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Aunt Jennifer's Tigers | CBE Questions | NCERT Solution | Board Exam 2024

Updated: Jul 30, 2023

Lesson Architecture

  • Biography of the Poet

  • Theme

  • Stanza-wise Explanation

  • Recapitulation

  • NCERT Solution

  • Extra Questions



Biography of the Poet: Adrienne Rich ( 1929-2012)

  • Adrienne Rich (1929-2012) was born in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

  • She was a famous poet, teacher, essayist and feminist.

  • Throughout the 1960s she wrote several collections, including Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law (Harper & Row, 1963) and Leaflets (W. W. Norton, 1969).

  • The content of her work became increasingly confrontational—exploring such themes as women’s role in society, racism, and the Vietnam War.

  • Rich wrote Diving into the Wreck (W. W. Norton), a collection of exploratory and often angry poems, which garnered her the National Book Award in 1974.

  • In 1997 Rich was awarded the Academy of American Poet's Wallace Stevens Award for outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry.




Theme:

  • The poem addresses the constraints of married life a woman experiences.

  • Aunt Jennifer represents women all over the world, particularly the women in America during the 1950s.

  • Aunt Jennifer represents women who were victims of male oppression in a patriarchal society.

  • The poem describes a woman’s struggle and silent rebellion against male domination.

  • The first stanza introduces us to Aunt Jennifer’s dreams. The second stanza takes us to Aunt Jennifer’s realistic world. The Third Stanza is a narrative of the future.

  • The poem highlights Aunt Jennifer’s alternate world of freedom in her art.




(Lines 1-4)


Aunt Jennifer’s tigers prance across a screen,

Bright topaz denizens of a world of green

They do not fear the men beneath the tree;

They pace in sleek chivalric certainty.

Vocabulary:

1. topaz denizens: Refers to yellowish-brown inhabitants of the forest.

2. sleek chivalric : tigers move in the forest in elegant and brave pace

Paraphrase:

  • Aunt Jennifer has made an embroidery design in her woolen fabric the pictures of tigers on a tree tops.

  • They are the bright yellow inhabitants in the world of green i.e forest.

  • They do not fear any men who are projected on a woolen fabric below the trees.

  • Tigers move around in the forest displaying their movement of gallantry and physical prowess.



(Lines 5-8)


Aunt Jennifer’s fingers fluttering through her wool

Find even the ivory needle hard to pull.

The massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band

Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer’s hand.

Vocabulary:

1. fluttering through her wool: Her fingers move jerkily through her woolen fabric while knitting.

2. ivory needle: Her shaking hands find the ivory needle too hard to pull through.

3. massive weight: Heavy weight of Uncle’s wedding ring suggests that Aunt Jennifer’s marriage has become a burden for her.

Paraphrase:

  • The reality of Aunt Jennifer’s marital life is depicted here.

  • She is shown here to be weak and enslaved very much in contrast to the nature of tigers that she is knitting on a woolen fabric.

  • She is so scared and agitated in her married life that her fingers are shaking while knitting through her woolen fabric.

  • Even though in real life, a wedding ring does not weigh much, but symbolically it suggests the amount of dominance her husband has exercised over her in her marital life.

  • Her inner spirit has been stifled by the patriarchal society.



(Lines 9-12)


When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie

Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by.

The tigers in the panel that she made

Will go on prancing, proud and unafraid.


Vocabulary:

1. terrified hands: Scared hands.

2. ordeals she was mastered by : suffering that she mastered when she was alive.

3. prancing: move quickly.


Paraphrase:

  • The poet here means to say that even after her death, Aunt Jennifer would not be free from the ordeals she went through in her life time.

  • The male-dominated society seems to show no concern for her suffering or even her death. The society will remain unaffected by it. Hence her terrified hands will still lie ringed with ordeals she was mastered by during her life time.

  • But her inner sense of freedom that she projected in the portrayal of tiger in her art work would stay forever, proud and unafraid.





CBE-Based MCQ Questions

Extract 1

When Aunt is dead,

her terrified hands will lie

Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by.

