Word Meaning, Summary, Important Questions Of Chapter 2 An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum | Class 12

Chapter 4 A Thing of Beauty

Hindi Meaning Of Difficult Words | Chapter 2 An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum

S.No.WordMeaningsMeanings (in hindi)Synonyms
1Gusty waves breezy windsगज़ब की लहरेंstormy wind
2Pallorpale, dull faceफीकापनinsipidity
3Stuntednot fully grown due to malnutritionअविकसितundeveloped, immature
4Gnarled Knotted, roughगंठीलाnoded, snarly
5weedsunwanted plants that grow on their ownघासपातcannabis, herb
6heirSuccessorवारिसdevisee, scion, heritor
7Doomdisasterनाशdestruction, ravage, end
8Donationsthings given or received in charityदानdonation, gift, keepsake
9Dawnearly morning, sunriseभोरsunrise, first light, daylight
10civilized dome here, it means rising sun at the horizon which is in the shape of a dome सभ्य गुंबदadvanced dome
11Tyrolese valleyA beautiful ice-free valley in Austriaटायरोली घाटी………….
12Sealedshut or lockedभली भांति बंद किया हुआhermetic, pressurized
13lead here, dark future of kidsबच्चों का भविष्य अंधकारमय………..
14Blot to mark with a spotदागscar, macula
15Wickedevilशैतानwicked, mischievous, naughty
16Tempted persuadeफुसलानाentice, flatter, inveigle
17Slylytrickilyमक्‍कारी सेartfully, deceitfully, guileful
18Crampedconfinedसीमित करनाbound, limit
19Slag weakस्‍लैगfeeble, delecate
20Mended repairedमरम्मतremake

About The Poet | Stephen Spender | Chapter 2 An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum

Stephen Spender (1909-1995) was an English poet, novelist and essayist who concentrated on themes of social injustice and political discriminations, especially the class struggle in his work. His poems were often inspired by social protest.

Short Summary Of Chapter 2 An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum In English

The poem describes an elementary school in a slum. The children studying look pathetic. The children studying in the class are far away from the world which is filled with happiness, has bounties of nature and is filled with brighter aspects of life. The bodies of these children are withered and worn out like uprooted weeds. Their hair is unkempt and their faces are pale which clearly indicate their deprived and under-nourished condition. These children are stressed by the burden of their circumstances. They are exhausted both physically as well as emotionally. There is a tall girl in the class with her head weighed down. There is a skinny boy. His rat-like eyes give a frightening look. The only inheritance they have from their parents is disease and bad luck. One of them cannot even get up from his desk and recite a lesson. However, there is one little boy, sitting at the back of the class, who is younger than others. His eyes are filled with hope and a wish to play in the open. Apparently, gloom has still not enveloped him.

The off white and foul smelling walls of the classroom depict the donations given to the school. Besides, there are pictures of Shakespeare, of a cloudless daybreak of civilized  cities having buildings with domes, of Tyrolese valley and of a big world map on the wall. However, none of these are of any help to these children living in slums. Their world comprises of only what they are able to see from the windows of their classroom. The view is full of despair where their future seems blurred. They are confined to the narrow streets of the slum that is far away from the open sky and rivers.

The poet calls Shakespeare wicked. This is because he misleads the children. The works of Shakespeare talks about beautiful world of ships, love and sun but all this is unreal for these children. He feels that it has a corrupting influence on these children and instigate them to steal and evade from their cramped hole. Their existence is indeed, very sad. These emaciated children are so thin that it gives an appearance of wearing skin. They have broken and mended glass inbreak free  their spectacles. Their complete personality depicts deprivation. The poet shows his anger by saying that the map must have picture of huge slums rather than a world with scenic beauty something the slum children cannot relate with.

He makes an appeal to the governor, inspector and visitor. He says that unless the world map becomes a window for these children to explore the outside world and the windows that shut them up from the rest of the world are broken, their future will remain the same as their present. The poet appeals to help these children  their world which is confined in the slums. He wants that children should see the green fields and to give them freedom to make their own world with proper education and guidance. He believes when sun and hope is the language then only history is created. Similarly, to make their own bright future children need proper education and freedom from their own boundaries.

