Memories of Childhood Summary Class 12 CBSE | English Vistas

Memories of Childhood Summary Class 12 CBSE | English Vistas

Memories of childhood CBSE Class 12 NCERT English Vistas Book Lesson 8. Important questions of this chapter and the Answer and Summary are given below.

Memories of Childhood Summary

Class 12 English (Vistas) 
Chapter 8 Memories of childhood
By Zitkala-Sa and Bama
Memories of Childhood Summary Class 12 CBSE | English Vistas

The unit is divided into two parts. It contains autobiographical episodes from the lives of two women from marginalised communities. The stories belong to their childhood. Hence the name of the chapter.

The first part written by Gertrude Simmons Bonnin (under the pen name 'Zitkala-Sa) is a chapter taken from her work 'American Indian Stories' and describes the oppression she faced at the Carlisle Indian School. justify the title memories of childhood.

The second part, an excerpt taken from 'Karukku' , an autobiography of Bama (pen name of a Tamil Dalit Woman) relates to her first experience with untouchability.

Core Idea of the Chapter
The Cutting of My Long Hair
First Day at School

The writer recalls that her first day in the land of apples was bitterly cold, with snow covering the surroundings. Besides, her first experience at the school, where she was admitted with other Native American boys and girls, was equally unpleasant. The noise made by the breakfast bell crashed into her ears. The clatter of shoes and the constant clash of harsh noises were pretty annoying. Zitkala longed for freedom, but it was useless to think of it.

The Embarrassment

A white woman placed them in the line of girls who were marching into the dining room. The narrator noticed that they were Indian girls, who wore closely clinging dresses and stiff shoes. The small girls wore sleeved aprons and had shingled hair.

She was feeling very uncomfortable in the school dress. Besides, her blanket had been taken off from her shoulders, making her feel all the more embarrassed. She found other Indian girls more immodestly dressed than her, in their tightly fitting clothes.

She also saw boys come in from the opposite door. A small bell was tapped and every student pulled out a chair from under the table. The narrator also pulled out a chair and sat down. But she was surprised to find that she was the only one sitting.

Just as she began to rise, a second bell was rung. All were seated and she had to crawl back into her chair again. She heard a man at one end of the hall and he was praying. The other students sat with their heads hung over their plates.

As the narrator was glancing at the surroundings, she caught the eyes of a paleface (white) woman upon her. She wondered why the woman was looking at her keenly.

After the man ceased his mutterings, a third bell was tapped and everybody started eating with a knife and fork. Zitkala instead started crying. She probably had never eaten using knives and forks. All the new changes were too much for her to take.

The Terrible Warning

The eating-by-formula was not the end of her woes. Her friend Judewin knew some English, and she had overheard the white woman talk about cutting their long and heavy hair.

The thought of having her hair cut was unacceptable to the narrator. Her mother had taught her that only skilled warriors who became prisoners in war had their hair shingled (cut) by the enemy. In their society, short hair was by worn by mourners and shingled hair by cowards.
memories of childhood summary class 12 cbse | English Vistas

Narrator's Protest

Judewin thought that the school people were strong and they will all have to allow their hair to be cut, but Zitkala was ready to put up a fight. She told her friend that she would struggle first, and not submit willingly before the oppressors.

When she got the chance to escape, she crept upstairs unnoticed. She entered a large room. It was dark, as the curtains were down. Zitkala crawled under the bed farthest from the door. After some time, people started searching for her. She heard Judewin call her name, but she didn't answer.

The Cutting of Zitkala's Hair

Finally, the women and girls who were looking for Zitkala entered the room in which she was hiding. She held her breath while the others searched the room. The next thing she remembered was being dragged out. 

She was resisting, kicking and scratching widely. She was carried downstairs and tied to a chair. At she felt a cold scissor blade against her neck gnaw One of her thick braids. This was the end of her resistance. She lost her spirit.

She was reminded of all the humiliations she went through since the day she parted with her mother. She was deeply sad and nobody comforted her. She missed her mother and felt like an animal driven by a herder.

We Too are Human Beings
The Entertaining Walk Home

This is the second part of the unit. The narrator takes us back to her childhood when she was a carefree child studying in the third class. The walk from school to home was hardly of 10 minutes. But it would take her half an hour to one hour to cover the distance. The entertaining sights would tie her legs and stop her from going home.

