Chapter-8 Memories of Childhood- Extra Questions and Notes

By | September 27, 2023
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Extra Questions, Notes, Assignment and study material for Class 12th as Per CBSE Syllabus

Chapter- 8 English Language and Literature

         Memories of Childhood

                             By- Zitkala-Sa and Bama 

About the Author                                               

Name – A Short Biography


 Zitkala-Sa and Bama

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Zitkala Sa (1876-1938) pronounced zitkala-sa, which translates to “Red Bird” also known by the missionary-given name Gertrude Dakota) writer, editor, musician, teacher and political Simmons Bonnin, was a Sioux(Yankton r political activist. She wrote several works chronicling her youthful struggles with identity and conflict between the majority culture and her Native American heritage.

Zitkala-Sa’s articles in the Atlantic Monthly included “Impressions of an Indian Childhood” and “School Days of an Indian Girl”. All these works were autobiographical in nature, describing in great detail her early experiences with the dominant American culture. In her well-known American Indian Stories, she expresses a  literary account of her tension between wanting to follow the traditions of theYank ton Dakota while being excited about learning to read and write and being tempted by assimilation.

Bama was born in 1958 as Faustina Mary Fatima Rani in a Roman Catholic family from Puthupatti in the then Madras State. Bama’s grandfather had converted from Hinduism to Christianity. Bama’s ancestors were from the Dalit community and worked as agricultural labourers. Bama had her early education in her village. She wrote on her childhood experiences which formed the basis for her first novel, Karukku published in 1992. When the novel was published; Bama was ostracised from her village for portraying it in poor light and was not allowed to enter it for the next seven months. Bama’s novels focus on caste and gender discrimination. They portray caste-discrimination practised in Christianity and Hinduism. Bama’s works are seen as embodying Dalit feminism and are famed for celebrating the inner strength of a woman.

About the Authors

 Born Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, (Zitkala-Sa) (1876-1938) was a Sioux writer, editor, musician, teacher and political activist. She was the co-founder of the National Council of American Indians in 1926. Her articles were published in the Atlantic Monthly from 1900 to 1902 and in ‘Harper’s Monthly’. Most of her work is focused on salons between tradition and assimilation and literature and politics. She was also an active member of the Society of American Indians which published the American Indian’ Magazine. She worked for the recognition of olive American culture and traditions but at the same time also advocated US citizenship rights for American Indians to bring them into the mainstream.

Bama (Born: 1958) is a Tamil novelist. Her autobiographical novel ‘Karukku’ (1992) brought her fame. After this, she wrote two novels Sangati and Vanaman along with two collections of short stories. Kusumbukkaran and Oru Tattvum Erumaiyum. She was born into a Roman Catholic family in Madras.

Most of her novels focus on caste and gender discrimination and that prevailing in Christians and Hindus. Her works embody the Dalit feminism and celebrate the inner strength of the subaltern woman.

 Theme / Central Idea of the Lesson. Analysis of Memories of Childhood


The lesson ‘Memories of Childhood’ is a portrayal of two autobiographical accounts. One by American Indian woman and the second by a Tamil Dalit writer. Both stories highlight the women’s oppression, class barriers, racialism, discrimination and exploitation that tend to pull them down. Both the stories advocate the statement that seeds of rebellion are sown early in life.

Children may be young and innocent but they cannot tolerate injustice if they are determined.


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‘Memories of Childhood’ depicts the fact that children are extremely sensitive to their surroundings and they react very strongly. Both the descriptions are about the protest strongly against the discrimination and indignities meted out to them. Zitkala-Sa, representing the Native American woman, condemns the dogma and evil of oppression. On the other hand, Bama criticises the evil of untouchability and caste discrimination.

This has a universal theme which highlights the reaction to the hatred and cruelty against the downtrodden discrimination on the basis of caste, creed and social hierarchy.  

Justify the title of (Memories of Childhood)

Appropriateness of the Main Title ‘Memories of Childhood’

The title is well suited as the extract presents autobiographical episodes of two different girls living in distant places. Both the women belong to the marginalized communities, who look back on their childhood and reflect on their relationship with the mainstream culture. Both were victims of prejudice and oppression. They experienced indignation, sadness and outrage and were deeply affected by their unpleasant experiences of childhood. Both were strong women who fought against injustice. However, they both used the power of the pen to fight oppression.

Appropriateness of the Sub-Titles ‘The Cutting of My Long Hair’

 Zitkala-Sa was a Native American. She was taken away from her mother forcibly because the white people wanted the native Indians to adopt their culture. Zitkala revolted the way the Indian girls were forced to wear dresses in an immodest way. She was shocked to know that the school authorities were going to cut her long hair because in her community shingled hair was worn only by cowards. She hid under a bed in a large room. But when she was caught, she resisted by kicking and scratching. But she could do nothing when they pinned her to a chair and cut off her hair. But her spirit could not be suppressed. The women in her community were very particular about their hair. The loss of her hair was the worst indignity that she went through. The title is thus apt.

`We Too Are Humans’

On the other hand, Bama was a low-caste girl. She saw the upper caste people showing discrimination against lower caste people. They could not touch food and other items of the upper caste people. They had to work for them and bow their heads. Her spirit too revolted against this injustice. She felt terribly sad and agitated. She could not understand this inhuman treatment since she strongly believed that all are human beings. She wanted honour for all. Her brother Annan told her that she could do away with these indignities if she worked hard. Bama studied hard and stood first in herclass. Many people became her friends. The title aptly illustrates her journey compelling people to respect her.


