By Vaishnavi Tyagi
CBSE Class 11 English Snapshots Book Chapter 7 Birth Summary, Explanation with Video and Question Answers
Birth – CBSE Class 11 English Snapshots Book Lesson 7 Birth Summary and Detailed explanation of the lesson along with meanings of difficult words. Also, the explanation is followed by a Summary of the Lesson. All the exercises along with Questions and Answers are given at the back of the lessons have been covered. Also, Take Free Online MCQs Test for Class 11
Class 11 English (Snapshots book) Chapter 7 Birth
By A.J. Cronin
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|Birth Summary||Birth Lesson Explanation|
|Birth Question Answers|
“Birth” is an excerpt from “The Citadel” that revolves around Andrew Manson who just graduated from medical school. It is an account of how the newly graduated medical practitioner helped in bringing Joe and Susan’s child into this world despite going through a tough time with his girlfriend Christine
Birth Class 11 Video Explanation
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The lesson begins with Joe walking towards his home after having an unpleasant time with his girlfriend Christine. Upon reaching home at around midnight, he finds Joe Morgan outside his house waiting for him. Joe and Susan had been expecting a child. Upon reaching, Joe tells Andrew that he is too anxious to be going inside, so Andrew walks in alone. He realizes that there is still some time left. Susan’s mother, who is wise but tense at the moment, offers him some tea. While he is sipping his tea, he begins thinking about his girlfriend. He recalls how his friends too are having a hard time in their relationships. On the other hand, he feels that marriage is meant to be something peaceful and cheerful. Thus, he finds himself in a conflict. Susan’s mother tells him how worried Susan is for the child because the situation is complicated. After performing the procedure, the child is born, but is lifeless. Confused between addressing the child or the mom, who herself laid unconscious at the moment, he chooses to look after Susan first. He injected her with a few medicines and when he realised that her heart was regaining its strength, he turned towards the child. It was a boy in perfect shape. He suddenly remembered that it was a case of restricted oxygen supply and thus, he instructed the nurse to get hot and cold water.
The nurse, reluctant at first, got him what he needed and he juggled the child in hot and cold water simultaneously. After all his efforts, the child still lay lifeless. All others had already lost hope, while he continued with the procedures. Finally, the child heaved and got his breath. His body was no longer still, leaving everyone surprised. The nurse muttered words of prayer while holding the child. The grandmother was also praying, while Susan still laid unconscious. Exhausted, Andrew left while informing Joe that all is well. While he was walking home at around five in the morning, his heart was full at having accomplished something real in his life.
Birth Lesson Explanation
THOUGH it was nearly midnight when Andrew reached Bryngower, he found Joe Morgan waiting for him, walking up and down with short steps between the closed surgery and the entrance to the house. At the sight of him the burly driller’s face expressed relief.
Surgery- a place where a doctor, dentist or other medical practitioner treats or advises patients
Burly- (a person) large and strong; heavily built
Driller- someone who works at the drilling controls on the rig floor
When Andrew reached his house at around twelve at night, he caught the sight of Joe Morgan climbing up and then down the stairs between his small clinic and the entrance to his house.
On seeing Andrew, the heavily built driller, Joe heaved a sigh of relief.
“Eh, Doctor, I’m glad to see you. I been back and forward here this last hour. The missus wants ye —before time, too.” Andrew, abruptly recalled from the contemplation of his own affairs, told Morgan to wait. He went into the house for his bag, then together they set out for Number 12 Blaina Terrace. The night air was cool and deep with quiet mystery. Usually so perceptive, Andrew now felt dull and listless. He had no premonition that this night call would prove unusual, still less that it would influence his whole future in Blaenelly. The two men walked in silence until they reached the door of Number 12, then Joe drew up short “I’ll not come in,” he said, and his voice showed signs of strain. “But, man, I know ye’ll do well for us.”
