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The Portrait of a Lady Extra Questions

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Extra Questions, Notes, Assignment and study material for Class 11th as Per CBSE Syllabus

Chapter- 1 The Portrait of a Lady

           The Portrait of a Lady Extra Questions

                                              By- Khushwant Singh

Introduction of the lesson- The Portrait of a Lady

Following is the introduction English text for Chapter  The Portrait of a Lady Class 11 aimed to give you a clear grasp of its main ideas.”


The portrait of A Lady gives us a picture of a human relationship in a joint family. It is a factual description, a realistic account of how the grandparents give all their time, attention and love to the grandchildren. The description of the author’s grandmother is deeply moving with a touch of humour and poetry in it. She was so old that she could not be older. It was difficult to believe that she once used to play games as a child, and was even young and married. She seems to have stopped growing older. In the village, she was left alone with her little grandson. She was religious-minded. She was all the time telling the beads of the rosary. She took the child to temple-school. Inside she read holy books. While returning home she fed the village dogs. In the city, she began to feed the sparrows because she got a separate room to live and there were no dogs. In the last phase, she received the author warmly when he returned home from abroad. She sang his home-coming and beat the drum; she was taken ill and she died. Even the sparrows went into mourning and crowded around the dead body. Such was that lady with a noble soul!

 Important Word-Meanings of difficult words from the lesson- The Portrait of a Lady

Here we give the word meaning with Hindi page wise for difficult words in the chapter ” The Portrait of a Lady Class 11 to help you understand it better.

Page 3

  • the thought was almost revolting – the idea was disgusting
  • an expanse of pure white serenity – silence with white hair and white clothes spread in the house,
  • a turning point – a radical point of change
  • accepted her seclusion with resignation – made no protest; accepted her aloofness calmly
  • a veritable bedlam of chirruping – a noise as one hears in a lunatic asylum
  • frivolous rebukes – light-hearted scolding
  • the sagging skins of the dilapidated drum – the loose skins of an old worn-out drum

Page 3

Portrait-word picture, शब्द चित्र; wrinkled-full of creases or folds झुर्रियों से भरा ; pretty-charming, सुंदर ; mantel pieceshelf above a fireplace, अंगीठी के ऊपर बना टाँड ; turban-head gear,पगड़ी ; revolting-disgusting,अरुचिकर ; absurd-ridiculous, foolish,मूर्खतापूर्ण ; undignified-not respectable,अशोभनीय; fables-legendary tales with moral lessons, शिक्षाप्रद कहानियाँ ;  prophets-God’s messengers, पैगम्बर , गुरु; slightlya little, थोड़ी  -सी; criss-cross-intersecting lines,एक दूसरे को काटती रेखाएँ l

 Page 4

Terribly-frightening, डरावन ी; hobbledwalked lamely, लंगड़ाकर चलती थ; stoop-swoop or bent of the body, शरीर का झुकाव; beads of her rosary-small balls of a string of beads used for prayer.मालाके दाने यामनके; silver lockswhite hair,सफ़ेद बाल; scattered-spread,बिखरे रहते थे; untidilyin a disorderly manner, अनसुलझे हुए; puckeredwrinkled, झुर्रीदार; inaudiblewhich could not be heard, जो सुनाई न द े; landscapethe portion of land one can see at one glance,भूद्रश्य; expansewide extent, विस्तार; serenitycalmness, शांति ; contentmentmental peace,शांति ; constantlyall the time, सदैव; monotonousin the same tone, एक स्वर में ; singsongdull, एक सुर; fetchbring, ले आती थी; plasteredcovered, smeared, पुती हुई ; tiny earthensmall, made of earth,मिट्टी की छोटे आकार की; stalenot fresh, बासी ; attached on the same building. जुड़ा हुआ; alphabetletters, वर्णाक्षर; rowsstraight lines, कतार; In a chorustogether,समूह में; scripturesholy books. धार्मिक पुस्तकें; growlingmaking angry sound, गुर्राना; turning pointa point of marked change,मोड़; courtyardopen space, आँगन; rolled bypassed


