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The Portrait of a Lady Extra Questions and Answers Class 11 English Hornbill
The Portrait of a Lady Extra Questions and Answers Short Answer Type
Give a description of Khushwant Singh’s grandmother according to his earliest memory of her.
Khushwant Singh felt that his grandmother could never have been any different from what he had seen her to be. She must always have been old. She was short, fat and bent. Her face was covered with wrinkles. She walked with a stoop and always dressed in white.
Khushwant Singh said about his grandmother: ‘She could never have been pretty, but she was always beautiful.’ Explain.
Khushwant Singh’s grandmother was not pretty in the conventional sense of having physical beauty, but she had great inner beauty. She had a calm and serene personality.
Why was it hard for the author to believe that his grandmother was once young and pretty?
The author had seen his grandmother always as an old person. His earliest memory was that of an old lady. Therefore, as a child, he found it difficult to believe that she had been any different ever. He could not believe that once she was young and pretty.
Khushwant Singh’s grandmother was not pretty but was always beautiful. Explain the meaning of this statement.
Khushwant Singh’s grandmother was not attractive and good-looking, but she had an extremely gracious personality. Her serenity and calmness gave her an inner beauty.
What was Khushwant Singh’s and his grandmother’s routine in the village?
The grandmother used to wake Khushwant Singh up in the morning, bathe him, dress him, and accompany him to school. While he studied, she sat in the temple and read scriptures. On return, she fed stale ‘chapattis’ to the village dogs. She used to prepare his wooden slate by plastering it lightly with yellow chalk.
Describe the changing relationship between the author and his grandmother.
The relationship changed from total dependency during their village stay to a hint of withdrawal during the city stay as the grandmother could not comprehend the efficacy of a curriculum based on science, sans religious instructions. Later, this changed to an overall affection for the author.
What proofs of the friendship between the grandmother and the grandson do you find in this story?
As a very young child, the author shared a very intimate relationship with his grandmother. She went to school with him and helped him with his lessons. In the city, this friendship weakened, but love for each other remained.
The grandmother was a kind-hearted woman. Give examples in support of your answer.
The grandmother was a kind-hearted person. In the village, she used to feed chapattis to the street dogs. In the city, she started feeding sparrows.
What caused a turning point in the friendship of Khushwant Singh with his grandmother?
A turning point came about with the author’s shift to the city and admission in an English school. Though they shared the same room, the grandmother did not accompany him to school and was disapproving of its academic and recreational curriculum, leading to further distancing.
Draw a comparison between village school education and city school education.
In the village school, the author learnt the alphabet and the morning prayer. He wrote on wooden board slates. The city school gave him modern education in English and science. There was no religious instruction. He was taught music, of which his grandmother disapproved.
Why was the author’s grandmother unhappy with city education?
The city school education made the grandmother’s help at lessons redundant as the instructions were in English. She disapproved of science education, balked at his learning music and was critical of the lack of religious instructions at the school.
What was the happiest moment of the day for the grandmother?
The happiest moment of the day for the grandmother was when she fed bread crumbs to the sparrows. In the afternoons, she used to feed the birds. They became so free with her that they perched on her shoulders and made great noises.
What was the happiest moment of the day for the Grandmother? Why?
When the grandmother fed the sparrows and they hopped around her. She remained secluded from the family, but enjoyed the chirping and hopping of the sparrows.
Which activity did the grandmother find most relaxing when she lived in the city?
In the city, the grandmother started feeding sparrows in the afternoon. She broke bread into small crumbs and scattered around her for the sparrows. They came and ate and sat on her head and shoulders. She loved this.
What did the author think was the last physical contact with his grandmother? Was it really so?
The author received a moist kiss on his forehead from his grandmother when he was going abroad. He thought this was his last physical contact with her because she was so old that she might not be alive when he would come back. But she hugged him when he came back from abroad.
What did Khushwant Singh’s grandmother think of education in the city school?
Khushwant Singh’s grandmother did not approve of the education in the city school. She could not understand English and science. She did not like the absence of religious instructions. When Khushwant Singh started learning music, she was distressed.
What do you think was the cause of the grandmother falling sick?
Overexertion — She had sung and celebrated her grandson’s return.
“When people are pious and good, even nature mourns their death.” Justify with reference to ‘Then Portrait of a Lady’.
When the grandmother passed away, thousands of sparrows clustered in the verandah and the room, without chirruping. When the body was taken away, the birds left quietly, as if to declare that even nature acknowledged the godliness of a true benefactor.
How did the grandmother receive the narrator when he returned from abroad and how did it affect her?
