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.


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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The Little Match Girl, Hans Christian Andersen


The story is about a little girl’s dream and hope. On a cold New Year’s Eve, a poor, young girl tries to sell matches in the street. She is already shivering from cold and starvation, and she is walking barefoot having lost her two large slippers. She is too afraid to go home, because her father will beat her for not selling any matches, and also as the many cracks in their shack can’t keep out the cold wind. The girl takes shelter in an alley. The girl lights the matches to warm herself. In their glow she sees several lovely visions, starting with a warm stove, then a luxurious holiday feast where the goose almost jumps out at her, and then a magnificent Christmas tree and thereafter she happened to see her deceased grandmother.

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Extract I

“It was bitterly cold, snow was … but what good were they?”

Question (i): What was special about the particular evening in the story? What kind of weather was there in the evening?

Answer (i): It was New Year’s Eve, the last evening of the year.

The weather in the evening was bitterly cold and snow was falling.

Question (ii): The girl had the slippers on, but they were of no use. Why?

Answer (ii): The girl was wearing her mother’s slippers when she stepped out of her home. The slippers were of no use to her as they were too big for her tiny feet.

Question (iii): How can you conclude from the story that the girl was poor and dejected?

Answer (iii): The girl belonged to poor family and is evident from the fact that she was walking in snowy winter weather bareheaded and she had been wearing her mother’s slippers which was too big for her feet. Her scanty clothes were not enough to keep her warm. Her house is described to be cold and having nothing but a roof with cracks on the walls allowing cold wind to whistle through them. The girl’s longings for love and affection from her family got reflected in the imaginary visions she experienced, whereas in real life she was afraid of her father who treated her badly. Because of that she felt dejected and in the final vision she pleaded with her late grandmother to take her to heaven.

Question (iv): Why was the girl out in the cold? What prevented her from going back home?

Answer (iv): The girl was sent out in the cold by her father to earn money from selling matches.

All day had passed but she was unable to sell any matches. She was afraid to go home as her father was very strict and had warned her that if she returned home without money he would give her a beating.

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Question (v): How appropriate is the title of the story?

Answer (v): The title of the story “The Little Match Girl” is appropriate as it revolves around a little girl who sells matches. The little girl in the story was sent out by her father in cold and snowy weather to sell matches. She did not have proper clothes to wear; she had to walk bareheaded and barefoot and was trembling with cold and hunger. She was afraid to go home because she could not sell any matches, and therefore, would get a beating from her father. She huddled herself in a corner formed between walls and tried to keep herself warm by lighting the matches, but it was of no avail and she died in the freezing cold.


Extract II

“So the little girl walked … packet of them in her hand as well”.

Question (i): Who is referred to as little girl in the extract above? How did she lose her shoes?

Answer (i): In the above extract a poor match seller is referred to as little girl.

The girl was wearing her mother’s slippers when she stepped out of her home. The slippers were of no use to her as they were too big for her tiny feet. She could not manage to keep them strapped on her feet when she ran across the street so as to escape from two carriages that were being driven terribly fast. While she was running they slipped off from her feet. She could not find one of the slippers and a boy ran off with the other saying he could use it as a cradle when he had children of his own.

Question (ii): Why was the girl carrying matches with her?

Answer (ii): The girl was sent out by her father in the cold and snowy weather to sell matches.

Question (iii): Why does the author describe the girl as “the picture of misery”?

Answer (iii): The poor little girl was moving bareheaded and barefoot in the snowy winter of New Year’s Eve. Her feet had turned red and blue due to extreme cold. Her old apron was stuffed with matches and she was holding a packet of matches in her hand as well. She was hungry and shivering in cold and was walking slowly. The description of the girl as “picture of misery” creates vivid impressions of the little girl, in the mind of the reader, who is suffering intense mental and physical agony.

Question (iv): What tells you that the girl was not only trembling with cold but also with hunger?

Answer (iv): The fact that the girl was walking about the streets on her naked feet which had turned red and blue with frostbite tells us that she was trembling with cold. Moreover, she was also trembling with hunger as she did not have money to buy food. This can be said from the fact that all day had passed but her apron and hand were still stuffed with matches suggesting that nobody had bought any of her matches. Also, nobody took pity on her and gave her a single penny to help her buy some food.

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Question (v): Explain how the story is interspersed with didactic elements.

Answer (v): The story attempts to teach people to show empathy towards people who are poor, especially innocent children. The poor looking girl was almost run over twice by recklessly driven carriages. It was New Year’s Eve and every household was feasting with delicious roasted geese but nobody was kind to offer the little girl food, warm clothes, shelter or buy her matches. The poor little girl was moving on the street trembling with cold and starvation all day but people seemed to have overlooked her. The miserable condition of the girl evokes feelings of compassion strong enough to motivate wealthy people to work towards alleviating the sufferings of the poor.


Extract III

“She tucked her little legs … with straw and rags”

Question (i): Where was the girl sitting? How did she try to warm her fingers?

Answer (i): She was sitting huddled down in a heap in a corner formed by two houses.

She burned a match by striking it on the wall to warm her fingers.

Question (ii): When did the girl feel as if she were sitting before a large iron stove? Why did she feel this way?