Gravitypower to attract, गुरुत्वाकर्षण का सिद्धान्त; distressedpained, दु:खी;lewdvulgar, indecent,अश्लील; associationconnection,जुड़ाव; monopolyone’s exclusive right, एकाधिकार; harlotsprostitutes,वेश्याएंdisapprovaldislike, मनाही; snappedbroken. टूट गया; seclusionaloofness, अलगाव; resignationwithout complaint, सहजभाव से; recitinguttering, ,गुनगुनाते हुए ; relaxedtook a break, rested, विश्राम करती थी; veritabletruly; bedlamnoisy confusion as in a madhouse, पागलखाने का शोरगुल; chirrupingsound made by birds, पक्षियों की चहचाहहट; perchedsat,बैठगए; shooed awaydrove away, उड़ा देना; abroadoutside the country, विदेश; upsetdisturbed, परेशान; sentimentalcarried away by emotions, भावुक; cherishedheld as dear, प्रिय मानता रहा ; moistdamp, गीला; imprintimpression, छाप; claspedembraced, आर्लिगन किया ; frivolouslight-hearted, कोमल ह्रदय से; rebukes-scolding, झिड़कियाँ; thumpedbeat, बजाया , पीटा ; sagginghanging loosely, लटका हुआ I


dilapidatedruined, old and worn-out, पुराना ,घिसापिटा ; warriorfighter, योद्धा; persuadebring her round, advise, फुसलाना; over straining—very tiring, अत्याधिक थकान लाने वाला ; omittedmissed, बन्द कर दिया था ; protestedopposed, विरोध किया; ignoredpaid no heed to, उपेक्षा की ; suspecthave an inkling,संदेह होना ; customary—ritual, as per custom,रीति के अनुसार ; pallorpaleness, पीलापन ; shroudcloth spread over a dead body, कफ़न ; mourninglamentation, शोक ; funerallast rites, cremation. दाहसंस्कार; blazeglow, चमक; stiffmotionless, hard, सख्त; wrappedcovered,लिपटी हुई; scatteredall over, बिखरीहुई; chirpingsound, शोर; crumbsbits, pieces टुकड़; corpsedead body, शव; dustbinwastebasket, कूड़ादानI

Summary in English-

Take a look at the following summary example to better understand the chapter ” The Portrait of a Lady,” crafted through careful summary writing.

 The author’s grandmother was an old woman. Her face was wrinkled all over. For twenty years the author had seen no change in her looks and behaviour. It was difficult to believe that she, too, had once been a playful child or a pretty young woman with a husband. Even the grandfather with his long white beard in a portrait looked at least a hundred years old. It was even disgusting to think that the grandmother had ever been young and pretty.

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The old lady was short-statured and a little bent. She moved about in the house limping. She had silver locks and wore spotless white clothes. She looked like a winter landscape in the mountains. She always carried a rosary in her hands which she kept counting. Her lips were always moving quietly in prayer. She was a picture of peace and contentment.

When the author’s parents went to live in the city. They left him behind with the old lady. She used to get him ready for school. While she bathed and dressed the boy, she kept saying her morning prayer. She hoped that the child would get to know the prayer by heart. But the author listened to her chiefly because he loved her voice. With the wooden slate, an earthen Inkpot and a pen in the school bag, she went to school with the boy. She also always carried several stale chapattis for the village dogs. She threw those bread pieces to the dogs when they walked back home together.

The school was attached to a temple. While the children were seated in the verandah and taught the alphabet by the priest, the old lady sat inside the temple reading some holy books.

When both had finished, they would walk back home together. It was the first phase of the author’s togetherness with his grandmother.

When the parents were settled properly. They called the author and the old lady there. That was a turning point in their friendship, rather the second phase. She could no more accompany the boy to his English school. And there were no street dogs either. So the old lady started feeding the sparrows in the courtyard. As time passed. They saw less of each other. She often enquired what he was taught at school. The poor woman could not understand English words and the laws of science. So, She could not help him with his lessons.

But she was shocked to know that there was no religious or moral teaching at the school. Secondly, the children were given music lessons. She associated music only with beggars and prostitutes.

 When the author went up to university, he got a separate room for his studies. His friendship link with her was broken. She accepted her isolation quietly. She used to ply her spinning wheel and recited her prayers. Only in the afternoon, she took a short break to sit in the verandah and feed the sparrows. Hundreds of birds became so friendly with her that they sat on her legs, shoulders and head. She smiled but never drove them away. That was the happiest hour of the day for her.

She did not look upset even when the author went abroad for further studies. She showed no sentiments when she saw him off at the railway station. The author did not expect to find her alive on his return. But she was there again to receive him. She looked extremely happy. That day she fed the birds longer. In the evening, She collected women from the neighbourhood, Got an old drum and sang for hours. She could not withstand so much strain. She was taken ill. She declared that her end was near. She refused to talk to any member of the family. And she died peacefully.