The performing monkey, the snake charmer, the cyclist who kept pedalling for many days, the Maariyaata temple and the pongal offering being cooked outside it were just some of the interesting sights. And then there were other things going on in the market like a political procession, puppet shows and stunt performances. The market was full of seasonal fruits and stalls. The narrator felt spellbound by all the variety.

Encounter with Untouchability

One day, when the narrator was returning home, she saw a threshing-floor set up on her street. A landlord was watching over the proceedings. The people of her caste were driving the cattle. Just then, she noticed an elder of her street.

He was carrying a small packet, holding it with a string. It contained some vadai and the packet had become wet. The narrator thought to herself that the packet might come undone, but still the elder was not touching it. The way he walked made Bama shriek with laughter. The elder crouched while handing over the packet to the landlord.

Laughter Turns to Sadness

The narrator returned home and told her elder brother Annan about the incident. She was laughing berserkly, but Annan didn't seem to be amused. Annan told her that the elder and they were considered low caste. The landlord belonged to the upper caste. The upper caste people thought that if low caste people touched them or anything that belonged to them, they or it would be 'polluted'.

That's why the elder was carrying the packet by its string. After hearing this narrator didn't want to laugh anymore. She felt infuriated and provoked. She wondered how these fellows thought so much of themselves. She felt compelled to touch the wretched vadais herself.

Annan's Advice

Annan told Bama that because they were born into a low caste community, they were never given any honour or dignity or respect. He advised her to study hard and learn all that she could, because only education could help them throw off all the indignities.

These words made a deep impression on Bama. She studied hard. As Annan had urged, she stood first in her class and because of that, many people became her friends.

Memories of Childhood: Ask Yourself Questions
  1. How was Zitkala feeling on her first day at school?
  2. Why was she embarrassed?
  3. What happened in the dining hall?
  4. What warning did Judewin give to Zitkala ?
  5. Why did Zitkala protest? justify the title memories of childhood? 
  6. What did Zitkala do to prevent the shingling of her hair? 
  7. How did she feel at last?
  8. What made Bama late for home?
  9. What were the entertaining things that Bama enjoyed on her way home from school?
  10. What made Bama shriek with laughter?
  11. Why did her happiness turn to sadness?

Memories of Childhood CBSE Class 12Short Questions Answers

memories of childhood summary class 12 cbse | English Vistas

(1)Why was Zitkala-Sa in tears on the first day in the land of apples?
      What made Zitkala-Sa cry in the dining hall?

Ans. Zitkala-Sa was already feeling uncomfortable in her new dress when she entered the, dining hall. a small bell was tapped. Thinking that they had to be seated, Zitkala pulled out a chair and sat on it. But to her surprise everybody kept standing. She was getting up when the second bell rang and all were seated. Finally, she could not use the knife and fork for eating and she started crying because of her embarrassment.

(2) Why did Zitkala-Sa resist the shingling of her hair?    
       Why was Zitkala-Sa so averse to having her hair cut?
        Why was Zitkala-Sa terrified when Judewin told her that her hair would be cut short?

Ans. Zitkala-Sa was terrified by the thought of having her hair cut because in her community shingled hair was worn by unskilled warriors who were captured by the enemy and their hair was cut. Thus, it was a sign of cowardice. She decided that she would not go down without a fight.

(3) What comic incident did Bama narrate to her brother? Why was he not amused?
       Describe the experience Bama had on her way back home which made her feel sad.

Ans. On her way back home, Bama saw an elder of her street carrying vadais for the landlord. The manner in which he carried the packet, holding its string made Bama laugh. She related this comic incident to her brother. Annan was not amused and he told Bama that the elder was behaving that way because people of their community were considered of low caste. This horrific truth made Bama sad.

(4) Which words of her brother made a deep impression on Bama?        
       What impact did Annan's advice have on Bama?

Ans. Annan told Bama that only education could help them earn some respect in society. These words had a very deep impact on her. She studied very hard, almost like crazy. As Annan had urged, she stood first in her class. Now, everybody wanted to be her friend.

(5) What sort of shows or entertainment attracted Bama?
       Which activities of the people would Bama watch keenly in the bazaar?

Ans. The bazaar, on the way home was always buzzing with activity. The snake charmer, street plays, puppet shows and stunt performance were a few interesting things going on there. Bama used to love all these things.

(6) What were the articles in the stalls and shops that fascinated Bama on her way back from        school?

Ans. Bama witnessed a variety of interesting things which fascinated her. She saw the dried fish stall and the sweet stall and the stall selling fried snacks. Then there were wild lemurs, needles being sold, clay beads and tools for cleaning out the ears on sale. She loved to watch the waiters cool the coffee and people chopping onions.