Ye- an old written form of the word ‘the’
Contemplation- deep reflective thought
Abruptly- suddenly and unexpectedly
Perceptive- having or showing sensitive insight
Listless- lacking energy or enthusiasm
Premonition- a strong feeling that something is about to happen, especially something unpleasant
Joe Morgan expressed how pleased he was to see Doctor Andrew. He tells Andrew how he has been waiting there for him for about an hour now. Joe’s wife needs Andrew to examine her even before the time of her child’s birth. She is in a critical situation. On hearing this, Andrew had a sudden flashback of the unpleasant night he had with his girlfriend Christine but without wasting further time, he told Joe to wait outside while he got his bag. When he came out, they both began walking towards Number 12 Blaina Terrace, where Joe’s wife was. It was a cool night and the streets were silent which made it mysterious. Andrew, who generally is full of life and spirit, was silent and lacked energy. Andrew had no idea what the night had in store for him and that it was going to influence his life in Blaenelly. They both walked silently till they reached Number 12. As soon as they reached, Joe revealed to Andrew that he does not intend on coming in but he showed full confidence in Andrew. Joe’s voice was tense and under pressure.
Inside, a narrow stair led up to a small bedroom, clean but poorly furnished, and lit only by an oil lamp. Here Mrs Morgan’s mother, a tall, grey-haired woman of nearly seventy, and the stout, elderly midwife waited beside the patient, watching Andrew’s expression as he moved about the room.
Stout- (of a person) rather fat or heavy build
Midwife- a person, typically a woman, who is trained to assist women in childbirth
Andrew entered the gate alone. He took the stairs which were of rather small width and reached a bedroom. The bedroom was not lavish or luxurious, but, it was neat. Inside the room were Joe Morgan’s mother in law, a woman of around seventy with larger than the average height and grey hair along with a plump midwife to assist the childbirth. The midwife was also of an elderly age. They both sat beside Mrs Morgan waiting for Andrew.
“Let me make you a cup of tea, Doctor, bach,” said the former quickly, after a few moments. Andrew smiled faintly. He saw that the old woman, wise in experience, realised there must be a period of waiting that she was afraid he would leave the case, saying he would return later. “Don’t fret, mother, I’ll not run away.”
Bach- used as a term of endearment, often after a personal name
Smiled faintly- smiling with less energy or a smile that lacks spirit
Fret- be constantly or visibly anxious; worry
The sweet old lady (Mrs Morgan’s mother) offered Andrew a cup of tea. She addressed Andrew as “bach” which is used while displaying affection. Realising that the old lady might be worried about him leaving during the waiting period, he gave her a gentle smile and comforted her by assuring that he will not go away. The fact that she anticipated the period of waiting and was worried about him running away made Andrew realise that she was wise and had plenty of experience.
Down in the kitchen he drank the tea which she gave him. Overwrought as he was, he knew he could not snatch even an hour’s sleep if he went home. He knew, too, that the case here would demand all his attention. A queer lethargy of spirit came upon him. He decided to remain until everything was over
Overwrought- in a state of anxiety; tired
Snatch- manage to take (here)
Queer- strange; odd
Lethargy- lack of energy and enthusiasm
He sipped the tea in the kitchen downstairs. Though he was mentally and physically exhausted because of the unpleasant meeting with Christine, he knew it was impossible for him to even get an hour’s worth of sleep if he went home. Although, new in his line or practice, he was aware that the situation was critical and called for his attentiveness. Strangely, he felt a bit active and decided to stay at the place till his duty was fulfilled.
An hour later he went upstairs again, noted the progress made, came down once more, sat by the kitchen fire. It was still, except for the rustle of a cinder in the grate and the slow tick-tock of the wall clock. No, there was another sound —the beat of Morgan’s footsteps as he paced in the street outside. The old woman opposite him sat in her black dress, quite motionless, her eyes strangely alive and wise, probing, never leaving his face
Rustle- make a soft, muffled crackling sound
Cinder- a small piece of partly burnt coal or wood that has stopped giving off flames but still has combustible matter in it
Probing- inquiring closely
He went upstairs after almost an hour to check upon Mrs Morgan. He sat near the kitchen fire upon coming back. It was that time of the night where everything was still. The only sounds that came was of the ticking clock, Joe’s footsteps from the outside and from the almost extinguished piece of coal. While he sat in the kitchen, Mrs Morgan’s mother sat in front of him wearing her black dress. She looked at him constantly with her wise eyes that were filled with hope.