The tigers in the panel that she made

Will go on prancing, proud and unafraid.


(a) Which two poetic devices have been used in the phrase ‘terrified hands’?

(1) pun (2) synecdoche (3) transferred epithet (4) imagery

(a) (1) and (2) (b) (2) and (3) (c) (3) and (4) (d) (1) and (4)


(b) It can be inferred that Aunt Jennifer was ................. person.

(a) a strong and brave

(b) a scared and nervous

(c) a happy and joyful

(d) a cool and calm


(C) Which two meanings of ‘ringed’ can be inferred to be used in the extract?

(1) to be surrounded by difficulties

(2) to wear a wedding ring

(3) to make a noise with a bell

(4) to call someone on the phone

(a) (1) and (2)

(b) (2) and (3)

(c) (3) and (4)

(d) (1) and (4)


(D) Choose the best explanation for the last line of this extract.

(a) The artist must be proud of his/her work.

(b) Tigers live longer than human beings.

(c) The embroidered tigers are preserved well.

(d) Art lives forever while humans don’t.


Answer Key:

(A) (b) (2) and (3)

Explanation: The phrase ‘terrified hands’ has both a synecdoche and transferred epithet in it. The ‘hands’ stand for the person so in this sense, it is a synecdoche.

The adjective ‘terrified’ qualifies ‘hands’ while it should qualify the person, so in this sense it is a transferred epithet.

Hence, option (b) is the correct answer.


(B) (b) a scared and nervous


Explanation: Aunt Jennifer has had to face many difficulties in her life which made her a scared and timid person. So, option (b) is the correct answer. Options (a), (c) and (d) cannot be inferred from the extract. Hence, they are incorrect.


(C) (a) (1) and (2)


Explanation: The sense of ‘ringed’ is a reference to both a wedding ring that Aunt Jennifer wears and the difficulties that she is surrounded by. Hence, option (a) is the correct answer.


(D) (d) Art lives forever while humans don’t.

Explanation: The last line talks about how the tigers will continue to prance proudly even though Aunt Jennifer won’t be around to see it. Hence, option (d) is the correct answer.


Q2. Questions based on assertion and reasoning:


Read the statements given below. Choose the option that accurately describes the given statements.

Statement (1): The poem is a manifesto against the institution of marriage.

Statement (2): Aunt Jennifer represents all women artists.

Statement (3): The poem embodies an alternative for women to express their repressed desires through art.

(a) Statement (1) is True, Statement (2) is False, Statement (3) cannot be inferred.

(b) Statement (1) and (3) are False, Statement (2) cannot be inferred.

(c) Statement (1) and (2) are True, Statement (3) cannot be inferred.

(d) Statement (1) is False, Statement (2) cannot be inferred, Statement (3) is True.

[CBSE Question Bank 2021]


Ans. (b) Statement (1) and (3) are False, Statement (2) cannot be inferred.


Explanation: From the poem, it can be inferred that the theme is about women and art but it’s not against marriage (statement 1) nor does it embody an alternative mode of artistic expression for repressed women’s desires (statement 3). Statement 2 cannot be inferred.

This points to option (b) as the correct answer. Options (a), (c) and (d) are incorrect in their conclusions. Hence, they are not the correct answers.


Q3. Which of the following does NOT represent the contrast between Aunt Jennifer and the tigers?

(a) Uncertainty and confidence

(b) Terror and fearlessness

(c) Fiefdom and freedom

(d) Authority and autonomy [CBSE Question Bank 2021]

Ans. (d) Authority and autonomy


Explanation: The contrast between Aunt Jennifer and the tigers is one between confidence and lack of confidence (option a)

  • fear and fearlessness (option b)

  • freedom and oppression (option c). Hence, these are not the correct answers.

  • The contrast is NOT about power and independence (option d). Thus, option (d) is the correct answer.

Q4. Choose the option that does NOT reflect what the tigers represent in the poem:

(a) Aunt Jennifer’s undying hopes

(b) Aunt Jennifer’s failing marriage

(c) Aunt Jennifer’s artistic merit

(d) Aunt Jennifer’s frustrations [CBSE Question Bank 2021]


Ans: (a) Aunt Jennifer’s undying hopes


Q5. Why does the poet say that Aunt Jennifer wears ‘Uncle’s wedding band’?


