Memories of Childhood Part 1 Class 12 English Chapter 8 Explanation

Memories of Childhood


Memories of Childhood Part 1 The Cutting of My Long Hair Class 12 Vistas Book Chapter 8 Summary, Explanation, Word Meaning and Question Answers

Memories of childhood Part 1 The Cutting of My Long Hair CBSE Class 12 NCERT English (Vistas) Lesson 8  Summary and detailed explanation of the lesson along with meanings of difficult words. of Part 1.
Also, the explanation is followed by a Summary of the Lesson. All the exercises and Questions and Answers given at the back of the lesson have been covered

Class 12 English (Vistas) Chapter 8 Memories of childhood Part 1 The Cutting of My Long Hair Zitkala-Sa

Introduction to Memories of Childhood (Part 1  The Cutting of My Long Hair)

‘The cutting of My long hair’ is a story that showcases the discrimination faced by the Indians in the western world. The story describes how an Indian girl was forced to wear western dresses and cut her hair by her school authorities in order to make her look like an American student.

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Theme of the Lesson

The narrative “The Cutting of My Long Hair” illustrates the prejudice that the native American Indians experienced in the west, at the hands of the English. It highlights the evil of racial discrimination. The school officials made the writer wear western clothing and cut her hair. The anguish of a girl who was a part of the minority group at the hands of the powerful management. Her community believed that cowards got their hair cut. She opposed to getting her long hair cut but the mighty took over.


Summary of The Cutting of My Long Hair (Chapter 8 Memories of Childhood Part 1)

The story begins with Zitkala’s first day in a boarding school Carlisle Indian school. It is a school opened for native Indians where they are trained to leave behind their own culture and become part of the American culture. Zitkala describes that she really felt bad when a shawl is taken off her shoulders by the school authorities before entering into the dining hall. She also wonders about how the other Indian girls agreed to wear tight clothes which were immodest according to her as their whole body shape could easily be seen. Even their hair was cut short which according to the author was not good. Her mother had told her only a coward’s or a mourner’s hair should be shaved off. Later on Zitkala and other girls were taken to the dining hall where she was keenly noticed by a pale faced woman for not following the table manners. Judewin, another Indian girl tells her that the pale faced woman has decided to cut her hair. Zitkala revolts back as she does not want to look like a coward or a mourner. She hides herself under a bed in some room upstairs. Everyone starts searching for her and finally she is caught. She is tied up and her hair is cut down. She felt so depressed and humiliated with this. She is reminded of her mother who would have comforted her during this hard time. At the end she submits her to her herders like a tamed animal.

Summary of The Cutting of My Long Hair (Chapter 8 Memories of Childhood Part 1) in Hindi

कहानी ज़िटकला के एक बोर्डिंग स्कूल कार्लिस्ले इंडियन स्कूल में पहले दिन से शुरू होती है।

यह मूल भारतीयों के लिए खोला गया एक स्कूल है जहां उन्हें अपनी संस्कृति को पीछे छोड़ने और अमेरिकी संस्कृति का हिस्सा बनने के लिए प्रशिक्षित किया जाता है।

ज़िटकला का वर्णन है कि जब भोजन कक्ष में प्रवेश करने से पहले स्कूल के अधिकारियों द्वारा उनके कंधों से एक शॉल उतार दी गई तो उन्हें वास्तव में बहुत बुरा लगा।

वह इस बारे में भी सोचती है कि अन्य भारतीय लड़कियां कैसे तंग कपड़े पहनने के लिए तैयार हो गईं जो उनके अनुसार अनैतिक थे क्योंकि उनके पूरे शरीर का आकार आसानी से देखा जा सकता था।

यहाँ तक कि उनके बाल भी छोटे कर दिए गए जो लेखक के अनुसार अच्छे नहीं थे। उसकी माँ ने उससे कहा था कि केवल कायर या शोक करने वाले के बाल ही मुंडवाए जाने चाहिए।

बाद में ज़िटकला और अन्य लड़कियों को डाइनिंग हॉल में ले जाया गया, जहां एक फीका चेहरे वाली महिला ने टेबल मैनर्स का पालन नहीं करने के लिए उसे गौर से देखा।