  • Two women—marginalized communities, caste and racial discrimination — made to feel lesser than mainstream culture — a deep sense of alienation — seed to rebellion sowed in early life — the injustice of any form does not escape the notice of children/compulsory physical and social conformation breaks the spirit.
  • Who was `Zitkala Sa’? Pen-name of Gertrude Simmons Bonnin—American Indian in a late 19th century—suffered racial discrimination.
  • Who was Bama? Pen-name of Tamil Dalit woman—Faustima Mary Fatima Rani—suffered neglect, pain, poverty, oppression by higher castes in India.
  • The cutting of my long hair.

Zitkala-Sa’s first day in school, cold, snowfall, students wore stiff shoes and tightly fitting clothes, small girls wore sleeved aprons and shingled hair — meals eaten by procedure/ formula, (a) 1st bell — chairs drawn from under table, (b) 2nd bell — all sat, (c) 3rd bell —began eating — a warning, friend had heard of cutting their long hair, had heard unskilled warriors — shingled their enemy’s hair, in her community, shingled hair was worn by cowards and short hair by mourners.

 Struggle In Vain

Crept upstairs in the 3-bedded large curtained room, crawled under the bed, dragged out and hair shingled, felt helpless and miserable, like an animal driven by a herder.

We too are human beings — in 3rd class not heard about untouchability openly but felt, experienced and humiliated.

Bama’s usual routine while returning from School

Took ten minutes to reach home, watched fanners threshing, entertaining novelties —oddities in streets, performing monkeys; snake charmer, cyclist, Maarymata temple and bell ringing, wild lemur in cages, selling needles, clay beads and instruments for cleaning ears mundane tasks like waiters cooling coffee, people cutting onion, one day saw elderly main carrying vadai/green banana bhajji, holding by string, not touching it, bowed low and extended packet to landlord which amused Bama and narrated to brother who revealed painful fact about their community being discriminated against — once brother on his way from library, followed by landlord’s man who asked where he stayed to show his caste.

Bama is angry:

Rebellious attitude exhibited — brother urged her to study, make progress and overcome discrimination, Bama did well and became popular and earned honour and respect.

Short and Simple Summary of the lesson in English– (Memories of Childhood)/ Summary in simple Words/ Critical appreciation of the lesson – (Memories of Childhood)


PART-I: The Cutting of My Long Hair’

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The first part deals with the account of Gertrude Simmons, an American Indian, who fought against the prejudices of the society against American Indians. She vividly describes her experiences on her first day at the Carlisle Indian School. The customs and rules of the place were strange and new to her. She was forced to wear tight-fitting clothes and discard her soft mocassins. All this was considered undignified in her culture. At breakfast, she was embarrassed as she did not know the routine of the place. When she came to know from her friend, Judewin, who knew a little English, that they were planning to cut her hair, she protested by hiding under the bed, even though she knew it was futile. In her culture, cowards and mourners wore shingled hair.When she was caught, she resisted by kicking and scratching. She could do nothing when they tied her in a chair and cut off her hair. But her spirit could not be suppressed. She felt like an animal driven by a herder.

 PART-II: ‘We Too Are Humans’

The second part is an excerpt from the autobiography `Karukku’ by Bama – a Tamil Dalit. She was in her third grade when she becomes aware of the indignities that the lower caste people face. It took Bama ten minutes to reach home after school but she would dawdle along, watching all the entertaining novelties and oddities in the streets. She would gaze at the shops and the bazaar enjoying the street scenes and so she would take at least an hour to reach home. One day, Barra saw an elderly man of her street carrying a packet of Tadais’ by the strings and walking in a peculiar manner, holding the parcel away from his body. Bama found his manner of carrying the parcel very funny. Later, her brother explained to her that the incident was not at all funny as she had initially thought, but very pathetic. The people from the lower caste were treated as untouchables. The higher caste people believed that if the lower caste people touched the parcel it would be polluted. That’s why the elder was carrying it in that manner. This provoked and angered Bama. The lower caste people had to work for the higher caste and bow their heads. Her spirit revolted against this injustice. She felt terribly sad and agitated. She could not understand this inhuman treatment. Her brother Annan told her that she could do away with these indignities if she worked hard. Bama studied and stood first in her class. Many people became her friends.

Summary (2)

The Cuffing of My Long Hair

 The story begins with the introduction of the Carlisle Indian school. The narrator describes her first day at school. It was very cold and unpleasant as there was a lot of snow around. The entire extract deals with Zitkala-Sa’s shingling of hair. When she came to this school, she found it a strange place where everything seemed to be mechanical. A very loud and metallic bell rang for breakfast. There was an annoying clatter of feet on the entire bare floor. She is unnerved because of so much noise.

Here she finds that all the girls start marching to the dining room after hearing the bell. They have supervised II a pale-faced woman. Small girls wore aprons and had shingled hair. The girls were dressed in clinging clothes. The breakfast was served and eaten very mechanically. There was a bell to stand, another to sit, next to pray and after that another to start the breakfast. All this was totally new for the narrator.

Her friend Judewin warned her that the pale-faced woman was talking about the cutting off her long hair. The narrator did not want her hair to be shingled because, in her community, Shingling of hair was considered as inauspicious and undignified. Only the traitors or the mourners had their hair shingled. Though her friend told her that they would have to submit as others were stronger, the narrator decided to struggle and not to submit. She creeps upstairs unnoticed and hid under the bed in a dark corner. But finally, she was discovered and dragged out. She scratched and kicked but was forcibly taken downstairs and was tied fast to a chair. Her thick braids were cut off. And with this, she lost her spirits. She realised the indignities suffered by her after she was separated from her mother. She was tossed here and there like a wooden puppet and felt humiliated like a coward. She was treated like an animal and no one came to comfort her.

