Memories of Childhood
By- Zitkala-Sa and Bama
Important Long/ Detailed Answer Type Questions- to be answered in about 100 -150 words each Value based questions-
ESSAY TYPE 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.