Important Previous Year Questions From Chapter 2 An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum

SA I (2 marks)

  1. To whom does the poet in the poem, “An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum” make an appeal? What is his appeal? (Delhi 2014 C)
  1. Which words/phrases in the poem. ‘An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum” show that the slum children are suffering from acute malnutrition? (AI 2014 C)
  2. What message does Stephen Spender convey through the poem: An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum’? (Delhi 2013)
  3. In spite of despair and disease pervading the lives of the slum children, they are not devoid of hope. How far do you agree? (Delhi 2013)
  4. The poet says, ‘And yet, for these children, these windows, not this map, their world. Which world do these children belong to? Which world is inaccessible to them? (Delhi 2013)

SA II (3 marks)

  1. What does Stephen Spender want to be done for the children of the school in a slum? (Delhi 2016)
  2. How is ‘Shakespeare wicked and the map a bad example for the children of the school in a slum? (AI 2016)
  3. Stephen Spender in his poem, ‘An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum’ paints a dismal picture of poverty. Comment. (Foreign 2016)
  4. How does the map on the wall tempt the slum children? (Delhi 2015 C)

SA III (4 marks)

Read the given extract and answer the questions that follow:

10…. On their slag heap, these children

Wear skins peeped through by bones and spectacles of steel

With mended glass, like bottle bits on stones. All of their time and space are foggy slum.

So blot their maps with slums as big as doom.

(a) Name the poem and the poet.

(b) Which image is used to describe the poverty of these children?

(c) What sort of life do these children lead?

(d) Identify and name the figure of speech used in line 3. (A1 2019)

  1. .. The stunted, unlucky heir

If twisted bones, reciting a father’s gnarled disease,

His lesson, from his desk. At back of the dim class

One unnoted, sweet and young. His eyes live

in a dream,

Of squirrel’s game, in tree room, other than

this.

(a) Who is the unlucky heir?

(b) What has he inherited? (c) Who is sitting at the back of the dim class?

(d) How is the different from rest of the class? (Delhi 2019)

  1. ………. On their slag heap, these children

Wear skins peeped through by bones and spectacles of steel

With mended glass, like bottle bits on stones.

(a) Name the poem and the poet.

(b) Explain: ‘slag heap.

(c) What future awaits these children?

(d) Name the figure of speech used in the third line. (2018)

  1. Far far from gusty waves these children’s faces. Like rootless weeds, the hair torn round their pallor; The tall girl with her weighed-down head.

(a) Who are these children?

(b) Which figure of speech has been used in the first two lines?

(c) Why is the tall girl’s head weighed down?

(d) What does the word, ‘pallor’ mean? (Delhi 2017)

  1. Far far from gusty waves these children’s faces. Like rootless weeds, the hair torn round their pallor; The tall girl with her weighed-down head.

(a) Who are these children?

(b) What does the poet mean by gusty waves?

(c) What has possibly weighed-down the tall girl’s head?

(d) Identify the figure of speech used in these lines. (Delhi 2015)

  1. On their slag heap, these children

Wear skins peeped through by bones and spectacles of steel

With mended glass, like bottle bits on stones.

(a) Who are these children?

(b) What is their slag heap?

(c) Why are their bones peeping through their skins?

(d) What does with mended glass’ mean? (AI 2015)

  1. At back of the dim class

One unnoted, sweet and young. His eyes live in a dream,

Of squirrel’s game, in tree room, other than this,

(a) Why is the class dim?

(b) Why is the child called ‘sweet and young’?

(c) What does the child want to enjoy?

(d) What is the significance of the phrase, other than this? (Foreign 2015)

  1. On sour cream walls, donations. Shakespeare’s head, Cloudless at dawn, Civilized dome riding all cities Belled, flowery, Tyrolese valley. Open handed map Awarding the world its world.

(a) Name the poem.

(b) What are the donations on the wall?

(c) What does the map award the world?

(d) Why does the poet mention ‘Tyrolese Valley? (AI 2015 C)

  1. With ships and sun and love tempting them to steal…

For lives that slyly turn in their cramped holes

From fog to endless night ?

(a) Who are them’ referred to in the first line?

(b) What tempts them?

(c) What does the poet say about their’ lives?

  1. And yet, for these

Children, these windows, not this map, their world.

Where all their future’s painted with a fog. A narrow street sealed in with a lead sky

Far far from rivers, capes, and stars of words.

(a) Who are the ‘children referred to here?

(b) Which is their world?

(c) How is their life different from that of other children? (AI 2014)

  1. And, yet for these

Children, these windows, not this map, their world,

Where all their future’s painted with a fog,

(a) Which map is the poet talking about in the above lines?

(b) To what do the words, “these windows, their world”, refer?

(c) What sort of future do the slum children have? (Delhi 2014 C)

  1. The stunted, unlucky heir

Of twisted bones, reciting a father’s gnarled disease,

His lesson, from his desk. At the back of the dim class

One unnoted, sweet and young.

(a) Who is the unlucky heir?

(b) What will he inherit?

