ENGLISH, CLASS 11
Short Answer Type Questions
1. Comment on the tone of the poem.
The tone of the poem is that of sadness. Shirley Toulson looks at an old photograph of her mother and is reminded of her mother who is no more. She recalls the moment when her mother was twelve years old and looked sweet and happy.
2. What is the significance of the ‘cardboard frame?’
The cardboard frame or the photograph shows the lack of permanence of human life.
3. What emotions does the poet’s mother have when she looks at the photograph?
The mother feels nostalgic looking at her bygone years. She laughs out loud and tells her daughter how her cousins had dressed up for the beach. She recalls those days when she was innocent and playful.
4. What is silenced and how has it silenced the poet?
The death of the poet’s mother has silenced the poet. The poet is left without words, she has nothing to say.
5. ‘Each photograph is a memory.’ Justify the statement in the light of the poem.
Photographs are memories that are captured and kept for lifetime purposes. Shirley Toulson’s “A Photograph” captures one such moment when her mother was young and she went on a beach holiday with her cousins. Gone are these days of the mother and her cousins but the photograph manages to bring back those memories even after thirty years later. The laughter of the mother while seeing the photograph has become a past incident. But the photograph allows the poet to recall and revive the laughter through the image captured thirty years back. Therefore, photographs are indeed memories.
6. What does the word ‘cardboard’ denote in the poem? Why has this word been used?
The cardboard is a part of a photo frame that keeps the photograph intact. It is made of very stiff and hard paper. The poet has ironically used it in her poem, ‘The Photograph.’ This cardboard helps in keeping the photograph of the 12 year old girl safely intact who herself was of transient nature.
7. What has the camera captured?
The camera had captured the three girls, the pretty face of the poet’s mother who was a girl of twelve at that time. It has also captured the smiling faces of the two girl cousins Betty and Dolly. They are holding the hands of the poet’s mother.
8. What has not changed over the years? Does this suggest something to you?
Only the sea has not changed over the years. The pretty faces and the feet of the three girls have changed over time. They are transient because time spares none.
9. The poet’s mother laughed at the snapshot. What did this laugh indicate?
The poet’s mother laughed at the photograph which was taken years ago. In the photograph, she as well as her two little cousins stood holding each other’s hand. She laughed at all of them because they were heavily dressed up for the beach. Perhaps they looked funny to her. Their laughter indicated the youthful spirit.
10. What is the meaning of the line “Both wry with the laboured ease or loss”
Both the mother and the poet suffered a great sense of loss. The mother lost her childhood innocence and youthful spirit that the photograph had captured some years ago. On the other hand, the poet has lost the smile of her mother, which has become a thing of the past. Later, she loses her mother too.
11. What does “this circumstance” refer to?
The ‘circumstance’ here refers to the death of the poet’s mother. The photograph of her dead mother makes the poet nostalgic and brings sad feelings from the past. But the poet has nothing to say at all about the circumstance because death is inevitable.
12. The three stanzas depict three different phases. What are they?
The first stanza shows the poet’s mother as a twelve year old girl with a pretty smiling face. Then she is paddling with her two girl cousins on a beach. They all have a happy youthful laughter. This is before the poet was born. The second stage describes the middle-aged mother laughing at her own snapshot that was taken a long time back. The third stage describes the silence on the poet’s face at the death of her mother
Question 1: Which incident has been captured in the snapshot?
Answer: The incident depicts three girls who had gone for a swim in the sea and were standing still for a short time smiling at the camera. This group photo captures their joy, buoyant spirits and freedom of girlhood.
Question 2: What do you learn about the poetess’s mother from the photograph?
Answer: The poetess’s mother was a big girl even at the age of twelve. She had a sweet face and enjoyed swimming as well as wading in sea-water with her cousins. Years later she laughed at the clothes they had put on for the sea holiday.
Question 3: How did the three girls face the camera?
Answer: They removed hair from their face and stood smiling in the shallow water near the beach. Betty and Dolly stood on either side of the poetess’s mother, holding one of her hands.
Question 4: What do you think, made the poetess’s mother laugh?
Answer: The dress and behavior of her cousins Betty and Dolly made the poetess’s mother laugh. It is evident that they had put on some quaint dress, which amused her.
Question 5: The poetess’s mother laughs at her past. How does the poet react to her past?
Answer: The sea holiday was a past experience for the poetess’s mother. A glimpse of the photograph perhaps revived some feelings of shared joy and she laughed. For the poet, her laughter is an incident of the past. It is amusing in an ironic manner. The sense of loss overcomes pleasure.
Question 6: Why, do you think, does the poetess say nothing about her mother’s death?
Answer: The poet has no words to express her reaction to this solemn and painful incident. Death silences everyone. The extensive quietness and prevailing gloom silence her.
☜☆☞How does the poet feel when she remembers the sea holiday of her mother?
Ans. The poet feels sad when she remembers the sea holiday of her mother. Her mother died twelve years ago.
☜☆☞Why doesn’t she want to think about the photograph anymore?
Ans. She doesn’t want think about the photograph anymore because it brings the pain of loss to her mind.
☜☆☞The three stanzas depict three different phases. What are they?
Ans. The three stanzas depict three different phases of life. The first stanza refers to the childhood of the poet’s mother. The second stanza refers to the adulthood of the poet’s mother. The last stanza refers to the last phase of life – the death of the poet’s mother.
Long Answer Type Questions
Question 1: What impression do you form of the poetess and the poetess’s mother after reading the poem A Photograph’?
Answer: The poem presents the poet as a sensitive person who is quite affectionate towards her mother and is deeply attached to her. She loves ‘her ‘sweet’ face and notes the changes in it as she advances in age. She remembers all the incidents connected with her life including her laughter on looking at the photograph. She finds it hard to bear her death. The pangs of separation stun her to speechlessness.
The poetess’s mother appears as a physically well-formed person with a sweet face and beautiful smile. She has a friendly temperament and free mixing nature. She has great affection (or her two girl cousins and goes with them for a sea-holiday where they put on quaint dresses. She poses with them smilingly for a snap. Her laughter on seeing the dresses in the snap shows her fine temperament and good humor.