As per custom, her dead body was laid on the ground and covered with a red shroud. While others left her alone to arrange for the funeral, hundreds of birds gathered around her. But they all were in silent mourning. The author’s mother thought the birds were hungry; she threw pieces of bread to them. But the sparrows took no notice of the bread. When the dead body was carried off, the birds also flew away quietly. Next morning, the sweeper swept the bread pieces into the dustbin.

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Summary in Hindi

Here is the Hindi story summary of the chapter ” The Portrait of a Lady Class 11,” designed to give you a clear understanding of its essential ideas in Hindi.

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लेखक की दादी एक वृद्ध महिला थी Iउसका पूरा चेहरा झुर्रियों से भरा था बीस वर्षों से लेखक ने उसके चेहरे पर तथा व्यवहार में कोई परिवर्तन नहीं देखाI यह विश्वास करना कठिन था कि वह भी कभी खिलक्कड़ बच्ची अथवा सुंदर युवती थी जिसका एक पति भी था Iदादाजी भी अपनी लंबी सफेद दाढ़ी के साथ चित्र में कोई 100 वर्ष आयु के दिखते थे Iयह सोचना भी बुरा लगता था कि दादी कभी युवा और सुन्दर भी थीI

वृद्ध महिला छोटे कद की तथा उसकी कमर कुछ झुकी हुई थी Iवह घर में लंगड़ाते हुए घूमा करती थी Iअपनी रुपहले बालों के साथ वह सफेद वस्त्र ही पहना करती थी Iउसके हाथ में सदा एक माला होती थी जिसको वह फेरती रहती थी Iउसके होंठ भी सदा मूक रहकर भजन आदि गुनगुनाते रहते थे Iवह शांति और संतोष की प्रतिमूर्ति दिखती थीI

जब लेखक के माता-पिता नगर में रहने चले गए तो उन्होंने बालक को बूढ़ी दादी के पास गाँव  में ही छोड़ दिया Iवही बालक को स्कूल के लिए तैयार करती थी जब वह बालक को नहलातीतथा कपड़े पहनाती थी तो

वह अपना प्रातः का भजन गुनगुनाती रहती थी I वह आशा करती थी कि बच्चा उस भजन को सुन-सुनकर कंठस्थ कर लेगा Iपर लेखक तो दादी का भजन इसलिए सुना करता था क्योंकि उसे दादी की आवाज पसंद थी Iलड़के को तख्ती के साथ एक छोटी दवात और कलम बैग में रखकर दादी बालक के साथ ही स्कूल जाती थी Iवह सदा अपने साथ कुछ बासीचपातियाँ भी गाँव के कुत्तों के लिए ली जाती थी उन रोटी के टुकड़ों को वह घर लौटतेसमय कुत्तों के सामने फेंक दिया करती थी I 

स्कूल एक मंदिर से जुड़ा हुआ था Iजो बच्चे बरामदे में बैठकर पुजारी द्वारा अक्षर ज्ञान सीखते रहते थे, वृद्ध दादी मंदिर के अंदर बैठकर कोई धर्म ग्रंथ पढ़ा करती थी जब दोनों का काम पूरा हो जाता था तो वे साथ-साथ लौटते थे यह था लेखक की दादी के साथ मित्रता का पहला चरणI

जब माता – पिता शहर में भली- भाँति बस गए, उन्होंने बालक और दादी को भी वहीँ बुला लिया Iयह उनकी मित्रता का दूसरा चरण था, उसमें एक नया मोड़ था Iअब दादी बालक के साथ अंग्रेजी स्कूल नहीं जा पाती थी और वहाँ सड़क पर कुत्ते भी नहीं दिखते थे Iइस कारण दादी ने आँगन में ही गौरेया पक्षियों को रोटी खिलाना शुरू कर दिया Iसमय बीतने के साथ-साथ दादी-पोते के साथ भी कम होने लगाIदादी अक्सर पूछा करती कि बालक ने स्कूल में क्या पढ़ाI बेचारी न तो अंग्रेजी के शब्द समझ पाती थी ना ही विज्ञान के नियम Iइस कारण वह बालक को पाठ याद करने में मदद नहीं कर पाती थीI