We Too Are Human Beings

In this story, Bama narrates the experiences of a young Dalit school girl in a south Indian village. The narrator had never heard of untouchability being talked about openly by anyone but she felt, experienced and was humiliated by what she saw. While coming back from school, she used to spend a lot of time watching all the fun and games, entertaining novelties, oddities, shops in the bazaar on the way. She used to watch performing monkeys, a man pedalling for days, the activities at Maariyaata temple, the statue of Gandhiji, the sweets and snacks, hunter gipsy and wild lemurs in cages. She used to hear the political parties giving speeches, saw the puppet show, street plays, coffee shops, fruit trees and peddlers selling fruits, snacks, halwa and iced lollies.

While on the way, she saw an interesting scene outside the landlord’s house. Here a threshing floor was set up with the landlord watching the proceedings. Some people were driving cattle for threshing the corn. She saw an elder of her community carrying a big packet in a funny manner which made her laugh. He gave this packet which contained vadais to the landlord without touching it and the landlord opened the packet and ate the vadais.

Bama narrates this incident to her brother with all the comic details. But to her surprise, her brother is not amused. The narrator is told that the landlord was of upper caste and their touch would pollute the food. This made the narrator sad and angry and felt outraged at the exploitation. She condemns it as a curse against humanity. She strongly believed that their community should boycott and refuse to do petty errands. She came to know that despite being so educated, her brother was questioned about his caste. All the Dalits used to live together in a separate place away from the upper class.

Annan, her brother, told the narrator that they are not respected or given dignity due to their community.

He said that education is the only way to gain respect. The narrator was advised to work hard and learn. She obeyed her brother with great determination and studied hard. She stood first in her class. Many people tried to befriend her.

Main Characters of the Story


Zitkala-Sa: Zitkala-Sa was a native American who was sent to the Carlisle Indian school at a young age. She faced indignity, discrimination and exploitation at school. She was forced to get her hair shingled against which she protested to the best of her capacity but finally had to surrender. She was treated like a wooden toy. She is symbolic of all the Native American women who were exploited at the hands of their masters. They used to enslave them, plundered them and destroyed their culture. She suffered extreme indignities and felt humiliated like a coward. Her long thick braids were cut off which let her spirit down. She was treated like an animal. But despite all this barbarism, Zitkala-Sa showed her resistance. She didn’t give up meekly and struggled and protested till the end, though she didn’t succeed.

Bama: Bama is a small innocent school girl from a Dalit community in south India. She is unaware of the incrimination on the basis of caste. She is surprised to see distinction based on class and caste. When she is said by her brother, about reality, she is angry. She protests against this. She is astonished to realize the fact that the rich and upper caste people have lost all humanity. But we too are human beings. She has a revolting Ire and wants to protest against this evil. When she is told by her brother that it is only education which on brings the change, she determines to choose a constructive path and studies hard and tops in the class. In this way, she wins everyone’s respect and becomes a role model for all the Dalit women.