Answer (ii): When she burnt the first match by scratching it on the brick wall to warm her fingers, she felt as if she was sitting before a large iron stove which gave her lovely warmth.

The girl was trying to keep herself warm in the small fire produced by the matches. She hoped that the fire would help fight freezing cold by imagining that she was sitting before a large iron stove.

Question (iii): Explain what kind of relationship the girl shared with her father.

Answer (iii): In the terrible cold and snowy weather the girl was sent by her father to sell matches. The girl was unable to sell matches and was afraid of going home because of the fear of being beaten by her father. It shows that her father was not concerned about her welfare and used to ill-treat her.

Question (iv): With reference to the story, bring out the theme of class differentiation.

Answer (iv): The girl’s clothes and her house as having only the roof, through which wind whistled and large cracks were stuffed with straw and rags, indicate that she belonged to the poor class of the society. She was being used as child labour and was looked down upon by others. She imagined beautiful things in the glow of matches she longed for which only rich upper class people enjoyed. She walked in the street in snowy winter trembling with cold and hunger but nobody was kind to her and showed only pity when her frozen dead body was found the next morning. All the experience the girl had, both in reality and imagination, highlights class differentiation in the Victorian society.

Question (v): The children in Victorian society were not only orphaned but also deserted, neglected and abused. Give evidence from the story to prove this statement.

Answer (v): The girl’s father did not have affection for her and abused her. She was not given proper warm clothes and shoes to wear. The little girl was used as a child labour and was sent out in snowy winter to sell matches. She was trembling with cold and hunger but nobody in the street took notice of her. She was not yet home in the evening but it seems that her father was least concerned about her. The condition of the girl shows that children in Victorian society were not only orphaned but also deserted, neglected and abused.


Extract IV

“She struck another … she could see into the room”.

Question (i): What happened when the girl lit the first match?

 

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Old Man at the Bridge, Ernest Hemingway

The narrator in “The Old Man at the Bridge” by Ernest Hemingway is going to a bridge across Ebro River to check how far the enemy army has advanced. Near the bridge there is an old man who is sitting in the dust and seems too tired to move. He chats with the man and finds out that he is coming from a town called San Carlos, 12 kilometres away. The old man was the last to leave the town, and his duty was to take care of some animals.


Extract I

“There was a pontoon bridge across the river…..he was too tired to go any further”

Question (i): What is a pontoon bridge? Why are many people crossing the bridge?

Answer (i): A Pontoon bridge is made up of large air-tight containers which are connected together and laid across a river or canal. The containers have a track laid on top for pedestrian and vehicles travel.

The story is set in Spain during the Spanish Civil War.  Many people are crossing the bridge over the Ebro River to get to a safe distance from artillery attack of advancing Fascist army.

Question (ii): Where is the old man sitting? Unlike others, why doesn’t he move?

Answer (ii): The old man is sitting by the side of a road near a pontoon bridge. Unlike others he does not move because he has already walked twelve kilometres and is too tired to walk any further.

Question (iii): Who is the speaker in the above extract? Why is he there?

Answer (iii): The unnamed narrator of the story is the speaker. He is a soldier on a mission to cross the bridge and find out how far the enemy has advanced.

Question (iv): What is the first question that the narrator asks the old man? What does he answer? Why does the old man smile?

Answer (iv): The narrator asked the old man where he came from. The old man answered that he came from a place named San Carlos. The man smiled as it was a pleasure to him to mention his native land.

Question (v):  Why is the old man the last one to leave his town? Describe his physical appearance.

Answer (v): He was the last one to leave his town because he was taking care of his animals.

The old man is wearing black dusty clothes and steel rimmed spectacles. His face is grey and dusty.

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Extract II

He did not look like a shepherd…. “What animals were they?”

Question (i): Who is referred to as He in the extract above? In what condition is he? 

Answer (i): The old man is referred as He in the given extract.

He is in shabby condition as his clothes are dusty and his face has turned grey. He is sitting by the side of the road exhausted and is reluctant to climb up the steep bank and cross the bridge.

Question (ii): What all animals did he own? What kind of relationship did he share with them? 

Answer (ii): He owned three types of animals; two goats, one cat and four pairs of pigeons. He loved his animals and spent his time looking after them. The impending war forced him to abandon the animals but he kept on worrying about them and expressed his concerns with the soldier several times.

Question (iii): What did he do with the animals? What forced him to do so? 

Answer (iii): He left the animals behind in his native town of San Carlos. The town had come under heavy artillery firing from enemy and the Captain of the army told him to leave the town.

Question (iv): Why doesn’t the old man cross the bridge and escape to a safer place?

Answer (iv): The old man knew nobody in the direction the trucks were heading. The only family he had was his pet animals whom he was forced to abandon. He loved his native town and pet animals and was reluctant to leave them behind. He had seemingly surrendered himself to his fate and claimed he was too tired to go any further.

Question (v): What do the incidents in the story show about the consequences of the war?

Answer (v): The incidents in the story take place during the Spanish Civil War. The story conveys the plight of innocent victims especially old people who are alone. The old man becomes a symbol of the countless civilian who have to leave their homes as victims of war with which they have nothing to do. He is helpless and sits on road near the bridge faced with the inevitability of death.

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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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