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Deep Water | NCERT Solution | CBE Questions | Board Exam 2024

Updated: Oct 2, 2023


Biography

  • After graduating with English and Economics, he spent two years teaching high school in Yakima.

  • He then decided to pursue a legal career.

  • He was a leading advocate of individual rights.

  • He retired in 1975 and remained the longest-serving Justice in the history of the court.

  • The story’ Deep Water’ is taken from his book ‘ Of Men and Mountains’ by William O Douglas.



NCERT Official Discussion on Deep Water


THEME

  • The story is an autobiographical story of the author’s childhood misadventure at a swimming pool.

  • The story describes the origin of fear, its effect and how to conquer it.

  • The story highlights the positive aspect of how one can overcome negative emotion like fear with sheer will-power and determination.

  • The story also throws light on the psychological aspect of how childhood fear leaves a residual fragments in our subconscious mind in the later part of our life and haunt us till we get rid of it.



STORY AT A GLANCE

  • The narrator recalls a horrific incident that happened to him when he was ten or eleven years old.

  • He decided to learn swimming at YMCA pool, which was only two or three feet deep at the shallow end and, nine feet deep at the other end.

  • He got a pair of water wings and went to the pool.

  • The author then recounts his childhood experience of fear at a beach in California with his father.

  • The waves knocked him down and swept over him. He was frightened.

  • The introduction to the YMCA pool revived the narrator’s unpleasant memories and stirred his childhood fears.

  • He gathered confidence and paddled with his new water wings. When he felt confident, an misadventure happened.

  • An eighteen-year-old boy with a beautiful muscular body tossed him into the deep end of water.

  • He landed in a sitting position, swallowed water and went at once to the bottom.

  • He planned that when his feet would hit the bottom, he would make a big jump, come to the surface, lie flat on it and paddle to the edge of the pool.

  • However, the nine feet down seemed more like ninety to poor Douglas. He was totally out of breath when his feet touched the bottom.

  • He made a great spring upwards after summoning all his strength. He imagined he would bob to the surface like a cork.

  • He came up slowly, opened his eyes and saw water with a dirty yellow tinge int it.

  • He tried to yell, but no sound came out. His legs hung like dead weights. He started drowning.

  • He had lost all his breath. His lungs ached and his head throbbed. He again jumped with all his might, but his jump went in vain. He was still under water.

  • The stark terror took him more tightly in its clutches.

  • Douglas describes how fear paralyzed him. His arms and legs stopped moving. He trembled with fright. He tried to call for his mother, but nothing happened.

  • Suddenly, Douglas found himself coming out of the water. He sucked for air and got water. Then he started going down for the third time. Then all his efforts ceased and his body went limp.

  • A blackness took over his brain which wiped out fear and terror. Everything went quiet and peaceful. Douglas felt as if he was wrapped in his mother’s arms.

  • Then he fell unconscious. The next thing he remembers was lying on his stomach beside the pool, vomiting.

  • Douglas couldn’t eat that night. He was weak and trembling. He shook and cried on his bed. He never went back to the pool. He feared water and avoided it whenever he could.

  • Douglas couldn’t eat that night. He was weak and trembling. He shook and cried on his bed. He never went back to the pool. He feared water and avoided it whenever he could.

  • Whenever he went near water, the terror that had seized him in the pool would return to haunt him. The fear paralysed him.

  • This handicap stayed with him as years rolled by. It ruined his fishing trips and deprived him of the joy of canoeing, boating and swimming. He tried his best to overcome this fear, but it didn’t let go of him.

  • Douglas decided to get a swimming instructor. He went to a pool and practised five days a week, an hour each day.

  • The instructor put a belt with a rope around Douglas. This rope went through a pulley. The instructor held on to the other end of the rope.

  • Each time the instructor relaxed his hold on the rope and Douglas went under, some of the old terror returned and froze his legs. It took him three months to get over this fear.

  • The instructor taught him to put his face under water and exhale and raise his nose and inhale. Next he taught him to move his legs. Thus, piece by piece, bit by bit, he built a swimmer out of Douglas.

  • Douglas went to Lake Wentworth in New Hampshire and swam two miles across the lake. When Douglas was in the middle of the lake, he put his face under and saw nothing but bottomless water.

  • The old sensation come back to haunt him. But this time Douglas was strong.

  • He went to the Warm Lake. He swam to the other shore and back. He was thrilled with joy, as he had conquered his fear of water. The experience had a deep meaning for him.

  • He explains that death was peaceful but it was the fear of death that crippled a person. Here he quotes President Roosevelt, saying, ‘All we have to fear is fear itself.

  • Because he had experienced death and the terror that it could produce, his will to live somehow grew in intensity.



RECAPITULATION

  • In this story the author tells about his fear of water and how he conquered it by determination and will power.

  • As a child, when he was 3 or 4 years old, he would go to the beach in California with his father. Huge waves which swept over him instilled a fear in his sub – conscious mind.

  • He was pushed into the pool by a boy at YMCA pool, which he describes as misadventure in the story.