पर उसे गहरा आघात यह जानकर लगा कि स्कूल में धर्म और नैतिक शास्त्र का ज्ञान नहीं कराया जाता थाIदूसरी बात, बच्चों को संगीत शिक्षा भी दी जाती थी उसकी दृष्टि में संगीत का संबंध तो भिखारियों और वेश्याओं से होता थाI

जब लेखक उच्च शिक्षा के लिए विदेश जाने लगा तो भी दादी व्याकुल और दुखी नहीं हुईI उसने कोई भावुकता नहीं दिखाई जब वह लेखक को स्टेशन पर अलविदा कहने गईI लेखक को आशा नहीं थी कि घर वापस आने पर वह दादी को जीवित पाएगा Iपर दादी उसे लेने पहुंची थी वह बहुत प्रसन्न दिखाई दे रही थी उसने पक्षियों को काफी समय तक खाना खिलाया Iवह पुरानी ढोलक ले आई,पड़ोस की महिलाओं को एकत्रित किया और घंटो गीत गाएI वह इतना अधिक परिश्रम सहन नहीं कर सकी Iवह बीमार पड़ गईI उसने बता दिया कि उसका अंत समय आ गया है Iउसने परिवार के किसी भी सदस्य से बात करने से इन्कार कर दिया और वह शांतिपूर्वक भगवान को प्यारी हो गईI

परिपाटी के अनुसार उसके शव को जमीन पर रख दिया गया तथा उसके ऊपर लाल कफन डाल दिया गया जब सभी लोग उसे अकेला छोड़कर उसकी शव यात्रा की तैयारी करने चले गए तो पक्षी शव के आस-पास एकत्रित हो गए Iपर वे सभी मूक रहकर शोक मना रहे थे Iलेखक की माँ ने सोचा कि ये पक्षी भूखे होंगे, उसने रोटी के टुकड़े उनके सामने फेंक दिएI पर पक्षियों ने उन टुकड़ों की ओर कोई ध्यान नहीं दियाI जब शव को ले जाया गया, तो पक्षी भी चुपचाप वहाँ से उड़ गएI अगलीप्रातः जमादार ने उन टुकड़ों को बुहार कर कूड़ेदान में फेंक दिया I

Short Answer questions

Check out these short answer type questions from the chapter ” The Portrait of a Lady Class 11.” These question answer English sets are designed to offer a deeper understanding and help in exam preparation.

1. How does Khushwant Singh describe his old grandmother?

Ans. Khushwant Singh says that his grandmother was so old that she could not get any older. Her face was full of wrinkles. She was short, fat and somewhat bent. It was unbelievable to imagine that she had once been young and pretty, and had a husband. The thought of her being a child once was almost revolting to him.

2. Give a pen-picture of the narrator’s grandfather as he appeared in the portrait.

Ans. The portrait of the narrator’s grandfather hung in the drawing room. He wore a turban and loose-fitting clothes. His long, white beard gave him the look of a 100-year-old man who could have only grandchildren.

3. What could the narrator not believe about his grandparents?

Ans. It was almost unbelievable that the author’s grandfather ever had a wife and children. He looked as if he could have only lots of grandchildren. In case of the author’s grandmother, it was difficult to imagine or believe that she, too, once used to play as a child, that she was ever young and pretty, or that she too had a husband.

4. Why did the narrator’s grandmother give the impression of ‘winter landscape in the mountains’?

Ans. The author’s grandmother used to wear spotless white clothes. She had silvery hair. White all over, she looked like the winter landscape in the mountains covered with snow. She recited her prayers all the time, so had a serene expression on her face which was like the peaceful, white mountains.

5. How did the old lady look after the narrator in the village?

Ans. The narrator was left to the care of his grandmother in the village home when his parents went to live in the city. She looked after the child with care and love. She bathed him, dressed him, fed him, got his school bag ready, and then took him to temple-school. She helped the boy with his lessons.

6. Why did the grandmother feed dogs and birds in the village and then in the city? What did the habit tell about her nature?

Ans. The old lady was a caring person. She had a love for birds and animals. In the village, she threw chapattis to the street dogs. In the city, she had no dogs around, so she began to feed little birds. This showed her affection for all living creatures and her noble nature.

7. How can you say that the grandmother was a deeply religious-minded lady?

Ans. The author’s old grandmother was deeply religious-minded. She all day long counted the beads of the rosary and recited prayers. She read scriptures inside the temple. She was disturbed to know that there was no teaching about God and scriptures at the city school. She fed the dogs in the villages and the birds in the city.

