ENGLISH- XII (LITERATURE)
SECTION- C : Flamingo (Poetry)
My Mother at Sixty –Six
By Kamala Das
The poem, ‘My Mother at Sixty-Six’ rendered in blank verse, examines the
theme of advancing age and the fear of loss and separation.
The poetess on way to the airport at Cochin is suddenly struck by the thought
that her mother has grown old. This realization being sudden is alarming. Old
age seems to have crept up on her and it is a reality that she finds hard to
accept. Her corpse like and ashen face bring thoughts of her eventual death. Her
mother sleeping beside her in the car appears pale and worn out and the green
trees racing past and speeding car are a grim reminder that time has flown by.
The joyous children playing outside give her the respite that she is seeking
from her thoughts of old age and parting as they are representative of youth,
energy and life. Perhaps they take her back to the days of her idyllic youth
when her mother too was young and energetic or perhaps they bring to the fore
the fear of losing her mother that haunts every young child. Once again she
feels the insecurity of parting from her mother- who has lost the blush of youth
and middle age and in the twilight of her life has become as pale as lustreless
as the winter moon.
Beset with sorrow at this knowledge and with the insecurity
and pain of parting the poetess at the airport bids her old mother goodbye,
smiling all the time in a vain attempt to hide her real feelings.
STUDY MATERIAL – QUESTION BANK
CLASS XII – ENGLISH
MY MOTHER AT SIXTY SIX
IMPORTANT STANZAS FOR COMPREHENSION
Read the stanzas given below and answer the questions that
1. Driving from my parent’s home to Cochin last Friday
morning, I saw my mother, beside me, doze, open mouthed,
her face ashen like that of a corpse and realized with pain that she was
as old as she looked but soon put that thought away, and looked out
at young trees sprinting, the merry children spilling out of their homes,
A. Where was the poet driving to?
B. What did she notice while her mother sat beside her?
C. Why was her mother’s face like that of a corpse?
D. What did the poet do then?
E. Find words from the passage which mean:
ii) sleep lightly
iii) dead body but after the airport’s security check, standing a few yards
away, I looked again at her wan, pale as a late winter’s moon and felt that old
familiar ache, my childhood’s fear, but all said was, see you soon, Amma, all I
did was smile and smile…..
A) How were the young trees sprinting?
B) What did she see the children doing?
C) What is her childhood’s fear?
Short Answer Type Questions:
1. Where is the poet going and who is with her?
2. How does the poet’s mother look like? What kind of images has the poet used
to signify her ageing decay?
3. Why does the poet ‘put that thought away’ and looks outside?
4. What does the poet see happening outside?
5. Describe the contrast of the scene inside the car with the activities going
on outside. Describe the use of images that the poet employs to strike that
6. What does the poet do after the security check-up? What does she notice?
7. Why does the poet feel her old familiar ache and what is her childhood fear?
8. With fear and ache inside her heart and words of assurance on lips and smile
on the face, the poet presents two opposite and contrasting experiences? Why
does the poet put on a smile?
9. Describe the poetic devices used by Kamala Das in ‘My Mother at Sixty Six’.
Chapter-1-THE THIRD LEVEL
By Jack Finney
Charley, a thirty-one year old having worked late one night enters Grand
Central Station from Vanderbilt avenue, with the aim of boarding a train home.
As the station is large consisting of various corridors and two levels catering
for different trains, he loses his way.He finds himself in what he thinks is the
third level of the station. He realizes that something is different there as the
people are dressed differently and the area is lit not with the electric lights
of the modern times but with open gas fires. He suddenly makes the discovery
that he has somehow entered the yea
r 1894. He sees the date on the newspaper.
The World that has not been published for many years. The paper that he glances
at bears the date June 11, 1894. He is filled with excitement and he decides to
buy two tickets for Galesburg, the peaceful town that he has grown up in.
Charley discovers that he does not have the appropriate
currency of that period and is therefore unable to buy the tickets. His wife and
his psychiatrist friend, Sam as well as his other friends are quite alarmed when
they hear his account and forbid him to seek the third level again. They treat
the incident as a figment of his imagination and attribute it to his desire to
escape from the stresses of his life.
However, Charley’s friend, Sam disappears and Charley finds a
letter from him in an old First day Cover dated July 18, 1894. In the letter,
Sam tells Charley that he has settled down in Galesburg and urges Charley not to
give up his search for the Third Level as it is well worth the effort. Sam is
now engaged in a nice little hay, feed and grain business, something that he has
always wished that he could do.
The author leaves the readers wondering what The Third level
really is. Though Charley is able to find proof of his experience, is it really
possible to make this transition back and forth in time?
Jack Finney a writer of science fiction treats his favourite
subject, Time in a new dimension. The shadowy, eerie world that lies somewhere
between dreams, desires and reality is what he calls The Third Level. It is the
point where the past, the present and the future meet and here nothing is, as it
1. What made Charley believe that the Third Level did exist?
2. Briefly describe the events that led up to Charley finding the Third Level at
the ground central
3. What does the third level refer to?
4. What was Sam’s reaction when Charley mentioned the discovery of the Third
level to him?
5. What did Sam say in his letter to Charley?
6. ‘But now we are both looking for….’What does this refer
to? Explain briefly?
7. ‘……….the modern world is full of insecurity, fear, war, worry and all the
rest of it………..’ What is the implication expressed in these sentiments? Explain
with reference to the story ‘The Third Level’.