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Memories of Childhood | English| Class XII |CBE Questions |Board Exam 2024

Updated: Feb 19

Lesson Architecture

  • Theme

  • Short Questions

  • Long Questions


  • Memories of Childhood' are two different reminiscences of evils of oppression caused by irrational prejudices or predispositions of human nature.

  • These prejudices are due to castes or social positions one inherits due to one's birth or due to congenital 'blessings or peculiar genes or what we call DNAs.

  • These forbid the minorities to integrate with the mainstream culture. Such unwarranted discrimination or bullying demeanour has no basis to explain except that man is criminal by nature though civilized by compulsions.

  • Strangely, no one has an option of being born in a certain caste. Yet one imbibes it in one's blood due to one's birth or social or familiar upbringing and practices, discrimination or untouchability.

  • These 'Memories' bring man's duplicity in such matters to the fore. We need a human religion' which may teach that all humans are equal and not 'some are more equal than others', as George Orwell said in his 'Animal Farm'.

The Cutting of My Long Hair

- Zitkala-Sa

  • This is an autobiographical account of the author, an American Indian woman, in her childhood when her long hair were cut compulsorily.

  • This amounted to a great humiliation and emotional oppression.

  • Naturally, this reflects the severe prejudice tha prevailed toward Native American culture and women during the late nineteenth century in America.

We Too are Human Beings


  • Here is a candid account of the caste system together with a graphic picture of the bazaar.

  • It is deeply rooted in the Indian psyche despite its being slowly diluted with the passage of time.

  • It is a wonder that caste-ridden people never think that one can't choose one's birth in a particular caste or place.

  • Real humanness lies in fellow-feelings. sympathy, love, peace, compassion, etc.

  • It is also a true service to God to help those in distress irrespective of the castes and creeds.

  • The author's brother truly advises her a remedy to dilute this man-made evil of oppression.

Short Questions (2 Marks)

1. Zitkala-Sa mentions the indignities she had to suffer as a child. How do such indignities break the morale of a child? [CBSE Question Bank 2021]

Ans. The author was subjected to extreme indignities. People had stared at her . She had been tossed about in the air like a pupet. Her long hair was shingled like that of a coward. n anghish she moaned for her mother. She felt like one of many animals driven by a herder.

2. ‘I felt like sinking to the floor,’ says ZitkalaSa. When did she feel so and why? [CBSE 2020, 11] Ans. On her first day at a western school, ZitkalaSa and the other Native American girls had to wear western clothes and shoes instead of traditional clothes and moccasins. ZitkalaSa had to take off her blanket, which was a part of her traditional attire. This made her feel exposed and embarrassed her. Hence, she felt like sinking to the floor.

3. “Where there is oppression, there will be resistance.” Comment on this statement with reference to the story. [CBSE Question Bank 2021]

Ans. The statement refers to the fact that whenever there is oppression, there is widespread protest to get out of it. So, oppression cannot persist for a long time. There will be protests which will trigger change and bring down oppression.

4. Bama’s innocence was lost when she came face to face with the ugly truth of racial discrimination. Do you think children who have a difficult childhood become even more resolute than children who have a comfortable one? [CBSE Question Bank 2021]

Ans. Yes, children who have a difficult childhood grow up to become resilient adults than children who are protected from all troubles. Bama’s experience of caste discrimination as a child would have played a role in making her a strong and resilient author she is today.

5. How did Zitkala-Sa feel when her hair was shingled? [CBSE 2020]

Ans. Zitkala-Sa was terrified bcause she could be like the captured unskilled warriors, whose hair was shingled by the enemy. Secondlyy, short hair was worn byy mourners and shinged hair by cowards. She did not want to be levelled as belonging to any of these categories.