The overjoyed grandmother had organized a musical soiree taking the lead as the drummer and singing of the homecoming of warriors. The strain resulted in mild fever which the grandmother interpreted as a premonition of her end. She began praying instead of talking.
The Portrait of a Lady Extra Questions and Answers Long Answer Type
“Religion was the dominant feature of her life.” Comment on this statement in regard to Khushwant Singh’s grandmother as projected in ‘The Portrait of a Lady’.
The first introduction of the grandmother made by the author depicts her telling the beads of her rosary with her lips muttering an inaudible prayer.
As the custodian of her grandchild in the village, she said her morning prayers while engaged in the task of bathing and dressing her grandson. While her grandson studied, the grandmother studied the scriptures.
She also disapproved of the education at the English school because of the absence of religious instructions.
In her last moments, she detached herself from her immediate family and preferred making peace with God. Besides prayers, she was given to animal care, by feeding stray dogs at the temple door and sparrows in the city home. Thus, her religion stepped beyond ritual to one of showing kindness to the tiniest creatures of God. Indeed, the grandmother was religious in body and spirit.
Draw a character sketch of Khushwant Singh’s grandmother as portrayed by him in the lesson ‘The Portrait of a Lady’.
The grandmother had a strong character. She was a deeply religious woman. Prayer was of paramount importance to her. She spent most of her time in prayer. She was kind to animals too. In the village, she fed street dogs and in city, shifted to feeding sparrows. She remained calm through the various changes in her life. She did not protest, even though she disapproved of Khushwant Singh’s education. She accepted her seclusion quietly when he was given a separate room.
When her grandson left for studies abroad, she did not show her emotions and kept remarkable self-control. In her last moments, she withdrew herself from the family and devoted herself to prayer. Khushwant Singh had a long and loving relationship with his grandmother. She was very affectionate to him. She took excellent care of him while he was a child.
Write a character sketch of the author’s grandmother by using the following words: affectionate, caring, kind and benevolent, religious, a strong woman.
The author had a long and loving relationship with his grandmother. She was very affectionate to him. She took excellent care of him while he lived with her as a child in the village. The grandmother was a deeply religious woman. Prayer was of paramount importance to her. She spent most of her time in prayer. She was kind to animals too. In the village, she fed street dogs and in city, shifted to sparrows.
The grandmother was a woman of great strength of character. She did not show her disapproval of her grandson’s education. She accepted her seclusion quietly. When her grandson left for studies abroad, she did not show her emotion and kept remarkable self-control. In her last moments, she withdrew herself from the family and devoted herself to prayer.
The grandmother herself was not formally educated but was serious about the author’s education. How does the text support this?
The grandmother took her grandson’s education very seriously. When he was in her custody in the village, she prepared his wooden slate, accompanied him to school and helped him with his lessons. In the city when he started learning English, science and music, which she did not approve of. She did not voice her disapproval or insist on village-like education but trusted that his father was doing the best for him. Nor did she protest when he was given an independent room or was sent abroad for further study.
Gradually, the author and the grandmother saw less of each other and their friendship was broken. Was the distance in the relationship deliberate or due to the demands of the situation?
The relationship between the grandmother and the author traced the graph of gradual change from a parental role to that of a grandmother, due to changing circumstances. Moving to the city and the change in the educational curriculum with the author’s admission into an English-medium school led to her first orientation to her changed circumstances. The grandmother realized that her affection could no longer be a wholly possessive one.
As the author graduated to the university level, his lifestyle underwent changes and the grandmother realized that her role as an educator had ceased altogether. She, therefore, adopted the role of a loveable elder overseeing her grandson’s progress and basking in it. When he returned from England, the grandmother, was no longer concerned with his day-to-day achievements, but showed her elation by organizing a musical soiree, even overstraining herself in her excitement, leading to dire circumstances.
Talk with your family members about elderly people who you have been intimately connected with and who are not there with you now. Write a short description of someone you liked a lot.
I was extremely fond of my grandfather. I sometimes felt that he was more fond of my younger brother than of me. This did not stop me from spending as much time with him as I could. Much later, I came to know that he had been a freedom fighter. He had taken part in the freedom . movement along with Gandhiji, Nehruji and others. He never spoke about the hardships of those days, but only of the songs they sang and the help they gave to one another. To my eight-year-old imagination, his accounts opened up pictures of a fascinating life. It was my grandmother who told me of his imprisonment and the ‘lathi blows’ he received. I rubbed his shoulders and arms hoping the chronic pain would ease. He died when I was twelve. Ever since, I have felt that a strong support from my life has gone.
Khushwant Singh’s grandmother wrote a letter to her sister describing her life with her grandson in the village. Write this letter on her behalf.