(a) To show that Aunt Jennifer was married to Uncle.

(b) To show that Aunt Jennifer was a married woman.

(c) To show that Uncle’s oppression was all pervasive.

(d) To show that Uncle was a very generous man.


Ans. (c) To show that Uncle’s oppression was all pervasive.


Explanation:

  • The poet does not even call Aunt Jennifer’s wedding ring her own. It shows that Uncle’s oppressive presence was there persistently in Aunt Jennifer’s life. This points to option (c) as the correct answer.

  • Options (a), (b) and (d) are incorrect conclusions. Hence, they are not the correct answers.

Q6. Choose the quote that best describes the poet’s attitude to women’s lives.


(a) At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can. —Frida Kahlo

(b) If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman. —Margaret Thatcher

(c) We realise the importance of our voices only when we are silenced. —Malala Yousafzai

(d) There is no limit to what we, as women can accomplish. —Michelle Obama


Ans: (a) At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can. —Frida Kahlo

Explanation:

  • Through the story of Aunt Jennifer, Adrienne Rich shows that women can endure a lot. Hence, option (a) is the correct answer.

  • The poem is not about getting something done, voicing one’s opinion and accomplishing something. So, options (b), (c) and (d) are not the correct answer.

Q7. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:

Aunt Jennifer’s fingers fluttering through her wool

Find even the ivory needle hard to pull.

The massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band

Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer’s hand.


(A) Which of the poetic devices have been used in ‘fingers fluttering’?

(a) Personification (b) Transferred epithet (c) Alliteration (d) Metaphor


Ans: (c) Alliteration

Explanation:

  • Now the repetition of the /f/ sound in ‘fingers fluttering’. Hence, option (c) is the correct answer.

  • Options (a), (b) and (d) are not correct as they are not the poetic device used in this context.

(B) Which reason could be inferred from the fluttering of Aunt Jennifer’s fingers?

(a) She was under physical and/or mental stress.

(b) She had a disease in which her hands shook.

(c) She was fluttering them for the embroidery design.

(d) She was waving to her niece as she was stitching.


Ans: (a) She was under physical and/or mental stress.

Explanation:

  • Aunt Jennifer’s fingers could be fluttering because she was either physically injured or from mental trauma. Hence, option (a) is the correct answer.

  • Options (b), (c) and (d) are incorrect as they do not accurately indicate the reason. So, they are not the correct answer.

(C) Why was the weight of Uncle’s wedding band ‘massive’?

(a) Uncle has given her a heavy gold wedding band.

(b) Uncle’s love was a beautiful weight to carry.

(c) Heavy wedding bands were common in those days.

(d) The miserable marriage weighed Aunt Jennifer down.


Ans: (d) The miserable marriage weighed Aunt Jennifer down.

Explanation:

  • The reason Uncle’s wedding band was massive was not to do with the size or weight of the wedding band but what it symbolised, a miserable marriage for Aunt Jennifer. Hence, option (d) is the correct answer.

  • Options (a), (b) and (c) are incorrect since they do not draw accurate conclusions. Thus, they are not the correct answer.

(D) Which of the following words from the extract mean ‘quivering’?

(a) Massive (b) Fluttering (c) Weight (d) Wedding

Ans: (b) Fluttering


Q8. When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie

Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by.

The tigers in the panel that she made

Will go on prancing, proud and unafraid.


(A) Read the statement given below:

Aunt Jennifer’s plight is best explained by her hands, they hold both her freedom and the instrument of her imprisonment. Choose the option that best explains the above statement, as per the extract:


(a) Aunt Jennifer’s hands are terrified, but when she is dead, her tigers will roam free.

(b) Aunt Jennifer knits her desires, but is overpowered by the wedding ring she wears.

(c) Aunt Jennifer’s tigers are proud and unafraid, but she is mastered by ringed ordeals.

(d) Aunt Jennifer makes panels of tigers when she has time from her responsibilities.


