All Summer in a Day, Ray Bradbury

Extract I

 

“Ready? … for a look at the hidden sun.”

Question (i): What is suggested in the extract above?

Answer (i): In the above extract the children are getting ready for the moment when the rainfall would stop. They are peering out of huge glass windows for a look at the sun which is hidden, and as predicted by the scientists, was expected to come out of clouds soon. This suggests that these children live somewhere where sight of sun is rare.

Question (ii): The story opens with the question “Ready? What are the characters getting ready for?

Answer (ii): The characters are getting ready for the moment when the rainfall would stop for two hours so that they could go out for a glimpse at the sun and basked in the sunshine.

Question (iii): Why do you think the sun is hidden?

Answer (iii): The story is set on the planet Venus where it rains incessantly and the sky is forever filled with clouds hiding the sun during daytime.

Question (iv): Why are the children peering out?

Answer (iv): The children are peering out of huge glass windows of an underground school building for a look at the hidden sun which is expected to come out of clouds soon.

Question (v): Give an example of a comparison from the extract above. Explain the comparison.

Answer (v): The children are compared with so many roses and so many weeds intermixed together.

The author is comparing the children to roses and weeds, because they are closely bunching together and just like roses and weeds they need sunlight. The author is also hinting that they are not all sweetness and innocence.


Extract II

 

“And this was the way life … it’s stopping! Yes, yes!”

Question (i): What kind of people are there on planet Venus?

Answer (i): A group of school children lived on the planet Venus with their families. They are the children of men and women who had come to Venus from Earth on rockets to set up a civilisation and live out their lives in underground colonies. They were born on Venus and were only two years old when the sun was last seen. They seem excited about appearance of the sun and are looking forward to experiencing sunshine for the first time in their lives.

Question (ii): What does the phrase “rocket men and women” indicate?

Answer (ii): The phrase “rocket men and women” refer to people who had migrated from Earth to Venus in rockets.

Question (iii): What is referred to as the “raining world” why?    

Answer (iii): The planet Venus is referred to as the “raining world” because it rains there incessantly. The sun remains hidden and comes out of cloud for only one hour, once every seven years.

Question (iv): “It’s stopping!, it’s stopping!” What is stopping? What does it tell us about the lives of the characters?

Answer (iv): It has been raining constantly for seven years and the rain was now stopping.

The characters are schoolchildren who are nine years old and do not remember to have seen the sun before. Continuous rainstorms on planet Venus had confined their activities within echoing tunnels of the underground city. Since, the sunshine was a rare occurrence on Venus, children are excited and are looking forward to basking under brilliant sunshine for the first time in their lives.

Question (v): State how the story is based on science fiction.

Answer (v):The story is based on science fiction because it takes place in distant future on planet Venus. Men and women from Earth had gone there in rockets to set up civilization and live out their lives in underground buildings. Also, in reality, Venus is a hot planet with atmosphere consisting mainly of carbon dioxide, clouds of sulfuric acid and trace amounts of water. But in the story it is described as a “raining world” where days are filled with the drum and gush of water.


Chief Seattle’s Speech, Chief Seattle

In 1854, the “Great White Chief” in Washington made an offer for a large area of Indian land and promised a “reservation” for the Indian people. Chief Seattle was an important Native American leader in the middle of the 19th century. He was considered very wise by everyone. It is said that he delivered a heartfelt speech to the governor of the state of Washington. It was a memorable speech because of its recognition of the necessity to preserve the land, an important and timely topic today. A translation of the speech was published in the Seattle Sunday Star newspaper on October 28, 1857.


Extract I

“Yonder sky that has wept tears … greetings of friendship and goodwill.”

Question (i): Who speaks these words? Give the meaning of:

“Yonder sky that has wept tears of compassion upon my people for centuries untold”

Answer (i): These words are spoken by Chief Seattle.

It means that circumstances have been favourable for his people for countless centuries. His tribe has prospered and reached its glory during this period.

Question (ii): Why does the speaker say “tomorrow it may be overcast with clouds”?

