. Whom did the Poet Blame?

    The poet blamed the faulty education and social system, as well as the government and societal norms that create and maintain slums, for the plight of the slum kids. He was disappointed with the social system and the lack of effort made by the government to improve the lives of the people living in slums. He also pointed out the lack of love, warmth, and acceptance from society, which led to further negativity, despair, and hopelessness for the children.

  4. How is the world in pictures different from the world of slums?

    The world in pictures is often idealized and sanitized, with images of clean and prosperous cities, happy families, and beautiful landscapes. On the other hand, the world of slums is characterized by poverty, overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, and lack of basic services such as clean water, sanitation, and healthcare. While pictures may present a romanticized version of the world, the reality of slums is harsh and difficult.

  5. How is the world in pictures different from the world of slums?

    The world in pictures is often idealized and sanitized, with images of clean and prosperous cities, happy families, and beautiful landscapes. On the other hand, the world of slums is characterized by poverty, overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, and lack of basic services such as clean water, sanitation, and healthcare. While pictures may present a romanticized version of the world, the reality of slums is harsh and difficult.

  6. What does the poet want for these children?

    The poet wants a better life for the children living in the slums. He wants them to have access to basic necessities such as food, shelter, and clean water. He also wants them to have opportunities for education and a chance to fulfill their potential. Overall, he wants the children to have a brighter future and not be held back by the harsh realities of poverty and deprivation.

  7. What are the major themes of the poem “An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum”?

    The major themes of the poem "An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum" are poverty, social inequality, education, powerlessness, and hopelessness. The poem focuses on the contrast between the world of the slum and the world of the privileged, highlighting the struggles of children who live in poverty and attend underfunded schools. The poem also explores the powerlessness of the children and the lack of agency they have to change their situation. The theme of hopelessness is also present, as the poet suggests that the children's future is predetermined by their circumstances, and they are unlikely to break free from the cycle of poverty. Finally, the poem also emphasizes the importance of education as a means to empower children and provide them with the tools to improve their lives.

CBSE Class XII English Falamingo - Going Places - Summary, Expalanation, Q&A

 CBSE Class XII English Falamingo - Going Places - Summary, Expalanation, Q&A

Summary of Going Places

The story "Going Places" begins with two teenage girls, Sophie and Jansie, discussing their future plans. Sophie shares her desire to become a boutique owner, manager, actress, and ultimately a fashion designer, all in pursuit of something "sophisticated". However, Jansie is unimpressed with Sophie's fanciful ideas, as they had previously agreed to start a biscuit factory. Sophie leaves Jansie standing in the rain and enters her dreary home, where she observes her family's cramped living conditions and feels a tightness in her throat. She seeks solace in the company of her older brother Geoff, who works as an apprentice mechanic and has seen more of the world than she has. Sophie daydreams of riding on the back of Geoff's motorcycle to a fantastical place while wearing a yellow dress and a flowing cape.

Sophie tells Geoff about meeting Danny Casey, a young and talented football player. Geoff initially doubts her, but their father confirms that Danny is a real player. Sophie tells Geoff about her upcoming date with Danny, but Geoff remains skeptical. When Danny scores a goal in a football match that the family attends, Sophie feels proud. However, when Danny doesn't show up for their date, Sophie feels dejected and begins to blur the lines between reality and fantasy. She walks home alone and replays her "interaction" with Danny in great detail.

Going Places Question and Answers

Q1- Sophie and Jansie were class-mates and friends. What were the differences between them that show up in the story?


Although Sophie and Jansie were friends, they were complete opposites. Sophie was constantly lost in her dreams, yearning for a life of opulence and sophistication. She envisioned owning a boutique or becoming a famous actress, all while accumulating immense wealth and prestige. Conversely, Jansie was a realist who recognized the limitations of their impoverished background and their current work in a small factory. She refrained from indulging in fanciful daydreams like Sophie and instead attempted to impart the harsh reality that fulfilling such aspirations requires substantial funds that their modest factory income could not provide.

