A Photograph | Hornbill Chapter Wise Question Answer

A Photograph

Hornbill English Book Question Answer| Poetry Section Question Answer| HS 1st Year English Chapter Wise Question Answer 

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1. What does the word “cardboard” denote in the poem? Why has this word been used? 

  Answer:- The word “cardboard” means a very stiff and thick paper. Here the cardboard is a part of the frame that keeps the photograph intact. Its use in the poem is ironical. It keeps the photograph of that twelve-year-old girl safe who herself was ‘terribly transient’. She had died years ago.

2. What has the camera captured?

Answer:- The camera has captured all the three girls alive in it. It has captured the pretty face of the poet’s mother who was a girl of twelve at that time. It has captured the smiling faces of two girl cousins, Betty and Dolly. They were holding the hands of the poet’s mother in their hands.

3. What has not changed over the years? Does this suggest something to you?

Answer:- The sea has not changed over the years. It brings out the ‘transient’ nature of man when compared to nature and its objects. Time spares none. The pretty faces and the feet of the three girls are ‘terribly transient’ or mortal when compared to the ageless and the unchangeable sea.

4. The poet’s mother laughed at the snapshot. What did this laugh indicate?

Answer:- The poet’s mother laughed at the snapshot that was taken years ago. In the photograph she as well as her girl cousins stood at the beach. She laughed at the way all of them were dressed up for the beach. Perhaps they looked funny. She pointed it out to her cousins- Dolly and Betty who were with her in the photograph. The laugh indicated her youthful spirit.

5. What is the meaning of the line “Both wry with the laboured ease of Loss”?

Answer:- Both the poet’s mother and the poet suffer a sense of loss. The mother has lost her childlike innocence and joyful spirit that the photograph captured years ago. For the poet the smile of his mother has become a thing of the past. Ironically, both labour to bear this loss with ease.

6. What does “this circumstance” refer to?

Answer:- “This circumstance” refer to the death of the poet’s mother. The photograph of the dead mother brings sad nostalgic feelings in the poet.  But the poet has nothing to say at all about this circumstance. The silence of the poet  makes the pall of the silence prevailing there still deeper.

7. The three stanzas depict three different phases. What are they?

Answer:- In the first stanza the poet’s mother is shown  as a twelve year old girl with a pretty and laughing face. There she went paddling with two girl cousins. This phase is before the poet’s birth. The second phase describes the middle aged mother laughing at her own snapshot. The third phase describes the chilling pall of silence that the death of the mother has left in the life of the poet.

Also Read:  Assamese Question Answer ( সাহিত্য সৌৰভ )


1. What does the cardboard show?

Answer:- The cardboard shows an old photograph. It shows the poet’s mother standing with two girl cousins-Dolly and Betty. All of them were standing at the beach. They stood smiling at the uncle who was standing at a distance with a camera.

2. What was the occasion? Why did they go there?

Answer:- The poet’s mother and the two girl-cousins, Dolly and Betty had gone there for paddling. Actually, they were enjoying a sea holiday. All the three waded through shallow sea water. They were happy and having a good fun. The uncle stood there with a camera and they were smiling at him.

3. Describe the three girls standing at the beach?

Answer:- The poet’s mother and her two girl cousins had gone paddling. The big girl, the poet’s mother, was about twelve years or so. That was even before the poet was born. All the three stood still. The sea-water was washing their mortal feet. They were smiling ‘through their hair’ at the uncle. He stood there with a camera.

4. “The sea, which appears to have changed less, washed their terribly transient feet.” How does the poet contrast the girls’ terribly transient feet’ with the sea?

Answer:- All the girls standing at the beach have ‘terribly transient’ existence. They are mortal and suffer physical changes with the passage of time. The mother’s sweet face and her smile has disappeared after twenty or thirty years. But the vast sea remains unchanged or seems ‘to have changed less’ in their comparison.

5. Why did poet’s mother laugh at the snapshot?

Answer:- Time flies on wings. In the photograph, the poet’s mother stood with her two girl cousins at the beach. Of the three, she was the big girl about twelve or so. All the three were dressed up for the beach. Perhaps they looked quite funny in those clothes. She couldn’t help laughing the moment she looked at the snapshot. She reminded her cousins Betty and Dolly how funny they looked in those clothes.

6. Explain ‘The sea holiday was her past, mine is her laughter’.

Answer:- Time spares none. Gone are the childhood days of the poet’s mother. “The sea holiday’ became ‘her past’. The photograph flashes back to the scene that was captured about thirty years ago. Gone is the carefree laughter of the sweet girl who was just twelve or so at that time. For the poet the laughter of the mother has also become a thing of the past.

7. ‘Both wry with the laboured ease of loss’ What is the loss? Describe the ironical situation?

Answer:- Actually both of them suffer a sense of loss. The mother loses her carefree childhood. She can’t have those moments of enjoyment again that she once experienced at the beach. She can’t be a sweet smiling girl of twelve again. This is also the poet’s loss. Perhaps she will never see that smiling face and experience her laughter again in life. The irony of the situation is that both of them struggle to bear the loss with tolerable ease.

8. How did the poet’s mother die? What has he to say about this circumstance?

Answer:- The poet’s mother has been dead years ago. She has been dead nearly as many years as she lived. The poet has nothing to say about this incident. He maintains silence. And silence leads to a deeper pall of silence and mystery.

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