Q. 1. What were Zitkala Sa’s experiences on the first day in the land of apples? [Comptt., Outside Delhi Set-I, 2014]
Ans. It was Zitkala-Sa’s first day in the land of apples. She was an American-Indian who had been brought there. She had two unpleasant experiences. She had to face an embarrassing position in the dining room as she didn’t know the eating pattern that was followed there. When a large bell rang, she marched into the dining room along with the other Indian girls. A small bell was tapped. Each of the pupils drew a chair from under the table.
She thought they were going to eat. So she pulled out her chair and slipped into it. When she looked around, she found that she alone was seated while the rest were standing. She found herself in an embarrassing position. Then, she got the shocking news that they were going to shingle her long, heavy hair.
She was in a great panic. When nobody was noticing her, she crept up to the stairs. She hid herself in an empty room under the bed. But she was found out. She was dragged out and brought downstairs. She was tied fast to a chair. Her hair was shingled. She cried but no one came to her rescue.
Q. 2. What activities did Bama witness on her way back from school? [Comptt., Outside Delhi Set-I, 2014)
Ans. Bama watched all the fun and games in the streets. There was a performing monkey. Then, there was the snake charmer. There was the cyclist who had not got off his bike for three days. There were the spinning wheels. The Maariyaata temple was a great attraction. There were all sorts of shops and stalls.
There was a hunter gypsy with a lemur in a cage, people selling needles, clay pots and instruments for cleaning ears. There would be some political party arranging mikes. At times, there was a puppet or a magic show. There were the coffee clubs in the bazaar. Some people could be seen sitting in front of the shops chopping onions. Then, according to the season, there would be people selling fruits, sweets, tasty fried snacks, payasam, halwa, boiled tamarind seeds and iced lollies.
Q. 4. What was the incident watched by Bama in her street ? How was she affected by it?
For a long time we have been treating certain castes with a prejudice. What did Bama see which made her realise this injustice? [Foreign Set-I, II, III, 2017]
Ans. Value Points:
— Bama – saw an elder of their street coming from the bazaar
— was carrying small packet by its string without touching it
— the packet was handed to the landlord
— she felt like laughing
— told this to her brother (Annan)
— brother told her about untouchability
— shocked, upset, did not want to laugh anymore, felt sad & infuriated.
Detailed Answer: One day Bama was walking home from school, when she came to a street where she saw the landlord seated on a piece of sacking spread over a stone ledge. He was watching the proceedings of threshing. Just then, she saw an elder of their street coming along from the direction of the bazaar. He was holding out a packet of vadai by its string, without touching it. He was walking in such a ludicrous manner that she could not help laughing.
He went straight up to the landlord, bowed low and extended the packet towards him. The landlord opened the packet and began to eat the vadais. She was too young to understand why the man carried the packet like that.
She told the whole incident to her elder brother. He explained to her that everybody believed that they were upper caste than that particular man and they were from the lower caste and therefore, must not touch the people of their community.
If they did, then the upper caste would consider themselves be polluted. This is when Bama realised the injustice done to certain castes. She felt very sad to hear this. She was filled with rage.
She wanted to rebel against the caste system which made the distinction between human beings. They too were human beings. Then, why should they bow and cringe before these other people.
Q. 5. It may take a long time for oppression to be resisted, but the seeds of rebellion are sowed early in life. How did Zitkala-Sa face oppression as a child and how did she overcome it? [Delhi / Outside Delhi 2018]
Ans. Value Points:
- Bama – saw an elder of their street coming from the bazaar
- childhood experience makes a mark
– sweet / bitter
- oppression / suppression / exploitation
- her childhood courage to face atrocities / bullying
- cutting of hair and her resistance
- became a universal name although belonged to a marginalized community
- faced it in a spirited manner
- resisted by hiding under bed
- kicked / scratched widely / cried aloud / shook her head
- lost her spirit after hair was cut
- seeds of rebellion sown
- struggled, triumphed
- criticised the system / dogma / life of a native American
Detailed Answer: Children are much more sensitive and observant than the adults. They see, hear, and feel whatever is happening around them. They are quick to notice any deviation from the normal. Zitkala-Sa shows that she has the seed of rebellion at a tender age.
Her friend Judwin tells her that the authorities will cut her long, heavy hair and she will have to submit as the authorities were stronger than her. But Zitkala-Sa rebels and declares that she will not submit. And, she does carry out her resolution. She hides herself to foil their attempt.
When she is detected to be hiding under the bed, she is dragged out. She kept resisting by scratching and kicking them wildly. But, she was overpowered and tied to a chair. She doesn’t take things lying down and instead keeps resisting. The spark of rebellion is not put out even by the oppression.
Q. 6. What are the similarities in the lives of Bama and Zitkala-Sa though they belong to different cultures? [Outside Delhi Set-I, 2009]
The two accounts that you have read above are based on two distant cultures. What is the commonality of theme found in both of them?
Ans. ‘Memories of Childhood’ presents two autobiographical episodes. Both are from the lives of women. The first account is by an American Indian woman born in the late nineteenth century.
The second episode is narrated by a contemporary Tamil Dalit writer. But the women belong to two different cultures. Gertrude Simmons Bonnin describes the shameful treatment that red native Indians meet at the hands of the white people. On the other hand, “Bama” narrates how the people of ‘high’ castes don’t consider the people of ‘low’ castes as human beings.
The first common feature of both the writings is that both the episodes describe the sufferings of two women. Both the women are from ‘marginalised communities’. Native Indians don’t get respect, dignity and importance in America. They are marginalised and sidelined.
The white people suffer from racial prejudices. They force the minorities to follow their traits, traditions and whims. The poor Indian girl in ‘The Cutting of My Long Hair’ is dragged out, tied to a chair and her long and heavy hair was shingled. No one helped or even consoled her. She lost her identity.