LIC 2nd Unit Test [for English]

Speaking of Children

 Barbara Holland

The essay “Speaking of Children” is an extract from Barbara Holland’s renowned volume Mother’s Day or the View from In Here. In this essay, Hollandexamines the idea of having more than one child and its effect to the parents. She believes that one child is an appendage but more than one is a way of life. One child is outnumbered and parents can brainwash it, carry it to parties, toss it on the bed with the coats and make it whatever they want. It is usually easy to look after one child. It is a part of their lives. But, plural children are a counter culture in the house. Parents are outnumbered by the children. In other words, parents must accept or do something they do not want but they are compelled to do certain undesired things. They have to buy many toy sets and they can not go to the weekend where they like. They have to move to better schools for their children. They have to be involved in many social converse / talk / discussion. They are pushed backwards. Above all, they have to lose peace and privacy because they are frequently interrupted by their children. Then, there is bitter look in everyone. When there is secrecy, they have to talk in phone from their office. In this way, the children will not let the parents talk peacefully and privately. Even the plural children can become a real danger for a family because many marriages break up in Americajust due to the children. As a whole, mothers of plural children have no peace in their life. They have to sleep with startling suddenness and finality or determination. So, this essay is against having many children.

 Does the essay speak in favor or against having many children? Give reasons.

 The writer of this essay is speaking against plural children in family. She suggests that there should be a single child in a family. When there is only one child, it is outnumbered by the parents. In other words, the parents control the child. But if there is more than one child, the children control the parents. It’s not only that. There are many other advantages of a singular child. The parents can brainwash a single child. They can teach the child all sorts of good things including good discipline and good manners. The parents can provide many things to the child. They can buy all types of things that are required to develop the creative faculty of their child.

 With two or more children, there are always problems. The rooms are always dirty with their toys thrown all over. It becomes impossible for the parents to try the telephone or piano. The telephone is always engaged by the children. The keyboards of the telephone or the piano are always dirty. With one child, one may very comfortably attain different parties, make holiday programme and so on. But, with plural children, it is always a counter culture.

 The most important point is that with plural children there remains no privacy between the husband and wife in the house. They do not have enough time to talk to each other. For example, when the writer tries to speak to her husband or when she wants to be alone with him, she can’t do so because they are always interrupted by their children. So, nowadays they telephone each other from their offices. The next important point is that in the families where there are plural children, the guardians almost get no time for the works of their personal development.

 So, when we compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of one child and plural children, certainly there is no doubt that there should be only one child in a family. In the same way, the writer also advocates for one child in a family.

Look At The Teacup

 Patricia Hampl

“Look At The Teacup” is an essay written by the feminist writer of America, Patricia Hampl. This essay is written in the narrative style which narrates the history of feminism in America. The two major themes of this essay are the relationship between mother and her daughter (the author) and the connection between the past and the present. Both of these themes are represented by the teacup.

In this essay, there are two different stories. The first story is the essayist’s mother’s story. The mother married in 1939 with an American who had been born in Czechoslovakia.  She had bought china cups and plates for her marriage. These cups and plates were made in Czechoslovakiaand they are beautiful. In fact, she was very happy in her world of her cups and plates. For her, marriage and the family were the most important things of life. Many years later, she gave these cups to the writer because the writer is her daughter.

The second story in this essay is the story of the Second World War, which also started in 1939. Many things fell that year. Basically, ‘that year’ means the time of war that caused many things to fall, for example, human bodies fell dead in the streets by falling bombs. Countries, cities, industries, and a lot of other things fall. Even Czechoslovakia stopped the production of beautiful teacups. In this period, bombs fell on the innocent women and children. Thus, women in Americarevolted against the crime and atrocities done on women. They considered the crime as a male oppression and tyranny against women. This is why, women’s liberation movement started. The women of this new generation show their anger by rejecting old traditions. They consider work as the most important thing in a person’s life. So, marriage and family lose their importance because feminists take it as a kind of slavery. Tea cups are no more a symbol of marriage and family life for the writer but they are actually the symbols of the war against women. On the other hand, the essayist’s mother used to emphasize on family. Even the mother wanted her daughter to get married. The essayist thinks past is very important but her mother thinks it is the future that matters.

In this way, ‘the teacup’ in the essay connects the mother, the daughter, the past and the present because it was made in 1939 in Czechoslovakia. We can guess that by giving the teacup, the essayist’s mother intends to give her other things like information about the past, but her mother does not explicitly tell her about the past any more. This means that the only way the daughter can find about her mother is by looking at the teacup.