एक अन्य भारतीय लड़की जूडविन ने उसे बताया कि फीका चेहरे वाली महिला ने उसके बाल काटने का फैसला किया है। ज़िटकला ने विद्रोह कर दिया क्योंकि वह कायर या मातम मनाने वाले की तरह नहीं दिखना चाहती थी।

वह खुद को ऊपर के किसी कमरे में एक बिस्तर के नीचे छुपा लेती है। सभी उसकी तलाश करने लगते हैं और अंत में वह पकड़ी जाती है। उसे बांध कर उसके बाल काट दिए गए।

वह बहुत उदास और अपमानित महसूस कर रही थी। उसे अपनी माँ की याद आ रही थी जो इस कठिन समय में उसे दिलासा देती ।

अंत में वह एक पालतू जानवर की तरह अपने आप को चरवाहों के हवाले कर देती है।

Memories of Childhood Part 1 The Cutting of My Long Hair by Zitkala – Sa Class 12 Video Explanation



Lesson and explanation – The cutting of my Long hair (Memories of Childhood Part 1)

Passage: The first day in the land of apples was a bitter-cold one; for the snow still covered the ground, and the trees were bare. A large bell rang for breakfast, its loud metallic voice crashing through the belfry overhead and into our sensitive ears. The annoying clatter of shoes on bare floors gave us no peace. The constant clash of harsh noises, with an undercurrent of many voices murmuring an unknown tongue, made a bedlam within which I was securely tied. And though my spirit tore itself in struggling for its lost freedom, all was useless.

Word Meaning :
Belfry: part of a bell tower
Crashing: break through
Clatter: bang, sound of heavy objects
Bedlam: uproar, unrest

Explanation of the above passage: The writer describes that her first day in the land of apples was extremely cold. The ground was fully covered with snow whereas the trees were not covered with snow. A bell rang indicating breakfast time. It was a loud sounds that breakthrough the part of bell tower and reached into their sensitive ears. The disturbing sound of the tip-toe of the shoes was making the writer restless. There was a continuous noise everywhere as if the sounds were clashing with each other. There were people who were talking in an unknown language. She got so disturbed that she felt as if her freedom was lost.

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Passage: A paleface woman, with white hair, came up after us. We were placed in a line of girls who were marching into the dining room. These were Indian girls, in stiff shoes and closely clinging dresses. The small girls wore sleeved aprons and shingled hair. As I walked noiselessly in my soft moccasins, I felt like sinking to the floor, for my blanket had been stripped from my shoulders. I looked hard at the Indian girls, who seemed not to care that they were even more immodestly dressed than I, in their tightly fitting clothes. While we marched in, the boys entered at an opposite door. I watched for the three young braves who came in our party. I spied them in the rear ranks, looking as uncomfortable as I felt. A small bell was tapped, and each of the pupils drew a chair from under the table. Supposing this act meant they were to be seated, I pulled out mine and at once slipped into it from one side. But when I turned my head, I saw that I was the only one seated, and all the rest at our table remained standing. Just as I began to rise, looking shyly around to see how chairs were to be used, a second bell was sounded. All were seated at last, and I had to crawl back into my chair again. I heard a man’s voice at one end of the hall, and I looked around to see him. But all the others hung their heads over their plates. As I glanced at the long chain of tables, I caught the eyes of a paleface woman upon me.
Immediately I dropped my eyes, wondering why I was so keenly watched by the strange woman. The man ceased his mutterings, and then a third bell was tapped. Everyone picked up his knife and fork and began eating. I began crying instead, for by this time I was afraid to venture anything more.

Word Meaning :
yellow face
Clinging: tight (dress)
Shingled: cutting of hair
Moccasins: slipper or shoe
Immodest: indecent
Spied: notice, spot
Rear ranks: last
Mutterings: privately explained complaints
Venture: here, a risky task