His thoughts were heavy, muddled. The episode he had witnessed at Cardiff station still obsessed him morbidly. He thought of Bramwell, foolishly devoted to a woman who deceived him sordidly, of Edward Page, bound to the shrewish Blodwen, of Denny, living unhappily, apart from his wife. His reason told him that all these marriages were dismal failures. It was a conclusion which, in his present state, made him wince. He wished to consider marriage as an idyllic state; yes, he could not otherwise consider it with the image of Christine before him. Her eyes, shining towards him, admitted no other conclusion. It was the conflict between his level, doubting mind and his overflowing heart which left him resentful and confused. He let his chin sink upon his chest, stretched out his legs, stared broodingly into the fire. He remained like this so long, and his thoughts were so filled with Christine, that he started when the old woman opposite suddenly addressed him. Her meditation had pursued a different course.
Muddled- not arranged in order; untidy
Morbidly- (with reference to a disturbing or unpleasant interest or activity) in an abnormal and unhealthy manner
Sordidly- meanly selfish, self-seeking
Shrewish- (of a woman) bad-tempered or aggressively assertive
Dismal- causing a mood of gloom or depression
Wince- make a slight involuntary grimace or shrinking movement of the body out of pain or distress
Idyllic- like an idyll; extremely happy, peaceful, or picturesque
Resentful- feeling or expressing bitterness or indignation at having been treated unfairly
Broodingly- preoccupied with depressing, morbid, or painful memories or thoughts
Clearly, the earlier unpleasant moments with Christine had taken a toll on his mind. He was still being haunted by the incident that took place at Cardiff station. He began thinking of his friends and acquaintances who have had bad experiences in love and marriage. He thought of Bramwell, the woman he loved had cheated on him. He contemplated upon the relationship of Edward Page, who was committed to a dominating woman named Blodwen. He reflected upon how Denny is living away from his wife not-so-happily. All of this brought him to an inference that made him cringe. He wished to believe that the institution of marriage was a cheerful one, one that guaranteed peace and companionship. He also had no other reason to believe otherwise with Christine’s shining eyes in his mind. He was undoubtedly facing a conflict with all his mind, heart and soul in disagreement. He thus, rested his chin on his chest and pulled out his legs while he glanced at the fireplace. He sat still for a few moments, his mind was still preoccupied with Christine until the old lady broke her silence. She was thinking about something else.
“Susan said not to give her the chloroform if it would harm the baby. She’s awful set upon this child, Doctor, bach.” Her old eyes warmed at a sudden thought. She added in a low tone: “Ay, we all are, I fancy.” He collected himself with an effort. “It won’t do any harm, the anaesthetic,” he said kindly. “They’ll be all right.”
awful – very
The old lady tells the doctor how worried Susan was on account of this complicated situation. She even refused to have anaesthesia if it were to affect the baby. She told him how invested she was in the child. The old lady corrects herself and says that all of them are invested in the child. Her eyes were filled with warmth while she said this. The doctor, preoccupied with another set of worries, somehow cleared his mind and assured the old lady that the anaesthetic would do no harm to either of them.
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Here the nurse’s voice was heard calling from the top landing. Andrew glanced at the clock, which now showed half-past three. He rose and went up to the bedroom. He perceived that he might now begin his work.
Suddenly, they heard the voice of the midwife calling upon them. Andrew saw that it’s already 3.30 and that he shall begin with the procedure. Thus, he got up to go to the bedroom upstairs.