MCQ Based Questions-

1.The lesson ‘Memories of Childhood’ is

 (a) an autobiographical episode (b) a fable

 (c) a legend (d) a play

2.The first account is by an

(a) Irish woman (b) Indian woman

 (c) Australian woman (d) American woman

3.Zitkala-Sa was a victim of

(a) racial prejudice (b) serious crime

 (c) rape (d) a car accident

4. Zitkala-Sa’s real name was

(a) Pearl S. Buck (b) Tishani Doshi

(c) Gertrude Simmons Bonnin (d) Hillary

5. Rama was a

(a) Bengali writer (b) a Tamil Dalit

(c) an NRI  (d) a politician

6. Zitkala’s experience started with her being

(a) handcuffed (b) tied to a chair

(c) tied with chains to a bedpost (d) tied to a table

7. Zitkala was being constantly observed by a woman who had

 (a) a pale face (b) fair complexion

(c) dark complexion (d) angry look

8. The line of girls in which the author was placed, were marching into the

(a) study room (b) playgrounds

(c) kitchen (d) dining room

9. The Indian girls wore

(a) clinging dresses (b) nightgowns

(c) trousers (d) skirts

10. The small girls wore

(a) shorts (b) tunics

 (c) frocks (d) sleeved aprons

11. As the bell rang, the whole group of pupils

 (a) sat on the floor (b) drew a chair from under the table

 (c) sat on the stools (d) knelt down on the ground

12. As the author pulled out her chair

(a) the other student snatched it

(b) she slipped into it from one side

(c) the others clapped

(d) the other pupils made fun of her

13. Everyone kept standing except

(a) the teacher (b) the matron

(c) the caretaker (d) the author

14. Everyone present in the dining room started eating when the bell rang

(a) once (b) twice

(c) thrice (d) four times

15. While others ate, the author

(a) laughed (b) watched them

(c) cried (d) frowned

16. The author’s mother had taught her that the hair of the following people were shingled by the enemy

(a) skilled guns men (b) labourers

 (c) unskilled warriors (d) generals of the army

17. Short hair, in the author’s tribe, was worn only by

(a) mourners (b) old people

(c) young kids (d) elderly women

18. Shingled hair was worn by

(a) cowards (b) warriors

(c) young girls (d) dancers

19. We have to submit because they are strong’. These words were said by

(a) Zitkala-Sa (b) Judewin

 (c) Marry-Ann (d) Christine

20. The author, when she heard that her hair was to be cut hid

 (a) under the bed (b) behind the door

(c) in the bathroom (d) in the attic

21. The author was being stared at by people and she felt she

(a) looked pretty (b) looked terrible

(c) had suffered extreme indignities (d) looked like a model

22. Bama’s incident took place when she was in

 (a) class two (b) class three

(c) class five (d) class nine

23. The author Bama felt she already had experienced the humiliation due to

(a) dark skin (b) short height

(c) poverty(d) untouchability

24. The distance from school to her home usually took Bama

(a) ten minutes (b) thirty minutes to an hour

(c) forty minutes (d) one hour

25. Bama used to dawdle along from school because she was

(a) too slow (b) crippled

 (c) distracted by lots of things on the way (d) unable to wait for the school bus

26. The author enlists numerous things that pulled her to

(a) eat on the roadside (b) a standstill

(c) take a side on the joy-riders (d) watch the snake charmer only

27. There would always be some kind of entertainment

(a) in the school (b) in the church

(c) in the bazaar (d) in the house

28. Which tree had its fruit occasionally blown down by the wind?

 (a) almond tree (b) apple tree

(c) mango tree (d) Jamun tree

29. One day the author was attracted by the sight of

(a) two riders on a horse (b) a monkey performing tricks

(c) cattle treading out the grain from straw (d) dogs fighting with cats

30. The elderly man, Bama saw, was carrying a small packet and this made her

(a) want to cry (b) dance

(c) want to sing (d) want to shriek with laughter

31. The man was carrying

(a) pakoras (b) samosas

(c) jalebis (d) vadai or green banana bhaji

32. On reaching home, Bama narrated the incident to her

(a) elder sister (b) cousin

 (c) father (d) elder brother

33. She had thought that the man carrying the bag was only

(a) making a game out of carrying the parcel

(b) trying to make her laugh

 (c) obeying orders

 (d) not touching it because it was hot

34. The author on learning about the practice of Untouchability was

 (a) amused (b) terribly sad

 (c) happy (d) very guilty

35. Bama’s elder brother was studying at

(a) school (b) college

 (c) university (d) medical college

36. He used to get his books from

(a) neighbour’s house (b) from his teacher

(c) from a library (d) from the city

37. Bama was very rebellious and the thought of oppression at the hands of upper castes

 (a) infuriated her (b) provoked her to slap someone

 (c) made her abusive (d) made her want to murder someone

38. Bama’s brother was asked by the landlord’s men

 (a) his name and street (b) his address only

(c) his parents’ names (d) his caste

39. Bama’s brother told her that if she wanted to make progress, she had to

(a) learn to cook (b) study

(c) learn to stitch and knit(d) learn to drive

40. Annan’s words for Bama had

 (a) deep impression on her(b) no effect on her

(c) made her laugh (d) made her cry


1.(a) an autobiographical episode                    2.(d) American woman

3.(a) racial prejudice                                           4. (c) Gertrude Simmons Bonnin

5. (b) a Tamil Dalit                                              6. (b) tied to a chair

7. (a) a pale face                                                 8. (d) dining room

9. (a) clinging dresses                                      10. (d) sleeved aprons

11. (b) drew a chair from under table          12. (b) she slipped into it from one side

13. (d) the author                                         14. (c) thrice

15. (c) cried                                                16. (c) unskilled warriors

17. (a) mourners                                     18. (a) cowards

19. (b) Judewin                                       20. (a) under the bed

21. (c) had suffered extreme indignities 22. (b) class three

23.(d) untouchability                                24. (b) thirty minutes to an hour

25.(c) distracted by lots of things on the way 26.(b) a standstill

27. (c) in the bazaar                                             28.(a) almond tree

39. (c) cattle treading out the grain from straw 30. (d) want to shriek with laughter

31. (d) vadai or green banana bhaji                      32. (d) elder brother

33. (a) making a game out of carrying the parcel 34. (b) terribly sad

35. (c) university                                                   36. (c) from a library

37.(a) infuriated her                                        38. (a) his name and street

39. (b) study                                                40. (a) deep impression on her

Short Answer Type Questions  (30 to 40 words)


Q1. Who was `Zitkala Sa’?

Ans. Zitkala Sa is the pen-name of Gertrude Simmons Bonnin. She was an American-Indian born in the late nineteenth century who suffered racial discrimination at the hands of Christians.

Q2. What does Zitkala-Sa remember about her ‘first day in the land of apples’?

Ans. Zitkala recalls that it was a bitterly cold day and there was snow on the ground. The trees were bare. There was a large bell that rang for breakfast and its loud metallic sound crashed through the belfry overhead and penetrated through her sensitive ears.

Q3. Who was Bama?

Ans. Bama is the pen-name of a Tamil Dalit woman from a Roman Catholic family. She published three main works, Kurukku, an autobiography, Sangati a novel and Kisumbukkaaran a collection of short stories. Kurukku is an account of the discrimination faced by Tamil Dalit women.

Q4. What happened when Zitkala-Sa reached the hall for breakfast for the first time?

Ans. Zitkala-Sa did not know how to conduct herself in the dining hall. As the bell was tapped, all the pupils pulled out their chairs and kept standing. Zitkala also pulled out  hers but sat on it. When a second bell rang and all the students were seated, she had to crawl back to her chair. A man’s voice was heard and she noticed that all the pupils had bent their heads over their plates.The third bell they picked up their forks and began eating. Zitkala felt extremelyembarrassed and started crying.