Q2- How would you describe the character and temperament of Sophie’s father?


Sophie's father is an overweight and forceful individual whose rage terrifies her. Although he does not believe in her fanciful tales, he admonishes her to avoid concocting such stories, as they could lead to complications. Despite this, he cares deeply for his daughter. He is an avid football enthusiast, and every Saturday, he takes his children to the stadium to watch their favorite team, 'United,' play. He also hopes that Danny Casey will achieve the same success as Finney and relishes his team's victories by frequenting the local pub.

Q3- Why did Sophie like her brother Geoff more than any other person? From her perspective, what did he symbolise?


Geoff was a reserved individual who shared little about himself. Sophie found herself drawn to him, as she believed he frequented secretive locations filled with fascinating people. In an effort to earn his affection and gain an opportunity to accompany him to this elusive place, Sophie envisioned donning a stunning yellow dress and being warmly welcomed by the crowds. Despite her yearning for the vibrant and joyous life Geoff seemingly led, Sophie was unable to attain it.

Q4- What socio-economic background did Sophie belong to? What are the indicators of her family’s financial status?


Sophie came from a lower middle-class background, residing in a compact house with her family. Upon returning from school, she felt uneasy due to the steam and the disorderly appearance of her home. Her mother was hunched over from the toil of her chores, while her father worked as a labourer and her elder brother as a mechanic. Sophie also held a job in a biscuit factory to assist her family, further highlighting their lower middle-class status.

MCQs of Going Places - Flamingo - Class XII - English

1.  Which of the following statements describes A. R. Barton?

A) A contemporary author

B) Author of the book "Going Places"

C) Resides in Zurich and writes in English

D) All of the above.

2. What is the main theme explored by Barton in the story?

A) Theme of children's happiness

B) Theme of adolescent fantasies and hero worship

C) Theme of elderly people's happiness

D) Theme of individual happiness

3. What is the sub-theme of the story?

A) Relationships - family and friends

B) Friendship

C) Family members

D) Adolescents

4. What is the significance of the subject discussed in the lesson?

A) It provides guidance on how to deal with friends

B) It provides guidance on how to behave smartly

C) It is immediately relevant to the lives of school leavers

D) It provides guidance on how to behave with the elderly

5. What literary devices are used in the lesson?

A) Metaphorical expressions and slang

B) Similes

C) Irony

D) None

6. What is the meaning of the word "chuffed"?

A) Meaning delighted or very pleased

B) Meaning not happy

C) Meaning frustrated

D) None

7. What is the meaning of the words "nosey" and "gawky"?

A) "Nosey" meaning inquisitive and "gawky" meaning awkward, ungainly.

B) Noisy and beautiful

C) Noisy and useful

D) Noisy and gainful

8. Around whom does the story "Going Places" revolve?

A) A fat boy

B) An old couple

C) A teenage girl Sophie, her family and friends

D) None

9. What kind of girl is Sophie?

A) A happy-go-lucky kind

B) Realistic

C) A daydreamer

D) A naughty child

10. What is Sophie in reality?

A) A dreamer

B) A fighter

C) A worker at a biscuit factory

D) None

11. What does Sophie dream about?

A) Becoming an actor

B) Becoming a manager

C) Becoming a sophisticated person

D) Becoming rich and sophisticated

12. What is the turning point in the story?

A) When she fights with her brother.

B) When her father gets angry.

C) When her brother reveals her story.

D) When she thinks of meeting Danny Casey, a famous football player.

13 What story does Sophie make up in front of her brother?

A) She will become an actress

B) She will become a manager

C) She will be a famous beautician

D) Casey will come to meet her.