Long Questions with Answers

1. Untouchability is not only a crime; it is inhuman too. Why and how did Bama decide to fight against it? [CBSE 2017]

Ans. Bama was confronted with untouchability as a third-grade student. On the way back from school, she used to watch the mesmerising sights of an Indian street bazaar with its food stalls and entertainers. One day, she noticed an elder from her street carrying a packet of fried vadai for the landlord in a careful way so as not to pollute it for the upper caste landlord. She initially found it funny, later she was told the entire story by her older brother Annan. That is when she realised the unfairness and inhumanness of the practice. This enraged her. Her brother told her to study well and educate herself so that people would come to her on their own. She followed his advice and stood first in her class which drew people to her and they became her friends. She fought against the evil of untouchability by sensitizing people with her writing and also helping people come out of it by other means.

2. Imagine your school has organised a panel discussion on ‘Oppression and Its Evils.’ You are one of the speakers. As part of your address, you are required to reflect on the lessons and ideas from the story, ‘Memories of Childhood’. Draft the address. You may begin like this: Good morning ladies and gentlemen! It is a pleasure to be given an opportunity to speak today. I would like to begin by quoting James Baldwin, ‘Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.’ Tolerating oppression in any form is… [CBSE Question Bank 2021]

Ans. Good morning each and everyone present over here! It is a pleasure to speak in front of you. I would like to begin by quoting James Baldwin, ‘Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.’ Tolerating oppression in any form is how oppression lives on. If we look at the story of Native American writer Zitkala-Sa, we can see how Judewin tells her to submit to the force and strength of the oppressor because they are strong. But Zitkala-Sa refuses. Both have to eventually submit to the white people but Zitkala-Sa registered her protest. Judewin on the other hand tolerates oppression and allows the oppressors to think that their actions are irreproachable. Another marginalised writer, Bama is shocked when she could notice as a child the issue of untouchability. One day when she sees the elder from her community carry a packet respectfully for an upper caste landlord, she is taken aback. She consults her brother and on being advised by him, she resoves to stay committed in her studies. As a writer she is eventually able to bring to the light the social evils of untouchability prevailing in our society and recommends education being the remedy to come out of all such social prejudice.

Q3. The two accounts that you read above are based in two distant cultures. What is the commonality of them found in both of them?

Ans. The two accounts given by two different women coming from different cultures have great commonality between them. This commonality is the wide gap between the mainstream culture and the secondary culture, that is attributed to low caste or marginalised communities. The upper caste or communities treat the marginalised communities as second-rate ones and never allow them to integrate with theirs. This is clear in the behaviour that is meted out to Zitkala-Sa when she is subjected to humiliation. She adores her hair to the level of worshipping them. She also attributes certain feelings to her hair if they are chopped off. These feelings ensure her self-respect and self-preservation as a human being. But her hair is mercilessly cut and she feels the loss of her 'spirit'-her own individuality.

Bama also learns about the oppression and discrimination of her own caste by the upper caste people in the elder man's 'servitude. She is infuriated, angry and provoked at this inhuman behaviour. She asks herself why should they be subjected to such discriminatory behaviour that amounts to their non-existence? She wants that they should treat them like human beings and not underdogs.

Q4. Bama's experience is that of a victim of the caste system. What kind of discrimination does Zitkala-Sa's experience depict? What are their responses to their respective situations?

Ans. Zitkala-Sa's experience depicts severe prejudice that prevailed in America in the 1876s toward Native American culture and women. Zitkala-Sa belonged to a marginalised community of American Indians. This was treated as a low community as Dalits are treated in our country. Zitkala-Sa's mother had taught her that only unskilled warriors who were captured had their hair shingled by the enemy. Among her own people hair was worn by mourners, and shingled hair by cowards. So her hair being chopped off amounted to the loss of her own identity as a human being. Then the keen stare of the paleface woman and the man's mutterings dispirited her completely. Zitkala decided to rebel. More than hiding was not possible as she couldn't fight all alone against the all powerful authorities. It shows the loss of her 'spirit', the very basis of a respectable living. She felt she was only one of many little animals driven by a herder. Bama's response to her situation is more than that of Zitkala-Sa's. She felt 'provoked and angry' to go and touch the packet straightaway. She was angry against the upper caste.



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