Answer (ii): Chief Seattle fears that the day is not far when their race might disappear. Seattle says this because he has to take tough decision of surrendering their land to White people in return for protection from lurking enemy tribes.

Question (iii): Who is the ‘Great Chief at Washington’? What has the Great Chief done to Seattle and his people?

Answer (iii): Seattle believes that George Washington, the first President of the United States of America, is the Great Chief at Washington.

The Great Chief has sent kind greetings of friendship and goodwill to Seattle and his people.

Question (iv): How much are Seattle’s words reliable as far as the Great Chief is concerned?

Answer (iv): Seattle’s words are like stars that never change. Whatever he says the Great Chief at Washington can rely upon with as much certainty as he can upon the return of the sun or the seasons.

Question (v): Briefly state the reaction of Chief Seattle to the greetings sent by the Big Chief at Washington?

Answer (v): Chief Seattle says that Big Chief at Washington was being kind to them for sending greetings of friendship and goodwill, even if he has little need for their friendship in return.


Extract II

“His people are many. … in need of an extensive country.”

Question (i): Compare the number of Chief Seattle’s people with that of the White Chief. How does the narrator illustrate this fact?

Answer (i): Chief Seattle’s people are few and resemble the scattering trees of storm-swept plain, whereas, White Chief’s people are many like the grass that covers the vast prairies.

Question (ii): What message does the White Chief send to the native people?

Answer (ii): The White Chief conveyed the message of buying the land of native people. The natives will have to surrender their land to the White people and have to move away from their ancestor’s land to the land reserved for them.

Question (iii): A little later, how does Seattle describe that his people were numerous once upon a time?

Answer (iii): Seattle says that there was a time in the past when his people covered the land as the waves of a wind-ruffled sea covers its shell-paved floor.

Question (iv): State the message sent by the White Chief to the native people. What is the reaction of Chief Seattle to the message?

Answer (iv): White Chief sent a message expressing his wish to buy the land of the native people and was willing to offer them enough land to live comfortably.

Chief Seattle reacted by saying that the message appeared just, even generous, for the Red Man no longer has rights on their land, and the offer of reservation for native people seemed to be wise as their population was declining and are no longer in need for an extensive country.

Question (v): What happened when the White man began to push the natives Westward? Should the native people take revenge on the White men? Why?

Answer (v): When the White man began to push the natives Westward the impulsive young men of Seattle’s tribe grew angry and launched revengeful action against the White man. White men were more in number and powerful, any attempt at revenge would be futile and wholly self-destructive. Moreover, old men who stay at home in times of war and mothers who have young sons to lose would have lost everything and gained nothing.


Extract III

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The Blue Bead, Norah Burke


This story is about a young girl named Sibia who one day goes to the cliffs with her mother and other women to collect paper grass. On her return journey she gets left behind. In order to get home Sibia has to cross a river. She was too tired so she stopped to take rest. She sees a Gujar woman getting attacked by a crocodile. Sibia rushes to help the woman and she stabs the crocodile in the eye with a hayfork. Sibia takes the wounded woman back into the village. When she returns to the river to get her hayfork she finds a blue bead lying in water. In the end Sibia doesn’t tell her mother about helping the lady because she is excited about finding the blue bead for her necklace.


Extract I

“Timber was being floated down … breathing the clean sunny air.”

Question (i): What are sleepers? What made the timber float down the river?

Answer (i): Sleepers are rectangular pieces of timber which are specifically cut for construction of building and railway tracks.

Trees in the forest further up the great Indian river were being harvested by industries and the river was used to transport the timber.

Question (ii): What is meant by dislodge? How can the sleepers be dislodged?

Answer (ii): Dislodge is an act of forcefully removing something from its position.

Sleepers that are lying stuck in the stones can be dislodged by delivering sufficient force, manually or mechanically, to the sleepers using a lever like contrivance. Also, floods can lift them and jostle them along.

Question (iii): From where did the crocodile come? Why did he come? What was he doing in the shallow waters?

Answer (iii): The crocodile had come from deep black water of the river where the flowing streams produced whirlpools.

He had come to glassy shallows of the river to rest.