1. Description of the ‘Teacup’:

  The teacup is thin. It is the palest water green. The level of tea in the cup can be measured from outside. It is shinny. There are thin bonds / dividends of gold around the edges of the cup. But, the bands of gold inside the cup have been disappeared by regular use. There is no decoration outside. However, inside the cup, there are flowers. It seems as if someone has scattered / sprinkled / speckled / spotted a bunch / cluster / bouquet. They have fallen all around the inside. Some fell so fast that they have reached the bottom and some were still on the way down. They don’t seem to be pasted but caught while falling. Each is different. Each has different color and each is falling from different heights.

2. What do you mean by “Many things fell that year”?

Ans: ‘That year’ means the year of 1939, which is the year when Second World War started.  The war caused many things to fall, for example, human bodies fell dead in the streets by falling bombs. The writer has related all the fallings through the design of fallings of flowers of the cup. As the flower seems to fall off the cup, many other things also fell down. “Many things fell that year” also means many things lost their values. For example, in the year 1939, countries, cities, industries, etc. fell. In Europe, many people’s bodies fell after they were killed by bombs and bullets. Bombs and bullets fell on innocent women and children so people’s faith on traditional values has been destroyed. Their belief on marriage has also been fallen. Countries were captured by other enemies. Fallings of bombs and bullets declined the destiny of women. So, with the falling of the different countries, the art, culture, architecture were also destroyed. The morality of the people of that time was also dead.

 The sentence “Many things fell that year” also refers to people falling into marriage and falling onto their marriage beds together. Many people got married in 1939 because they were worried about the war. Men were worried that they could be killed. So, they got married before they were sent away to fight. In this way, many people married that year and after marriage they slept together. That is the falling of bodies in bed and also the falling of virginity of the woman who slept together with their husband for the first time. The writer’s mother also married at that time, so she also lost her virginity. Even the arts of making flowers in the cup fell or came to an end when the country itself destroyed. In this way, many things fell that year.

3. Explain, “The cup is a detail, a small uncharred finger from the mid-century bonfire”.

Ans: The mid-century bonfire indicates the Second World War which lasted from 1939 to 1945. Czechoslovakia where the cup was made was attacked by Germany in 1939. Many things in Czechoslovakiawere destroyed, especially by fire. The cup was brought up by the writer’s mother who was married at the time of war. During the war time, a lot of property was destroyed but the cup was not destroyed by a chance so that it was a small uncharred finger. The cup was not burnt and thus it remained uncharred. So, the cup is a detail from that bonfire (war) because it gives us information about Czechoslovakiaat the time of its destruction although, many things were destroyed. Now, the cup is the only thing in the hand of the writer to study about her mother, about Czechoslovakiaand the past in detail. Many pictures on the cup could show the art and the situation of the country. As many associations are related with this cup, we can get much information through this cup. Thus, the cup is a detailed uncharred finger from the mid-century bonfire.

4. How does Hampl see herself and her mother connected by the teacup?

Ans: Hampl’s mother bought the teacup in 1939. Later, she gave it to her daughter. Hampl reads her mother’s history in the cup. It takes her to her mother’s past and to the country where the cup was made. Because of Second World War, the country and the tradition destroyed. But, this is the cup which reminds Hampl about the country and her mother. By giving the teacup to her daughter, Hampl’s mother also wants to hand over the tradition and culture which her daughter refuses to accept. In this sense, the mother and the daughter both were related with the cup. The mother had brought the teacup in 1939 when she was just married. So, the teacup has sentimental value for mother and so this is important for her. The daughter wants that her mother should give her many other things with some information about the past. In short, we can say that the writer and her mother are connected with the teacup by emotion.

5. What does this essay tell us about marriage? About mother-daughter relationship? About

 the importance of family? About women?

Ans: The mother and daughter disagree in many things. For example, the mother thinks that family is the most important thing but the daughter thinks that the work is the most important thing. The mother gives importance to the society and particularly marriage but the daughter does not believe in marriage. She thinks that a boy and a girl may live together for a long time but marriage is not necessary. She herself had decided not to marry. The writer thinks that past is very important. We can take many lessons of life from the past. But, the mother thinks that future is more important in life and instead of thinking about the past, one should take more care about the future. The daughter likes talking very much because she thinks that it’s by talking that we can share our experiences. But, the mother doesn’t like to talk very much. Anyway, in spite of the differences, the relationship between them is very friendly. They frankly talk and discuss about many things. The mother never tries to force her daughter to accept her views.

A Worn Path

  Eudora Welty 

Subject Matter: This story is about the journey of Phoenix Jackson, who walks many times

 to a town to bring medicine for her grandson.

Why her name was kept Phoenix?