8. The thought was almost revolting. What was that thought and why was it disgusting?

Ans. The old grandmother often told the children of the games she used to play as a child. It seemed absurd or unbelievable and even Indecent on her part. The children treated those stories like fables. They found it hard to believe that their grandmother could have ever been young and pretty. They had always seen her as an old lady: so they liked to think of her only as their grandmother.

9. My grandmother and I were good friends. When was the friendship cemented and broken?

Ans. The author and his grandmother became good friends in the village home. The grandmother readied him for school and accompanied him there. They were together almost the whole day. Her affection and care lasted until her last breath. But in between, when they lived together in the city that link grew weak. The author studied in an English school and was not taught about God and scriptures at all. Now she could not help him with his studies. Finally, he got a room of his own and this made her withdraw from him. But the friendship was broken only after she had died.

10. Why did the grandmother accompany the narrator to the school?

Ans. The grandmother was quite doting and was very affectionate towards her grandson. The author was a small boy. For his safe journey to and from school, she went with him to the temple-school. She utilised her time reading scriptures in the temple.

11. What made the grandmother unhappy in the city?

Ans. In the city, the friendship between the old lady and the little grandson came under strain. She was disturbed because she could not go with him to school, nor help him with his lessons. She did not approve of English education, particularly the music lessons. The author, as he grew up, got a room of his own. The growing distance between them upset her. All this made her unhappy.

12. What was the grandmother’s attitude towards English education and music lessons at school?

Ans. The old grandmother was old-fashioned in her thinking and she herself was not much educated. She did not believe in the things they taught in English schools. She was against English education as it imparted no religious teaching. She was of the view that music was meant only for beggars and prostitutes.

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13. What was the common link of friendship between the narrator and his grandmother and when was it broken?

Ans. The common link between the old lady and her growing-up grandson was that they shared the same room in the city for several years. It was broken when he went to university and got a room of his own. She was left alone but she accepted her aloofness quietly.

14. How did the old grandmother keep herself busy in the city home?

Ans. When the author got a room of his own in the city home, the old lady accepted her aloofness calmly. She worked on her spinning wheel all day long and recited her prayers. Only in the afternoon did she take a half-hour break to rest and to feed the birds.

15. Give a brief account of the grandmother’s friendship with the sparrows in the city.

Ans. The old grandmother lost even the last link of friendship with the author so she made friends with the sparrows. In the afternoon, she threw small bits of bread to the birds who even sat on her shoulders and her head. After her death, the sparrows also grieved for her. Thousands of them made a circle round her. They made no noise, no movement. They refused to eat the crumbs offered to them. They flew away only after her dead body was taken away.

16. And at her age, one could never tell. What was it that one could never tell?

Ans. The author was going abroad for five years. He had a fear that the grandmother would be badly upset, and might not be able to bear the separation. At her age, she could die any day, any moment. Nobody could tell how long she would stay alive.

17. Give a brief account of how the grandmother saw the narrator off at the station and then celebrated his homecoming.

Ans. The old grandmother went to the railway station to see her dear grandson off. She showed no sentiments, no emotions. She only kissed his forehead. She was still there to receive him at the end of five years. She seemed to be very happy. In the evening, she celebrated his home-coming by singing songs and beating the drum. She was so tired that she was taken ill and she died the next day.

18. Only once did the grandmother not pray. When and why did she break that routine?

Ans. The grandmother was very punctual and regular in her prayers and counting of beads. She missed them only on the day of the return of the author from aboard. She collected some women, got an old drum, beat it and sang of the author’s home-coming. That was the only day in her life when she broke the routine.

19. Describe In brief how the old lady died peacefully.

Ans. Because of overstraining at such an old age, the grandmother was taken ill. She knew for certain that her end was near. So she declined to talk to anybody. She wanted to spend the last moments of her life praying and telling the beads of her rosary. Then slowly her lips stopped moving and the rosary fell from her lifeless fingers. Thus, She died peacefully.

20. How and why did the sparrows mourn the death of the old grandmother?

Ans. The association or friendship of the old lady with the sparrows began in the city. Left alone, she sought the company of the sparrows. She fed them every day in the afternoon. The birds became very friendly and attached with her. So they felt bereaved when she died. They gathered around her and sat quietly until the dead body was carried off.

Long Answer Questions

Explore our Long Answer Type Questions from the chapter ” The Portrait of a Lady Class 11.” This question’s English collection is intended to deepen your understanding of the chapter and assist in exam preparation.

