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

 NCERT Solutions for Class 12 English Flamingo Poem 

Poem 2-  An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum


Q1. 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.

(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.

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

(i)has an inherited disability

(ii)was short and bony.

(d)His eyes live in a dream. A squirrel’s game, in the tree room other than this, means The boy is

(i)Full of hope in the future

(ii)mentally ill

(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

Ans:  (a)(i) is ill and exhausted

(b)(ii) thin, hungry and weak

(c)(i) has an inherited disability

(d)(i) full of hope in the future

(e)(i) are insecure.

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?

Ans: The colour of ‘sour cream’ is off white. The poet has used this expression to suggest the decaying aspect. The deterioration in the colour of the classroom walls symbolises the pathetic condition of the lives of the scholars—the children of this slum school.


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

Ans: The pictures that decorate the walls hold a stark contrast with the world of these underfed, poverty-stricken, slum children living in cramped dark holes. Obstacles hamper their physical and mental growth. The pictures on the wall suggest beauty, well-being, progress and prosperity—a world of sunshine and warmth of love. But the world of the slum children is ugly and lack prosperity.

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

Ans: The poet wants the people in authority to realise their responsibility towards the children of the slums. All sort of social injustice and class inequalities be ended by eliminating the obstacles that confine the slum children to their ugly and filthy surroundings. Let them study and learn to express themselves freely. Then they will share the fruit of progress and prosperity and their fives will change for the better.

Extra Short Questions and Answers

Question 1. 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”.

Question 2. 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.

Question 3. 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 contrast between the slum children and the subjects of their learning.

Question 4. 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 a slag heap. They have a foggy future. The course of life for them is a narrow street with a lead sky that encloses 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.

Question 5. 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.

Question 6. Who can change the lives of the slum children and how?

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.

Question 7. 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 the “time and space are foggy slum”. The exposure to education and liberation of the mind is compared to being shown “greenfields” and allowed to run “azure on gold sands”.

Being empowered and enlightened is being like the sun.

Question 8. 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.

Flamingo English- Poem 2 An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum

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