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Chapter 8- Memories of Childhood Interview Questions Answers

Question 1 :
The two accounts that you read above are based in two distant cultures. What is the commonality of theme found in both of them ?

Answer 1 :

‘The Cutting of My Long Hair’ and ‘We too are human beings’ are two autobiographical accounts of two women who belong to two distinct and distant cultures. The author of ‘The Cutting of My Long Hair’ Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, born in 1876 was an extraordinarily talented and educated Native American Woman. She struggled and triumphed in a time when severe prejudice prevailed towards Native American culture and women.

As a writer, she adopted the penname ‘Zitkala-Sa’ and in 1900 began publishing articles. Her works criticised dogma, and her life as a Native American woman was dedicated against the evils of oppression. In this account she tells us how helpless, desperate and pathetic she felt when her hair was shingled, which was considered not only against tradition but an act of cowardice also.

In the other account, ‘We too are human beings’ another woman “Bama”, the pen-name of a Tamil Dalit woman from a Roman Catholic family, tells us how she felt when she became aware of the anguish of being an untouchable, when she was studying in the third class. The commonality of theme found in both of these stories is the fight of two distinct but downtrodden woman who dared to fight against oppression and injustice. They dared to fight against the inhuman treatment which the mighty and the powerful people of society inflicted upon them.

Question 2 :
It may take a long time for oppression to be resisted, but the seeds of rebellion are sowed early in life. Do you agree that injustice in any form cannot escape being noticed even by children ?

Answer 2 :

Perhaps oppression against down-trodden is as old as the human history is. Only from time to time it has just changed its form. The mighty and powerful have always been thinking themselves superior to the weak and poor and have been always exploiting them.

So it may take a long time for oppression to be resisted. But it is also a fact that the seeds of rebellion are sowed early in an oppressed person’s life. When persons like Bonnin and Bama watch themselves or other, they turn rebellious, whatsoever their age might be. In such cases, one’s reaction to the oppression is more important than the age at which a person is forced to be rebellious.

Zitkala-Sa was a little girl and Bama was in third class only when they became victims of oppression and injustice of the society. But the incidents of Bonnin’s hair being shingled and Bama’s awareness of ugly face of untouchability cast an indelible impression on their minds.

Bonnin escaped herself and was hidden under a bed to avoid her hair being forceibly shingled. Bama determined to excel in studies so that she could be accepted by the people of higher castes. Both of them tried to oppose the long-established ways of society and became rebellions at a very tender age.

Question 3 :
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 ?

Answer 3 :

Zitkala-Sa is the pen-name of an American Indian woman Gertrude Simmons Bonnin who was born in 1876. Bama is a contemporary Indian Tamil Dalit writer whose experience is that of a victim of the caste system which she saw through the eyes of a child. She saw how even the elderly people of her community were maltreated and discriminated on the basis of their low caste. They were treated as untouchables by the upper caste people. Their mere touch was considered enough to pollute anything belonging to the persons of upper castes.

But what Zitkala-Sa suffered as a child was an oppression caused because of the racial discrimination. The native American Red Indians were treated as animals by those outsiders who had settled in their country. They were insulted and humiliated. They were not treated with equality and respect. They were looked down upon as was done in case of Bama’s community. Such inhuman treatment made both the women of different ages rebellious. However, they emerged as excellent writers who wrote a realistic and powerful account of the sufferings and humiliating experiences about the people of their communities.

Question 4 :
What does Zitkala-Sa tell about the weather on her first day in the land of apples ?

Answer 4 :

Zitkala-Sa is the pen-name of an extraordinarily talented’ and educated Native American woman. The weather on her first day was a bitter cold one and the snow still covered the ground.

Question 5 :
Was there quietness after the bell had rung for breakfast ?

Answer 5 :

No, after the bell had rung for breakfast there was annoying clatter of shoes on bare floors, which made it a very noisy place. The constant clash of harsh noises also made it a noisy place within which Bonnin was securely tied.

Question 6 :
How were the Red Indian girls dressed ?

Answer 6 :

The Red Indian girls wore stiff shoes and dresses which were closely sticking to their bodies. The small girls wore sleeved aprons and their hair was cut closed to the head.

Question 7 :
How did Zitkala-Sa sit for the dinner ?

Answer 7 :

When a small bell was tapped, Zitkala-Sa pulled out her chair and at once slipped into it from one side. When she found nobody else sitting, she began to rise. Then a second bell rang and all were seated at last.

Question 8 :
What warning did Bonnin’s friend Judewin give her ?

Answer 8 :

Judewin knew a few words of English. She had overheard the pale face woman talk about cutting their long heavy hair close to the head. This was the terrible warning which Judewin gave her.

Question 9 :
What did the shingled and short hair signify according to Bonnin’s culture ?

Answer 9 :

According to their culture, only unskilled warriors who were captured had their hair shingled by the enemy. Among other people, short hair was worn by mourners and shingled hair by cowards.

Question 10 :
Where did Zitkala-Sa hide herself ?

Answer 10 :

To escape from her hair being shingled, Zitkala-Sa hid herself in a large room with three white beds in it. The room was very dim as its windows were covered with dark green curtains. She hid herself under the bed.


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