Q5. What does ‘eating by the formula’ mean?

Ans.The ringing of the large bell was an indication on for all students to assemble in the dining room. Then as the first bell was tapped, they drew out chairs from under the table. As the second bell sounded loud, Everyonewas all seated. A man’s voice and mutterings were heard at the end of the table. Everyone had to bend their heads over the plates. Then a third bell tapped. Everyone picked up the knives and forks and started eating.

Q6. What was Zitkala’s first reaction to the missionary boarding school in the east?

Ans. Zitkala-Sa saw a line of Indian girls wearing closely clinging dresses and stiff shoes. The crashing of the bell and the noise of shoes and voices were like a harsh bedlam for her in which she was tied. The blanket had been taken off from her shoulders and bells were used as instructions for students.

Q7. What warning was given by Judewin to Zitkala?

 Ans. Judewin, her friend, who ‘mew a few words of English, told her that she had overheard the pale-faced woman talk about cutting their long, heavy hair. Her mother had told her that shingled hair was worn by cowards. This was a big blow to her.

Q8. What efforts did Zitkala-Sa make to save her hair from being cut?

Ans.As soon as Zitkala came to know about the decision of cutting her long hair, she decided to struggle. Quietly, she crept up the stairs into a large empty room which was dim due to the dark green curtains. She moved to the farthest corner from the door and then crawled under a bed. She did not come out even when she heard Judewin calling her name. They found her and dragged her out. Although she resented by kicking and scratching wildly and shaking her head, they cut her long hair.

Q9. What happened after Zitkala-Sa was tied to a chair?

Ans. Zitkala-Sa was dragged out and she was carried down kicking and scratching and then tied to a chair. She cried a lot shaking her head until she felt the scissors had `gnawed’ off her thick braids. She then lost her spirit and moaned for her mother but nobody came to comfort her. From then on she experienced extreme indignities.

Q10. Why do you think Zitkala was so opposed to cutting of her hair?

Ans. Zitkala-Sa had been made to believe by her mother that only unskilled warriors, who had been captured, had their hair shingled by the enemy. Among their own native people, only mourners kept short hair and shingled hair was kept by cowards. She was,therefore, dead against cutting of her hair as she didn’t belong to any of the categories.

Q11. How was Zitkala-Sa treated on being traced from her hiding place?

Ans. Zitkala had hidden under the bed. She was found and dragged out. She tried to resist by kicking and scratching wildly. She was overpowered and carried downstairs. She was tied fast to a chair. She kept crying loudly and shaking her head continuously.

 Q12. What are the things that fascinated Bama as she passed the stalls in the market?

 Ans. Bama was fascinated by the dried fish stall near the statue of Gandhiji. The sweet shop and the fried snacks shops also attracted her. There were many shops and the hunter gipsynarikkuravan fascinated her too. He had his wild lemur in cages. He sold needles, clay, beads and instruments for cleaning out the ears.

Q13. What sort of shows or entertainments attracted the passers-by?

Ans.The passers-by were attracted by various political parties who would put up a stage and addresses people through their mikes. There would also be a street play, a puppet show, or a ‘no magic, no miracle’ stunt performance. There were other happenings there also, from time to time.

Q14. Bama watched keenly some of the actions of the people in the bazaar. What were the actions she observed?

Ans. Bama would watch the waiter in coffee clubs cooling the coffee, with a lot of interest. He would lift the tumbler high and pour the coffee into another tumbler held in the other hand. She also observed how people would turn their eyes away to avoid irritation in their eyes while chopping onions.

Q15. What was the funniest episode that Bama watched one day while going back home?

Ans. Bama saw an elderly man of her street walking with a small packet, holding it by its strings without touching it. When she saw him she felt like laughing aloud. He went straight to the landlord, bowed to him and extended the packet to him, cupping his hands that held the string with his other hand.

Q16. Why was the elder of Bama’s street carrying the packet with its strings only?

Ans.The elder held the packet from its strings without touching the packet. Bama’s brother explained that people believed that the landlord was of upper caste and the elder belonged to the lower caste. The lower caste people could not touch the packet as the material in it would become polluted. That is why he had to carry the packet by its strings.

Q17. How did the elderly man approach the landlord and offer him the packet?

Ans.The old man went straight up to the landlord. He bowed low and extended the packet towards him. He cupped the hand that held the string with his other hand. The landlord opened the packet and started eating the vadais.

Q18. How did Bama feel when her brother told her about Untouchability?

Ans. Bama felt sad and infuriated. She felt angry and wanted to touch those wretched ‘Vadais’ straightaway. It was disgusting to do the chores for those people who did not even consider them as humans. She wondered why the upper caste people thought so much of themselves only because they had collected money. Bama hated this discrimination and felt that the lower caste people should never run errands for the upper castes.

Q19. How did the landlord’s man behave with Annan?

Ans.The landlord’s man, not recognizing Annan, asked him his name with a lot of respect. On getting the answer and realizing that he was from a lower caste and an untouchable, his manner of talking changed. He got to know about Annan’s caste as soon as he knew which street he lived in.

 Q20. What did Annan tell Bama to do? What was the impact of his words on Bama?

Ans. Annan told Bama that being born in the low caste, they were stripped of all honour, dignity and respect. He added that education could gain them respect in society. He advised her ‘to study hard and leant’. If they studied and made progress, they would be able to throw away the indignities. His words had a profound impact on Bama. She was inspired to study hard and always stood first in her class and because of this, many people became her friends.