1. Give a brief character—sketch of Khushwant Singh’s grandmother on the basis of the portrait of a Lady.

Ans. The writer’s grandmother was a very old woman. She was religious-minded and noble-hearted. In the house, she always carried a rosary in her hands. She kept telling the beads of the rosary and reciting prayers silently. She read holy books in the village temple. She would say her prayers while getting the child ready for school. She used to feed the dogs in the village and the sparrows in the city. She treated the author with the utmost affection. The author was sent abroad for five years for further studies. He thought that this might upset his grandmother, but she did not object and went to the railway station to see him off. When he returned after five years, she was there to welcome him. She was so happy that she collected the women in her neighbourhood and sang songs and beat the drum to celebrate his homecoming.

She was not formally educated. She had no knowledge of English and Science. But she was serious about the education of her grandson. She even helped him with his lessons in the village. But she was disturbed to know that music lessons were being given at the city school. It pained her to note that there was no teaching about God and holy books. She hated music. She belonged to the old generation.

2. Describe how the bond of friendship between the author and his grandmother grew strong and then weak with the passage of time.

Ans. The little boy and his old grandmother became best friends in the village. She gave him the morning bath and breakfast. She went with him to the temple school in the village and they came back home together in the afternoon.

But when the two moved to the city, their friendship suffered a crack. It was a turning point in their relationship. The author went to an English school in the city. He went by the school bus. So the grandmother could not accompany him anymore. Now he was being taught science, Maths and English; so she could not help him with his lessons. Moreover, when she heard that music lessons were also being given at school, she felt very disturbed as music had cheap associations for her. Now she saw less of him and withdrew herself. When he went to university, he got a room of his own. The common link of sharing the same room was also broken. She felt isolated. She took to plying the charkha and feeding the sparrows.

But her concern and affection for the writer were not affected. She gave him a send-off at the station, received him on coming home and celebrated his arrival with songs and beating the drum. She even forgot to pray that evening.

3. Draw a contrast of the lifestyle of the author’s grandmother in the village and in the city. What could be the reasons?

Ans. The author’s grandmother was a very old and gracious lady. She hobbled about in the house, one hand resting on her waist to balance herself. She carried a rosary in her other hand. The author could not believe that she had once been a child playing games or a young lady who was married and had children.

In the village, she took complete care of the author. She bathed the link boy in the morning, gave him breakfast. Prepared his wooden slate and inkpot for taking to school. She went with him to the temple school where he was taught the morning prayer and

The alphabet by the priest. She sat there and read the scriptures. While going back home both of them threw stale chapattis to the village dogs who followed them.

When the two were called to the city, there came a big change in her routine and also in her lifestyle. Her friendship with the author was almost broken. She felt isolated. She accepted it calmly. She made use of her time by reciting prayers, plying the charkha and feeding the sparrows in the afternoon. She loved doing that.

The reason for the weakening of the bonds of friendship between the two was that she could not go to school nor help him with his lessons, as now he went to an English school. She did not even approve of what was being taught at school. But her affection for her grandson was as strong as ever. She welcomed his homecoming with songs and music. Circumstances made all the difference as life in the village and in the city were very different.

4. Trace the interest of the old grandmother in the education of the author. Do you think her concern was misplaced?

Ans. The old grandmother had no formal education. But she was seriously concerned about the education of her grandson. She used to wash and plaster his wooden slate, get the school bag ready and go with him to the school. She even helped him with his lessons in the village. Even in the city, she would ask the boy what he had been taught at school. But she could not understand the English words and laws of science. She felt unhappy to know that there was no teaching about God and scriptures. She was shocked to know about music lessons being taught there. So she withdrew herself completely. She hated music because she thought it was the monopoly of harlots and beggars. The grandmother belonged to the old world order. So her concept of right education was different. Her mindset could not accept any change.

Her concern was misplaced because the author had already inculcated the moral values from her and now he was being taught English and Modern science for a progressive future. This education helped him a great deal in his career in later life.

5. What aspects of old people are highlighted in the chapter “The portrait of a Lady”?

Ans. Khushwant Singh’s story portrays the life of a grandmother who was trying to bring up her grandson in a country where the majority of the people were fighting to make it free from the British. They were still the rulers and as a result whatever they had brought with them, be it English education or English fashion, It was looked upon with doubt and distrust by most of the Indians. Khushwant Singh’s grandmother, being old and uneducated, could not reconcile to the thought of her grandson being taught all the modern subjects like Maths, science, new theories and music. She looked upon these subjects with distrust. Although she did not force her views on her family; she became a recluse. She lived in her own world, winning the wheel the whole day, praying and feeding the sparrows.