He balanced his body on tiptoe on the rippled sand so that only his eyes and nostrils were visible above the water. He lay in the water motionless breathing clean sunny air.

Question (iv): Why did the crocodile raise his eyes and nostrils out of water?

Answer (iv): The crocodile raised his eyes to get a clear sight of the area around the stepping stones and raised his nostrils to breath easily, this enabled him to lay motionless and concealed, in ambush, for prolonged duration.

Question (v): The author says, “Now nothing could pierce the inch-thick armoured hide”. What does she mean by the sentence given above? Why does she say so?

Answer (v): Over the years, the crocodile had grown, from a baby crocodile vulnerable to birds of prey and carnivorous fishes, into a juggernaut so ferocious and formidable that nothing could pierce his inch-thick armoured hide. The author is suggesting that the crocodile is invincible as he is covered with thick armour-like hide which weapons cannot pierce.

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The author is describing the strength of the crocodile in detail as foreshadow of violent conflict which was going to take place between crocodile and Sibia later in the day. And, how brave Sibia uses her presence of mind to overpower the crocodile and save the Gujar woman’s life.


Extract II

“The mugger crocodile … a throb in his throat.”

Question (i): What is a mugger crocodile?

Answer (i): A mugger crocodile is a species of freshwater crocodile with a short snout found throughout the Indian subcontinent.

Question (ii): Give the meaning of:

(a) An antediluvian saurian:

Answer (a): It means a large reptile which is very old as if it belonged to the times before the biblical flood.

(b) Prehistoric juggernaut:

Answer (b): Something which has been in existence from very old times and is huge and powerful and moving with overwhelming force that cannot be stopped.

Question (iii): Describe the appearance of the crocodile. What made him move?

Answer (iii): The crocodile with a huge tail was twice the length of a tall man. His colour was blackish brown on above and yellowy white on underside. A throb in his throat, his mouth was closed and fixed in evil bony smile, ran almost the whole length of his head and was tinged with green where the yellow underside came up to it. His hide was one inch thick and nothing could pierce it.

The crocodile used unimaginable and irresistible power of his huge tail to move in water.

Question (iv): How can you conclude from the extract that the crocodile was a strong and dangerous animal?

Answer (iv): The crocodile is described as “an antediluvian saurian, a prehistoric juggernaut, ferocious and formidable, a vast force in water, propelled by unimaginable and irresistible power of the huge tail”, suggests that he was a strong and dangerous animal.

Question (v): How did the crocodile rest in the shallows?

Answer (v): The crocodile balanced on tiptoe on the rippled sand of the shallows with only his eyes and nostrils raised out of water so that he could see and breathe easily.


Extract III

“From the day, perhaps a hundred … his brainless craft and ferocity.”

Question (i): What is said about the birth of the crocodile? How can you say that the crocodile was very active even before he was fully hatched?

Answer (i): The crocodile hatched from an egg, probably a hundred years ago, in a sandbank.

The crocodile was very active because as soon as he managed to get his head out of his shell he was looking around ready to snap at anything even before he was fully hatched.

Question (ii): What is meant by brainless craft and ferocity?

Answer (ii): It means making use of one’s craft and ferocity guided purely by natural instinct. The young crocodile could escape from predators by instinctively using his skills and fierceness.

Question (iii): What were the dangers facing the young crocodile?

Answer (iii): The young crocodile faced the dangers of getting eaten by birds of prey and great carnivorous fishes who fed on baby crocodiles.

Question (iv): How did the young crocodile get the food and stored it? What did the big crocodile feed on?

Answer (iv): The young crocodile caught the food and stored it in holes in the river bank.

The big crocodile fed mostly on fish but had also caught deer, monkeys, and ducks. He had also sometimes fed on pi-dog full of parasites and a skeleton cow. Sometimes he went down to the burning ghats and fed on half-burned bodies of Indians cast into the stream.

Question (v): How is the body of the crocodile strong enough to protect him? How was he vulnerable to an attack?

Answer (v): The body of crocodile is protected with one inch thick layer of armoured hide on the above. Nothing can pierce it, even rifle bullets would bounce off.

