1. What is the ‘misadventure’ that William Douglas speaks about?
Ans. The ‘misadventure’ is the incident in which the author at the age of ten or eleven was picked up and thrown into the swimming pool of Y.M.C.A. by a bruiser. The author didn’t know how to swim and was about to drown.
2. What were the series of emotions and fears that Douglas experienced when he was thrown into the pool? What plan did he make to come to the surface?
Ans. When Douglas was thrown into the water by a big bruiser, initially he was shocked and frightful. He went deep into the water in the same posture in which he was sitting. He was terrified and panic-stricken. But he kept his presence of mind and planned to make a big jump the moment his feet touched the surface and to spring to the surface like a cork. But unfortunately all his three attempts failed and at the end, he felt suffocated and paralysed. He was full of stark tenor and then became unconscious.
3. How did this experience affect him?
Ans. After the Y.M.C.A. misadventure, Douglas developed a fear of water. This experience became a cause of handicap for him. Whenever he tried to enter the water, the terror which seized him in the pool would come back. He could not enjoy any water sports such as canoeing, boating, rafting, and swimming. This experience left a haunting fear of water in his heart.
4. Why was Douglas determined to get over his fear of water?
Ans. Douglas wanted to live his life to the fullest. This fear was a hindrance to his enjoying the pleasures of life. This fear ruined all his fishing trips. He could not enjoy any water sport like canoeing, fishing, swimming, etc. So he was determined to get over his fear of water.
5. How did the instructor build a swimmer out of William Douglas?
Ans. The instructor built a swimmer out of William Douglas bit by bit. The instructor used to tie a belt around his waist and attach it to a pulley with a rope. Every day Douglas practised using this device by putting his head under water and kicking his legs by the side of the pool. Over a period of three months, by imparting strategically planned intense practice, the instructor was able to build a swimmer out of William Douglas.
6. How did Douglas make sure that he had conquered the old terror?
Ans. Douglas felt that when he was alone in the pool, tiny vestiges of old fear would return. To make sure that he had got rid of his fear of water, he went to Lake Wentworth in New Hampshire, dived off a dock at Triggs Island, and swam two miles across the lake to Stamp Act Island. After this, he became confident that he had conquered his long-standing fear of water.
Understanding the Text
7. How does Douglas make clear to the reader the sense of panic that gripped him as he almost drafted, Describe the details that have made the description vivid.
Ans. When Douglas was flung into the pool by a bruiser, he almost drowned. He was terrified but did not lose hope. While going down the water, he planned to save himself. He decided that when his feet hit the bottom, he would make a big jump and come to the surface and then lie down and paddle to the edge of the pool. But this plan didn’t work for him. As a result, he went down again. This time also Douglas tried but in vain. Now panic seized Douglas. He realised that he was going to drown. His limbs were paralysed, his lungs filled with water and ached. The mass of yellow water filled him with stark terror and he started painting.
8. How did Douglas overcome his fear of water?
Ans. Douglas was haunted by the fear of water for many years. In order to overcome his fear, he decided to hire an instructor and started practising swimming regularly. The instructor very innovatively devised a method to teach him swimming. Douglas used to wear a belt around his waist and a rope was attached to it which went through a pulley that ran on an overhead cable. So it pulled him out whenever he felt panicky while swimming. After three months of rigorous practice, he started to feel relaxed.
Douglas also paddled his legs in water by the side of the pool. Initially, Douglas felt paralysed and his legs didn’t move but gradually he overcame his nervousness. The instructor told him that his job was done and Douglas had become a complete swimmer. But in order to be confident Douglas swam in different lakes. Finally, when he swam in Warm Lake, he realised that he had overcome his fear of water.
9. Why does Douglas, as an adult, recount a childhood experience of terror and his conquering of it? What larger meaning does he draw from this experience?
Ans. Douglas, as an adult, recounts his childhood experience of tenor. It was like an encounter with death for him. He could only feel the tenor that he was going through when he was about to drown in the pool. This fear haunted him for years and finally, his zest for overcoming this fear strengthened him. Rigorous practice, courage, willpower and determination conquered the inherent fear of his heart and he gained confidence. Through this experience, Douglas was able to understand the fact that clinging to the past fears only spoils our present. In life, fear is the greatest enemy of man, which holds him back from taking initiatives. Douglas understood that in spite of the fact that in life situations are risky, at times, one must have the courage to face them boldly to rise in life.