(c) Who is sitting at the back of the dim class? (AI 2013)

  1. The stunted, unlucky heir

Of twisted bones, reciting a father’s gnarled disease,

His lesson, from his desk. At back of the dim class

One unnoted, sweet and young. His eyes live

in a dream,

Of squirrel’s game, in tree room, other than this.

(a) Who is the ‘ unlucky heir’ and what has he inherited?

(b) What is the stunted boy reciting?

(c) Who is sitting at the back of the dim class? (Delhi 2012)

  1. Surely, Shakespeare is wicked, the map a bad example,

With ships and sun and love tempting them to steal–

For lives that slyly turn in their cramped holes

From fog to endless night ? On their slag heap,

these children

Wear skins peeped through by bones and spectacles of steel

With mended glass, like bottle bits on stones,

(a) Why is Shakespeare described wicked?

(b) Explain: ‘from fog to endless night.

(c) What does the reference to ‘slag heap mean? (Delhi 2011)

  1. Break O break open till they break the town And show the children to green fields, and make their world

Run azure on gold sands, and let their tongues Run naked into books the white and green leaves open

History theirs whose language is the sun.

(a) To whom does ‘they’ refer?

(b) What would they break?

(c) What other freedom should they enjoy? (AI 2011)

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Answer Of Chapter 2 An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum​ For The Above Questions