Ans: (b) Aunt Jennifer knits her desires, but is overpowered by the wedding ring she wears. Explanation:

  • Aunt Jennifer’s hands are the focus of the poem. Through her embroidering, she finds some kind of freedom, but it is weighed down by the wedding ring, a symbol of her unhappy marriage. So, options (a), (c) and (d) do not adequately explain the statement as much as option (b) does

  • Hence, option (b) is the correct answer and others aren’t.

(B) Which of the following CANNOT be inferred from the given extract?

(a) Aunt Jennifer’s tigers will keep her alive in everyone’s memory.

(b) Aunt Jennifer feels oppressed and constricted in her marriage.

(c) Even in death, Aunt Jennifer cannot escape patriarchal subjugation.

(d) Aunt Jennifer’s tigers prance as a lasting symbol of her desires.


Ans: (c) Even in death, Aunt Jennifer cannot escape patriarchal subjugation.


(C) What makes the tigers ‘proud and unafraid’?

(a) They embody the grandeur and supremacy of animals in the wild.

(b) They symbolise authority and are ‘topaz denizens of green’.

(c) They represent Aunt’s repressed desires for freedom and power.

(d) They are a product of Aunt’s imagination and colonial experience.

Ans: (c) They represent Aunt’s repressed desires for freedom and power.

Explanation:

  • The tigers are embroidered tigers not natural ones and so are proud and unafraid because they are symbols of freedom and power and represent Aunt Jennifer’s repressed desire for the same. Therefore, option (c) is the correct answer.

  • Options (a), (b) and (d) do not accurately explain the reason. Hence, they are not the correct answer.

(D) Choose the option that DOES NOT reflect the movement implied by ‘prancing’.

(a) Bounding

(b) Frolicking

(c) Strutting

(d) Shuffling [CBSE Question Bank 2021]

Ans: (d) Shuffling

Explanation:

  • Options (a), (b) and (c) are all synonyms of ‘prancing’. Hence, they are not the correct answer.

  • Only option (d) shuffling means ‘to move clumsily or ploddingly’ and indicates a different kind of movement. Thus, it is the correct answer.


CBE-Based Questions with Answers


1. Why do you think Aunt Jennifer’s hands are ‘fluttering’ through her wool in the second stanza? Why is she finding the needle so hard to pull?

Ans : Aunt Jennifer’s hands are ‘fluttering’ through her wool while she is embroidering tigers on the panel. Her needle work is a medium for expressing herself. But she is finding it difficult to make those tigers and expressing those feelings due to oppression and weight of marriage, gender role and a dominating society.


2. What is suggested by the image ‘massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band’?/What is suggested by the phrase, ‘massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band’?

Ans : Aunt Jennifer’s terrified hands are weighed down by Uncle’s wedding band because it symbolises her traumatic marriage in which she had no freedom and only responsibilities. The difficulties and obstacles that marked her life are suggested by the phrase.


3. What picture of male chauvinism (tyranny) do we find in the poem, ‘Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers’?

Ans : The poem depicts how Aunt Jennifer feels oppressed by her tyrannous husband who stifles her creativity and freedom by dominating her. He represents a typical male of a patriarchal society. Aunt Jennifer carries the weight of her miserable marriage symbolised by her wedding band.


4. What are the ‘ordeals’ Aunt Jennifer is surrounded by? Why is it significant that the poet uses the word ‘ringed’? What are the meanings of the word ‘ringed’ in the poem.

Ans : The ‘ordeals’ refer to the responsibilities and duties that Aunt Jennifer has been doing in a patriarchal society. The poet has used the word ‘ringed’ so as to emphasize the fact that she has to carry the weight of her marriage band, whether dead or alive.


5. Why do you think Aunt Jennifer created animals that are so different from her own character? What might the poet be suggesting through this difference?

Ans : Aunt Jennifer created tigers that are fearless and confident. They are the opposite of what Aunt Jennifer is in reality. In fact, through her creations, she wants to express her longing for being confident and strong. The poet, through this difference, wants to emphasize the impact of the oppression on women in a male-dominated society.