Q21. Name some of the oddities and novelties in the street that attracted Bama.

Ans.The novelties were the performing monkey, the snake charmer’s snake, the cyclist who had been cycling for three days. She enjoyed seeing the spinning wheels, the Maariyaata temple with the huge bell hanging there. She also noticed the Pongal offerings being cooked in front of the temple.

Q22. Which fruit or delicacies did Bama observe in the market?

Ans.There was mango, sugarcane, cucumber, sweet potato, palm-shoots, gram palm-syrup, palm-fruit, guavas and jackfruit according to the season. She would also see the selling of savoury and sweet snacks like payasam, halva, boiled tamarind seeds and iced lollies.

 Q23. Describe the threshing proceedings going on in the corner of the street?

Ans. There was a threshing floor set up in the corner of the sheet. People drove cattle in pairs, round and round to tread out the grains from the straw. The animals were muzzled so that they did not eat the straw. The landlord seated on a piece of sacking spread over the stone ledge watched the proceedings.

24. What does Zitkala-Sa remember about her first day in the land of apples?

 Ans. Zitkala-Sa remembers that it was cold weather. There was snow outside. There was a rigid discipline imposed on the children. The teachers were emotionless and rigid. The entire school worked in a monotonous mechanical way. She was forced to get her hair shingled. She resisted a lot but finally had to give up. So it was the most unpleasant day for her.

25. How did Zitkala-Sa react to the various sounds that came when the large bell rang for breakfast.

Ans. In the Carlisle Indian School, Zitkala-Sa was annoyed and disturbed at the harsh voices that she heard with the sound of a large bell for breakfast. It had a loud metallic sound crashing through the belfry overhead and into her sensitive ears. Then there was an annoying clatter of shoes on the bare floors and the constant clash of harsh noises with an undercurrent of many voices murmuring in an unidentified tongue. All this made a Bedlam for her.

26. ‘But this eating by formula was not the hardest trial in that first day.’ Says Zitkala-Sa. What does she mean by ‘eating by the formula’?

 Ans. In the Carlisle Indian School, the children moved like robots. The children were herded together and tuned up to move when a bell sounded. The narrator was not aware of it and she felt amazed to see this. The children used to sit and start eating as per the ringing of the bell. Even the prayers were done with the ringing of the bell. The three bells were sounded, one after another and only then they could move and eat. Zitkala-Sa found it a crazy idea to do so.

27. Which words of her brother made a deep impression on Bama?

 Ans. Her brother Annan told Bama that it is only with the help of education, that people of their community could earn respect for themselves. He said “if we study and make progress, we can throw away those indignities. So study with care, learn all you can.” He suggested to Bama to be keen in her studies and said, “If you are always ahead in your lessons, people will come to you of their own accord. So Work hard and learn”. These words left a deep impression on her.

28. What comic incident did Bama narrate to her brother? Why was he not amused?

Ans. Bama narrated the funny sight that she witnessed in the marketplace. She saw that an elderly member of their community was carrying some vadai for the landlord in a funny manner. He was holding the packet with a string without touching the packet. It was so comical to see and Bama burst out into laughter. But her brother told her that the man was holding the packet in that manner because he was untouchable and not allowed to touch the things for the landlord.

29. What is common between Zitkala-Sa and Bama?

Ans. Both Zitkala-Sa and Bama belonged to the oppressed community. As a result, they were treated in an inhumane and undignified manner. They both have experienced such humiliation in their childhood that these get imprinted.

30. Why was Zitkala-Sa in tears on the first day in the land of apples?

 Ans. Zitkala-Sa faced a lot of humiliation on her first day at the Carlisle India School in the land of apples. Her long hair was forcibly cut. This was undignified for her because as per her culture and traditions only cowards or mourners had their hair shingled. Despite her still resistance, the author was tied to the chain and her hair was cut. This brought tears in her eyes and broke her spirit.

31. How did Zitkala-Sa try to avoid the loss of her long hair?

 Ans. In order to avoid the cutting of her hair, Zitkala-Sa crept up the stairs and hid under a bed in a corner place in an open room. But she was finally, found out and dragged out. She tried to resist by kicking and scratching wildly. She was carried downstairs and tied to a chair. Her long thick hair was shingled.

32. What were the observations of Zitkala-Sa about the dress code of the children in the Catholic school?

Ans. The narrator observed that the children in Carlisle Indian School were very immodestly dressed. They were in ‘closely clinging dresses’. They wore the stiff shoes that produced an annoying clatter on bare floors. The small girls used to wear sleeved aprons and had shingled hair.

33. Why did it take Bama one hour to reach home?

Ans. While coming back home from school, Bama passed through the marketplace. There were so many spectacular sights which distracted Bama. She watched performing monkey, a man pedalling for many days, peddlers selling fruits, snakes, etc., coffee shops, fruit tree, hunter gypsy, wild lemurs in cages and leaders of political parties giving speeches, puppet shows and street plays. All this mesmerized Banta and she got engrossed in all these things and used to take longer to reach home.

34. Why did Bama find the situation funny when an elderly member of their community was carrying the packet in that manner?

Ans. Bama saw an elderly man of her community carrying the packet of vadai for the landlord in a funny manner. The packet was tied with a string and the man was carrying it without touching it. It gave a very comical image which made Bama laugh.