  1. The poet, in the poem “An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum”, makes an appeal to the governor, inspector and visitors.
  2. The appeal that he is making is for them to come to the rescue of the slum children from the world of misery and hopelessness shown in the outside world.
  3. In the poem, An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum, there are several words/ phrases, such as “the paper-seeming boy with rats eyes”, “Skins peeped through by bones”, etc., which show that the slum children are suffering from acute malnutrition.
  4. In An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum, Stephen Spender has concentrated on the themes of social injustice and class inequalities. He wants all the barriers that keep true education away from these unfortunate children to be pulled down, so that they can also find their place in the sun.
  5. In spite of despair and disease pervading the lives of the slum children, they are not devoid of hope. The little boy at the back of the classroom in “An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum” seems to be full of hope in the future. Despite leading a miserable life, he finds pleasure in a squirrel’s game, in the tree room, etc. Similarly, we come across two slum children in Anees Jung’s “Lost Spring”, Mukesh and Saheb. While the former aspires to become a motor mechanic, the latter wants education.
  6. The stinking, dingy slums is the world that belongs to these poverty stricken, miserable, under-fed children. The narrow lanes and dark, cramped holes, which provide nothing except hopelessness are also a part of their world. To the slum children, the world of the rich is inaccessible. Such a world is full of luxury, comfort and joy, which is beyond their reach.
  7. Stephen Spender wants the slum children to get education related to their life. He wants nature to be used as a teacher and that the rich and powerful people get involved in solving the problems of the slum children.
  8. Here, in this line, the poet means to say that just as Shakespeare and his work are of no use to the children in slum school, maps too do not depict the world the slum children can relate to is., “narrow streets…. far far from rivers, capes…. Both Shakespeare and maps represent a beautiful world and high values, which the slum children have never experienced, which could tempt them to steal.
  9. Stephen Spender indeed paints a dismal picture of poverty in his poem An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum. He describes the children in the slum school as pale and lacking energy. They are malnourished and heir to gnarled diseases. Stephen Spender likens them to the unwanted weeds. The classroom too is dingy, with yellowing walls depicting images, which are of no significance to these children because they cannot relate to the fascinating sights. However, they can relate to their grim surroundings, cramped living, slag heap and a future that is foggy.
  10. The map shows beautiful rivers, mountains and Tyrolese valley. The world depicted in the maps is unknown and unrelatable to the slum children. They live in cramped places. The sky above their head is darkened and foggy due to the factory smoke. They are surrounded by slag heap. The maps just tempt them without giving them an opportunity to live in the real world.
  11. (a) The poem is ‘An elementary School Classroom in a Slum’ by Stephen Spender.
  12. (b) The image of poverty is shown by the physical description of the children and their broken spectacles.
  13. (c) The children lead a life of poverty where they are impoverished and cannot even afford basic necessities.
  14. (d) Alliteration – bottle bits
  15. Simile-like bottle bits on stones
  16. (a) The unlucky heir is the boy with twisted bones and stunted growth.
  17. (b) The boy has inherited his father’s gnarled disease and twisted bones.
  18. (c) An unnoted, sweet and young boy is sitting at the back of the dim class.
  19. (d) The young boy is different from rest of the class because he is a dreamer. In spite of his current circumstances, he takes pleasure in imagining the games squirrels would play.
  20. (a) The name of the poem is “An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum” by Stephen Spender.
  21. (b) Slag heap is the slum in which the children are living.
  22. (c) The future that awaits these children is dark, bleak, hopeless and uncertain.
  23. (d) Alliteration – bottle bits
  24. Simile Like bottle bits on stones
  25. (a) They are slum children studying in an elementary school classroom in the slum.
  26. (b) (i) Repetition – Far far
  27. (ii) Metaphor – Gusty waves
  28. (iii) Simile – Like rootless weeds
  29. (c) The tall girl’s head is weighed down perhaps by the burden of her everyday worries and anxieties. Depression, due to extreme poverty and physical and mental exhaustion, may also be the reason of her head being bowed down.
  30. (d) The word ‘pallor’ means pale coloring of the face, especially because of illness.
  31. (a) The children referred to in the poem are slum children who attend an elementary school in that slum.
  32. (b) By ‘gusty waves’ the poet means all that the slum children have been deprived of, such as better living conditions, happiness, progress, etc.
  33. (c) The tall girl’s head is possibly weighed-down because of the troubles and tribulations of living in abject poverty and thinking of a future within the hopeless confines of a slum.
  34. (d) (i) Simile – “Like rootless weeds” (ii) Repetition – “far, far”
  35. (iii) Metaphor – “gusty waves” (iv) Alliteration – “far, far from”
  36. (a) These children are the poor and impoverished children of the slum.
  37. (b) Their slag heap is the slum in which they are living.
  38. (c) Their bones are seeping through their skins because the slum children are malnourished and physically weak.
  39. (d) ‘With mended glass’ means the slum children are too poor to afford spectacles. They use steel frames, lenses of which are broken.
  40. (a) The class is dim because it is poorly lit and the walls have yellowed. It is a slum school, which reflects the deprivation of the surroundings and also the bleak grey world of poverty.
  41. (b) The child is called sweet and young because the map of the world displayed on the classroom wall. unaffected by the surroundings, he looks happy and innocent.
  42. (C) The child wants to enjoy the freedom of the squirrel, enjoy dreaming of a better world outside the dimly lit classroom.
  43. (d) Other than this signifies that the child does not want to remain in the class and wants to escape.
  44. (a) The name of the poem is An Elementary Schools Classroom in a sum.
  45. (b) The donations on the wall included portrait of Shakespeare, a flowery Tyrolese valley, etc.
  46. (c) The map awards the world, its world.
  47. (d) The poet mentions Tyrolese Valley because it is beautiful picture of Tarot an Austrian Alpine province.
  48. (a) The word them’ refers to the poor and deprived children studying in the slum school.
  49. (b) The children of the slum school are easily tempted by the ships sun and love, in other words, the beautiful world outside the slum.
  50. (c) According to the poet, the children live in miserable conditions. They live in cramped holes in desolation. Their existence is foggy and there is no hope for their future.
  51. (a) The children referred to here are those who study in an elementary school in a slum.
  52. (b) Their world is the slum they live in. It is far-far away from rivers, capes and stars. Theirs is a world of poverty and deprivation with narrow streets scaled in with a lead sky
  53. (c) Unlike other children, children in the slums spend their whole life continued in their cramped boles like rodents. They lack the basic necessities of life like proper food, clothing, shelter and health benefits. Their future is bleak without any hope or progress.
  54. (a) In the above lines, the poet is talking about the map of the world displayed on the classroom wall.
  55. (b) “These windows, their world” refers to the world of slum, the pathetic living condition of the slum children visible from the windows of their classroom.
  56. (c) The future that the slum children have is dark, bleak, hopeless and uncertain.
  57. (a) The unlucky heir’ is the boy with twisted bones and stunted growth.
  58. (b) The boy will inherit the gnarled disease and twisted bones from his father.
  59. (c) An unnoted, sweet and young boy is sitting the back of the dim class.
  60. Refer to answer 24.
  61. (a) The poet describes Shakespeare as wicked because not only classic literature of Shakespeare is beyond the understanding of slum children. they also cannot relate their life of hardships with the beautiful world depicted in his works, such a world is denied to the slum children.
  62. (b) By from fog to endless night, the poet draws some light upon the miserable, bleak, cheerless and hopeless life of the slum children and their gloomy future.
  63. (c) Slag heap’ refers to the miserable and unhygienic living conditions of the slum children due to their extreme poverty.
  64. (a) The word ‘they’ refers to inspectors, visitors and governor.
  65. (b) They would break the mental and physical barriers, break the boundaries of discrimination which would enable the slum children to acquire proper education.
  66. (c) The children should enjoy free and happy life away from slum. They deserve the freedom to explore the world of which a clear blue sky, golden sand, green fields, etc. are a part.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more chapters word meanings click on the links given below.

Prose

Poem

Vistas

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