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The Portrait of a Lady NCERT
Understanding the Text
1.The three phases of the author’s relationship with his grandmother before he left the country to study abroad.
Ans. The first phase of the author’s relationship with his grandmother was when he was Left with her in the village home. She used to get him ready for school, gave him breakfast and went with him to school. She also helped him with his lessons.
The second phase began when the two shifted to the city. The author joined an English school and went by bus. The old lady could neither escort him to school nor help him with his lessons. She was unhappy to learn that there were no religious teachings at the school and children were also given lessons in music.
The third phase began when the author went to university and got a separate room for studies. The common link of friendship was, thus, broken.
2. Three reasons why the author’s grandmother was disturbed when he started going to the city school.
Ans. The old lady was disturbed in the city because she could not understand English words and the laws of science. Secondly, she felt unhappy to know that there was no teaching about God and holy books at school. The third shocking thing was that the boy was given music lessons. She associated music with beggars and prostitutes.
3. Three ways in which the author’s grandmother spent her days after he grew up.
Ans. As the author grew up, he went to an English school, the university and finally abroad for studies. There was hardly any communication between her and the narrator. In the city, she began to ply the spinning wheel. She recited prayers all day. Only in the afternoon did she take a short break to rest and feed the sparrows. Thus, she passed her time.
4. The odd way in which the author’s grandmother behaved just before she died.
Ans. She received the author when he returned home after spending five years abroad. She held him in her arms. That day she fed the sparrows longer. In the evening, she got an old drum, called the women of the neighbourhood and sang songs for hours, welcoming him back home. Overstrain brought on her illness. She declared that her end was near. She refused to talk to anybody and died while counting the beads of her rosary.
5. The way in which the sparrows expressed their sorrow when the author’s grandmother died.
Ans. The members of the family laid her dead body on the ground and left her alone to make arrangements for her funeral. The sun was setting. The sparrows, thousands of them, sat around the dead body; they made no noise; they were in mourning. They even refused to take notice of the crumbs thrown to them. As the dead body was carried off, the sparrows also flew away quietly.
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Talking about the Text
1. The author’s grandmother was a religious person. What are the different ways in which we conic to know this?
Ans. The author’s grandmother was quite old and religious-minded. All day long she kept telling the beads of the rosary in her hand and kept reciting prayers. She read holy books inside the temple. She sang her prayers while bathing her grandson; she was disturbed to know that the schools did not teach anything about God and scriptures. She kept telling the beads till her end came suddenly.
2. Describe the changing relationship between the author and his grandmother. Did their feelings for each other change?
Ans. The author was left in the village home with his grandmother when his parents went to live in the city. His grandmother used to get him ready for school, feed him and accompany him to school and back. They became good friends and he loved her voice as she recited her morning prayers while bathing him.
The turning point in their friendship came when the two moved off to the city. She could no more go to school with him, nor could she help him with his lessons. Still, their friendship had one strong link. They shared the same room. But the change came when he went to the university and was given a separate room. But nothing could lessen her affection for him. She was disturbed when she came to know about music lessons at school. When he was going abroad for further studies, she saw him off at the station. When he came back after five years she celebrated his homecoming. Their bond of love remained firm.
3. Would you agree that the author’s grandmother was a person strong in character? If yes, give instances to show this.
Ans. Yes. The author’s grandmother was a woman of strong character and noble sentiments. She belonged to old world order and was deeply pious and charitable. She would never miss her counting of beads or reciting of prayers. She discharged her duties as a doting grandmother. Although she disapproved of die author’s English education, she never tried to stop it. She accepted the change quietly and even went to see the author off to the station when he was going abroad for higher education. She never made any compromises in her own lifestyle and routine. She always worked on her spinning wheel, recited her prayers and fed the sparrows. When she fell ill, she knew her end was near and decided to die while saying her prayers.
4. Have you known someone like the author’s grandmother? Do you feel the same sense of loss with regard to someone whom you have loved and lost?
Ans. Yes, once I knew a middle-aged lady when I was a little kid. We became neighbours in the city. She had no children of her own. So she rained all her affection on me. She cared for me and fed me with fruit both fresh and dried. Our acquaintance did not dim even while I got my posting In Bangalore. We were constantly in contact over the phone. It was a bolt from the blue when I learnt that she had died. I loved her almost as much or even more than my real mother. My loss was irreparable.
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Thinking about Language
1. Which language do you think the author and his grandmother used while talking to each other?
Ans. Naturally, They talked to each other in Punjabi, their mother tongue.
2. Which language do you use to talk to elderly relatives in your family?
Ans. Since we are Hindi-speaking north Indians, we talk to one another chiefly in Hindi, and occasionally in English.
3. How would you say ‘a dilapidated drum’ in your language?
Ans. A dilapidated drum, in our language, is called a worn-out Dhol(ढोल) घिसा –पिटा फटेहाल ढोल या ढोल I
Working with Words
I. Notice the following uses of the word ‘tell’in the text.
1. Her fingers were busy telling the beads of her rosary.
2. I would tell her English words and little things about Western science and learning.
3. At her age, one could never tell.
4. She told us that her end was near.
Given below are four different senses of the word ‘tell’. Match the meaning to the uses listed above.
(i) Make something known to someone in the spoken or written word
(ii) Count while reciting
(iii) Be sure
(iv) gives information to somebody
Ans. 1. (ii) 2. (i) 3. (iii) 4. (iv)
2. Notice the different senses of the word ‘take’. Locate these phrases in the text and notice the way they are used.
(i)To take to something.
Ans. There were no dogs in the streets so she took to feeding sparrows in the courtyard of our city house.
(ii) To take ill—to suddenly become ill.
Ans. The next morning she was taken ill. It was a mild fever.
3. The word ‘hobble’ means to walk with difficulty because the legs and feet are in bad condition. Tick the words in the box below that also refer to a manner of walking.
|Haggle shuffle stride ride waddle
Wriggle paddle swagger trudge slog