An hour elapsed. It was a long, harsh struggle. Then, as the first streaks of dawn strayed past the broken edges of the blind, the child was born, lifeless
Blind- a screen for a window, especially one on a roller or made of slats
It took him almost an hour to perform the surgery. It was a rather tough one. While the first rays of daylight came inside from the corner of the window, the Morgan child was born. Unfortunately, the child was cold and still.
As he gazed at the still form a shiver of horror passed over Andrew. After all that he had promised! His face, heated with his own exertions, chilled suddenly. He hesitated, torn between his desire to attempt to resuscitate the child, and his obligation towards the mother, who was herself in a desperate state. The dilemma was so urgent he did not solve it consciously. Blindly, instinctively, he gave the child to the nurse and turned his attention to Susan Morgan who now lay collapsed, almost pulseless, and not yet out of the ether, upon her side. His haste was desperate, a frantic race against her ebbing strength. It took him only an instant to smash a glass ampule and inject the medicine. Then he flung down the hypodermic syringe and worked unsparingly to restore the flaccid woman. After a few minutes of feverish effort, her heart strengthened; he saw that he might safely leave her. He swung round, in his shirt sleeves, his hair sticking to his damp brow
Resuscitate- revive someone from the unconsciousness
Ether- used as an anaesthetic
Haste- excessive speed or urgency of movement or action; hurry
Frantic- conducted in a hurried, excited, and disorganized way
Ebbing- (of an emotion or quality) gradually decrease
Hypodermic- relating to the region immediately beneath the skin
As he continued to look at the lifeless child, a shiver passed down his spine. While his face was heated because of the efforts he put in, a wave of coldness held him. He was devastated. Moreover, he was confused; he couldn’t get himself to choose between addressing the still-born or the miserable mother. He could not make the decision consciously. So, he intuitively addressed the mother first while giving the child to the nurse. Susan laid unconscious too as the effects of the anaesthesia still persisted. He put in all his efforts to bring her out of the desperate state even while her strength continued to weaken. He instantly broke the medicine’s glass to fill the syringe and inject it into her. He worked tirelessly to bring her to her senses. After a moment, when he was assured that she was safe and her body was beginning to regain its strength, he turned his attention to the child. His hair was all over his sweaty face but he did not waste another moment.
“Where’s the child?” The midwife made a frightened gesture. She had placed it beneath the bed. In a flash Andrew knelt down. Fishing amongst the sodden newspapers below the bed, he pulled out the child. A boy, perfectly formed. The limp, warm body was white and soft as tallow. The cord, hastily slashed, lay like a broken stem. The skin was of a lovely texture, smooth and tender. The head lolled on the thin neck. The limbs seemed boneless.
Sodden- saturated with liquid, especially water; soaked through
Tallow- the hard fat of animals melted and used to make soap, candles etc.
Hastily- with excessive speed or urgency; hurriedly
Lolled- hang loosely
Andrew hastened and asked the midwife about the child. The midwife got anxious and asked him where the child was. She had kept it under the bed. Without wasting another moment, Andrew took the child out. It was a boy in perfect shape and with flawless skin. His body was warm and his skin was extremely soft. The head hung loosely on his weak neck and the cord was hanging too, from his body. His limbs felt boneless because the bones were so soft.
Still kneeling, Andrew stared at the child with a haggard frown. The whiteness meant only one thing: asphyxia, pallida, and his mind, unnaturally tense, raced back to a case he once had seen in the Samaritan, to the treatment that had been used. Instantly he was on his feet. “Get me hot water and cold water,” he threw out to the nurse. “And basins too. Quick! Quick!” “But, Doctor—” she faltered, her eyes on the pallid body of the child. “Quick!” he shouted.