(7) What does Zitkala-Sa remember about the first day in the land of apples?

Ans. Zitkala-Sa remembered the first day in the land of apples as a bitter and cold one, She was feeling uncomfortable in her school dress. She got embarrassed in the dining hall. Finally, her hair was shingled.

(8) “I felt like sinking to the floor,” says Zitkala-Sa. When did she feel so and why?

Ans. The narrator was made to wear a new dress at school. Her shawl had been removed. She was feeling ashamed of her body-clinging dress. When she was walking to the dining hall, she felt like sinking to the floor with shame at all the unfamiliar way of dressing.

(9) What was the terrible warning that Judewin gave Zitkala-Sa?
       What did Judewin tell Zitkala-Sa? How did she react to it?

Ans. Judewin warned Zitkala-Sa that she had overheard the white woman talking about cutting their long, heavy hair. Zitkala was horrified with the thought of getting her hair cut. Judewin further told her friend that they had to submit to the will of the authorities, as they were strong. Zitkala reacted strongly and said that she would not give up without struggling.

(10) What did Zitkala-Sa feel when her long hair cut?

Ans. Zitkala-Sa felt anguished and ashamed when her long hair was cut. She missed her mother very much. No one could comfort her like her mother did. She was feeling like an animal driven by a herder.

(11) What was the advice that Annan gave to Bama? Did she follow it?

Ans. Annan told Bama that because they were born into a community which was considered low caste, they were stripped of all honour, dignity and respect. But if they studied hard and made progress, then they could throw away all such indignities. Yes, Bama did follow Annan's advice. She studied hard stood first in her class.

(12) Why did the landlord's man ask Bama's brothe on which street he lived? What was the significance?

Ans. Annan was returning home from the library in the neighbouring village, when the landlord’s man asked him his name. Then he wanted to know where Annan lived. He asked this to ascertain Annan's caste, because all the lower caste people lived in one area of the town.

(13) How did Zitkala-Sa try to prevent the shingling her hair?
Ans. When Judewin informed Zitkala that their hair would be cut short, Zitkala decided to struggle first. When no one was noticing, she crept up the stairs and found a large room. The room was dark the curtains were down. She hid herself under the bed farthest from the door. But she was found soon after and dragged away for the shingling of her hair. Thus she could not prevent her hair form being cut.
(14) When did Bama first come to know of the social discrimination faced by the people of her community?

Ans. Bama came to know of the social discrimination faced by the people of her community when she was in the third class. She saw an important elder of her community serve vadais to a landlord without touching them. The incident was funny to her until Annan told her the horrific truth.

memories of childhood summary class 12 cbse | English Vistas

(15) What made Zitkala lose her spirit?

Ans. Zitkala was hiding under the bed in order to avoid her hair being cut short. But she was found, dragged out from the hiding position, carried downstairs and tied to a chair. She was kicking and shouting all the while. At last, she felt the cold blade of scissors against her neck gnaw off one of  her thick braids. This cutting of her hair made her lose her spirit.

Memories of Childhood CBSE Class 12Long Questions 

(1) What activities did Bama witness on her way back home from school?
Why did Bama stroll in the marketplace instead of hurrying home? Describe the sights she enjoyed seeing there.

Ans. Bama took half an hour to one hour to cover a distance of ten minutes walk from her school to her home. This was because she liked to watch the performing monkey, the snake which the snake charmer kept in his box and the cyclist who did not get off his bike for three days and other interesting activities.
The pongal offerings being cooked in front of the Maariyaata temple, the dried fish, sweets and fried snacks stall, the street lights that demonstrated changing colours—all interested her.
The hunter gypsy with his wild lemurs, people selling needles, clay beads and tools for cleaning out the ears mesmerised and bound her.The street play, puppet shows, political parties with people giving long speeches, the coffee clubs and the process of cooling the coffee, nothing escaped her notice. The various seasonal fruits and vegetables that were displayed also attracted her. Thus, Bama would be awe-struck by all these sights.

(2) What are the similarities in the lives of Bama and Zitkala-Sa though they belong to different cultures?

Ans. The struggle for identity and the oppression faced by the marginalised communities is the common thread between the lives of Bama and Zitkala- S a.
Zitkala-Sa was taken from her mother. An alien culture was forced on her. She got embarrassed and craved for her mother. She yearned for freedom.
Bama also faced the same kind of embarrassment. She belonged to a low caste community and she learned that they were stripped of all honour and dignity. Another common thing between them was the way both reacted to their situations. They refused to bow down to exploitation and oppression. They decided to fight the social discrimination that their communities had to face.