Explanation of the above passage: A woman with yellow face and white hair went up to see the girls. Zitkala was placed in the line of the girls who were heading towards the dining hall. She describes that they were the Indian girls who were wearing hard shoes and tight dresses. The small girls were wearing sleeved aprons and their hairs were cut short. Zitkala was walking without making any noise of her shoes. She felt so ashamed when her blanket (scarf, shawl) was removed from her shoulders. All the other Indian girls seemed to be very indecent to her as all of them were wearing tight clothes which were not a good thing as per the writer. As they were going to the dining room, the boys came from the opposite door. The writer notices the three boys who according to her were brave; she says so because they were also the new entrants into the school and were not wearing the dress like others. She looked at them while they were standing behind her. They were also not comfortable like her. A small bell rang and all the students dragged their chairs. The writer also pulled her chair and she at once gets seated. But she found herself being noticed by all others as none of them had seated. The next bell ranged and all the others seated themselves. The writer also did it once again just to mend her mistake. Suddenly she heard a manly voice from one corner of the room. She tries to see the man but found everyone looking down towards their plates. While she was looking at them she saw that the yellow faced woman was constantly looking at her. She dropped her eyes but was feeling uncomfortable about being watched like this. The man stopped speaking and with the ringing of the bell for the third time all of them picked up their forks and knives. The writer got so afraid by the time that she started crying as she didn’t want to get into such risky task anymore.

Passage : But this eating by formula was not the hardest trial in that first day. Late in the morning, my friend Judewin gave me a terrible warning. Jude win knew a few words of English; and she had overheard the paleface woman talk about cutting our long, heavy hair. Our mothers had taught us that only unskilled warriors who were captured had their hair shingled by the enemy. Among our people, short hair was worn by mourners, and shingled hair by cowards!

Word Meaning :
Capture: catch, arrest
Mourners: a person at a funeral
Coward: weakling

Explanation of the above passage: The writer says that the way of eating was not the only thing which she thought to be the hardest one. But there was one more terrible thing that her friend Judewin told her. As she could understand a few words of English so she had heard the pale faced woman saying that their hair should be cut down. The writer didn’t want to do it because she had heard her mother saying that only untrained warriors that are arrested by the enemy cut their hair. In their community only those who either were at funeral or were cowards cut short their hair. As Zitkala was neither a weakling nor a mourner so she didn’t want to cut her hair.

Passage : We discussed our fate some moments, and when
Judewin said, “We have to submit, because they are strong,” I rebelled.
“No, I will not submit! I will struggle first!” I answered.
I watched my chance, and when no one noticed, I disappeared. I crept up the stairs as quietly as I could in my squeaking shoes, — my moccasins had been exchanged for shoes. Along the hall I passed, without knowing whither I was going. Turning aside to an open door, I found a large room with three white beds in it. The windows were covered with dark green curtains, which made the room very dim. Thankful that no one was there, I directed my steps toward the corner farthest from the door. On my hands and knees I crawled under the bed, and huddled myself in the dark corner.

Word Meaning :
destiny, god’s will
Rebel: Revolt
Crept: Crawl, move on hands and knees
Squeaking: making high pitched sound
Whither: where
Dim: dark
Huddled: holding arms and legs closely

Explanation of the above passage: Both Judewin and Zitkala discussed about their destiny as they knew that their hair will be cut short. Judewin was of a view that they should agree to what the authorities wanted to as they were strong then these two girls but the author was not ready for it and so she decided to go against the school authorities.
She went up stairs very quietly without being noticed in order to safeguard her hair. She was trying to walk very quietly because her moccasins were changed with shoes that make sound while walking. She crossed the hall and went into a room without knowing where she was going. She entered into a room which had three beds and green curtains making it a bit dark. She then crawled under a bed and hides herself from those who want to cut her hair.


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Passage : From my hiding place I peered out, shuddering with fear whenever I heard footsteps nearby. Though in the hall loud voices were calling my name, and I knew that even Judewin was searching for me, I did not open my mouth to answer. Then the steps were quickened and the voices became excited. The sounds came nearer and nearer. Women and girls entered the room. I held my breath and watched them open closet doors and peep behind large trunks. Someone threw up the curtains, and the room was filled with sudden light. What caused them to stoop and look under the bed I do not know. I remember being dragged out, though I resisted by kicking and scratching wildly. In Spite of myself, I was carried downstairs and tied fast in a chair.