Haggard- looking exhausted and unwell, especially from fatigue, worry, or suffering
Asphyxia- a condition arising when the body is deprived of oxygen, causing unconsciousness or death; suffocation
Pallida – suffocation or unconscious condition caused by lack of oxygen and excess of carbon dioxide in the blood, accompanied by paleness of the skin, weak pulse, and loss of reflexes
Faltered- lose strength or momentum
Pallid- (of a person’s face) pale, typically because of poor health
Still bent to take the child out from beneath the bed, Andrew glared at the child. He observed him and thought about the reason he was so white. He knew it could only be a case of oxygen deprivation because he had seen a similar case in Samaritan. He focused on the treatment that was used. He instantly stood up and instructed the nurse to bring in hot water and cold water in separate tubs. The nurse hesitated because for the moment, she thought the efforts were useless but the doctor hastened and shouted on her to get it done instantly.
Snatching a blanket, he laid the child upon it and began the special method of respiration. The basins arrived, the ewer, the big iron kettle. Frantically he splashed cold water into one basin; into the other he mixed water as hot as his hand could bear. Then, like some crazy juggler, he hurried the child between the two, now plunging it into the icy, now into the steaming bath.
Ewer- a large jug with a wide mouth, formerly used for carrying water
Plunging- falling steeply
While she had gone to take what he told her to, Andrew grabbed a blanket and laid the child on it while he performed the unique respiration method. The nurse arrived with the necessary items and he began with the procedure instantly. In one basin, he put cold water alone and in the other, he put hot water at the temperature he could bear. The next moment, he was seen dipping the child in those basins, one after another. He continued doing it.
Fifteen minutes passed. Sweat was now running into Andrew’s eyes, blinding him. One of his sleeves hung down, dripping. His breath came pantingly. But no breath came from the lax body of the child.
He did the procedure for about fifteen minutes. He was extremely tired and filled with sweat so much that it blinded him. One of his sleeves got unfolded and wet with water. He breathed heavily. Despite all his effort, the child still laid lifeless.
A desperate sense of defeat pressed on him, a raging hopelessness. He felt the midwife watching him in stark consternation, while there, pressed back against the wall where she had all the time remained —her hand pressed to her throat, uttering no sound, her eyes burning upon him —was the old woman. He remembered her longing for a grandchild, as great as had been her daughter’s longing for this child. All dashed away now; futile, beyond remedy…
Consternation- a feeling of anxiety or dismay, typically at something unexcited
He felt that he had failed and suddenly, all his hope was beginning to fade. He could feel the nurse gazing upon him, disheartened. On the other hand, there was the old woman, who couldn’t utter a word. Her eyes were constantly fixated upon him. He instantly remembered how badly she wanted a grandchild. Moreover, he remembered how her daughter was waiting for one. It was all a waste now.
The floor was now a draggled mess. Stumbling over a sopping towel, Andrew almost dropped the child, which was now wet and slippery in his hands, like a strange, white fish. “For mercy’s sake, Doctor,” whimpered the midwife. “It’s stillborn.”
Draggled- dirty or wet, typically from being trailed through mud or water
Stumbling- tripping or losing balance while walking; moving with difficulty
Sopping- saturated with liquid; wet through
Whimpered- say something in a low, feeble voice that expresses fear, pain, or unhappiness
After the continued struggle, the floor was extremely wet and dirty. The doctor almost slipped on the towel and he was just about to lose hold of the child. The child was also wet and he is being compared to a white fish. The midwife then pleaded before the doctor and told him to stop as the child is stillborn.
And then, as by a miracle, the pigmy chest, which his hands enclosed, gave a short, convulsive heave, another… and another… Andrew turned giddy. The sense of life, springing beneath his fingers after all that unavailing striving, was so exquisite it almost made him faint. He redoubled his efforts feverishly. The child was gasping now, deeper and deeper. A bubble of mucus came from one tiny nostril, a joyful iridescent bubble. The limbs were no longer boneless. The head no longer lay back spinelessly. The blanched skin was slowly turning pink. Then, exquisitely, came the child’s cry.
