Q1: How does a tree become strong?
Ans: A tree becomes strong by consuming nutrients from the earth's crust and absorbing sunlight, air, and water over many years.
Q2: "So hack and chop/ But this alone won’t do it." What won’t this do? Why won’t it do it?
Ans: Hacking and chopping won't kill a tree completely. The tree can endure this and heal over time. The bark will recover, and new branches will emerge, allowing the tree to regrow.
Q3: What is the meaning of “bleeding bark”? What makes it bleed?
Ans: "Bleeding bark" refers to the sap that flows from the wounds on a tree caused by hacking or chopping. The tree "bleeds" as a result of these wounds.
Q4: What are miniature boughs? What happens if they are left unchecked?
Ans: Miniature boughs are new branches that sprout from a tree's hacked or chopped area. If left unchecked, these branches can grow into a new tree, allowing the original tree to regrow to its former size.
Q5: How does the tree heal itself?
Ans: The tree heals itself by sprouting leaves from the wounded bark and growing curled green twigs near the ground. These miniature boughs expand and allow the tree to regrow to its original size.
Q6: How does the poet describe the growth of the tree in the first stanza of the poem?
Ans: The poet describes the tree's slow growth, its consumption of nutrients from the earth, absorption of sunlight, water, and air over many years. The bark appears rough and ugly, but it gives birth to soft and green leaves.
Q7: Why does it take so much time to kill a tree?
Ans: Killing a tree requires uprooting its roots, exposing them to sunlight and air, which is a lengthy and effort-intensive process. The deep roots and regrowth mechanisms make it challenging to completely kill a tree.
Q8: How does the tree grow to its full size? List the words suggestive of its life and activity.
Ans: The tree grows to its full size by consuming, rising, feeding, and absorbing nutrients, sunlight, air, and water from the earth. These words suggest the tree's life and activity.
Q9: The poet uses several images of death and violence in the poem. Can you list them?
Ans: The images of death include "hack," "chop," "scorching," "choking," "browning," "hardening," "twisting," and "withering." The violent actions include "roped," "tied," "pulled out," and "snapped out."
Q10: Why does the poet use the word ‘kill’ rather than ‘cut’?
Ans: The poet uses "kill" instead of "cut" to emphasize the idea that merely cutting a tree won't destroy it. The process described involves complete annihilation, including uprooting and killing the tree.
Q11: How does the poet personify the tree?
Ans: The poet personifies the tree by attributing human-like qualities to it. The tree is described as growing slowly, consuming, eating, drinking, and feeling pain and pleasure similar to humans.
Q12: The bark of the tree is described as ‘leprous hide’. Bring out the irony in the fact that the leprous hide sprouts leaves?
Ans: The irony lies in the fact that, unlike actual leprosy, which eats away at the body and hinders growth, the "leprous hide" or wounded bark of the tree becomes a source of new growth as leaves sprout from it.
Q13: Explain the meaning of “anchoring earth” and “earth cave”?
Ans: "Anchoring earth" refers to the soil that firmly holds a tree's roots, providing stability and nourishment. "Earth cave" refers to the hollow space left in the ground after the roots are pulled out.
Q14: How can the tree be killed?
Ans: The tree can be killed by uprooting its roots, exposing them to sunlight and air, and causing them to wither, brown, harden, and twist. This process leads to the tree's death.
Q15: How will the “bleeding bark” heal?
Ans: The bleeding bark will heal as new leaves sprout from it, and curled green twigs and miniature boughs grow. These branches will expand, leading to the tree's regeneration.
Q16: How does the poet describe the killing of a tree?
Ans: The poet describes the killing of a tree as a process that requires pulling out the roots, roping, tying, and snapping the tree out of the earth. This exposes the white root to sunlight and air, causing its death.
Q17: Where does the strength of the tree lie? Why is it referred to as ‘the source’? Why is the source most sensitive one?
Ans: The strength of the tree lies in its roots, which are referred to as 'the source' because they provide life to the tree. The roots are the most sensitive part as they are hidden in the earth and wither when exposed.
Q18: How do the roots look like when they are pulled out?
Ans: When pulled out, the roots of the tree appear white and wet.
Q19: Why does the poet describe the killing of a tree in such graphic detail?