35. Who was Annan? How did he justify the behaviour of the elder?

Ans. Annan was Bama’s elder brother. He explained to Bama that it was obvious that the man would carry the things in that manner because the people of their community were considered untouchables. They were not supposed to touch the things meant for the upper castes.

36. What were Zitkala-Sa’s objections to the cutting of hair?

Ans.  Zitkala-Sa objected to the cutting of the hair because, in her community, cutting of hair was considered inauspicious and undignified. Only unskilled warriors, mourners or cowards had their hair shingled. So it was the greatest humiliation to anyone.

37. What were some of the oddities or the novelties that Bama watched on the way?

Ans. While coming back from school, Bama watched performing monkey, snake charmer, a pedaller who would go on cycling for days together, the huntergypsy with its wild lemur in cages, etc.

38. Why was Zitkala-Sa’s behaviour in the dining room peculiar to others?

Ans. The children of the Carlisle Indian School were trained to act mechanically. At the time of breakfast, they all lined up, moved to the dining room when a bell was sounded. There were three bells at regular intervals to guide the students for eating. The first bell was to draw the chair, and the second was to make everyone sit and the third was to start eating. Bama didn’t know anything about it so she pulled the chair after the first bell and sat on it immediately. So her behaviour was peculiar for others.

39. What details of the inhumane behaviour of the upper castes were given to Bama by her brother?

Ans. Annan, Bama’s elder brother, told her that they belonged to a lower class and so were considered as untouchables. They were given no dignity, respect or honour in the society. They were exploited and degraded and were forced to do manual work.

40. The two accounts that you read above are based in two distant cultures. What is the commonality of the theme found in both of them?  

 Ans. The two accounts are given in the chapter ‘Memories of Childhood’ showcase the physical and mental exploitation of women. Though both Zitkala-Sa and Bama are far away from each other in their time and culture, they both suffer at the hands of the authorities.

Zitkala-Sa was a victim of cultural invasion and while Bama suffered class and caste discrimination. Both of them were rebellious and refused to submit. Zitkala-Sa, kicked, screamed and resisted to her hair being cut but had to give up. Similarly, Bama is furious to see her community humiliated but was helpless. But they both reacted positively and became champions in their own ways.

Important Long/ Detailed Answer Type Questions- to be answered in about 100 -150 words each Value based questions-


 Q1. The two accounts that you read above are based on two distant cultures. What is the commonality of the theme found in both of them?

Ans.Both of the accounts are based upon on the distant cultures and of two educated women from marginalized communities who look back on their childhood and reflect on their relationship with the mainstream culture. Gertrude Simmons was an extraordinary talented Native American who struggled and was successful at a time when severe prejudice prevailed towards the Native Americans and women. Bama is a Tamil Dalit woman from a Roman Catholic family. She was disgusted as the lower caste people were stripped of all honour, dignity and respect which she managed to regain through her education.

Both these women have pains inflicted upon them by their societies and cultures. They fought against this social and cultural discrimination and their efforts got recognition. Gertrude Simmons wrote under the pen-name of Zitkala-Sa and criticized dogma and oppression. Similarly, Bama is a pen-name and in her autobiography, she recreates her childhood and its painful memories. Both these women have used writing as an effective means of battling discrimination and evils of oppression. Even the usage of pen-names is common to both these writers.

 Q2. Why did it take Bama half an hour and not ten minutes to reach home?

Ans.When Bama was in class III, she walked home from school each day. She would loiter along, watching all the fun and games and the entertaining novelties that would attract her innocent eyes. She usually took thirty minutes as she would watch performing monkeys, the snake of the snake charmer or the cyclist to continue his performance of the past two or three days. The Maariyaata Temple with the huge bell hanging there and the Pongal offerings being cooked in front of the temple fascinated her. She would sometimes look at the dried fish stall by the statue of Gandhi and other stalls selling snacks, sweets, etc.

She paused to look with wonder at the stage put up by people of political parties. She would pause for a street play or puppet shop or a ‘no magic no miracle’ stunt performance. In fact, there was always something attractive which caught her attention even if it were the coffee clubs and the way in which the waiters cooled the coffee or the people who cut onions. She even gazed in wonder at the people selling sweet and savoury snacks, payasam or iced lollies. Her account presents a childlike joy in simple activities which is brought alive to the readers.

Q3. Both Bama and Zitkala Sa rebel against the existing circumstances. Comment.

Ans.Both Bama and Zitkala Sa are sensitive and observant. Zitkala Sa is a Native American who finds the people are out to destroy the Native American culture. In their culture, only unskilled warriors who are captured had their hair shingled by the enemy. The soft moccasins — worn by Native Americans and the blanket over her shoulder was removed. This makes her feel indecent. The rules observed at breakfast baffled her. Bama at first thinks the behaviour of the elder of her community is quite funny. I He is holding a packet by the string and running with it awkwardly. She becomes angry when she learns the reason for his behaviour. The landlords and people of the upper caste exploit and humiliate them. Her elder brother channelised her anger.

 Both the girls sow the seeds of rebellion at an early age. Both of them rebel and do not want to bow down to their situation. They struggle against dogma, oppression and prejudice. They both use education as a vehicle to combat this menace. They write and distinguish themselves. Their works depict their viewpoints.

 Q4. Untouchability is not only a crime, but it is alsoinhuman . Why and how did Bama decide to fight against it? (Word limit 120-150) [Delhi 2017]

Ans. In India, the lower castes have suffered untouchability since ages. It is inhuman to take away their fundamental rights and render them powerless and force to lead an undignified life of poverty and misery.