Ans: Her name was kept Phoenixbecause like the Egyptian Phoenix bird whose life time is about 500 years, the lady too was very old and like the bird gets birth in the interval of 500 years, she also goes to town in the particular interval for the medicine.

Character Sketch of PhoenixJackson:

 i) African American (Negro)

 ii) Uneducated

 iii) Speaks wrong English

 iv) She has a grandson who has some defects in the throat so she has to take

 medicine till his life.

 v) She knows that her grandson won’t be cured but she hopes he may be and

 brings medicine.

 vi) Town is very far and she goes with difficult journey.

 vii) She is very poor and on the way she murmurs with herself.

Obstacles on the way of her journey (25th December) 

  25th December is Christmas Day; it’s extremely cold day and as she is poor,

 she hasn’t enough warm clothes

i) On the way to forest, there is big layer of snow so she can’t walk up the hill

 easily but is still walking and reaches on the top of hill.

ii) She also feels difficult to walk down the hill passing from the bushes as

 bushes’ needle caught her gown.

iii) Creek / rivulet with great force of water was a kind of test for her and she

 closed her eyes and crossed the creek walking along the block of wood.

iv) Barbed wire

v) She sees white loose shirt body and gets frightened thinking it as ghost.

vi) Being mentally absent, she fell down into a ditch when she saw a dog

 (unexpected event). 

Summary of the story “A Worn Path”:

 The story “A Worn Path” is about an old black woman called Phoenix Jackson. She used to live in a village far away from the town. She had no one except a grandson. He was very sick so she had to go to the town at regular intervals to bring medicine for her grandson. The town was very far from her village and the journey was really very difficult.

 This story describes one of her such journeys to the town. On the way, she has to face many obstacles. But, every time she faces the obstacles very boldly and at last, reaches to the town. Her journey starts through the hill. It being December, it was very cold and the path way was covered with snow. She tapped her stick on the snow and continued her journey. She used to talk to herself most of the time and she also talked with all the animals that she met on the way.

 After climbing the hill with a great difficulty, now she had to climb down but by then she got caught by thorny bush with a great labour she freed herself and again continued her journey. After sometimes, she came by a creek. She had to cross it. It was not an easy job. She had to cross it through a log. She took it to be a trial. Very carefully, she crossed the creek. She crossed it through a log even with her eyes closed. She again continued her journey but there was another obstacle waiting her. Now, she had to cross through a barbed wire fence. She crept and crawled through the wire saving herself and her gown. Again, she faced the trouble successfully. Now, she was passing through a corn field. There she saw a scarecrow. At first, she thought it to be a ghost but very boldly, she talked with it. Finally, when she knew that it was scarecrow, she even danced with it. After crossing the corn field as she was going on her way from somewhere, a black dog came before her all of a sudden. She lost her balance and fell down in a ditch there. She raised her hand for help. But, as there was no body around, she silently remained there.

 After sometime, a hunter came there. He took her out from the ditch. While talking, a nickel (five-cent coin) dropped down from the man’s pocket. She stole it with a trick. After sometime, she reached to the town. There she asked a lady to tie her shoe laces. The whole town was decorated with colourful bulbs. But, her eyes were not working properly because it wasn’t a broad day light. But, depending on her senses, she finally reached the medical clinic. There she even forgot why she had been there. She didn’t remember for a short time. However, while talking with the nurse, she remembers her grandson and her purpose of visit. She took the medicine. While she was going from there, she got a nickel as a gift. She said that she would buy a paper toy for her grandson. After that, she left the clinic.

  1. In Egyptian mythology, the Phoenixwas bird of great splendor that every five hundred years consumed itself by five and rose renewed from its own ashes. In what way is PhoenixJackson like the bird?

Ans: Phoenix is a bird from Egyptian mythology. It’s thought that there is only one Phoenixat a time. It lives up to 500 years and after that it gets itself consumed by fire and rises renewed from its own asses. Here, the main character is Phoenix Jackson. First of all, she is very old. Secondly, she goes to the town at a regular interval to bring medicines for her grandson. This particular interval of time gives her name Phoenix.

  1. How does she feel about stealing the nickel the hunter dropped?

Ans: When Phoenixsaw a nickel dropping from the hunter’s pocket, she immediately made a plan to steal it. She sent the man to seek the dog and the moment he turned his face, she picked up the nickel and put it in her apron pocket. While doing so, she didn’t feel comfortable. There was a mixture of regret and wrong doing in her heart. She knew that she committed a crime and she also felt that God was watching her.