6. Interpret the symbols found in this poem.

Ans : Tiger and ring are two symbols used in the poem. The tiger is a symbol of power, confidence and masculine world. ‘Ring’, though represented as ‘wedding ring’, refers to the band or chain that binds a person to enslave him. The ‘tiger’ represents the longing of Aunt Jennifer, whereas ‘ring’ refers to her present position of oppression and subjugation by the male-dominated world.


7. What will happen when Aunt Jennifer is dead? Ans : The tigers that she has made will remain the same even when Aunt Jennifer is dead. They will still remain on the panel prancing with confidence and chivalry. In fact, the masculine world which suppressed her will continue to enjoy freedom which was denied to her.


8. Why did Aunt Jennifer choose to embroider tigers on the panel?

Ans : Aunt Jennifer lived an oppressed life. But she wanted to have a life of freedom and wanted to be confident and bold. In order to express his inner feelings and longings of her heart, she embroidered tigers on the panel.


9. Why does Aunt Jennifer seek refuge in art?

Ans : Aunt Jennifer was oppressed and dominated by her husband. But she wanted to break free from this oppression and become a confident and respectable person. She was not able to do so in real life. She created the tigers which symbolise her freedom of spirit. Thus she displayed her inner desire through her art.


10. Explain the irony at the end of the poem.

Ans :It is ironic that even death would not liberate Aunt Jennifer from the oppression that she faced. Her fingers remained ‘ringed’ with the uncle’s wedding band. But the tigers that she made would always remain fearless and bold.


11.What message does the poet want to convey through this poem?

Ans : The poet, Adrienne Rich, has tried to depict the theme of male chauvinism where a woman has no liberty, not even self-expression. The poem emphasises the value of freedom and brings out the message that women need to be respected and should have liberty to live their live according to their own desires.


12. ‘The tigers represent Aunt Jennifer’s spirit and her hands represent her reality.’ How?

Ans : The tigers that Aunt Jennifer created represent her spirit. She was bold and confident in her spirit. But her hands trembled and could not pull the needle which depicts her reality. She was oppressed and dominated by her husband in real life. Her hidden desire to break free is represented in the tigers she embroidered.


Q13. Adrienne Rich chose to express her silent revolt through her poem, Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers, just as Aunt Jennifer did with her embroidery. Explain. [CBSE Term-2 SQP 2022]


Ans: Adrienne Rich criticizes the traditional institution of marriage in her times through her poem, suggesting that it oppresses women and is a burden for them. Similarly, Aunt Jennifer, a victim of an unhappy marriage, under a domineering husband, chose embroidery to vent her sorrow and feelings of oppression. Both used their creative outlet as a form of protest against the expectations of society, especially from women.


Q14. Read the given quote. In your opinion, what silence does the poem ‘Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers’ break? Every poem breaks a silence that had to be overcome. — Adrienne Rich [CBSE Question Bank 2021]


Ans. In writing the poem ‘Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers’, Adrienne Rich breaks the silence surrounding oppressive marriages like Aunt Jennifer’s. People usually don’t want to talk about these matters and brush them under the carpet while Rich’s poem throws light on it.


Q15. The poem ‘Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers’ is about the power of art. Justify or refute.


Ans. Indeed, Adrienne Rich’s poem ‘Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers’ is about the power of art. Aunt Jennifer lived a troublesome life as is evident from the poem. While she took time out of her busy life to create embroidered tigers, her life was very far from a rosy tapestry that she was stitching. Primarily fear ruled her life. She embroidered fearless tigers as a way to get over the fear in her real life. When she stitched, her fingers fluttered, either because she was afraid or because she was abused and injured. She found it difficult to pull an ivory needle through the fabric. The wedding ring that bound her life to Uncle was heavy in life and heavier after her death. What made it all bearable and tolerable was that she made art. The author Neil Gaiman said, ‘Make good art.’ Aunt Jennifer did just that. The power of her art is what made her become the subject of a poem. There would not even be a poem if Aunt Jennifer did not create those elegant prancing tigers on a panel.


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