His eyes and the soft underarms made him vulnerable to an attack.


Extract IV

“It was not a gem; though … dressed in an earth-coloured rag.”

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Hearts and Hands, O Henry

Hearts and Hands by O. Henry is a story about two acquaintances who meet on a train. When Mr. Easton encounters Miss Fairchild, he is handcuffed to another man. Miss Fairchild gets excited when she learns that her old friend from Washington has become a marshal. One passenger on the train, however, realizes that things are not as they seem.


Extract I

“As they passed down the aisle … accustomed to speak and be heard.”

Question (i): Which coach is referred to in this extract? How can you conclude that the coach was crowded?

Answer (i): The coach of the eastbound B&M Express is referred to in this extract. The only vacant seat left was a “reversed one facing the attractive woman”. This tells us that the coach was crowded.

Question (ii): Name the young woman in the coach. What is said about her just before the extract?

Answer (ii): The young woman in the coach is named Miss Fairchild. She is described as an elegantly dressed, pretty young woman who had all the luxuries and who loved travelling.

Question (iii): Which linked couple is referred to in the extract above? In what way were they linked?

Answer (iii): The linked couple referred to in the extract is Mr. Easton and marshal. They were handcuffed together.

Question (iv): Describe the reaction of the young woman on seeing the two men.

Answer (iv): At first, she saw them indifferently with a ‘distant, swift disinterest’. As soon as she recognized Mr Easton she smiled at them and started conversing.

Question (v): What was the relationship between Mr. Easton and the young woman?

Answer (v): Mr. Easton and the young woman were old friends.


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Extract II

“It’s Miss Fairchild … from his keen, shrewd eyes”.

Question (i): Who said, “It’s Miss Fairchild”? Which hand of his was engaged? How?

Answer (i): Mr. Easton said “It’s Miss Fairchild”. Mr Easton’s right hand was engaged as it was handcuffed to the left hand of the marshal.

Question (ii): Why did the young lady’s look changed to bewildered horror? What changes were seen in her due to horror?

Answer (ii): As soon as the young lady saw Mr Easton handcuffed to another man, the glad look in her eyes changed to bewildered horror. She got upset, ‘the glow faded from her cheeks and her lips parted in a vague, relaxing distress’.

Question (iii): What did the glum-faced man say about the marshal? As per the context here where was the glum-faced man being taken? Why?

Answer (iii): The glum-faced man had been keenly observing the countenance of Miss Fairchild change from glad to horror when she saw her old friend Mr Easton handcuffed. To bring her some relief he said that he was a convict and Mr. Easton was a marshal who was taking him to Leavenworth prison on charges of counterfeiting .

Question (iv): With reference to question (iii) above explain what happened in reality.

Answer (iv): In reality, the glum-faced man was the marshal and Mr Easton was the convict. Mr Easton was handcuffed to the marshal and was being taken to prison. The marshal came to know in the train that Mr. Easton and Miss Fairchild were old friends. To save Mr. Easton from humiliation in front of old friend and at the same time to assure Miss Fairchild, the marshal introduced himself as a convict.

Question (v): Explain the significance of ‘hands’ in the story.

Answer (v): The real marshal presented himself as a convict to save Mr. Easton from humiliation in front of old friend Miss Fairchild. He also dispelled her doubts when he lied about Mr. Easton being a marshal. An astute passenger who was sitting nearby noticed that Mr Easton right hand was handcuffed. A marshal would never handcuff his right hand to the left hand of a convict, and in fact Mr Easton was the convict and not the glum-faced man who posed himself as convict. The handcuffed ‘hands’ were significant for revealing the true identities of Mr. Easton and the marshal.


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Extract III

“Oh! said the girl, with deep breath … position as that of ambassador, but–“

Question (i): Why did Miss Fairchild call Easton, a marshal? What was he in reality?

Answer (i): Miss Fairchild called Easton a Marshal because the real marshal made her believe so by lying for him. In reality, Easton was a convict and was being taken to prison by the real marshal on charges of counterfeiting.

Question (ii): Explain why Easton was going to Leavenworth.

