Saturday, April 1, 2023

Class 9 - Beehive - Chapter 3 - The Little Girl - by Katherine Mansfield, NCERT Solution



Famous author Katherine Mansfield Beauchamp was bred and born in colonial New Zealand. When she relocated to the UK at the age of 19, she began writing under the pen name Katherine Mansfield. She connected with well-known UK authors, like D.H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf. Tragically, she was given a TB diagnosis in 1917 and died at the age of 34. Mansfield made substantial contributions to the short story form with her distinctive literary style, which frequently resembled poetry. Her works are well renowned for their emphasis on psychological tensions and for the oblique narration that frequently resembles Anton Chekhov's plays. During the last years of her life, Mansfield was a prolific writer, but a significant portion of her work remained unpublished until after her death.


Katherine Mansfield's story, "The Little Girl," depicts the relationship between a young girl named Kezia and her overbearing father. His stern behaviour shakes her faith in him and herself, causing her to strongly dislike him. She fears him and feels relieved when he leaves for work each morning. Despite trying to talk nicely to her parents on Sundays, she finds them preoccupied and uninterested.

One day, Kezia's grandmother suggests that she make a pin cushion for her father's birthday. Kezia innocently uses some papers she found on her mother's table to stuff the cushion, not realizing their importance. When her father's important speech goes missing, Kezia is blamed and punished severely. The beating leaves deep scars on her mind; from then on, she avoids her father.

One day, Kezia observes her neighbours, the Macdonald family, playing and having fun with their father. She realizes that not all fathers are alike and that her father is extremely strict compared to Mr Macdonald, who is playful and jolly. However, when her mother falls ill, and Kezia is left alone in the house, her father's caring side is revealed when he comforts her during a nightmare. Kezia realizes that her father has a big heart full of warmth and care.


The Little Girl revolves around a child's perspective on her father, emphasizing how children take time to understand their elders' actions. Initially, they may view their parents with negativity and fear, but as they grow older, their attitude shifts, and they begin to notice their once-strict parents' soft and caring heart. The story explores this change process in children's perception of their parents.

Another central theme is control, specifically the male's domination over the female. Mansfield depicts Kezia's father as the sole male authority figure in the household, leaving Kezia, her mother, and the servants answerable to him. Kezia fears her father, stutters when speaking to him, and lacks a loving or close bond with him. Even though she is a child, Kezia has duties to fulfil as soon as her father arrives home, just like her mother and the servants. The female characters in the story lack independence and must cater to Kezia's father's every need or whim.

Character sketch of Kezia 'the little girl'

Kezia, the protagonist of the story "The Little Girl," is a young and emotional girl deeply affected by her father's strict nature. Although her exact age is unknown, it can be assumed that she is young, possibly around four or five, based on the story's title and her behaviour.

To Kezia, her father is a large, loud, and frightening figure whom she fears and tries to avoid. She stammers in his presence, which is typical behaviour for a young girl, and sees him as the boss of the family who must be served properly all the time. As a result, she feels relieved when he leaves for work every morning.

Despite her fear, Kezia is obedient and follows her mother's orders to take off her father's boots. However, sometimes her fear of her father is so great that she even wishes there were no fathers in the world. She is envious of other children, such as the Macdonalds' children, who are pampered by their father.

Kezia is also innocent but impulsive. She makes a pin cushion for her father's birthday present but uses his important papers as stuffing for the pin cushion without seeking permission. When she tears the papers, she gets into serious trouble.

However, one night when Kezia is alone with her father, she observes his affection for her and is comforted by him when she has a nightmare. She realizes her love for him and admires his hard work, which leads to a change in her attitude towards him. From being resentful and frightened, she becomes an understanding and affectionate daughter.

Character sketch of Kezia's Father

In the story, Kezia's father shows two contrasting personalities. Initially, he is depicted as a strict, authoritarian figure who demands complete obedience from his family members. Katherine Mansfield does not mention his name, and he is referred to only as Kezia's father. This portrayal could be because Kezia perceives him this way.

Kezia's father is physically imposing and intimidating, with a loud voice and spectacles. To the little girl, he is a giant who looks at her terrifyingly, making her fear him. He is often preoccupied with his work, and although he is tired and sleeps soundly on Sundays when Kezia goes to talk to him, he still kisses her goodbye before leaving for work each morning.

He expects everyone in the household to cater to his needs and is authoritative, giving orders as soon as he returns home. He makes Kezia take off his shoes for him and expects his wife to bring him his slippers and check for the newspaper. He is not very perceptive and does not realize that Kezia is afraid of him, mocking her stutter instead of comforting her.

However, his positive side is shown when he takes care of Kezia in the absence of the women of the household. He carries her to his bed and asks her to rub her feet with his legs to make them warm. This reveals his love for his daughter, and he shows a softer, caring side that contrasts with his earlier strictness.

Answer the following questions in one or two sentences.

  1. Why was Kezia afraid of her father?

    Kezia was scared of her father because he was a distant and intimidating figure to her.

  2. Who were the people in Kezia's family?

    Kezia's family consisted of four members: her strict father, her distant and stern mother, her loving and tender-hearted grandmother, and Kezia herself, the youngest of them all.

  3. What was Kezia’s father’s routine (i) before going to his office? (ii) after coming back from his office? (iii) on Sundays?

    Every morning, before heading to work, Kezia's father would stop by her room to give her a quick kiss before leaving. In the evenings, he would return and loudly demand his tea, newspaper, and slippers to be brought to the drawing room. Kezia was expected to assist him in removing his shoes and exchange a few words with him.

  4. What was Kezia’s routine when Father returned from office?

    Upon Father's arrival home from work, Kezia's mother would instruct her to come downstairs and remove Father's shoes, and then take them outside. Father would engage Kezia in conversation, to which she would often stutter in her replies. He would then ask her to place his teacup back on the table, and Kezia would seize the opportunity to leave his presence.

  5. What was Father’s and Kezia’s morning routine?

    Kezia's father would visit her room and quickly give her a kiss before heading to the office. Kezia would respond with a simple "Goodbye, Father." However, due to her fear of him, she always felt a sense of relief once he had left.

  6. Why did Kezia go slowly towards the drawing room when mother asked her to come downstairs?

    Kezia was intimidated by her strict father who often scolded her without showing any affection towards his little daughter. She felt so frightened of him that when asked to come downstairs to take off his shoes, she moved towards the drawing-room very slowly.

  7. Why was Father often irritated with Kezia?

    Kezia's father was often irked by her nervous stuttering, and terrified expression when speaking to him. Her demeanour of wretchedness in his presence made him feel as if she was on the brink of suicide.

  8. What was unusual about Kezia’s stuttering?

    Kezia could speak fluently to everyone in her household except for her father. When she was in his imposing presence, she could hardly speak and would stutter while attempting to communicate with him.

  9. Why did Kezia stutter while speaking to Father?

    Kezia's father had a loud and dominating personality, and he often reprimanded her for her behaviour and appearance. His constant criticism and scolding shattered her self-confidence, and his imposing size frightened her. Despite Kezia's efforts to please him, she became tongue-tied and stuttered when she tried to talk to him, which only worsened her fear of him.

  10. Why did Kezia feel that her father was like a giant?

    Kezia thought her father was like a giant because of his big hands and neck. She noticed that his mouth looked large when he yawned. His voice was loud, and he frequently barked orders. His stern and unfeeling demeanour made Kezia feel like he was a giant.

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