In the chapter ‘Memories of Childhood’, a strange scene amused Bama. An old man came from the side of the bazaar carrying a food packet holding it by its string, without touching it. He gave it to a landlord who supervised the threshing of a crop. The strange manner of his amused Bama.

 Bama’s elder brother informed her that the landlord belonged to a high caste. The old man belonged to a low caste. He couldn’t even touch the food packet, else the landlord would not have accepted it. He told her that the people of their caste had no respect and dignity. They could earn honour and dignity if only they got education and knowledge. The words of her brother touched her deeply. She worked hard and stood first in the class. With education as a weapon, she became a writer who is spreading awareness about discrimination.

Q5. In India, the so-called lower castes have been treated cruelly for a long time. Who advised Barna to fight against this prejudice, when and how? (Word limit 120-150) [All India 2017]

Ans. In India, the lower castes have suffered untold discrimination and cruelty since ages. This has taken away their fundamental rights and rendered them powerless and they are forced to lead an undignified life of poverty and misery.

In the chapter Memories of Childhood, a strange scene amused little Bama. A threshing floor had been set up at a corner of her street. Men were working and the landlord was watching the proceedings. An old man came from the side of the bazaar carrying a food packet holding it by its string, without touching it. The strange manner of his amused Bama.

Her elder brother informed her that the landlord belonged to a high caste and the old man belonged to a low caste. He couldn’t even touch the food packet. The landlord would not have accepted it. Her elder brother told her that the people of their caste had no respect and dignity. They could earn honour and dignity if they get education and knowledge. The words of her brother touched her deeply and she worked hard and stood first in the class.

6. What activities did Bama witness on her way back home from school?

 Ans. Bama had a ten minutes distance from school to home but it took more than an hour for her to reach home. She saw a spectacular sight on the way. She used to pass through the market place. Here she saw all the fun games, novelties, oddities, shops and bazaar. She watched the performing monkey, a man pedalling for many days, the activities at the Maariyaata temple. On her way, she passed through the statue of Gandhiji where she saw the sweets and snacks sellers, she also saw huntergypsy and wild lemurs in cages. At times she heard the political parties giving speeches, saw puppet shows and street plays. Coffee shops and fruit tree drew her attention and she didn’t feel moving. She watched peddlers selling fruits snacks, halwa and iced lollies. She also witnessed the scene at the landlord’s house where some people were driving the cattle to tread the corn and the landlord was watching a threshing floor set up.

7.”We too are human beings,” highlights high caste-low caste discrimination in society. How do low caste people suffer on account of this? ‘What advice is given to Bama to overcome this problem?

Ans. ‘We too are Human Beings’ highlights the prevailing discrimination in the society in the name of high caste and low caste. In her childhood, Bama realised that she belonged to the lower caste and was considered ‘untouchable’. She found that the people of her community were exploited and humiliated. She felt sad, let down and angry and hated the exploitation. She believed it to be a curse against society. She wanted to protest against this system. Her brother advised her that it was only through education, they could gain respect. He advised her to work hard and learn. Bama obeyed her brother with great determination and studied hard and topped in the class. As a result, many people tried to befriend her.

8. Describe the episode in which Zitkala-Sa to endured the cutting off her long hair.

Ans. It was Zitkala-Sa’s first day at the Carlisle Indian School. Her friend Judewin had warned her that the pale-faced woman was talking about the cutting of the narrator’s long hair. Zitkala-Sa was shocked and surprised at this because as per her mother only unskilled warriors or mourners had their hair shingled. So she decided to resent and struggle but not to submit. She crept upstairs unnoticed and hid under a bed in a dark room. She could hear the loud voices calling her name and footsteps nearby. She was searched for and discovered. She was dragged out. She scratched and kicked and tried to resist but all in vain. Finally, she was tied fast to a chair and her thick braids were cut off. At this point, she lost her spirit and felt extremely humiliated and treated in an undignified manner.

9. “It is better to have tried and failed, then never to have tried at all”. Bring out the truth of the statement with reference to the story.

Ans. In ‘Memories of Childhood’, both  Zitkala-Sa and Bama exemplify this statement clearly. They both tried to resist oppression and discrimination. Both wanted to overcome the humiliation and indignities that they both had to face in their childhood. Zitkala-Sa resisted the cutting off her long hair. Though she failed in that resistance at that moment, this incident gave her so much determination and strength that later on she was recognized as a champion fighter against the prejudices and humiliation against women of that time.

Similarly, Bama also grew up with great confidence to eradicate the evil of untouchability through her writings. She wrote about the exploitation and humiliation that people face due to class and caste discrimination.

Thus, both the women tried their hard to work against oppression and succeed despite the failed attempts in childhood.

9. The story of Bama and Zitkala-Sa prove that to succeed in life one must be determined and hardworking. It involves grit, perseverance and enormous willpower. Write an article bringing out the truth of this fact.

Ans.                                                    Success Demands Work, Work and Work

 “Hard work is the key to success.” No doubt success demands strong willpower and determination to excel. To succeed in life one must be clear about his goals and full of grit and determination to achieve that goal. Both Bama and Zitkala-Sa exemplify these qualities. They both faced humiliation, torture and discrimination in their childhood, but they didn’t give up. They both were determined to work for the oppressed and continued their efforts after they grew up. Zitkala-Sa led to many social movements and became a social activist. On the other hand, Bama kept on raising the issue of untouchability through her writings.

Hard work with strong willpower can turn any stone. There is nothing impossible for those who believe in themselves and never give up their bid to succeed.