Memories of Childhood
By- Zitkala-Sa and Bama
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.