May the Guru’s blessings be with you and your family.
I am very happy these days as my grandson, Khushwant, has come to live with me. His parents have gone to the city. The boy will remain with me till they settle down. Khushwant is a serious and an adorable child. He listens intently as I recite my prayers while getting him ready for school. I hope he learns them. I have become busy and my lonely life has acquired meaning. I prepare his wooden slate and take him to school. While he studies, I remain in the temple and read the scriptures, talk to the priest. After school as we return, I feed chapattis to the dogs. Khushwant is delighted when the dogs follow us. I pray that you and your family remain well. With namaskar to your husband and love to your children.
As Khushwant Singh’s grandmother, express your views on the education the boy was receiving in the city school. Compare the situation with education in the village.
Khushwant now goes to an English medium school in this city. I am not at all happy with the educa¬tion he gets. In the city, there is no concern for God and spiritual matters. His education does not tell him anything about our scriptures or other religious matters. He is taught English. I cannot help him with his lessons, unfortunately he has to manage by himself. The scientific names and principles are totally new to me.
The most objectionable are the lessons in music. Music is for the lowly; beggars and harlots to earn their livelihood. It is not for decent folk. However, I do not interfere. In the village school, he learned about religion and prayer. I think that was better.
Khushwant Singh’s mother observed closely the behaviour of his grandmother when he returned home after studying abroad, her way of celebrating the occasion, her illness and death. Write an account of this on her behalf.
This morning my son, Khushwant, returned from England after five years of studies. All of us were excited including Beeji, his grandmother. Unlike others, she kept her excitement under check. She insisted on going to the station to receive him. When he arrived, she hugged him silently, all the time saying her prayers.
In the evening, she took out an old drum and called the women of the neighbourhood. Together they sang for hours, celebrating the return of her grandson. I was anxious for Beeji and implored her to stop and not tire herself unduly. This was the only time she was not praying. The next day she was down with fever and exhaustion. We were anxious, because in spite of the doctor’s reassurance, Beeji was sure her end had come.
She stopped talking to us and lay quietly on the bed telling the beads of her rosary. Her end came peacefully. We came to know only when her fingers stopped moving.
‘The Portrait of a Lady’ partly dwells on the loneliness and insecurity of the old age and effort of the old to fit in. Driven by such thoughts while reading the lesson, you think about the life of many old men and women in India, who lead a lonesome existence in the end of their life. Write an article in 120-150 words on “Life of Old People”.
Life of Old People
No one wants to become old, but everyone has to. While young, no one thinks of what life would be like in the old age. The old, on their part, await attention from the young for their small and big needs. Life is difficult for the old in all ways. Their physical strength is low and they easily fall victim to diseases.
Their financial condition is poor. They have a small pension or limited income or no income. Most devastating of all is loneliness. Their sons and daughters are busy with their lives and the preoccupations of the young. The old feel neglected and irrelevant. This dismal situation should not be allowed to exist. Various agencies, like the government NGOs and social organizations should provide the elderly with financial and physical support. Families should have place for the old. Nowadays the law demands that the young take care of their aged parents
“My grandmother and I were good friends”, Khushwant Singh says.
Love between generations is becoming a thing of the past.
In modern times the old people are not loved, but neglected. It is the duty of the young to look after their old parents and grandparents.
Write an article in about 100 words on the urgent need to give love and protection to the old people.
Our Old Folk
(Choose and develop any three points for your article)
- Sad plight of old people. Nobody cares for them. They lack even the basic needs of life.
- The old become targets of criminals.
- The reason is breakdown of the joint family system.
- economic pressures on the young.
- highly egocentric younger generation.
- Solution to the problem may be – old age insurance, financial security for the old.
- a recognition of what the old have done for the young is essential.
- The old should get the same kind of love and security as Khushwant Singh’s grandmother got from her family.
Khushwant Singh’s grandmother was kind to animals. Sparrows were her best friends. Today sparrows have all but disappeared from our cities. Singh says, “There were no dogs in the streets and she took to feeding sparrows in the courtyard of our city house.”
Milan Kundera, the Czech novelist, says, “Mankind’s true moral test… consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals.” Write an essay in about 100 words on the prevention of cruelty to animals.
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
We see cruelty to animals all around us.
- Exploitation of animals that work for men.
- Cruelty to and neglect of useful animals like cows, horses, elephants.
- No health care for animals.
- Wild animals decimated for their body parts.
Solutions – Active participation of common people in extending kindness to animals is needed.
Organisations like S.P.C.A to extend their sphere – plans like ‘Save the Tiger’ and ‘Save the Sparrows’ should get popular support.