The writer says that if the old people are not able to understand or accept the changes which take place in society regarding education, thinking, lifestyle etc., they feel isolated. This gives way to a generation gap which can be bridged to some extent by proper understanding by the old as well as the young.

6. Describe the unique relationship of the grandmother with the dogs and the sparrows. Do you think itis believable and desirable?

Ans. The old grandmother had lived a secluded life in the village. She knew how to bring up and feed the children lovingly. She had no formal education. Yet with long practice, she had learnt to read scriptures. She wished her little grandson also to learn the morning prayers by heart.

The old lady had a unique relationship with the dogs in the village and the birds in the city. She carried stale chapattis for the village dogs. They waited for her as she left the temple. In the city, she befriended the sparrows by offering them the crumbs of bread in the afternoon. They became so friendly with her that they perched on her head and shoulders. She never shooed them away. That was the reason why the birds gathered in thousands to mourn her death. They sat quietly in the courtyard, took no notice of the bread pieces thrown to them, and flew away quietly after her dead body was taken for cremation. Yes, this relationship is believable because when people feel isolated even in a family, they find solace in the company of animals and birds. Grandmother loved feeding and playing with the sparrows and the feeling was reciprocated.

Value Based Questions and Answers of The Portrait of a Lady

Value-Based questions

1. It really pained the grandmother that the schools did not teach anything about God and the scriptures. Should moral education be taught in schools? What do you think?

Ans. Our present education system has miserably failed to uplift the students’ moral, ethical and spiritual values. We require religion and morality to keep men as civilized human beings. We are raising the standard of living but not the standard of life. Performance of duty, consideration for fellow men and compassion has taken a back seat. The crisis of character looms large. Our lofty civilization is becoming hollow because it lacks high values and character. Value education is the need of the hour.

Morals are a set of principles which teach us the difference between right and wrong. Morality is religion in practice. Social evils prevail and their roots are due to lack of moral and spiritual education. Morals train man to be good and propagate goodness. if we do not impart moral education at the primary level, we will have a whole new generation of misguided youth. If a section of this misguided youth indulges in loot, arson, robbery and if they do nothing for their family or country; then we have only ourselves to blame. To inculcate discipline and values in the children of today, the older generation has to guide them by setting an example before them.

2. Aged people should not be left behind and every effort should be made that they live with their children and grandchildren. This will inculcate a proper understanding between the old and the new generation. Pen down your views.

Ans. The aged people feel the need for physical. Moral, financial and emotional support from their children. They are left alone by their children quite often to lead a lonely life. Even their virtues become major vices.

When the aged are left alone, a fathomless gap appears between them and their children. The temporary separation which may be the outcome of circumstances is good as it enhances love and respect. The elderly live in their own world and it is difficult to change their lifestyle. They want nothing from the new generation except love and respect.

It is true that our new generation has its priorities but they must not become indifferent to the needs of the aged. When the aged live with their children, there comes a change in their outlook. Being experienced they try to adapt themselves to the new environment. A solution of old age problems lies not in building old age homes but giving them a little care, affection and love. We must remember that we, too, will be like them one day. A thorough change of attitude is needed. The new generation can enrich itself by listening to the experiences of the elderly and they, in turn, can learn a lot about modern gadgets and things from the young. This will help in bridging the generation gap and give way to a healthy and happy society.

3. Parents face a dilemma—English education or no English education. Still, they go in for it. Discuss.

Ans. Parents want their children to study English as they know that if it is not done their children would lag behind in this competitive world. They fear that western culture and education can also take their children away from their own culture. So, they speak against English education but in their hearts, they feel somewhat satisfied. We are facing a strange dilemma. What is the way out? A balance must be struck between English education and native culture. For that our children should be given moral education. The positive points of our culture should be inculcated in their minds. They should be told that unmindful and blind aping of the Western culture will make them disoriented and lead to an identity crisis. English education without lessons in ethics and morality will do more harm than good. Generation gap will go on widening and materialistic attitude will be all pervasive. Thus, we can say that while English education is important to keep pace with the rest of the world; it is equally imperative for the young generation to be connected with their roots and culture.

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