Pigmy- little (here)
Convulsive- violent; uncontrollable
Heave- produce a sigh
Unavailing- achieving little
Iridescent- showing luminous colours that seem to change when seen from different angles
Just as it was a miracle, the little chest which was enclosed in Andrew’s hands, took a breath. He continued heaving, leaving Andrew weak in his knees. The feeling of the little one’s breathing on his fingers almost made him faint. Instantly, he worked on reviving him with double the efforts until the child breathed deeply. As he gasped, a bubble formed by the mucus was formed from his tiny nose, his pale skin turned pink and the body no longer felt like it was lifeless. The next instant, he started crying.
“Dear Father in heaven,” the nurse sobbed hysterically. “It’s come —it’s come alive.” Andrew handed her the child. He felt weak and dazed. About him the room lay in a shuddering litter: blankets, towels, basins, soiled instruments, the hypodermic syringe impaled by its point in the linoleum, the ewer knocked over, the kettle on its side in a puddle of water. Upon the huddled bed the mother still dreamed her way quietly through the anaesthetic. The old woman still stood against the wall. But her hands were together, her lips moved without sound. She was praying.
The nurse muttered the words of prayer while tears rolled down her eyes. As Andrew handed her the child, he felt extremely weak and tired. The room was obviously a mess by this time. All the equipment, including blankets, towels, basins, soiled instruments, the hypodermic syringe, the ewer and the kettle were all in a terrible state. The mother lay still on the bed, the anaesthesia still had its effect. Susan’s mother stood still in one place, constantly moving her lips in prayer.
Mechanically Andrew wrung out his sleeve, pulled on his jacket. “I’ll fetch my bag later, nurse.” He went downstairs, through the kitchen into the scullery. His lips were dry. At the scullery he took a long drink of water. He reached for his hat and coat. Outside he found Joe standing on the pavement with a tense, expectant face. “All right, Joe,” he said thickly. “Both all right.” It was quite light. Nearly five o’clock. A few miners were already in the streets: the first of the night shift moving out. As Andrew walked with them, spent and slow, his footfalls echoing with the others under the morning sky, he kept thinking blindly, oblivious to all other work he had done in Blaenelly, “I’ve done something; oh, God! I’ve done something real at last.
Scullery- a small kitchen or room at the back of a house used for washing dishes and other dirty household work
Andrew unfolded his sleeve and put on his jacket while informing the nurse that he will take his bag later. He then went into a small room through the kitchen downstairs and grabbed a large glass of water. He took his coat and hat and headed outside. He met Joe outside and told him that everything was fine. It was around five in the morning and there was not too much light. While walking towards his home, he was accompanied by a few miners who had just completed their night shift. As their footsteps echoed, he had only one thing in mind. His heart was full of the thought that he finally accomplished something.
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Birth Class 11 Question Answers
1. “I have done something; oh, God! I’ve done something real at last.” Why does Andrew say this? What does it mean?
A. Andrew says that he had done something real at last. He said this because he had handled a tough situation. He had been successful at saving both – the mother and the child. It was a complicated delivery and gaining success at it made him feel that he had something worthwhile. Doing something real at last means Andrew felt content and jubilant at his own efforts and the achievement.
2. There lies a great difference between textbook medicine and the world of a practising physician. Discuss.
A. Textbook medicine gives knowledge about medicines, diseases, human anatomy and treatments. However, it does not teach you how to handle stressful situations. While a practising physician has to work in various odd situations. His skills of endurance and medical expertise are tested in such situations. So, textbook medicine and the world of a practising physician are very different from each other.
3. Do you know of any incident when someone has been brought back to life from the brink of death through medical help. Discuss medical procedures such as organ transplant and organ regeneration that are used to save human life.
A. Yes, my neighbour was in a critical condition. He had a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. Timely medical help saved his life. He underwent a heart surgery and now he is hale and hearty.
Medical procedures like organ transplant and organ regeneration are very beneficial for people. Many people donate their organs also so that these can be of help to others. Organ transplant has a good success rate and many people opt for it. The procedure gives them a new life and a needy person gets financial help in return. However, just like other things, the business of organ donation and transplant has become a money making industry with a lot of exploitation of people.
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