Memories of Childhood Class 12, by Zitkala-Sa, Chapter 8, Vistas, English Core
Summary of Memories of Childhood
Cutting of my Long Hair
Memories of Childhood is a journey of the discrimination borne by two girls namely Zitkala-Sa and Bama and how they overcame it with flying colours. This chapter is divided into two parts; Cutting of my Long Hair and We too are Human Beings.
In the first part, the narrator elaborates how she had to bear the consequences of racial discrimination in her new school. She recounts her day of Carlisle Indian School where she had been admitted with a lot of expectations and aspirations by her parents. She herself was very excited for She thought that she would get to come across new friends and teachers in the school. Moreover, she was excited to visit the land of snow and apples.
But her excitement could not last longer when she noticed the heart-wrenching rules and regulations of the school. From eating by formula to getting hair shingled and wearing clinging dresses and stiff shoes, she despised everything she saw there. Her hair was forcibly cut off despite not wishing by her warden and other girls of her school. That incident made her feel as a puppet of somebody’s hands and left indelible imprints on her soul forever.
We too are Human Beings
In the second part of the chapter, a Tamil girl namely Bama recounts her childhood days wherein they were treated as untouchable and forced not to touch the things or objects of so-called upper class people. She elaborates her childhood days when she noticed each and every minute thing happening in and around the market and watched them carefully.
She further narrates an incidents when she had seen an elderly man carrying a packet (Full of stains) with a string. After seeing an elderly man carrying a packet like that, she could not hold back her laughter. The elderly man who was respected in the society, went to a upper-class landlord and handed him in the packet which probably contained Vadais. Having given him the packet, the man folded his hands and returned back.
When she goes home and narrates the whole scene to her elder brother, he does not seem amused. He makes her aware of the reality that the elderly man was being treated as untouchable and not allowed to touch his objects by the landlord. Had he touched it, the landlord would have considered it as waste and thrown it to his animals grazing there.
Having heard all this, Bama heart fills with anger which forces her to go to the landlord and touch his things but abated. Her brother advises him to focus on her studies and progress in life to get rid of these social evils and indignities. Since that day, she does not look back, tops all her classes and get rid of all that crap.
Even after succeeding, she remembers the incident happened to her when she was in class III.
Short Answer Type Questions of Memories of Childhood
Q1. Why was the narrator so much excited in going to new school in Memories of Childhood?
The narrator was so much excited in going to new school because of a couple of reasons. She thought that she would get to make new friends in the school. Moreover, she was excited to visit the land of snow and apples.
Q2. What changed the narrator’s excitement into irritation?
When the narrator got to know that the girls had to wear clinging dresses & stiff shoes along with keeping shingled hair, her excitement of going to new school could not last for long.
Q3. Why was the pale face woman staring at the narrator in the dining hall? Do you think it was her fault?
The pale face woman was staring at the narrator because she had made a mistake of sitting at the first bell. No, it was not her fault because that was her first day in that school.
Q4. Who was Judewin? What did she hear the pale face woman speaking?
Judewin was a newly made friend of the narrator. She heard the pale face woman planning to get their long hair cut. Since then, the narrator decided that she would not get her hair cut and resist against them.
Q5. Why did the narrator not want to get her hair cut in memories of childhood?
The narrator did not want to get her hair cut because her mother had once told her that short hair is kept by mourners whereas shingled hair is kept by the cowards. That’s why the narrator did not want to get her hair cut.
Q6. How did the narrator resist against getting her hair cut?
The narrator hid herself under the bed in one of the big rooms. But she was seen, dragged downwards and tied in a chair. She resisted by scratching, kicking but failed in getting her long braid gnawed off.
Q7. “I was one of the animals driven by a herder.” Why did the narrator deliver this statement?
The narrator delivered this statement when her one of the long braids was gnawed off. She thought that she had become as same as other girls of school. Moreover, they all were being run and managed by single pale face woman.
Q8. Why did Bama cover the distance of ten minutes in half an hour?
Bama took more time to reach her home than usual because she looked at each and every activity going in the market. She would stop everywhere to observe the activities such as; monkey tricks, cyclist cycling, political parties’ advertisement and much more.
Q9. What did Bama notice while coming back from school? What made her shriek with laughter?
Bama noticed while coming back from school that an elderly man of their community was carrying a packet of banana bhaji with its string. The way of carrying a packet like that made her shriek with laughter.
Q10. What changed Bama’s laughter into anger?
When Bama reached home, she told her brother the incident in comic way. Listening to her, Annan told her that was not a matter of laughter but shame for the people of their community. He told her that the man was actually not being allowed to touch the packet. Moreover if he had touched that packet, it would have been polluted. Having understood all that, her laughter changed into anger.
Q11. How did Annan narrate the incident of untouchability with him?
Annan told Bama that once while coming back from city’s library, he was stopped on the way by one of landlord’s man. At first he asked about his name followed by his address. According to Annan, they people were only interested in knowing about his caste in order to treat him accordingly.
Q12. What did Annan advise Bama to do? How did his words affect Bama?
Annan advised Bama to work hard in studies and succeed because according to him, that was the only way to throw away the indignities from their lives. Those words created a deep impression on Bama and she stood first in all the classes and made many new friends as per her will & desire.
Long Answer Type Question of Memories of Childhood
Q1. Racial and Caste discrimination still exist in our country. Do you agree with this statement? Give reasons with reference to Memories of childhood.
There is no doubt that racial and caste discrimination still exists in our country. Some people discriminate with others on the basis of their caste of some on the basis of their race. The concept of untouchability is still followed in our country where people look down upon those people who belong to scheduled or lower caste. As we see in this chapter how Bama and Zitkala become the victims of Caste and Racial discrimination. Bama who belongs to a lower caste and whose community is not allowed to touch the things of upper class people. Zitkala-sa whose hair is cut in spite of her approval because she belongs to a different race. Both of them have to bear injustice due to their race and caste. Seeing their experiences and brutality on them, we can say that both discriminations are still followed in our country.
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