Word Meaning :
try to see
Shuddering: shiver, shake
Drag: pull
Resist: hold out against
Scratch: scrape

Explanation of the above passage: The writer shivered with the voice of footsteps whenever she tried to look out of her hiding place. She could hear many voices calling out for her name including her friend Judewin. She didn’t reply to them. Soon she heard the sound of steps and voices growing stronger and stronger. Women and girls entered into the room where she was hiding. They were searching for her everywhere; even the curtains were also removed. Soon she was found under the bed and was pulled out of it. She tried hard to safeguard herself, even scraped the other person but she was taken away and tied up to a chair.

Passage : I cried aloud, shaking my head all the while until I felt the cold blades of the scissors against my neck, and heard them gnaw off one of my thick braids. Then I lost my spirit. Since the day I was taken from my mother I had suffered extreme indignities. People had stared at me. I had been tossed about in the air like a wooden puppet. And now my long hair was shingled like a coward’s! In my anguish I moaned for my mother, but no one came to comfort me. Not a soul reasoned quietly with me, as my own mother used to do; for now I was only one of many little animals driven by a herder.

Word Meaning :
here, cut
Braid: Hairs bind into a plait
Indignities: shame, humiliation
Stare: gaze
Tossed: thrown
Puppet: a wooden resemblance of humans or animals controlled with the help of strings
Anguish: pain, agony
Moan: cry, wail
Comfort: console, sympathy
Reasoned: here, discussed
Herder: a person who looks after the live stock (herd of sheep)

Explanation of the above passage: The author cried a lot as she doesn’t want anyone to cut her hair. Suddenly she felt a pair of scissors behind her neck and soon her hair was cut down. She lost all her confidence and felt that she had always been humiliated since she was taken away from her mother. She recalled all her bad moments that embarrassed her as people had gazed on her, she was thrown into the air like a puppet. But this time her hair was cut down and she felt like a coward. She was crying. She wailed for her mother as she used to console her in her sad moments but today no one came to console her. No one tried to know her point of view. She felt like an animal that is part of a herd and is being herded by someone. This means now she was being controlled by someone.


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Memories of Childhood Question and Answers

Q1- 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- The autobiographical accounts covered under ‘Memories of Childhood’ are by the two women from socially marginalized sections in two different cultures of the world. In the first story the author describes how she became victim of the social discrimination when she was badly treated by the European staff of the school because she was a Native American. She feels so humiliated when her blanket is removed from her shoulders and her hair was shingled. In her culture shingled hair was a symbol of being a coward. In the second story Bama describes the social discrimination faced by the low castes in India. She being a student of third standard was forced to face the harsh reality of untouchability, when she saw an old Dalit man carrying food packet by strings as it was meant for an upper caste man. Although both the stories are set in different parts of the world but still they have a similar theme. They show the hardships and sufferings of the marginal communities in different parts of the world.

Q2- 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?

Ans- Yes, it is true that injustice in any form cannot escape being noticed even by the children. This we have seen in both the stories we have read. In the first story when Judewin told Zitkala that the authorities have planned to shingle their hair, Zitkala decides to rebel. Judewin says that the authorities are strong we have to agree with them. But Zitkala hides herself, when she is found out she kicks and scratches them wildly. Finally she is tied up in the chair and her hairs are cut down. In the second story Bama as a child finds it very funny to see an old man carrying a snack pack by strings. Her brother tells her that they being Dalits cannot touch food meant for upper caste as this will pollute them. Bama gets infuriated on hearing this, she at once makes a decision of snatching the vadais from the upper caste man who according to her did nothing and still treats Dalits badly. Her brother diverts her anger towards studies which makes her topper of her class. All this proves the above said that children not only notice the injustice but also show their anger.

Q3- 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?

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Ans-Zitkala Sa was ill treated by the European school authorities as she was a Native American. As shown in the story her moccasins were taken away, they remove her blanket from her shoulders which make her feel so insulted and her hairs were shingled. In Zitkala’s culture, only a coward’s hairs were cut down and girls did not wear tight fitting clothes as they were considered immodest. She was even pointed out for not following the table manners. All this took away her confidence and she was left in tears. But when she grew up, she with the power of her education wrote articles against the Carlisle Indian School and their discrimination with the Native Americans. On the other side Bama also studied hard and became a famous writer and wrote against the caste discrimination. So, here we can say that though both the women belonged to different periods of time and different parts of the world but used education as their tool to fight against the discrimination.


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