Answer (ii): Easton was going to Leavenworth prison because he was convicted of counterfeiting.

Question (iii): Give the meaning of:

(a) Money has a way of taking wings unto itself.

Answer (a): Mr. Easton is referring to the idea that money goes away too quickly and their lives in Washington were expensive.

(b) to keep step with our crowd.

Answer (b): Mr. Easton is referring to the idea that money is required to attract dignity and acceptance among the wealthy upper class of Washington.

Question (iv): What did Easton say he was doing in the past?

Answer (iv): Easton said that he was making money in the past but it was not enough to keep up with high society in Washington that is why he took up the position of a marshal in the West.

Question (v): What did Fairchild say about Easton’s life in Washington? Why was she not likely to see Easton in Washington soon?

Answer (v): Fairchild was surprised to learn that Easton had discarded his adventurous life in Washington to become a duty-bound marshal out West. She was not likely to see Easton in Washington soon because she believed that he was now a responsible marshal and the nature of his duty would not allow him to travel to East when he wished.


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A Face in the Dark, Ruskin Bond

“A Face in the Dark” by Ruskin Bond narrates an incident that revolves around Mr. Oliver, an Anglo-Indian teacher who taught in an English school in Shimla. It describes strange and frightening encounter of Mr. Oliver who spots a faceless boy in the eerie forest in the dark of the night. Panicked, he drops his torch and in the dark starts running and bumps into the night watchman who too is faceless.


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Extract I

“From before Kipling’s time, the school had been run……..the school for several years.”

Question (i): Who was Mr Oliver? What was his usual leisure activity?

Answer (i): Mr Oliver was an Anglo-Indian teacher, who was teaching in a school, located on the outskirts of the hill-station of Simla. He was a bachelor and would usually stroll into the Simla Bazaar town located three miles from the school, and would return after dark by taking a shortcut through the pine forest.

Question (ii): What was called ‘Eton of the East’? Why?

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Answer (ii): The all-boys school in Simla, in which Mr Oliver was a teacher has been called ‘Eton of the East.’

Life Magazine, in a feature on India, had once called Mr Oliver’s school ‘Eton of the East’ because the school had been run on an English public school lines and the boys, most of them were from wealthy Indian families and were supposed to wear blazers, caps and ties. Eton is also a school in England meant for royalty and elite class. Hence, the comparison.

Question (iii): What kind of weather was there on the night when Oliver was returning to his school? How does it add to the setting of the story?

Answer (iii): That night strong wind was blowing through the pine forest which created sad, eerie sounds. Supernatural atmosphere is created by the elements like eerie sounds of the pine trees, batteries of the torch running down, flickering light, silent sobbing, and lantern swinging in the middle of the path. All these things prepare us for some mysterious or uncanny happenings.

Question (iv): What did Oliver encounter while coming back to school one night? What did he do after that?

Answer (iv): While walking back to school one night, in flickering light of his torch, he saw a boy who was crying silently with his head hung down, sitting on a rock.

After seeing the boy, Oliver immediately thought that he was a miscreant from his school as boys were not allowed to leave the premises after dark. He got angry and questioned the boy as to what he was doing so late and approached closer to the boy in order to recognise the miscreant.

Question (v): What kind of man was Oliver as described earlier by the author? How did he prove himself opposite of this description?

Answer (v): In the beginning of the story the author describes Oliver to be a courageous man who did not believe in existence of supernatural things. He was the only person who could dare to take shortcut route through the pine forest late in the night even in a stormy weather.

Later towards the end of the story when Oliver saw the boy with a featureless face, he was horrified and seemed to be in the grip of unknown fear. The torch he was holding fell from his trembling hand and he ran blindly through the tress calling for help. This incident shows that when Oliver was in real danger, he got overwhelmed with unknown fear, could not think rationally and reacted like a coward. His behaviour was quite opposite of what was portrayed earlier about him being a daring personality.


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Extract II

“What are you doing out here……felt distinctly uneasy.”

Question (i): Where did Mr Oliver find the boy? What did he notice about the boy?