  1. How does Phoenix know she is in the doctor’s office?

Ans: As it had become night when she arrived the town, she wasn’t able to see properly. Her weak eyes were unable to find out the proper way. But, she had been to the place several times before, so her legs were quite accustomed to the streets and lanes of the town and depending on her legs she finally came to doctor’s office where there was name plate on the wall and the nurse asked her about the grandson’s situation. 

  1. What happens when Old Phoenix is spoken to by the receptionist and the nurse?

Ans: When Old Phoenix is spoken to by the receptionist, she ignored her and she got senseless and lost her memory. When nurse asked her about her grandson then she became conscious and recollects the purpose of her trip to the town.

  The Three Day Blow

  Ernest Hemingway

i) Physical Blow: Rain and storm that lasts for three days.

ii) Mental Blow: In Nick’s mind, there was depression or sadness of tragedy between Nick and Marge.

Setting of the story:

 The rain has just stopped. The wind is blowing making the trees bare. There is a village at the top of the hill where the writer locates his main characters drinking and talking. Below the village, the orchard, road, woods and lakes can be seen.

Discuss the “The Three Day Blow” as a dramatic story.

  Characteristics of a Drama

i) Dialogue             ii) No description                 iii) Setting              iv) Balance in the beginning              v) Rising action

vi) Complication   vii) Balance in the end         viii) No description about characters

 Ans: “The Three Day Blow”is a dramatic story. Though it’s a story, we find certain elements of a drama. The story itself is not so grand. It’s simply a story of two friends – Nick and Bill. Once, in a blow, Nick came to Bill’s house to meet him. Bill’s father was not there. He was all alone in the house. So, he became very glad to find Nick with him. The two friends started to drink. While drinking, they started to chat over different topics. They talked about games, books and writers, etc. Thus, from the topic to another, Bill happened to open the topic of Marge, Nick’s former beloved. Nick and Marge had a deep love. But, they had to separate due to Marge’s mother. Nick became very sad at the reference of Marge. But, Bill made him understand and thus Nick’s heart gets lighted.

 In this way, the story ends with the end of ‘Blow’ in outer physical world as well as in the mind of Nick also. The story has been dramatic because of the dramatic elements in it. To begin with, there are two characters Nick and Bill. The whole story is full of dialogues and conversations like a drama. The conversations or dialogues between the main characters Bill and Nick have developed the plot of the story. There’s no description of either the characters or about the events. The readers come to know everything only through the dialogues. Like a drama, there is a setting, that is Bill’s house. Like a drama, we find a balance in the beginning of the story. The two friends are enjoying a drink and chatting. The scene of complication comes when Bill brings the reference of Marge. Nick becomes serious and sentimental. Again, when Bill makes him understand, Nick’s mental blow goes away and again we find a balance in the end of the story. Hence, this style of writing this sort of story makes it to be a dramatic story.

Short Outline of the Story:

 The “The Three Day Blow” is a love story written by Ernest Hemingway. The protagonist of this story is Nick, who has a beloved named Marge. Both are passionately in love but lately, they have quarreled and Nick has sent her away in anger. He feels that it is his mistake so he is very unhappy at present. He is also depressed and dejected because he has lost hope of seeing his beloved again. Thus, a kind of storm is blowing in the psyche of the Nick and he has no sense of peace, silence, and tranquility. In other words, he has become completely restless. For this reason, he goes to meet his friend Bill so as to get relief from his restlessness position.

 Bill lives with his father in a cottage on the hill top. It is autumn season and the weather is wet. Autumn storms have started and at this time, a storm is blowing. It is very cold. When Nick has just reached the cottage, Bill opens the door and comes out. He warmly welcomes Nick inside and they sit down in front of the fire. Luckily, Bill’s father is not at home. They start talking about games and they also start drinking whisky. After that, they talk about the taste of whiskey and drink again and again. Again, they talk about many different things like books, writers, fishing, baseball, drinking, etc. They even talk about their own fathers each time they fill their glasses with whiskey and drink. Ultimately, the drinks heat them and they get quite drunk. To some extent, for a time Nick has forgotten his inner storm of depression and dejection. However, suddenly, Bill speaks about Marge again and praises Nick for breaking the relationship. Quite contrastingly, the storm again starts blowing inside Nick’s mind and he becomes completely impatient and intolerant. On the other hand, Bill does not understand about Nick’s inner thoughts.  He even warns Nick not to go near Marge again because the relationship may start again. This warning and caution becomes a hint for Nick. Now his desperation and hopelessness vanishes and there is again hope for a reunion or reconciliation. In fact, Nick had never thought about this. So, Bill’s warning makes him happy but he does not say anything to Bill. Rather, Nick himself decides to go just to meet Marge after the end of the three-day autumn blow that is considered to be physical blow. 

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