Ans: The poet describes the killing of a tree in graphic detail to emphasize the seriousness of destroying a living entity. The vivid description evokes empathy and highlights the destructive nature of the process.
Q20: Bring out the sarcasm in the poem "On Killing a Tree."
Ans: The sarcasm in the poem lies in presenting the process of killing a tree as if it were a crime committed by the tree itself, portraying the tree as an enemy. The poet uses a satirical tone to highlight the destructive nature of man's actions.
Q21: Justify the title of the poem ‘On Killing a Tree’.
Ans: The title "On Killing a Tree" is justified as the entire poem revolves around the process and consequences of killing a tree. The poem presents a detailed account of how to kill a tree and reflects on the destructive human actions towards nature.
Q22: What is the theme of the poem On Killing a Tree?
Ans: The main theme of the poem is deforestation. The poet emphasizes that killing trees is not a simple task. Merely cutting the branches or the stem of a tree will not serve the purpose. The tree clings on to life with great tenacity, as it fights all odds and grows back again. He highlights the cruelty with which humans try and destroy trees by describing in detail the painstaking process required to destroy or kill a tree, using images of violence, as if it were a cold-blooded murder.
Q23: How can a tree be killed?
Ans: In the poem ‘On Killing a Tree,’ Gieve Patel says that it is not an easy task to kill a tree. It can’t be done by a simple jab of a knife. A tree grows slowly by consuming the earth’s nutrients. It absorbs sunlight, air, and water for years. So, it cannot be killed by hacking and chopping. It causes pain, but the tree does not die. Its bleeding bark heals itself. From close to the ground, its trunk produces twigs and small branches.
If they are left unchecked, they will expand to the former size. If a tree is to be killed, the roots of the tree must be pulled out from the earth-cave. After uprooting, it is scorched and choked in the sun and air. Then, it goes through a process of browning, hardening, twisting, and withering. Ultimately, the tree is killed.
Q24: Justify the title of the poem ‘On Killing a Tree’.
Ans: The title, ‘On Killing a Tree,’ is ironic and is apt and justified. The tree has been personified by the poet Gieve Patel. He laments the deforestation that is taking place. The poet says that the act of killing a tree is a ceremonial task. The tree grows up consuming nutrients from the soil and absorbing sun, air, and water and becomes stronger.
A simple jab with a knife, or hacking and chopping cannot kill a tree because the tree will regenerate. To kill a tree, the roots have to be pulled out of the anchoring earth, exposed to sunlight and air for scorching and choking. The act of killing a tree becomes complete when the tree becomes completely withered and dies.
Q25: How can a tree be killed in ‘On Killing a Tree’. Or, How does the poet describe the methods of killing a tree in the poem ‘On Killing a Tree’?
Ans: In the poem ‘On Killing a Tree,’ the poet Gieve Patel describes how a tree is tortured by man for its complete annihilation. Killing a tree is a difficult task because a tree grows slowly by consuming the earth and absorbing sunlight and air. It cannot be killed by a simple jab of a knife, or even by hacking and chopping. The bleeding bark of the tree will heal itself, sending out shoots and branches that will help it regrow to its former size.
The tree’s roots are firmly fixed in the anchoring earth and, in order to kill a tree, it must be uprooted. It is to be roped, tied and pulled out from the earth-cave. After uprooting, the root is to be exposed to sunlight and air for scorching and choking. Then, it goes through a process of browning, hardening, twisting, and withering. Then only is the tree killed completely.
Q26: Give a brief summary of the poem.
Ans: The poet speaks about the killing of a tree. He says that a lot of work has to be done in order to kill a tree, and it cannot be killed by merely attacking it with an axe. The tree has fed upon the earth and grown from its crust by absorbing water from the soil for many years. It has also taken years of sunlight and oxygen to grow. Hacking and chopping are not enough for killing it as the bark heals itself. The part of the trunk which is close to the ground may give rise to new twigs, and the discoloured bark of the tree gives rise to new leaves.
Soon the tree grows to its former size. The poet says that to kill a tree one must attack its roots by pulling it out of the earth where it has been hiding safely all these years. When the root is pulled out of the earth, it is white and wet as it is very sensitive. The root, which is the strength of the tree, is then left exposed to the air and the sun where it starts drying and discolouring. It goes through stages of browning, hardening, twisting, and withering before it finally dies.