  • He learned swimming with the help of an instructor who ensured that William knew swimming well enough to be able to swim in huge lakes and waterfalls also.

  • Douglas went to Lake Wentworth in New Hampshire. The old sensation come back to haunt him. But this time Douglas was strong.

  • He went to the Warm Lake. He swam to the other shore and back. He was thrilled with joy, as he had conquered his fear of water.

  • William realized that death is peaceful and it is the fear of death that is terrorizing.

  • His will to live life grew intensely as he had overcome his fear and started living fearlessly.



NCERT Solution:

1.What is the misadventure that William Douglas speaks about?

Ans: The misadventure refers to the author's being ducked by the eighteen year old into the YMCA swimming pool. He could somehow manage to rescued himself from this dreadful incident.


2. What were the series of of emotions and fear that Douglas experienced when he was thrown into the pool? What plans did he make to come to the surface?

Ans: The nine feet depth of the pool was like ninety feet for the author . Before he touched the bottom his lungs were ready to burst. His lungs ached and his head throbbed. He was getting dizzy. However, when he could not manage to come to the surface, he was gripped with panic and this paralyzed his limb.


3. How did this experience affect him?

Ans: This experience left him so fearful and allergic to water bodies. He could not go near the pool, nor could he enjoy any water related sport and it robbed him of the joy of canoeing , boating and fishing.




4. Why was Douglas determined to get over his fear of water?

Ans: Douglas was determined to conquer his fear of water as it prevented him from undertaking any water sports. He could not only go near any water body, but also from activities like canoeing, boating and fishing.


5. How did the instructor 'build a swimmer' out of Douglas?

Ans: The instructor put a belt around Douglas. A rope attached to the belt went through a pulley that ran on an overhead cable. He held on to the end of the rope and they went back and forth across the pool. The instructor taught him to put his face under water and exhale and to raise his nose and inhale. Thus over a period of about three months, he was able t make a swimmer out of him.


6. How did Douglas make sure that he conquered the old terror?

Ans: Douglas finally got rid of his fear of water when he went to Lake Wentworth in New Hampshire, dived off a dock at Triggs Islands and swam two miles across the lake to Stamp Act Island. He swam the crawl, breast stroke, side stroke, and back stroke. Only once did the terror return. When I was in the middle of the lake, he put his face under and saw nothing but bottomless water. He shouted with joy at conquering his fear of water.




Understanding the Text: ( Page 29)


How does Douglas make clear to the reader the sense of panic that gripped him as he almost drowned? Describe the details that have made the description vivid.

Ans: Douglas delineates with his pen the sense of panic that overpowered him to the extent of death. With a deft use of words he captivates those emotional states of his mind.

In the first stage he recounts his experience of being ducked, he swallowed water and went to the bottom of the water almost to the point of drowning. He swallowed water and was choked. He lost all his breath. His lu1. ngs ached and head throbbed. The mass of yellow water that held him captive in its grip produced stark terror over which he had no control. When there attempts to rise to the surface failed, he fainted. His vivid description of this terrifying experience makes the reader feel empathetic towards him.


2. How did Douglas overcome his fear of water?

Ans: The fear of water haunted Douglas for many years till eventually he made up his mind to hire a swimming instructor and get rid of his underlying fear of water. The instructor put a belt around Douglas. A rope attached to the belt went through a pulley that ran on an overhead cable. He held on to the end of the rope and they went back and forth across the pool. The instructor taught him to put his face under water and exhale and to raise his nose and inhale. Thus over a period of about three months, he was able t make a swimmer out of him.


3. Why does Douglas as an adult recount a childhood experience of terror and his conquering of it? What larger meaning does he draw from this experience?


Ans: Douglas wanted to reaffirm his grit and determination to get over his underlying fear of water. In life we have a host of challenges. Overcoming these challenges gives us reassurance to view life with a renewed interest and optimism. As Douglas could overcome his childhood fear of water in later stage of his life, he felt a sense of achievement and fulfillment in overcoming a challenge which haunted him over the span of many years. His underlying fear deprived him of the joys of canoeing, boating and swimming.


The larger meaning that he draws from his experience is that if we are committed and determined for a cause, we can end up conquering any challenge that works as a deterrent for us. The very quote of Roosevelt that he cites in the story-''All we have to fear is fear itself-speaks volume of his philosophy in life that with a fighting spirit we can overcome all challenges of life.




CBE Questions

  1. ''From the beginning, however, I had an aversion to the water when I was in it''. When did it start and how?

  2. ''And then in the midst of terror came a touch of reason.'' What was this 'touch of reason'? What was his condition even after this 'touch of reason'?

  3. ''This handicap stayed with me as the years rolled by''. What was the 'handicap' and how it ruined the author's interest in fishing, boating, swimming etc?

  4. Describe the moments when Douglas' curtain of life' was falling on him.

  5. The instructor assured Douglas in April that he could swim. But he was not sure that completely. How did he feel during those months till July?

  6. What does the author mean when he says, ' The experience had a deep meaning for me'?


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