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

Ans. Zitkala-Sa was an American native. She was forcibly taken from her mother and an alien culture was thrust upon her against her wishes. But this was not the end of her misery. Her hair was cut. This was unacceptable to her. In her community, shingled hair was worn by cowards and short hair by those in mourning. Her experience depicts racial discrimination. Bama belongs to a community which is considered low caste. They were untouchables and the high caste people thought that they would be polluted if low caste people touched them. She was very sad and the thought infuriated her. Both of them refused to be victims. Zitkala put up a fight before her hair could be shingled. Bama studied like crazy and stood first in her class. Throughout their lives they continued to fight social discrimination.

(4) Bama comments, "Our people should never run these petty errands for these fel lows."Why does she feel so?

Ans. One day while returning from school, Bama saw an elder belonging to her community, carrying a packet with its strings in a gingerly fashion. The elder cringed in front of the landlord and offered the packet to him without touching it. Later on her brother Annan told her that they belonged to a lower caste and so anything touched by them is considered by the upper castes to be polluted. That's why the elder was carrying the packet by its strings.
Bama instantly comments that amassing money does not mean that one must lose all human feelings, as "we too are human beings." She wants that the people of her community should not run errands for the so-called upper caste people. They should work for these 'upper caste people' for wages. Why cringe, crouch and venerate before them? She questions firmly.

(5) The narrator, in 'The Cutting of My Long Hair; resists and fights against the attempt of shingling her long and heavy hair. How is she ultimately made to lose her distinct cultural identity?

Ans. In 'The Cutting of My Long Hair', the little native girl can't take injustice and oppression meekly. She wants to maintain her own identity. She wants to have long and heavy hair. It is the tradition of her community. Only cowards have shingled hair among them. She doesn't submit but resists; she fights till she is overpowered. The narrator was not willing to submit. She crawled under a bed and huddled in a dark corner. She shuddered with fear whenever she heard footsteps nearby.
When discovered, she resisted by kicking and scratching wildly when she was dragged out. She was carried downstairs and tied to a chair. Then they cut her long and beautiful hair and no one came forward to help her. Thus, the narrator lost her distinct cultural recognition and identity.

Memories of Childhood Explanation: Value Based Questions

(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?

Ans. Oppression and exploitation of the indigenous people, the women and the weak is the harsh reality of all countries and civilisations throughout the world. In a similar vein, the struggle of these marginalised people is something we all can identify with. This is the thread of commonality running between the accounts of both Zitkala-Sa and Bama.
The only difference between them is the time gap and their vastly different cultures. Zitkala-Sa is a native American who belongs to the late 19th century, whereas Bama is a prominent Dalit belonging to the contemporary era. Zitkala-Sa belonged to a marginalised community which was exploited to the hilt. Her identity was questioned throughout and finally taken away from her. Bama, on the other hand, is a victim of untouchability, casteism and vehement discrimination.

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

Ans. Both Zitkala-Sa and Bama were school-going children when they witnessed rough treatment being meted out to themselves or their community.
Both episodes prove that injustice in any form does not escape notice even by children. Zitkala-Sa revolts and resists against the school authorities with all her might because she does not want her hair to be shingled like that of a coward's. Bama too realizes the oppression that her community faces. She puts up a fight by bringing laurels to her community through her scholarly achievements. Thus, she proves that she is superior to the so called upper caste. So, I agree that children know of injustice and to it in their own unique ways.

Short Answer Type Questions [3 Marks]

Answer the following questions in about 30-40 words.
  • Why was the White woman keeping an eye on Zitkala-Sa?
  • What embarrassment did Zitkala face in the dining hall?
  • What was the news given by Judewin? How did they both react to it?
  • What indignities did Zitkala face after parting from her mother?
  • Mention the happenings that stopped Bama from reaching home on time.
  • What horrific truth did Annan tell her?
  • What is untouchability?
  • Did Bama follow Annan's advice?

Long Answer Type Questions [6 Marks]
Answer the following questions in about 30-40 words.
  • How did Zitkala finally lose her spirit?When did Bama learn of untouchability? 
  • How did she try to overcome the social evil?

Questions are asked every year from the memory of childhood in CBSE board exam. Above are some important questions and if you have any problem in this chapter, you can message us and comment in the comment box.

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