Answer (i): Mr. Oliver was walking through the pine forest late in a stormy night when he happened to spot a boy sitting on a rock.

He noticed that the boy was crying with his head hung down and his face held in his hands.

Question (ii): Why do you think the boy was called a miscreant? In what condition was he found by Oliver?

Answer (ii): Boys were not supposed to be out of school premises after dark. The boy had broken the rule and was spotted in the forest late in the night. This is the reason the boy was called a miscreant by the author.

Oliver found the boy sitting on a rock and crying silently with his head hung down and his face held in his hands.

Question (iii): How did Mr Oliver express his concern for the boy? How did the boy react to it?

Answer (iii): Since the boy had broken the rule by staying out after dark, Mr Oliver got angry. But when he noticed that the boy was continuously crying he got concerned and asked him what he was doing there and why he was crying.

The boy did not respond and continued to cry silently. Oliver again enquired what was troubling him and asked him to look up.

Question (iv): How can you explain the boy’s ‘strange, soundless weeping’?

Answer (iv): The boy’s ‘strange, soundless weeping’ could be explained on the basis that Oliver had been hearing stories about supernatural events happening in the region. Being a bachelor and lonely person, the stories of ghosts and spirits might have left deep impressions in his subconscious mind. The boy sitting on a rock, as perceived by him in the flickering light of the torch, augmented with eerie atmosphere created by the weather and the forest; triggered a sequence of images in his mind which made him feel uneasy.

Question (v): What strange revelation took place when the boy finally looked up at Oliver?

Answer (v): When the boy finally looked up at Oliver, it was revealed that the boy had no features on his face. Oliver was terrified to see that the face was without eyes, ears, nose or mouth. It was just a round smooth head with a school cap on it.


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Extract III

“The torch fell from his trembling hand……Why are you running?”

Question (i): Whose ‘trembling hand’ is referred to in the above extract? Why was it trembling?

Answer (i): Oliver’s ‘trembling hand’ is referred to here. Oliver was expecting to see a familiar face but was horrified to see a face that was featureless, without eyes, ears, nose or mouth. His hands started trembling as he was gripped by some unknown fear.

Question (ii): Explain the sentence:

“He turned and scrambled down the path, running blindly through the trees.”

Answer (ii): Oliver was horrified and gripped by unknown fear when he saw the faceless boy. The torch had fallen from his trembling hand and he was unable to see the path in the dark. Without the torch, for all practical purposes, he was blind. He got panicked and, in attempt to save his life, scrambled down the path running blindly through the trees in direction of the school building.

Question (iii): What did Oliver answer the watchman’s questions in the extract above?

Answer (iii): Oliver told the watchman that he had encountered something horrible in the forest. He said he had seen a boy weeping in the forest who had no face, eyes, ears, nose or mouth.

Question (iv): The story ends with a thrilling climax. Do you agree? Why?

Answer (iv): Panicked by the horrified scene, Oliver dropped his torch and blindly ran away from the faceless boy. He called for help and was pleased to see it coming his way as a night watchman swinging a lantern in middle of the path. He stumbled up to the watchman and told him about the strange encounter with a faceless boy. The story ends with a thrilling climax when the watchman raised the lamp and showed Oliver that he too was faceless, with no features or even eyebrows. The climax is reached when the wind blew out the lamp and it becomes dark again.

No clue is given by the narrator about the reaction of Oliver when he encounters another faceless person. The narrator ends the story abruptly leaving the readers to suspect that something bad might have happened to Oliver.

Question (v): Comment on the appropriateness of the title.

Answer (v): The story is set in the darkness of the night. It describes strange and frightening encounter of Mr. Oliver who spots a faceless boy in the eerie forest in the dark of the night. Panicked, he drops his torch and in the dark starts running and bumps into the night watchman who too is faceless. Mr. Oliver experiences supernatural incidents which indicate that he might me holding deep rooted fear of spirits and ghosts in the darkness of his subconscious mind.

The title ‘A Face in the Dark’ seems appropriate because darkness of the night materialises Oliver’s deep-rooted fear of the supernatural which he had been hiding in the darkness of his subconscious mind.


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