14. Who are Sophie and Jansie?

A) Teenagers who are friends and classmates

B) Neighbors

C) Colleagues

D) Actors

15. Explain the phrase "Words had to be prized out of him like stones out of a ground."

A) It was difficult to speak to him

B) It was difficult to locate him in a shop

C) It was difficult to locate him in a factory

D) It was difficult to get information out of him

16. Where is Sophie lost?

A) In her imagination

B) In her dreams

C) In her words

D) In her imagination and dream of owning a boutique shop to become a famous fashion designer

17. What does Jansie tell Sophie?

A) Talk unrealistic

B) Be wise

C) Be practical

D) Be sensible and not to dream big

18. Why does Jansie discourage Sophie to dream big?

A) because it requires a lot of money

B) because it is not practical

C) because it is unrealistic

D) all these

19. What was Sophie’s reply to Jansie?

A) That she will go door to door to collect money

B) She will open a boutique

C) she will open an office

D) she will become an actress or a manager to realize her dream.

20. What is her reason for aspiring to be an actress?

A) to earn money

B) to gain fame

C) to become a fashion designer

D) to earn a lot of money and establish a boutique to become a famous fashion designer.

21. Why does Jansie disagree with Sophie's perspective?

A) because he has a carefree attitude

B) because he lacks imagination

C) because he is unable to believe

D) because he is practical and believes in realism.

22. Why does Sophie feel suffocated in the house?

A) because of the steam and dirty dishes from the stove

B) because of unpleasant odors

C) because of smoke

D) because of poor ventilation.

23. Who is Sophie's older brother?

A) Geoffe - a trainee mechanic

B) Jansie

C) Dany Casey

D) none

24. What did they do on Saturdays as a routine?

A) fix a stove

B) repair a car

C) fix a cooler

D) go to the United, with great devotion.

25. What secret did Sophie share with her brother?

A) She met Mary Quaint, a famous fashion designer

B) She met the Prime Minister

C) She met Christopher

D) She met Danny Casey, a famous footballer.

26. When does Sophie and her family go to watch the football match?

A) Sunday morning

B) Sunday evening

C) Sunday afternoon

D) Saturday

27. Which sport are Sophie and her family fans of?

A) cricket

B) badminton

C) volleyball

D) football

28. Why did their favorite team win the match?

A) Because they played well

B) because they were united

C) because they planned well

D) because Casey scored a goal.

29. Who is Sophie's younger brother?

A) Geoffe - a trainee mechanic

B) Casey

C) Frank

D) Derek

30. What did Jansie ask Sophie?

A) about Danny Casey

B) about Mary Quaint

C) about her dream

D) about the reality of her meeting with Danny Casey.

31.  Why did Sophie become angry with her brother?

A) Because he revealed her secret to Jansie's brother

B) because he doesn't speak to her

C) because of his silence

D) none

32. Where does Sophie visit in her imagination to meet Casey?

A) a football ground

B) during the match

C) in a hotel

D) a secret place near the canal.

33. Are Sophie's dreams and disappointments solely in her mind?

A) they solely represent her imagination and not reality

B) they depict her personality

C) they explain her nature

D) they reveal her future.

34. What are the benefits and drawbacks of fantasizing?

A) helps in dreaming big

B) aids in achieving big

C) enhances creative imagination but the downside is that it can make people self-obsessed.

D) none of these

35. What type of person is Sophie's father?

A) kind-hearted

B) loving and caring

C) hardcore realistic

D) carefree

36. Why does Sophie favor her brother Geoff more than anyone else?

A) he remains quiet

B) because he keeps her secret

C) because she can confide in him

D) all of the above

37. What does Geoff’s silence symbolise in Sophie’s view?

A) distant places

B) his vague personality

C) his jovial nature

D) wandering of his mind to distant places

38. Which country did Danny play for?

A) Netherland

B) Newzealand

C) Switzerland

D) Ireland

39. Why does Sophie feel jealous of her brother?

A) because he keeps silent

B) because he is a mechanic

C) because he reveals his secret

D) because of inability to reach unknown areas of his mind

40. Why is Sophie attracted to Danny and does she meet him in reality?

A) Because he is a heroic footballer and she meets him in imagination only

B) because he earns well

C) because he plays football

D) because he is smart