NCERT Solutions for Class 12 English Flamingo Poem 2 An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum

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An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum NCERT Solutions for Class 12 English Flamingo Poem 2

Before you Read

Q1. Have you ever visited or seen an elementary school in a slum? What does it look like?

Answer:Yes, I have visited an elementary school in a slum. The school was in a pitiful state. Its dingy and neglected classrooms were devoid of even basic amenities like fan and lights. Every single window was broken and bore marks of rust. How the students in the classroom dealt with the outside noise or the winters was anybody’s guess. The ceilings too were full of cobwebs. The furniture was broken and almost unusable. The walls of the classrooms were as shabby, malnourished and disinterested as the students sitting in their enclosures. Even the teachers seemed to have lost their concern both for the students and their education. Moreover, I was shocked to know that the usage of toilets was restricted to the school staff.

An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum NCERT Text Book Questions and Answers

Tick the item which best answers the following:

(a)“The tall girl with her head weighed down ” means The girl

(i) is ill and exhausted
(ii) has her head bent with shame
(iii) has untidy hair
Answer:(i) is ill and exhausted

(b) The paper-seeming boy with rat’s eyes means the boy is __________.

(i) sly and secretive
(ii) thin, hungry and weak
(iii) unpleasant looking

Answer:(b) (ii) thin, hungry and weak

(c) “The stunted, unlucky heir of twisted bones ” means The boy

(i) has an inherited disability
(ii) was short and bony
Answer:(i) has an inherited disability

(d) His eyes live in a dream. A squirrel’s game, in the tree room other than this. This means the boy is __________.
(i) full of hope in the future
(ii) mentally ill
(iii) distracted from the lesson

Answer:(d) (iii) distracted from the lesson

(e) The children’s faces are compared to “rootless weeds ”
This means they
(i) are insecure
(ii) are ill-fed
(iii) are wasters

Answer:(ii) are ill-fed

Q2. What do you think is the colour of ‘sour cream’? Why do you think the poet has used this expression to describe the classroom walls?

Answer:Sour cream indicates the colour cream or dirty white. The poet has used this expression to describe the poor dull and ill-equipped environment of the classroom. The walls were painted long ago by donations and since then no attention has been given to them. We see the neglect these children face. It adds to the dull ambiance.

Q3. The walls of the classroom are decorated with the pictures of Shakespeare, “buildings with domes”, “world maps”, and “beautiful valleys”. How do these contrast with the world of these children?

Answer:The poet saw the lives of slum children as far removed from that which is represented in schoolbooks, maps, photographs of alpine valleys, pictures of buildings with domes and the bust of Shakespeare. The glories of the world filled the textbooks and their classroom walls but failed to liberate these children from the reality of their impoverished existence in the cramped waste of modem industrial towns. The pictures serve as a stark contrast to the lived reality of the children.

Q4. What does the poet want for the children of the slums? How can their lives be made to change?

Answer:He wants the children of the slums to venture into the outside world, beyond the boundaries of their slums, and experience a better present and future life.
The elementary school in the slum does not serve any purpose with its poor infrastructure and disinterested students. The poet feels that the governor, inspector and visitors should take initiative to bring about a real change in their situation. To ensure a better way of living for them, they need to be given proper education and freedom from their present confines. They need opportunity, encouragement and optimism to be able to live life with purpose and zest.

An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum Extra Questions and Answers

Q1. Describe the three deprived children as described by Spender in the poem.

Answer:Among the three deprived children described by Spender in the poem, the first is the tall girl with a “weighed-down head” signifying that she was mentally and physically exhausted. The second is the “paper- seeming boy” with frightened eyes. He was malnourished with twisted bones. The third is an unnoticed “sweet and young” boy whose eyes “live in a dream”.

Q2. Mention the characteristics of the slum children.

Answer:The slum children are described as drained of energy; pale and thin. They are undernourished and unkempt like the “rootless weeds”. They are exhausted—mentally, physically and emotionally.

Q3. The first three stanzas spell a scene of dejection and despair. Justify.

Answer:In the first stanza, the poet spells a scene of dejection and despair by using words such as the “rootless”,“stunted”, “twisted”, “gnarled”, “dim” and “diseased”. The poet speaks of the children’s faces as “rootless weeds”—unwanted, ugly and parasitic. They were unkempt and exhausted, sickly lean and like rodents. They had inherited their diseased bones from their parents. Their pitiable plight is reflected by equally dim and pathetic classrooms. They were doomed to be the “slag heap” of society like useless and unwanted “rubbish”.This antithetical imagery lends a contrast between the slum children and the subjects of their learning.

Q4. Contrast the imagery of the slum with donations on the wall.

Answer:The slum is described as dark and dim where the children live on slag heap. They have a foggy future. The course of life for them is a narrow street with a lead sky that encloses on them. This is in contrast to the donations on the wall. Shakespeare’s head symbolizes an enlightened mind and the cloudless bright skies and the Tyrolese valley are contrasted with the foggy environment of the slum. The donations talk both of beauty and progress, while the slum is regressive.

Q5. What do “sour cream walls” symbolize?

Answer:The “sour cream walls” symbolize the unkempt walls where the paint is yellowing and has lost lustre. Metaphorically, it reflects the despondent look of the students as well as the bitter life of the slum children.

Q6. Who can change the lives of the slum children and how?

Answer:An enlightened person like a governor, inspector, or visitor can transform the lives of the slum children. These educated minds can liberate the imprisoned minds of the children. The poet then visualizes liberated children running on the “gold sands” and delving into the books. Their mind will be empowered and enlightened like the sun.

Q7. Discuss the use of metaphors in the poem.

Answer:The poem uses a lot of comparisons or metaphors. The “gusty waves” symbolize the energy that ought to be found in children. The image of the fog is an implied comparison with the bleak future of children; for this purpose the poet uses the words “painted with a fog” and closed down with a “lead sky”. The children live “from fog to endless night” and for them “time and space are foggy slum”. The exposure to education and liberation of the mind is compared to being shown “green fields” and allowed to run “azure on gold sands”.
Being empowered and enlightened is being like the sun.

Q8. The poem dwells on squalor but ends on an optimistic note. Discuss.

Answer:The poem dwells on squalor but ends on an optimistic note. The imprisoned minds and lives will be released from their bondage when “governor, inspector, visitor” come to their rescue. They will be free from the “tomb” of class prejudice and are visualized as liberated children running on the “gold sands”, exploring the realms of knowledge. They will also be liberated from the shackles of poverty.

An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum Value Based Question

Q. The poem exposes the widespread neglect of children of all nationalities, races, and ethnicities. The poet pleads for equal opportunity for education thereby appealing to the people to be more sensitive to their needs. Justify.

Answer:The poet pleads for social justice so as to provide equal opportunity for education to children of all social strata. He pities the miserable plight of the classroom in the slum that offers little hope for change or progress for its students. The poem provides a clear, dreary depiction of the students in the classroom. The poverty and social injustice imposed upon the children causes them to be “weighed-down,” “paper-seeming,” diseased and “twisted.” Through the poignant imagery, the poet expresses his outrage at the insensitive attitude of the rich and the privileged, towards the unfortunate children of the slum school.

The poem also highlights the importance of education and how it should touch the lives of the downtrodden society. Empowered by education, these children, according to the poet, can achieve a mental prowess that will free them from futures “painted with a fog”. He views education as a means of bringing about social . change and uprooting poverty. He wishes for the divide between the rich and the poor to disappear so that no childhood is lost in the gloomy darkness of the ignorance in the slums.

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